Food metres

There is so much talk about food miles and the environmental cost of transporting food around the world that I always enjoy eating food that has travelled as short a distance as possible… potatoes from the local farm are good, but they have still travelled miles. My favourites are things that come straight from my garden to the plate (perhaps via the oven). Purple sprouting broccoli is winning in terms of shortest distance travelled at the moment because it is planted directly outside the back door. However, I did grow the seedlings in bought compost (wool and bracken based not peat), so there were some miles associated with getting that to me. Perhaps the winner, therefore, should be the rhubarb… a few more meters away from the back door, but a perennial, propagated from a donated root, never grown in a pot and now fed solely with home-produced compost. It has moved house with me (in a bucket), but I think that’s probably ok!

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

I love it when an entire meal arrives from the garden… and has even been cooked using fuel that we have grown. Later in the season, we should be enjoying Spanish tortilla (potato, onion and eggs) cooked on our rocket stove powered by willow prunings, with fresh salad leaves straight out of the garden. The only ‘external’  inputs would be the oil and salt and pepper, plus a match to light the stove. I always forget to take photos of such feasts (I tend to be focused on the eating part of the proceedings!) but I will try to remember later in the year.

Having mentioned pepper, that’s something I would like to investigate. Martin Crawford grows various peppery shrubs and trees at the Agroforestry Research Trust and I think I’m going to try to get hold of a Zanthoxylum piperitum (Japanese pepper) this year… probably too late now. Talking of Martin, his book Creating a Forest Garden is brilliant – even if you don’t want to plant up a forest garden, the information on plants in there is fantastic. His courses are fascinating too.

Some food, however, we can’t grow ourselves, but we do try to source lots of things locally, including wholemeal flour, sweet chilli sauce (although I want to make this myself this year if the chilli crop is large enough) and fish. We do buy feed for the chickens, but because they are free ranging much of the time, they don’t need as much as if they were confined and some of their protein comes from eating slugs and snails (hurrah!). We are never going to be self-sufficient, but it is lovely to feel that pretty much every day of the year we eat something that we produced ourselves.

Rhubarb and friends – 4 May 2012

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2 Comments

  1. Love your talk about your rocket stove and your VERY local rhubarb! I, too, have used a lot of bought compost, since in our neighborhood, there are not a lot of compost-producing activities we can undertake. (No straw-growing or manure-raising, just composting kitchen scraps and garden waste, which don’t amount to nearly what we need…) The food may be local, but the ingredients aren’t yet! Still, like you, I’m going to keep trying to move farther in that direction.

    Reply
    • The amount of compost we make has increased since our willow hedge started growing a couple of metres in height each year – we cut it back and shred the finer branches to put in the compost bins or directly onto the beds. In addition, we have a friend who gives us leaves and lawn mowings which we compost too, but it’s still not enough. I am trying to source compost that at least comes from the UK, hence the use of the wool compost. Our council makes and sells compost but I’ve never managed to get any because it always sells out so quickly! Still, I do feel I’m heading in the right direction…

      Reply

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