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Thu 19 Jul 2018

2018/9 crop updates

GH
Grahame Hunter Public Seen by 51

This is the place to post pictures or comments about what is happening on the farmed field now .

TA

Tony Allan Tue 13 Oct 2020

Dear Darren

Very many thanks for drawing attention to the comments by James Rebank on the BBC Food Programme. Thank you for circulating them. He has become a very significant figure on the UK farming scene. His first very readable book was on sheep farming in Cumbria. It is a real page turner. Over the last three years he has earned a place amongst the food and farming voices on sustainable farming in the UK. He speaks as well as he writes and his contribution last week was exceptional. He has just published another book which I look forward to reading. Best Tony (Allan)

D

Darren Mon 12 Oct 2020

Hope everyone is keeping well in these unusual times.

Nice to hear all the updates and comments. Thanks for everyone whos been involved.

Good to hear seeds are in the ground and we are all set for our second year of no input grains.

Agroforestry is certainly an exciting development, nice theres potential for a local producer to take fruit we could produce. I'd also be interested in being involved in tree planting. From a covid perspective I think as its work and outside theres greater chances we could organise things safely and legally, but guess we'll have to see how things are come the time.

Just listened to a farmer on the Food Program chatting about the state of agriculture in the UK & how we got here. Think he stated things well - would recommend a listen https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000ndb8

TA

Tony Allan Tue 6 Oct 2020

DearJohn

Very many thanks for letting us know that you had the time to make good use of a planting opportunity. It is very good to hear that you successfully sowed the heritage wheat. Tony (Allan)

JC

John Cherry Mon 5 Oct 2020

Thanks for your kind comments.

Quick update: we grazed the top half of the field last week, the cattle munched the clover and some of the weeds down nicely, we were going to repeat the process on the bottom half, then I saw the forecast for horrible weather coming, so we moved the fences off and brought the seed drill in and have now planted 200kg/ha of John Letts's heritage landrace wheat. It all went in a treat. Both halves look well flattened by the drill.

To answer your question, @Rosy Benson , about how clever it is to grow continuous cereal crops...time will tell. There will be weeds, but I'm hoping that by drilling in good time, that the wheat will grow away from the other vegetation and stay there (if it grows to five or six feet). The biodiversity of the under-story is the equivalent of growing break-crops, so a rotation of actual crops is not so important, if you see what I mean.

We are waiting to hear back from the Woodland Trust on which trees would be available, will let you all know when to turn up with your spades!

John

RB

Rosy Benson Fri 25 Sep 2020

Thank you @John Cherry for the updates. So sorry to hear e5 pulled out of getting the last half of the YQ harvest and the mice getting in. I'm having problems with weevils, turns out grain doesn't store well forever! I actually asked Laurent (e5s miller) on Tuesday what happened because interestingly he came to Gothelney to look at what Fred is doing here in terms of grain diversity (on a non organic certified farm) and he said it had come from the Directors at e5 not to use non-organic grains anymore, I think partly because their packaging for e5 retail flour has Organic written on it, and they did also have a big drop in sales over the last few months as the their wholesale bread market went through the floor. It is a massive shame after all that hard work at the beginning to persuade them to take it and you getting it cleaned and saved for them. Not sure how we could have negotiated that better, maybe more of a contract of sale, someone on the ground to keep the grain flowing! As to planting trees, yes! here to to help. Maybe we don't need to vote on the specifics? If @John Cherry you decide what species? Also quick question (perhaps big question..) we've had at least 3 years of cereal harvests, albeit which have been undersown with other species but do we need to do more of a swap to something else in the rotation as surely the annual weed seed level is creeping up and the soil be lacking because of this? or did we decide to try continuous cropping of the John Letts Heritage populations? What is the long term plan? On a side note; if anyone wants to book on a day learning about sourdough baking using regional grain I'm running workshops down at Gothelney Farm in Somerset www.fieldbakery.com Your all welcome, but just 6 at a time! All the best to everyone.

TA

Tony Allan Fri 25 Sep 2020

Thank your Abby for your comment. I agree we should attempt an on line session.

Best Tony (Allan)

AR

Abby Rose Thu 24 Sep 2020

Even though I’m slow to respond, every time an OurField update comes through from you @John Cherry and any responses, it puts a big smile on my face - good or bad news! So thank you for always keeping us in the loop and keeping the momentum going.

Planting trees in OurField is super exciting! How can we best help in making that happen? Do we need to raise funds to support this?

And sounds like we need to make a decision about what to do with last years harvest. Maybe it’s time for an online collective meeting somepoint soon, or if not definitely a vote...

TA

Tony Allan Tue 15 Sep 2020

Dear John and Stephen

Very many thanks for the report, comments and discussion. 2020 has been an extraordinary year with perverse weather in every season.. Thank you John for making 2020 an innovative one on OurField. We appreciate your giving attention to the project. Thank you Stephen for the comparative information on agronomy and marketing. Please share more if you have time.

I am totally supportive of what you are doing on OurField. Have you worked our the costs of any investment?

Best Tony (Allan)

SJ

Steven Jacobs Tue 15 Sep 2020

Thanks for the update, John.

I know from farmers I work with that this season has been particularly difficult, with floods during the autumn and winter then a spring drought making it ideal for nobody, except maybe for some fruit growers.

I wonder how things have been across the rest of Weston Farm?

