The Food and Farming theme supports and promotes local food production and marketing in order to reduce food miles, as well as encouraging fair trade and healthy eating.
Food and farming
The best ways to reduce dependence on oil and minimise carbon emissions are to:
- Shop locally
- Produce food in and around Blewbury – we list some local producers below
- Use locally grown products whenever possible
- Promote growing methods that aren’t dependent on oil-based chemicals and fertilizers, and that minimise the use of oil-fuelled machinery
And … whenever possible, try to shop ethically!
Many of the items on our events page have a local food theme. We welcome ideas about how Blewbury could develop along these lines and what your views are. If you have thoughts about this, would like to get involved, or just want to be kept informed by email about what's going on please contact Angela Hoy:
What we are doing
In 2010 we started a weekly produce stall, on the forecourt of Blewbury Garage/Shop every Saturday (photos below) from late spring to autumn. It is for people wishing to sell surplus garden and home produce, including plants and seedlings, fresh fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, preserves, free-range eggs, and cakes. It ran from May through September, and was popular and successful – nearly everything brought was sold.
The stall had a second successful season in 2011, starting earlier in May and going through mid-October. In 2012 the stall did better by far, despite the very unfavourable growing conditions due to record bad weather. Contributing to this were local honey and regular supplies of interesting home-made bread from the newly formed Blewbury Bakers group. We received a grant from RWE npower’s Didcot Power Stations to buy a sturdy new tent and tables to replace borrowed ones – see the photo below. In 2013 we had our best summer season yet, with good crops of produce as well as lots of bread, cakes, jam, honey, etc. The last two photos show our stall at the opening Family Fun Day of the Blewbury Festival, in June.
We began the successful 2014 season at the Green May Fair on 10 May, and continued every Saturday from 17 May to 4 October at the Garage/Shop from 9.30 to 11.30 am. The last session of 2014 was part of our Apple Day celebration at the Red Lion. In 2015 we had our second-best year, with yet more interesting produce (including some from our permaculture community garden).
The stall has become an excellent place to pick up fresh, locally produced and sometimes unusual items at low prices. We are very grateful to our local producers and our dedicated team of helpers. The Blewbury Garden Market is co-ordinated by Angela Hoy:. The rota of helpers may be found here.
During the winter 2012–13 we started Blewbury Garden Market Extra on Saturday mornings at the Post Office from 9.30 am to closing – this was repeated successfully in every winter since then. We sell bread, cakes, preserves as well as cleaned trimmed vegetables. (Jerusalem artichokes were a huge feature from January to March 2015, and then lots of rhubarb.) The three photos of bread and pastries below show typical items on sale.
Information for producers
- Please bring produce between 9.00 and 9.30 am..
- Collect unsold produce at 11.30 am at our stall, before closing time at the Post Office.
- Two sheets can be downloaded: a short guide for producers, and a form to keep track of your produce and sales – there's also a double-sided version. Please fill in the form in advance, to save time and minimise confusion. Also label your goods with the price and your name.
- Prices are set by the producer; the stall keeps a 10% levy to cover our overheads.
- For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Permaculture is based on a philosophy of cooperating with nature and facilitating the development of a system that is self-sustaining and self-supporting. By observing natural systems it is possible to produce an environment that is rich in biodiversity, needs very little maintenance, and which leaves the environment enriched rather than depleted. We have started a permaculture pilot project to use these methods on a plot of land at the edge of Blewbury, and will be planting a small forest and orchard garden.
We started by planting a shelter-belt hedge around the two sides of the field with more than 400 plants in February 2011.
The next stage was to plant some fruit trees and bushes, starting in October–December 2011 by mulching the upper area of the field to suppress the grass and to enrich the soil. In December 2011 we planted a dozen fruit trees, including (among others) cherries, medlars, quince, gages, pears and apples. These are underplanted with gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and other soft fruit, plus perennial herbs and other ground cover.
In November–December 2012 we planted a further ten fruit trees (two varieties of pear, three of plum, damson, crab apple, cobnut, sweet almond and black mulberry) as well as a low rosa rugosa hedge (large rosehips) across the middle of the field. In March and April 2013 we planted lots of autumn raspberries, asparagus, and a wide variety of perennial herbs and other plants to extend the ground cover.
In February 2013 Lawrence Graham worked and guided us to construct a living willow shelter. It is growing a covering of green leaves, and is fast becoming a most attractive place to sit in: to discuss the work on the site, to view the downs to the south, or just to relax and think.
In 2013 we had some soft fruit to sell at the Blewbury Garden Market: gooseberries and currants, as well as blackcurrant jam, courgettes and french beans. The various herbs have attracted very large numbers of bees and butterflies – many varieties that were hardly seen in 2012 have re-appeared.
