It was the perfect night for a summer supper club, it was the perfect night for taking a walk with the gardener but Shhh! This was a secret tour before Berkshire’s best secret supper club.
I do like to know where my food comes from, I’m one of those avid label readers, but it’s a rare treat to see the food growing before you eat it. That’s exactly what I got the chance to do yesterday when I attended the second Sheepdrove Organic Farm supper club.
I met Martin Wood, the head gardener for the Sheepdrove Estate, at the inaugural supper club. I was taken taken aback when in the depth’s of April (remember those cold days, frosts and torrential rain which now seems like a distant memory…) Martin had managed to provide the kitchen with fresh crisp salads. After months of eating root vegetables, and one too many cabbages, eating the Sheepdrove salads was like a breath of fresh air. I wanted to know more; how, where, why and yesterday I got my chance.
First stop was the walled vegetable garden which was teeming with both vegetables and bees! Martin explained that although it was walled, the garden was actually quiet exposed and to combat the elements he covers the crops with fleeces, which also supports plant growth. As we walked Martin talked in detail about Sheepdrove’s ethos and his gardening practices which I could see in evidence all around me. From natural pest control to highly organised composting practices, to the ever present bees, this was organic growing at its best.
I love my veg but I have to admit the real treat of the tour was the walk through the Neal’s Yard Remedies plot. The area has been set aside for growing plants used in the variety of health and beauty products the company makes. I was pleased to see Calendula growing as I know that it will soon be finding it’s way into the lovely calendula and oat hand cream that I use. It’s good for sensitive hands that wash up one too many Porridge Pots!
I have no doubt of how hard Martin’s job is, the Lambourn winds can be very unforgiving in winter. However when you get to; supply a conference centre with sustainable veg, supply a company that makes natural health & beauty products and encourage wildlife whilst growing, it must feel like a good day at work.
and there is always a cup of tea to go back to….