A tonne an acre isn't bad, considering. I don't recall what was done for fertility in the end, did they get any N?

Wakelyn's is beautiful, isn't it? When Martin put the trees in rows it was all about biodiversity and his alley cropping design was novel, in the this country it was unique. But yes, wider rows is sensible. Stephen Briggs at Whitehall farm, near Peterborugh, has his at 24 metres, I think. Whatever suits the equipment you have for managing the arable crops.

Stephen was talking about root pruning too, that his trees are managed above and below the ground enables him to gain crop advanatages almost right up to the treeline, otherwise the pay off is that the trees take away from the crop more than woul dbe ideal. And of course the ideal is the shelter and nurture of the trees but still leaving room for the cereals.

He was reporting on twitter that while he too has suffered with the extreme weather he saw benefits from the buffering the trees gave to the crop.

Exciting times ahead. How many trees and will we be able to come and see things, maybe even put some in the ground? I appreciate with the pandemic that might not be possible with this number six law now in place but if that gets lifted maybe we could think about it.

Seed will be limited this year for certain crop varieties due to poor harevsting. If you've not yet done so maybe get seed orders in now if you can.

And thanks again, John. Looks like progress at Our Field.

Steven

OR

Oliver Rubinstein Fri 25 Sep 2020

For me sustainable farming systems are all about balance. However, as we all know, discussion about all too frequently turns into simple binary arguments about what the land should be used for, often ignoring the food production element.

I think that agroforestry is an incredibly exciting way of solving many of these problems, by allowing multiple ecosystem services and land uses to be combined. It's a fantastic example of how we can balance the need to sequester carbon, whilst also providing mutiple food crops in a resilient system. Agroforestry systems feature in pillar 2 of the NFU's Net Zero by 2040 blueprint as an effective means of increasing on-farm carbon storage and I'm sure interest is only going to increase in the coming years.

The pioneering work done by Martin and others has shown that these systems are viable although it's still early days and as Stephen mentioned, things like optimum row width are vital to get right, if it's going to be viable in an agricultural sense. At the Organic Research Centre (which Wakelyns used to be part of) whilst I was there, they had an agroforestry trial in a field across the road. Unfortunately, they planted the trees in an extremely dry winter and spring, which meant that establishment was really poor.

10 years+ on, last time I saw the trial, it resembled quite a patchy hedgerow, with many of the trees struggling to get going. Whilst there's not much you can do about the weather, it just goes to show that factors out of our control can affect the viability of these systems. In this case, it simply wasn't viable to irrigate the saplings and I'm sure this is the case for most farms too. However, given the experimental nature of this project, I think it's the ideal setting to give it a go and would be incredibly exciting to see how it progresses. I'm sure that the Our Field members would be more than happy to lend a hand with the tree planting (within the limit of restrictions).

Regarding this year's crop (or what's left of it), I'd be in favour of turning into flour. Perhaps we could vote on it? A group call would be good as well.

JC

John Cherry Mon 14 Sep 2020

Sorry for radio silence, but I'll give a quick update:

The heritage wheats yielded a shade under a tonne an acre, the emmer and spelt wheat did rather less as it was swamped with weeds, the rye was an almost complete wipe-out at the bottom of the field; most of it drowned before it got going in that horrible wet early winter we had after we drilled the seed. John Letts has effectively maintained ownership of the crop, but is happy to arrange for it to be milled for flour or turned into gin or beer...what-ever the collective would like. I haven't talked to him lately (we've both been quite busy), but will update when I know more.

Meanwhile...we went to Wakelyn's last week to have a look at Martin Wolfe's fantastic legacy: a 55acre farm with dozens of rows of trees dividing the fields into strips. It was a windy day, but the farm was basking in a lovely calm micro-climate. We were shown round by Martin's son David (Martin himself died last year) and gave us lots of ideas for an agroforestry trial on ourfield. David admitted that a lot of the strips that Martin planted are a bit too close to each other (some of the original rows are barely 12 yards apart), so we thought we'd aim for 24 or even 30 yard wide strips to allow the wheat a bit of sunlight. We have a beer blender who is renting a shed at Lannock who is very keen to get hold of some apples for cider making and other fruits for adding to their beer, so we'll have a basic market for a lot of the fruit that we'll grow.

It seems sensible to start with the top half of the field only as this will be quite a labour intensive project. Tree planting will ideally take place before Christmas (depending on how horrible the weather is this year). We'll drill the wheat before then, probably after grazing the clover and weeds down as far as possible. Early drilled wheat will have much better chance of getting away and yielding more strongly. We could graze it again in the New Year to help the wheat tiller and further suppress the clover and weeds.

Any thoughts or comments?

John

SJ

Steven Jacobs Wed 19 Aug 2020

Yes, agreed. The issues with handling food grade as opposed to animal feed as well as marketing, gaining committments etc. are all aspects that we do need to all be much more aware of.

WA

Wendy Alcock Fri 7 Aug 2020

Agreed, thanks for the update John. It's a shame the YQ did not get a good price but I'm sure it was the best choice. Good luck with the harvest in this heat, if it goes ahead!

TA

Tony Allan Fri 7 Aug 2020

Dear John

Very many thanks for letting us know that you hope to be harvesting today. I hope the weeds don't cause too much trouble/

Your comments on marketing confirm that understand the market is very important indeed.

