Saturday, 25 November 2017

Impacts of running an office

We think using recycled office materials is really important, due to the impact that paper production has on ecosystems. A huge amount of paper is produced from unsustainable forestry, and many nasty chemicals used in its production.

As a result we only use 100% recycled paper for printing and to make labels. Here is our latest delivery from the wonderful people at Green Stationery Company.

We even use pencils from FSC forestry and recycled plastic pens! All these things do matter.

The other major resource use in the office is the use of energy. As our office is at home it is heated by a combination of our wood burner, solar hot water and electricity from our solar panels.

But when the sun's not shining we buy electricity from Good Energy who supply a 100% renewable energy the climate impact of our electricity demand is negligible.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Lawrences bay

Lawrences is where we grow all of our veg, have the polytunnels and glasshouse and where our yurt is. This is what it looks like from the air!

You can see we have 18 fields, some bigger than others, nearly all bordered by hedges. We cut one third of the hedges each year by hand - that's a lot of cutting! Nearly all the cuttings go through the woodchipper to be used for compost toilets, laying on paths, or composted.

You can see on the left hand side there is a lot of white on the fields; this is mesh over the salad to keep pests off.

On the bottom right of the bay is where the seaweed tends to collect. In the winter we go down with tractor and trailer and haul it on to the fields. This provides fantastic fertiliser!

The proximity of the beach can give us problems in the winter, when masses of sand can blow up over the dunes and in to the fields.

But all in all it's a lovely spot and the views are fantastic....

Thursday, 24 August 2017


We've had a nice selection of fruit recently: peaches from the polytunnel - absolutely delicious (alas now sold out); grapes, also from the tunnel, still going strong and getting even sweeter; and some apples from the orchard.

Devonshire Quarrenden and Scilly Pearl
The first early eaters are Devonshire Quarrenden (red) and Scilly Pearl (green/yellow). Both are sweet, juicy and tasty but, as with most earlies, they don't keep for long. 

Scilly Pearl is a particularly special variety, thought to be the only one bred on Scilly. It has declined in numbers over the years, but we're doing our bit to bring it back. They're definitely worth having and a real pleasure to eat.

Just to complete the strange season, we've noticed several parasol mushrooms coming up recently, thanks to the wet August.

Monday, 14 August 2017

August, the transition month

Predictably, as school holidays are upon us, August has been very changeable and at times pretty wet. More rain is forecast tomorrow! This is generally quite good for veg growing, but not so much for tourism, or for that matter fruit production.
Salad still growing well

Onions - yes they were planted very late! But looking nice

The blackberries are noticeably late this year, probably a good two weeks, because we've really had very little sun for the past two to three weeks. In fact the last warm, dry and sunny spell was about six weeks ago, after which low pressures have been in charge and driven cooler and wetter weather. Perhaps we're in for a fine autumn?
The wonderful Devonshire Quarrenden, our earliest apple

The orchard is looking good, the fruit just needing a bit more sun to ripen up

Despite the unusual timings of this season, there's no disguising that August marks the transition from summer to autumn. Fruits start to ripen, leafy growth slows down, flowers turn to seed, the light softens and the air clears.  The starlings start their autumnal chattering and swallows start to sit on wires, perhaps resting before their long journey south. It's one of my favourite times of the season.
Strawberries planted in May, growing like stink. Should be a good crop next summer!

The last of the evening primrose flowers

Squash coming on well, a winter favourite

Autumn calabrese getting away nicely

Cucumbers in full production

Grapes in the tunnel, a real favourite

Cherry tomato

On the farm there starts to be the biggest diversity of crops that you get in the whole year, and really is a pleasure to harvest...and of course eat!
Peaches growing in the polytunnel - delicious!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Salad - it's what we do best

Picking salad on Monday morning at 7.00, on a beautifully calm sunny morning reminded me of why I love growing at this spot so much.

The resulting salad mix is exceptionally good and really enjoyed by our customers. A very satisfying job!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Beautiful April

April has been a very dry and sunny month, which is great for tourism and not so good for growing. The two are rarely compatible, so it's a good job we farm both vegetables and tourists! 

But let's not focus on the negatives - here's a selection of photos from St Martin's on a walk last Sunday. The gorse is particularly spectacular at the moment.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Recent photos

The warmer and drier weather this week has lifted everyone's spirits and allowed us to get on with jobs on the farm. Today the first salad has been planted outdoors (after the early ones in the polytunnel), ready for a big harvest of salad this year...hopefully.

The soil is in really good condition, having had a nice dressing of seaweed back in November. But the weeds are growing fast too, so there's no time for slouching around!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Our air ambulance

"Oh f***" was the first thing I said when I realised my arm was caught in the linkage of my tractor. When I say caught, I mean crushed, trapped, no way of getting out. My arm was crushed to half the width it should be, the pain was like nothing I'd ever experienced before and I couldn't get out of the situation.

It was a stupid accident and has taught me a very tough lesson, but the happy outcome for my left arm was due to two things - a mobile phone and an air ambulance. Fortunately for me I had a phone in my pocket, which I could use with my one free hand to call an ambulance and explain just how much trouble I was in. Immediately they recognised I would need to get to a hospital fast, and that meant an air ambulance.
The cut on my arm a few weeks after the operation and staples removed

After excellent service from local co-responders and paramdeics, the air ambulance arrived to pick me up direct from St Martin's. On a clear blue summer's day it landed in a small field and off I went to take a ride to Treliske Hospital in Truro. I had an amazing flight, the morphine having kicked in a bit and was able to sit up, chat to the crew and see dolphins from the helicopter! Being dropped off right in front of A&E is something pretty special, though does make you feel a little self conscious!

To cut a long story short, I was operated on later that day - a crush injury in a limb means that the swelling can cut off all blood supply and nerves, so it needs to be opened up to allow swelling to reduce. The surgeon said afterwards "the operation went well, all the dead tissue came back to life. But another 2 or 3 hours and the damage would have been permanent, and you would have lost the use of your lower arm".

Wow, that hit hard. I realised just how much both good and bad luck I had had. Good that the air ambulance got me to excellent care very quickly and effectively saved the use of my arm.

Nearly 4 years on my arm is 95% what it used to be. I still have the scars, have gained some wisdom, and will continue fundraising for this charity that provides an essential service that, incredibly, is not government funded! Last year we raised £100 on the veg stall, and this year will be looking to raise more.

Please support Cornwall Air Ambulance if you can:

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Beach farming

This photo was taken last April by Emma, our apprentice last year. It
shows just how close we are to the beach and why the soil is so sandy!
Lovely spot on a nice day, not so good when a southerly storm unleashes...