All these organic veg are grown biodynamically by Toos at Laines Organics over in Cuckfield – the secret squirrel farm…looks small and cosy on the outside sprawls over the Sussex hillside and has hidden crops popping up all over the place.
Toos Jeuken, and her brother over in Holland, are both incredible biodynamic farmers and cultivate natural resources to grow and harvest. She started her farm in Cuckfield 35 years ago, as a young girl learning farming practices, and has perfected natural growing techniques over the decades and produces a fantastic range of crops.
In the cold months, she protects her crops from freezing by hand-laying horticultural fleeces. Her management of pests is by attentive management out in fields and using companion planting among other natural techniques. Basically, in her own words, she ‘lets the plants do the growing’ and she just ‘provides the conditions’.
Toos uses a closed system of farm management – which is the principle of working with nature rather than trying to dominate it. In short, it is by using green manure from other local organic farms to feed the soil and promote long-term fertility and adding compost from their own farm waste. Using circularity to maintain healthy soil. To control pests, predatory invertebrates are used instead of pesticides…the kinds of techniques which are more and more common among even non-organic farmers.
Biodynamic growers are guided by lunar cycles – which is basically using holistic planning schedules of weather and light to plan planting and growing. Formalised by Rudolf Steiner, who described it as ‘spiritual science’ these principles are based on ancient farming techniques. But, as most biodynamic farmers tell us, it’s actually common sense.
The most attractive part of the process is the use of farming as a single process – all connected – so the management of land, animals and harvesting are completely interrelated.
So, the crops we have for you this week – all biodynamically grown, obviously are:
Cavolo Nero (300g bunches)
Green Kale (300g bunches)
Red Russian Kale (300g bunches)
Leeks (all a good size)
Crown Prince Squash (flattish and quite large – blue skin and a dense, sweet orange flesh)
Red Kuri Squash (Dense calcium-rich squashes from large tennis ball to small melon size)
Green Hokkaido Squash (same as the Red Kuri – and they both have a sweet orange flesh)
Butternut Squash (smallish and sweet)
Gem Squash (large, round and green – bit like a big courgette)
Jerusalem Artichoke (our annual crop of easy peelers)
Daikon Radish (large and spicy)
Brussels Sprouts (delicious and with a bit of a kick)
Sprout Tops (small and dense with the same distinctive flavour)
Parsnips (mainly on the large size – lovely and sweet)
Beetroot (around 500g per bunch)
Mixed Beetroot (Red, Candy and Gold beetroot in a bunch around 500g)
Swede (large orange roots – massive! Ask Nick if you want a bit chopped off)
Spaghetti Squash (Rugby ball size – sweet spaghetti-like interior)
Apples – Russet variety
Celeriac (Small to medium heads)
Artemis Potatoes (a white potato – quite rustic with a firm skin. Makes fantastic homemade chips)