Thanks for finding time to send the message.

Best Tony (Allan)

JC

John Cherry Thu 6 Aug 2020

Quick update:

We are hoping to combine ourfield plots tomorrow...sounds like it'll be nice and hot which will make dealing with the weeds a bit easier. I'll let you know how it goes, if it goes...

On last years YQ that was earmarked for e5 Bakehouse, we had a change of plan as e5 stopped taking it with the lame excuse (inter alia) that flour sales were down during lockdown. My impression was that if you had flour for sale you could name your price, but then I'm only a farmer. As I said before, whilst they waited for sales to pick up, the mice moved into the bags of clean grain and made merry, so we've emptied the bags onto the heap of YQ we grew ourselves and sold it for a disappointing £155/tonne, which was the best price we could get.

John

TA

Tony Allan Fri 10 Jul 2020

Trees ... Thank you John for the updates on tree planting research and on marketing and milling grain. Your message is much appreciated. There is much to consider.

Local markets ... Re-establishing local marketing systems is not easy and not made easier by disruptions such as the Covid crisis. The crisis has rung alarm bells - which is good. But getting the local marketing infrastructures in place is demanding. Do members - in addition to Rosy - have evidence of local innovation.

Farming Today (Friday 10 July) .... was depressing. The excellent representative from the tenant farmers organisation revealed that Tesco was back with contracts that can only reduce farm gate prices. Best Tony (Allan)

JC

John Cherry Thu 9 Jul 2020

Trees are still a happy idea. Not sure what grant situation etc is, but would be very happy to have help with planting and looking after. Need to decide all sorts of things before then, like what's it for? Nuts, fruit or timber? Who's going to kill the squirrels? Any input gratefully received. Autumn is the ideal time to plant...but a lot of decisions need moving before then.

Meanwhile the 2020 crop is a bit of a curates egg. There are patches of nothing bar sterile brome (an evil grass weed whose seeds bore through your clothing and then into your flesh) and there are patches of wheat that look like you could walk across the top of the crop. And a lot of stuff which is halfway between those extremes. John Letts called in the other day and seemed quite pleased with how it all looked, I've got the odd photo but they stubbornly remain locked down in my mobile telephone. Harvest won't be until mid August.

e5 Bakehouse have gone a bit quiet on the lovely YQ that we bagged up for them. They've had half of it, but lost interest in the rest. I sold a tonne to a friend who mills a bit down in Kent (available from Pure Kent on internet I think, he also grinds rapeseed oil and sell it as Pure Kent). The mice have now got into the bags that remain here. It's all very wearing. Think we'll have to buy a small mill and grind the mouse free bags ourselves. We've got a few little bags of wholemeal which we've ground with a Mockmill. Really nice stuff to bake with, if anyone wants some. £2 for a 1.25kg bag.

Hope you're all keeping well

John

AR

Abby Rose Thu 9 Jul 2020

I'm just catching up - tree planting scheme does sound brilliant idea and could be a great way for us all to get involved helping planting - when in Autumn do you think the trees might go in? Is this still the plan?
How is everything looking in the run up to harvest? And are e5 taking any more of the Ourfield YQ @John Cherry ?

OH

Olly H-S Fri 15 May 2020

Better late than never! Just a quick note after catching up with the various threads here; a. the loaves look spectacular! b.fully support the tree planting scheme - what scope is there for getting involved and assisting with this / notwithstanding the lock-down issues? c. Really interesting moment for uk / global food supply chains and initiatives such as this - looking forward to paying closer attention from now on!

TA

Tony Allan Wed 6 May 2020

Dear Steven

I know Tim well. My international reputation is the result of my work on water embedded in international food commodity trade. It has become known as a 'virtual water trade'. We enjoy a version of food security nationally and globally as a consequence of food commodity trade. Farmers manage the 92% of water embedded in food on society's behalf. The 92% figure is the total of the freshwater consumption and the consumption of effective rainfall - soil water. The latter accounts for about 70% of the consumption. Unfortunately the global food system is dysfunctional and unsustainable.

The way water is managed and mismanaged is the consequence of what happens in the food system. Mainly in mode 1 where food is produced by farmers. On realizing this condition I have involved myself in food and farming. I found Tim Lang's seminars at City University a very useful way to engage. Tim is a very generous professional.

Thank you again for finding the time to send your email. Stay safe. Best TonyA

SJ

Steven Jacobs Wed 6 May 2020

By the way, @Tony Allan - I was on a Zoom conference/workshop yesterday and one of the key speakers was Tim Lang. Tim mentioned water as a measure of environmental footprint and said he got that from his old friend Tony Allan who he said is 'the Godfather of Water'.

