And just like that we are two weeks into January... Just like the whole of 2020, I can’t work out if it's been the slowest few weeks or the fastest!
When I look back on everything that has happened and how much things have changed it all just seems like a bit of a blur… I know 2020 was a year of ups and downs, and we have had a rocky start to 2021, but the ‘glass half full’ optimist in me can’t help but notice the positives that have come with it.
It’s become very apparent that over the past 9 months, people have really changed the way they live their lives. They have very much gone back to their roots and are enjoying the simpler things; going for a blustery walk on Dartmoor, spending an evening laughing and joking with the family, and exploring what is actually on their doorstep. We have never seen as many people wondering around our farm track, admiring the breath-taking Estuary views and observing what we are growing in the fields. I don’t normally have to fight over my favourite spot at the top of the hill, overlooking the river towards Turf Locks (it was my Mum and Dad’s favourite spot too), but it seems our customers have also made it their new favourite spot as well – you can’t blame them really.
Normally, in January, everyone is frantically trying to stick to their ‘healthy living’ New Year’s resolutions; eating less, exercising more and taking part in ‘Dry January’. But it’s interesting, this year seems different. People appear to have a much more balanced lifestyle now, meaning they don’t feel the need to make crazy cuts in their lives. I think that this is great; a healthy & thoughtful balance rather than drastic changes that are widely unsustainable.
This is also great for our our small, local, independent, cider makers, brewers and cheese mongers, our artisan bakers and chocolate makers, all of whom are really beginning to feel a strain of lockdown 3.0. They rely on a steady income and continuous support all year round to keep their businesses alive.
Now, I’m not suggesting you should binge on alcohol and indulge in chocolate, but it’s all about perfect moderation! Rather than abstaining, perhaps swap your weekly treat for a locally produced alternative, your taste buds will also thank you.
Here at Darts Farm, we have long been fans of fermented products containing live cultures that are good for your gut, and this year they are going to be more important than ever. The microbes that live in your gut are crucial to maintaining your immune system & overall health. Eating the right foods that feed your microbiome can really help, some of my favourites are Willy’s Apple Cider Vinegar, 365 Kombucha, Bungay Raw Butter, Eaten Alive Kimchi & Vicky’s Sourdough.
We have also noticed that people’s perceptions of the farming industry and agriculture as a whole have shifted. People are taking much more of an interest in how their food is grown and produced and want to know exactly where it comes from. When it comes to feeding their families, they want food they can trust. They have realised our local food community is an essential part of our culture, heritage and long-term sustainability. Our passionate artisans and farmers make up our rich countryside tapestry and are what make our part of the UK simply world class.
Here at Darts, we have a traditional, mixed farm with a sustainable, circular, self-sufficient farming system. The manure that our native Ruby Red cattle produce in the winter months is spread across our fields, providing important natural nutrients and increasing the organic matter, improving the soils fertility and overall condition. This helps us grow strong, nutrient dense fruit and vegetables that are full of flavour; along with a healthy crop of luscious rich grass for our cattle to graze in the summer months and cereals to feed on in the winter.
Our new flock of sheep are also a key part of our rotations. All year round, they move across the farm, keeping the soil fertile with their dung and encouraging a new growth of grass which helps to lock and reduce carbon; much like our Ruby Reds cattle that graze our wetlands in the summer months.
For us on the farm, seasonal vegetables are still growing and the team are busy handpicking our hardy winter crops. January King, savoy, red and white cabbage; sprout and flower sprouts; curly, Italian and black kale; purple sprouting broccoli, beetroot, chard, potatoes. leeks and the unsung hero of the veg world, celeriac. Have you ever tried it? It’s so versatile; great mashed, roasted of added to a hearty stew. You can also eat it raw; it gives and amazing nutty flavour to salads and slaws.
Anyway, I digress – to conclude, who knows what 2021 is going to bring; it's certainly been a rocky start, but I am definitely hoping, that once we are back out of lockdown people will stick to their new found way of life, take things a little slower, and enjoy what’s around them in family, friends, nature & good food!
Come and join us and pick our Sunflowers for Charity!
Have a day of farm fun with our Maize Maze!