Mixed salad leaves are a mainstay of the winter veg shares at Bennison Farm. You may think of salads as a summer crop but many salad leaves are better suited to cool conditions as they run to seed very quickly in the hot weather and can suffer more pest damage such as flee beetle in the case of the brassica family.
The polytunnels provide them with protection from the elements and ensure high quality leaves. We sow at the end of the summer to plant in early October and harvest from November.
The salads will stay in the ground until they start to flower in early spring when they are taken out to make way for the first plants of the new season.
The types of leaves you can enjoy over the winter include Mizuna, Purple frills and Golden frills mustard, Tatsois, Lettuce, Endive, Bucks Horn Plantain and Winter Purslane.
Having been a keen advocate of organic growing methods for several decades and, due to many career related house moves, we have found much joy over the years in turning each newly acquired garden into a wildlife friendly and chemical free zone. Accordingly, having moved to Wivenhoe, I had Bennison Farm on my radar for a while, as well as carrying out house improvements and starting on another garden.
With the arrival of the first “lockdown”, our thoughts focused more towards supporting local growers rather than using supermarkets and so we decided to join the Bennison Farm scheme. We have been very happy with the results. It’s been so nice to nip down to the pub and pick up our bag of fresh veg every week, saying hello to the chickens on the way in. I’ve been very impressed at how clean and slug free Danny’s cabbages are, as my home grown ones usually have passengers that need to be rescued from the sink, however hard I have tried to deter them. I clearly still have a lot to learn!
Despite getting on a bit in years, we have, hopefully, kept reasonably fit and so we were up for helping out with the work days on the farm, where possible. So far, we have managed the June and July days and enjoyed both of them despite the weather on each day being diametrically opposed to the other! The June day was warm and sunny and Danny made us very welcome. The time went quickly as we worked with a lovely family and could chat whilst weeding. (This can get complicated as both my husband and I are called “Chris”, but we have had to get used to that one).
The July day was wet underfoot but dry-ish from above, so that worked out well. We were quite a large group of people, all very friendly and welcoming. With the soil being soft and friable, the weeds came up easily, often revealing all sorts of interesting little critters to observe while working.
It beats a gym membership any day, as far as I’m concerned.
In mid spring we emailed our members to ask if any would be interested in joining the Steering Group for the farm. The group meets regularly to discuss different ways to support the veg share scheme. We are very pleased to say that a number of members replied, and a new Steering Group was formed in April.
When the farm started in 2012 the Steering Group helped by promoting the veg share scheme and building the membership. But now the farm is established the group are looking at different ways to support the farm.
The group has met several times throughout spring. They have helped by contributing to the quarterly newsletter and by working on a members survey.
They have also been thinking about ideas for social events, and ways to make volunteering at the farm easier.
We’ll keep you updated about the Steering Group in our newsletters, and if anyone would be interested in joining, please contact us via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks to all the past members of the Steering Group. Everything you did was greatly appreciated! Thank you!