SJ

Steven Jacobs Wed 6 May 2020

Gosh @Rosy Benson - they look beautiful. And OurField YQ too. And with collaboration with Gothelney and Cann Mill. Brilliant. 👏

TA

Tony Allan Wed 6 May 2020

Dear Rosy

Very many thanks for letting us see the loaves baked with OurField YQ and other grain. Well done. It is very good to see what happens further along the supply chain. How are the loaves distributed and sold? TonyA

RB

Rosy Benson Tue 5 May 2020

Many thanks to those that donated! For those that aren't on instagram! (@bread_and_roses_bristol for those that are) Here are some pictures of this weeks loaves the OurField YQ went into (along with some April Bearded wholewheat from Gothelney Farm in Somerset and some stoneground from Cann Mill in Dorset, so a mix of heritage and modern variety grains). Rx

TA

Tony Allan Wed 22 Apr 2020

Dear Rosy

Thank you for all the news and many congratulations on your baking contributions. Also for promoting the use of OurField grain. If you have time we'd be very pleased to hear more. Good luck with the donations. Tony (Allan)

RB

Rosy Benson Tue 21 Apr 2020

Hi everyone, thanks for the update John, I'm very much in support of planting trees, be great to hear what grants/help is available from the Woodland Trust. Great news on the payment too from e5, they are back open (albeit in a limited way) from the 25th so hopefully more OurField grains going into good bread. Update from baking over down in Bristol is that most of the smaller bakeries are closed (as turning to an online general store wasn't practical). I'm hiring a friends small bakery and baking solo, under the name of Bread and Roses, the loaves of which are going out to women who access One25 charity alongside hot meals, we fundraised through the Coexist Community kitchen (which I teach bread baking at), so local grains continue to nourish my community! and brilliantly to those that probably wouldn't ordinarily have access to this kind of bread. I'm also using a lot heritage grains from Fred at Gothelney (also part of the South west Grains Network). There's only ONE day left on the crowdfunder, if you'd like to help some of the OurField grains to get milled and made into some tasty bread for those in need, https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/covid-19emergencycoexistcommunitykitchen just post that you'd like it to go into bread and I can make it happen! Hope you are all managing in this tumultuous and unsettling time. All the best x

KF

Kirsten Foster Sat 18 Apr 2020

And can I echo Wendy's echo please!Thanks all - hope you're all safe and well
kirsten

Kirsten Foster
kirstensarafoster@gmail.com
+44 (0)7935992773

WA

Wendy Alcock Sat 18 Apr 2020

Just to echo other comments, thanks for the updates all and I agree with the agroforestry idea - we seem like the ideal project to give this a try.

CL

Christine Lewis Fri 17 Apr 2020

Thanks for the update Grahame and John. I remember we discussed including trees way back in 2018 but didn't have the resources available then. I think times have changed and this sounds a good opportunity for us to push forward and I support the proposal, noting when we have the full financial picture we may need a quick vote to proceed, it all sounds encouraging. Thanks to everyone for keeping this moving, I find myself very distracted right now. Keep safe.

TA

Tony Allan Thu 16 Apr 2020

Dear Grahame

Thank you for the news that E5 has paid. In the current commercial hiatus it is amazing that they can settle invoices. E5 is in that part of the food system that is hardest hit by closures. It is very good to hear that we can cope with the expenses of the tree planting. We look forward to hearing about the budget. Meanwhile enjoy the sunshine. Are he bluebells out yet? If you walk that way perhaps you could send us some photos.

GH

Grahame Hunter Wed 15 Apr 2020

We have now received payment (thank you E5!) for 8.5 tonnes of the 2019 grains shipped. This gives me an opportunity to produce a new set of accounts bringing everyone up to date. There is even some spare cash in the account to pay for those putative trees.

SJ

Steven Jacobs Sun 12 Apr 2020

Thanks @John Cherry

Trees on OurField would be wonderful. I’d be very supportive. As to which, depends on the land to a great extent but a mix with some nut trees would be good. Walnuts and hazelnuts I believe will do well in an English climate. I know hazel grows well alongside ash. And ash is a lovely tree and is lovely wood, good for turning. Maybe some fruit trees too, if there’s some local apple varieties you’d like to try or even some you want to try from elsewhere. I love Egremont Russet, but I don’t know how that would fare at Weston.

But, yes. I like the thought of maybe in a few years having a stroll by some cereals and between the arbours on OurField.

Happy Easter.

Much love to all of you, especially now.

Cheers,

Steven

TA

Tony Allan Sat 11 Apr 2020

Thank you John for the up-dates on the status of the crops on OurField and for advising the agro-forestry initiative, I am in favour. It has been an amazing spring. How is the soil moisture? I hope we don't have another 2018 spring and summer with no rainfall. It would be good to hear from Rosy Benson on what is happening in the world of milling and baking? Good wishes to all.

JC

John Cherry Fri 10 Apr 2020

You'll need good eyesight...as usual I'm failing at picture posting...

JC

John Cherry Fri 10 Apr 2020

If you look closely you can see the rows amidst the clover/trefoil understory

JC

John Cherry Fri 10 Apr 2020

Just a quick update this beautiful sunny Good Friday afternoon. I took a look at the field this morning, on the whole it's looking pretty good...if the heritage grains perform as they advertise themselves, then we should get a crop off the vast majority of the field. There's a bare patch at the bottom where the remorseless wet drowned everything, weeds included.

We've been talking to the Woodland Trust who are keen to set up some agro-forestry. The ourfield field is perfect for this as it is close to the Groundswell site and is orientated North/South which not many of our fields are. I thought I'd put this idea to the collective now, to give everyone time to think about it before we plant (seeds as well as, possibly, trees) next autumn...if we were to go down this route we'd want to drill up and down the hill rather than across it. We'd also need to decide on what trees to plant...

The YQ going to e5 was going nicely, but they've shut down now for a bit, so it's all ground to a halt.