In December 2013 we planted more trees (two cherries, a cooking apple, a plum, a greengage and a flowering lime) and various soft fruits (blackberries, tayberries, jostaberries, boysenberries and kiwi berries).
In early September 2014, after a good season with various trees and bushes beginning to produce useful quantities of fruit, we had a very informative and enjoyable open day to show people what we are doing.
In January–March 2015 we had our first really big crop – well over 20 kg of Jerusalem artichokes (we’d had some the previous February). Most were sold via BGM Extra at the Post Office. In the spring we produced and sold large quantities of rhubarb, both fresh and as jam. In May we had an very interested and enjoyable visit by about 30 people from Abingdon Carbon Cutters and Green Appleton. During the summer and autumn we sold a lot more produce and preserves – see our permaculture page for details. Income from sales more than covered our costs.
There is more information on our permaculture page, a diagram (pdf) of what we have planted, a description of our trees (pdf), and a photo gallery of the planting of the shelter-belt hedge and the fruit trees and bushes.
2011: A winter view of how the 0.44 acre downland plot started out and a view of part of the new hedge are shown.
2012: Newly planted beds are shown in the 3rd photo, an early summer view of soft fruit etc. in the 4th, and a general view in the 5th.
2013: The willow shelter being built, growing leaves in late May, a Chalk Hill Blue butterfly, and a view in August with our new sign.
2014: Trees in blossom early spring; globe artichokes; open day.
2015: Jerusalem artichokes and our almond tree in blossom.
As part of Apple Day, we conducted a survey of apple orchards and other fruit trees in the village. Results of the survey, notably the 57 varieties (!) of apple grown in Blewbury, are summarised on a separate page.
We held an "Apple Day" on 16 October 2010 to celebrate the abundance of food produced locally – see our events page for more information.
In 2011 we borrowed apple juicing equipment and held some public events to produce juice from trees in the village.
For 2012 we purchased our own equipment (apple shredder – left, apple press – centre, and pasteuriser – right) and held three very successful apple juicing days (despite a poor apple crop).
In 2013, with a huge apple crop, things really took off with half a dozen public sessions and quite a few people hiring the equipment to juice their own apples at home.
The 2014 apple crop was very mixed – some people got good crops but others got very little. We had apple juice pressings on eight Saturdays. On 11 October we had an Apple Day celebration at the Red Lion. This included the Blewbury Garden Market, apple juice pressing and a VPA plant and cake stall, as well as colourful artwork by the Playgroup children and Q Gardens providing apple-flavoured ice-cream.
The 2015 apple crop was huge, and in six sessions we pressed nearly a tonne of apples. We also hired out our equipment far more than ever before.
We list below a selection of interesting local producers and sources near Blewbury.
Savages – Blewbury OX11 9HB. Blewbury’s own greengrocer and garden shop stocks an increasing range of local produce.
Q Gardens – Milton Hill, Steventon OX13 6AB, 01235 820988, www.qgardenshop.co.uk. Their own fruit, vegetables, meat and ice cream as well as many other local products. A fine selection of British cheeses at good prices. Pick your own fruit.
The Old Farm Shop – Milton Hill, Harwell OX14 4DP, 01235 831247, www.theoldfarmshop.co.uk. Eggs, lamb, poultry and game, unsprayed fruit and vegetables.
The Old Farmhouse Bakery – Abingdon Road, Steventon OX13 6RP, 01235 831230, www.theoldfarmhousebakery.co.uk. Traditional and unusual breads and pastries; also at Didcot Farmers’ Market on the second Saturday of the month.
Upton Cider Company – London Road, Upton OX11 9JE, 01235 850808, www.uptoncider.co.uk. Organic cider, apples and cob nuts.
Bothy Vineyard – Faringdon Road, Frilford Heath OX13 6QW, www.bothyvineyard.co.uk. White, red and sparkling wines.
Brightwell Vineyard – Shillingford Road, Wallingford OX10 8LJ, brightwellvineyard.co.uk. White, rosé, red and sparkling wines.
The Didcot Farmers’ Market takes place in the Orchard Centre on the second Saturday of each month. An variety of local food is on sale.
The very good Wallingford Local Producers Market, in the old Regal cinema every Saturday morning from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm, has a wide variety of local food and drink, and a good selection of cheese at low prices.
Look for the Fairtrade logo on food products. Fairtrade is an approach to growers that promotes long-term, sustainable development and fairer treatment of the poor and disadvantaged around the world.
Buy Traidcraft products in the village – contact Maranda St. John Nicolle to place an order.