Happy Easter everyone, hope you're all keeping well

John

CL

Christine Lewis Fri 20 Mar 2020

@John Cherry Hi John and everyone. Just a query if our 2019 grain can support the current shortage of grain and flour - realise it may just be logistics relating to the supply chain. Stay safe everyone.

WA

Wendy Alcock Sat 8 Feb 2020

Agree with other replies. Thanks for doing this and reporting back to us Rosy :)

TA

Tony Allan Fri 7 Feb 2020

Dear Rosie

Very many thanks for sharing your comments and photos of your big contributions on Wednesday. You helped us learn a lot about the details of marketing and the significance of appearance, cleanliness of samples and delivered grain for example.

If Grahame has problems remunerating your petrol costs and the London ULEZ expenses of driving in London please let us know.

Thank you again for making a difference. And thank you John for the cleaning and the bagging and the networking on our behalf.

Best TonyA

SJ

Steven Jacobs Fri 7 Feb 2020

This is as cool as a cool thing, well done @John Cherry and @Rosy Benson - utterly brilliant.

Rosy, also having you go with the delivery on this one is extra cool, and so getting the chance to speak with E5 folk, especially as you know them so well, and getting a handle on stuff the way you have is very useful, not least because it gives good clarity for those of us sit to one side.

We have social media accounts under the name Ourfield, though I can see they've been rather inactive of late -

Twitter - @OurFieldProject https://twitter.com/OurFieldProject

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/ourfieldproject/?igshid=16j3tzcz0ancu

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/OurFieldProject/

These can be good places to promote the project. Who has access to post on any/all of these, I wonder?

RB

Rosy Benson Thu 6 Feb 2020


Delivery all went very smoothly! about 10 hours of driving in all but the van coped with the load! It was lovely to see the process through and get chance to speak to everyone at e5 about where the grain came from. An OurField success!


Sounds like they do definitely want the rest (19 tonnes) but they just had an issue with the gilchesters flour that its usually mixed (in smaller quantities) with the freshly milled flour (which is what the OurField YQ would go in) in the Hackney Wild loaf, just trying to limit the amount of variables at one time else it gets really difficult, so they've brought in some organic Paragon wheat from Organic Arable (a modern) not terribly exciting but is a familiar grain to mill and bake with. 


They are test mixing and baking with the OurField YQ today which will be baked off tomorrow morning, fingers crossed, my friend Carmen the Baker will send some pictures for everyone to see. I think they didn't get a good sense of it before as the test grains brought in (end of last year?) were too unclean and maybe the grain was a bit fresher, it mills better when the moisture content has come down a bit. Thankfully the rest is now much cleaner thanks to John Cherry for getting the cleaners in. Maybe its because the modern varieties (which YQ is also) sit closer to the ground so there tends to be more grit in with the grain. Stones going into the fancy french stonemill a definite no no, grit going into the bread as you imagine very very bad! They are quite overworked so don't really have time to pick out bits. I think we shouldn't underestimate what a bad sample can do to the reputation of the grain to the bakers and millers when trying to go for this direct route to market, if theres a way we can clean a small amount before committing to cleaning the rest that would be ideal. Maybe that old gravity separator you showed me John?! 


Ed gave me two hauliers to pass on to you Cheetah Couriers https://www.cheetahcouriers.co.uk (apparently they used to deliver to e5 it cost £60 a pallet which you can fit 2 half bags on) and another company Bartrums (though they are in Suffolk; https://www.bartrums.com).


Anyone feel free to use any of these pictures, sorry they aren't brilliant! or go visit and eat your bread! Second Abby it would be really great to get some press about the project if anyone knows of anyone?

AR

Abby Rose Wed 5 Feb 2020

This all very exciting! @Rosy Benson would love to see some photos of the grain pick up today if you have any :) and thanks so much for doing that! And @John Cherry thanks for sharing it with E5. This is really exciting! Wonder if we could even ask them to call it an OurField-Hackney Wild for a limited time only whilst using the OurField YQ!? Maybe a long shot but we could all then share about it, and since it’s real bread week end of Feb could make a good timely story? Anyone have good contacts with. Journalist who might want to write about this?

JC

John Cherry Wed 5 Feb 2020

@Oliver Rubinstein I wouldn't bother with Craggs, personally. They are miles away and were only interested in spelt (and they didn't give us a particularly good deal on that). There's no immediate panic for the YQ, the e5 bakehouse are just struggling with a batch of challenging flour (from someone else) and need to find the right blend to bake with, before taking ours in. I hope.

John

TA

Tony Allan Wed 5 Feb 2020

Dear Grahame

Well spotted. It is good to see you online. TonyA

GH

Grahame Hunter Wed 5 Feb 2020

I see that almost exactly one year ago Oliver Rubinstein @Oliver Rubinstein posted about Craggs, who helped us then by buying all the Spelt ..he wrote "They're also very interested in the wheat we're growing this year too, so I'll keep them updated on its progress.".

So, Oliver, perhaps you may have a moment to call John @John Cherry and find out what we actually do have to sell after the E5 volte-face, and ask Craggs? John of course already knows them..

TA

Tony Allan Tue 4 Feb 2020

Thank you Rosy for being able to move the grain. We appreciate your being willing to respond to the opportunity.

Best. TonyA

RB

Rosy Benson Mon 3 Feb 2020

Oh sorry they are so disorganised! even though I don’t work there anymore I know it can tricky sometimes. More reason to have other buyers too! Charlotte the Miller got back to me, she doesn’t take non organic certified grain but she will post on the Traditional Corn Millers Guild what we have. And I’ve given her some info on the project.

Great thanks for the YQ, could you email me at rosy.benson@gmail.com an address of where to come to on Wednesday morning?

see you then!

JC

John Cherry Mon 3 Feb 2020

Hi Rosy

e5 have just been on and said they've had a big delivery and can't fit ours in. They also say they'd rather have 1 tonne and see how it goes to start with, which is annoying as we've just spent all morning cleaning and (half-tonne) bagging the whole lot.

So...if you could swing by this way on Wednesday and pick a half tonne bag up, that might work out really well (and 50kg bag for you towards delivery costs). Thanks also for the other ideas. Looking forward to picking your brains about mills!

John

JC

John Cherry Tue 4 Feb 2020

Dear Tony

Thanks for your message and offer. It looks like we won't need the subsidy this time as Rosy will be delivering!

Best wishes

John

CL

Christine Lewis Tue 4 Feb 2020

John, it seems very sensible to add the Crusoe to your heap as you suggest. Our efforts should focus on the more valuable grain to market. I remember how difficult it was for us last time to find a buyer, if you have a route to market already lined up for the Crusoe that would be great.

RB

Rosy Benson Mon 3 Feb 2020


Hi John. Just let me know today if you’d need me to deliver on Wednesday, sounds like maybe it’s already set up though. 


I’ve messaged a friend who mills at Worsbrough Mill to see if they might want any Millers Choice, see if she gets back to me, how much do we have to sell? Do you know if any still functioning water or wind mills in the area that might take it as local grain? Other than e5 I don’t know that many working mills...maybe Tuxford? 


I’d love to buy 50kg of the YQ grain if possible too like Annie. I’m helping run a small bread subscription bakery down in Somerset at the moment. We change grains every week and email out info so people can understand a bit more about what they’re tasting and the systems their grown in. I could pick it up on Wednesday if I was delivering the other stuff to e5? 


Hoping to set up a small urban mill (one of the New American Stone Mills) in Bristol in the coming year and bakery/teaching space with a friend, still very early stages of getting funding and space, but we will need more grains than are currently up for getting than Fred (the farmer who’s part of our South West Grains Network) can produce so hopefully if there’s any of John Letts to sell next harvest and it’s good quality, we’d be interested in some. Whatever the group collectively wants though.


All the best.

TA

Tony Allan Mon 3 Feb 2020

Dear John

Very many thanks for the update on getting the grain to E5. I thought I had sent a message last week with a suggestion. But I cannot see it in the string. I said that I would be willing to pay for half the cost of transporting the 4 tonne consignment to Hackney. I agree we should reinforce the connection with E5 with a timely delivery. Please confirm that you have seen this message. Tony (Allan)

JC

John Cherry Sun 2 Feb 2020

Thanks @Rosy Benson for your offer. The wheat will be in half tonne bags. I have provisionally booked a lorry to take 4 tonnes in on Wednesday as e5 are running very low apparently. If we thought we could arrange some alternative for the rest of the tonnage, I'd happily go along with cancelling that and let you take in half a tonne to keep them going. Otherwise it might be best to get 4 tonnes to them to give us some breathing space.

@Annie Landless has reminded me that we still have the MC and Crusoe to sell. I suspect no-one will pay a premium for the Crusoe and was going to propose that we add it to our heap which is currently leaving the farm at £150/tonne. The Millers Choice should be worth some more if anyone knows anyone who wants a couple of tonnes of heritage wheat to mill. I've no idea what it is worth, but even if it was £300/tonne, that is only 30p/kg for Annie, or anyone else, to home mill. Very good value! I'll keep a bit of the YQ back too in case anyone else want a go.

John

AL

Annie Landless Sun 2 Feb 2020

Thanks for the update @John Cherry! If the collective is happy with it, I wondered if I could buy a very small quantity of the YQ / Millers / Crusoe to try home milling them into flour, as I got a table top grain mill for my birthday. Would be amazing to have a go at making something with them! :)

RB

Rosy Benson Sat 1 Feb 2020


Thanks for the great update and all your hard work. I have a small van and and am free this Wednesday If that could help, for the first load (Christines idea of joining an already existing route would be great too for further deliveries) I could take up to 600-700kg. Is it just in 25kg bags already or tonne bags? Happy to just recuperate for petrol and congestion charge as I’m due a pop in at e5 anyway and it would be quite a nice thing to do as I know all about the grain and the project! if their milling straight away that means it’ll be in the bread really soon so everyone in London get over there and taste that bread!

all the best to everyone!

CL

Christine Lewis Sat 1 Feb 2020

John,

Many thanks for the update and great news that the YQ is of good quality and a buyer and that the Letts mix hopefully will have survived the wet weather. Transporting the grain seems a problem - it would be great if we could find an existing transport link - say one that already delivers in your area from London who could take bags of grain on the way back - thinking of something like organic fruit and veg box deliveries etc. Just a thought.

JC

John Cherry Fri 31 Jan 2020

A quick update on marketing the YQ (Wakelyn's Population) we grew last year.

Having cleaned it up a bit and moved it into a grain bin at the other end of the village, we discovered that we had much more YQ than Crusoe (approx 24 tonnes to 12). This is encouraging, but not surprising really as the YQ was grown on the 'better' half of the field and it had a light coating of compost. It also is 'designed' to do better in a low-input regime.

I took samples from all three plots (YQ, Crusoe and Miller's Choice) to e5 Bakehouse so they could test grind and bake and see if it would work for them. The YQ passed with flying colours and they've agreed to buy it, all we need to do is clean it thoroughly, put it in half-tonne bags and deliver it to Hackney. The first two are easily sorted...we have the mobile seed cleaner coming here on Monday, they will clean it up and bag it. The delivery is proving more problematic. Anyone got a van?

With the new clean air regs that Londoners now enjoy, comes a massive headache for hauliers. No wonder everything is so expensive in London, the best price I've had so far is well over £100/tonne to get it there, not helped that e5 are tucked up for space and can only take 4 tonnes at a time. Need to get the first batch there earlyish next week, as they are running out of grain to mill. We'll sort something out, I daresay.

Meanwhile, most of this years Letts mix has got away ok. The continual wet has rotted some seed in the ground; we won't be able to tell what we've got till things dry out a bit and the plants start moving (not like triffids, but upwards). Fingers crossed. Have got a photo somewhere that I'll post soon

John

TA

Tony Allan Wed 30 Oct 2019

Dear John
Thank you for the update. We shall be thinking of you today as you drill OurField. Soil drainage seems to be in good order. We hope you can catch the fine weather which is forecast for today. Best TonyA

JC

John Cherry Tue 29 Oct 2019

Thanks for the agreement, everybody.
We picked up (most of) the seed from John Letts today and will be planting it tomorrow directly into last years stubble/clover/weed cover. It looks like the last dry day for a while. The ground is in good order, considering how much rain we've had, a testament to non-disturbance and minimal inputs. We've been doing quite a bit of drilling these last few days...anyone who's moved their soil (with cultivations) is struggling.
John

AW

Andy Walker
Agree
Sat 19 Oct 2019

DK

Daniel Kindred
Agree
Sat 19 Oct 2019

J

Janaki
Agree
Sat 19 Oct 2019

RB

Rosy Benson
Agree
Fri 18 Oct 2019

HG

Harry Greenfield
Agree
Fri 18 Oct 2019

CG

Cat Gregory
Agree
Fri 18 Oct 2019

OR

Oliver Rubinstein
Agree
Fri 18 Oct 2019

I guess that's what this group is about - it's a great opportunity to try it.

TF

Tamsyn Forsyth
Agree
Fri 18 Oct 2019

NH

Nicola Hughes
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

WA

Wendy Alcock
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

K

Keesje
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

D

Darren
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

TA

Tony Allan
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

SJ

Steven Jacobs
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

CL

Christine Lewis
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

Good to have a clearer and longer term plan. Sounds a great idea.

B

Ben
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

NR

Niki Reynolds
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

No till organic growing is an excellent decision.. excited to see how it will perform!

A

Anna Öhrling
Agree
Thu 17 Oct 2019

LB

Lucy Bradley
Agree
Wed 16 Oct 2019

Thi sounds great! Thank you John

SF

Sinead Fenton
Agree
Wed 16 Oct 2019

HW

Helen Wright
Agree
Wed 16 Oct 2019

AR

Abby Rose
Agree
Wed 16 Oct 2019

I am really excited to be part of this experiment as one of the potential no-till organic food production systems based on in field diversity! It could all go wrong but I think there is some merit in this group trialing it! Plus we can still do intercrop and grazing experiments along the way within the field :)

KF

Kirsten Foster
Agree
Wed 16 Oct 2019

GH

Grahame Hunter started a proposal Wed 16 Oct 2019

We support John Cherry's proposal to move OurField onto a continuous cereal regime. Closed Sat 19 Oct 2019

Outcome
by Grahame Hunter Sun 20 Oct 2019

The recent proposal was accepted by 100% of those voting.This has never happened in OurField before, so it is now a very bright green light for John Cherry to move to a no-till organic system, with a low fertility, low yield but continuous cereal experiment.
Grahame

The idea is to move to a no-till organic system, with a low fertility, low yield but continuous cereal experiment. In the first year, John would plant mostly heritage wheat and some Rye in collaboration with John Letts who will assist with the marketing of the product.
A "No" vote indicates a desire to continue making decisions on crop and methods and marketing. A "Yes" vote partly removes that opportunity for involvement because method and crop are pre-determined, whilst giving members a participation in an experimental method of grain production which he believes has economic and environmental merit.
The time scale of the vote is very short because John wishes to acquire the grain and plan a drilling regime within days.

Agree - 23
Abstain - 0
Disagree - 0
Block - 0
23 people have voted (38%)
CL

Christine Lewis Wed 16 Oct 2019

@johncherry that sounds a great idea, suddenly energising us as well as a group and moving us in a direction that makes sense. I am all in favour of your suggestion to proceed without another vote (and sorry for being one of the quiet ones recently).

D

Darren Thu 17 Oct 2019

This sounds like a great way forward for Our Field.

SJ

Steven Jacobs Thu 17 Oct 2019

Thanks, John, and yes, a get-together and a chance for John Letts to meet the group would be great.

JC

John Cherry Wed 16 Oct 2019

The varieties I can't help you with, but John would love to come and talk to you all about it. We perhaps should organise an autumn get-together, a late harvest celebration.
The plan is that no weed-killers or fertilisers be used. Too much fertility and the wheat falls over. Whilst standing, they out-compete the weeds. Likewise they shouldn't need fungicides. I can't wait...

SJ

Steven Jacobs Wed 16 Oct 2019

That’s sounds like it could be a very good plan, @johncherry so yes I’m in favour.
Can we have the detail in what the varieties are that are included in the seed from John Letts?
And can I ask will you use any fertiliser and/weed killer on the field?

B

Ben Tue 15 Oct 2019

Sounds amazing! Thanks so much for your efforts in seeking a way forward (I have definitely been one of the quiet ones). It’s a yes from me and I’m happy to formalise that affirmation in vote form if set up. Thanks again, Ben

TA

Tony Allan Wed 16 Oct 2019

Dear John
Thank you for all you have done to make the options possible. I am strongly in favour of all you suggest and that you go ahead without a vote. We still have to have the permission of Nature. The weather. Nothing is ever easy.

It is very good indeed that marketing is part of the package. Thank you for making sure there is a good destination for what will be produced.
Best TonyA

KF

Kirsten Foster Wed 16 Oct 2019

I think this sounds great. I love the idea of ourfield beer and gin (though obviously that's going to be extra work/decisions to be made). I'd be happy for you to go ahead with the heritage landrace mix - I approve of this going ahead without a vote, given all the circumstances, though I think a vote would be best, if possible, and if it goes ahead I'd vote yes!

AW

Andy Walker Tue 15 Oct 2019

It’s a yes from me. I can’t join in the conversation about the use of glyphosate but start talking about beer and gin and I’m all over it! 😊

Andy Walker

\s

WEB: www.gingerbreadbakery.co.uk ( http://www.gingerbreadbakery.co.uk )

NR

Niki Reynolds Tue 15 Oct 2019

Sounds great!
Go ahead!

Niki

JC

John Cherry Tue 15 Oct 2019

OK..a plan:

I've just had a long chat with John Letts, who has some seed that he is prepared to lend us. This would be suitable for a no-till organic system, a low fertility, low yield continuous cereal experiment that I alluded to above. He is proposing we have mainly his heritage wheat landrace and also some rye and barley (he doesn't have enough wheat seed for the whole field).

He would want to be involved with the marketing of whatever we grow, as he is protective about his seed and would like a say in where it goes. He has good markets; the miller he is proposing to use would be able to bag ourfield flour in 1.5kg bags for the collective to use, sell or give as Christmas presents. There would also be cash to pay you guys back.

The rye could be turned into ourfield gin (he has a market lined up for this too) and the barley into ourfield beer. Or you flog the lot and trouser the cash...we can decide all that later. I'm merely saying this project could rejuvenate ourfield. You've all been a bit quiet lately!

Unfortunately, there isn't much time. We should be drilling (sowing) the wheat now. The ground is a bit wet atm, but will soon dry if we get a few days without downpours. John can get us the seed later this week, we can plant next week (weather permitting). The barley maybe better in the spring, we'll see how late it gets. There is enough money in the kitty to cover this whole operation and we shouldn't need to spend anything until next harvest. We also have wheat to sell from this harvest.

Do you want @grahamehunter to set up a poll or do we just go ahead unless you all scream 'no'? This is potentially a really exciting project with important lessons for low impact farming and we are in a fabulous position to promote it , through ourfield and Groundswell.

We need to know by the weekend...we will grow this on another field if you don't want to, so the seed won't be wasted. And you'll need another plan if the answer is no...

John

JC

John Cherry Wed 9 Oct 2019

Computer print out from combine.
Wakelyns at top. Miller's choice in middle in red. Crusoe at bottom

TA

Tony Allan Fri 4 Oct 2019

Dear Kirsten
Your comments are useful.
Best TonyA

KF

Kirsten Foster Thu 3 Oct 2019

I like the idea of a longer term experiment which means fewer decisions from the group (if I understood the continuous heritage wheat suggestion correctly). This isn't because I want to abdicate decision making (well, maybe a little), but sometimes it feels our decisions are rushed and having a multi-year plan might allow us to make more considered decisions?

TA

Tony Allan Wed 2 Oct 2019

Dear John
Your comments are much appreciated. As far as I am concerned I would be happy if you make the decision on what to do next. I say this because you are close to all the uncertainties and unexpected options - for example whether we can purchase landrace seed and what can be marketed. These are be just some of such uncertainties. Comments form members would be appreciated.
We had exceptionally heavy rain in London yesterday - Tuesday.1 October 2019. Were the Lannock Manor fields also affected?
Best TonyA

JC

John Cherry Tue 1 Oct 2019

Not sure we should have a vote until there's a definite option. I'm open to suggestions...

SJ

Steven Jacobs Thu 3 Oct 2019

Thanks John.
There are some very good varieties available, good sources include from Ed Dickin at Harper Adams and from Andy Forbes at Brockwell Bake for modern crosses and older varieties. And by older I mean landrace, heritage or indeed anything pre intensification. So, that would mean varieties prior to the accelerated breeding programs of the seventies onwards.
Supplementary question, John, will you be no longer using ammonium nitrate, or glyphosate if you go down the ‘continuous wheat’ route?