After what felt like weeks of constant rain, the sun broke through and we made our way across the other side of the Thames Valley to feel the warmth on our faces and to visit Tolhurst Organic Produce’s annual Squash and Pumpkin Festival, set in their farm in the Victorian Walled Gardens of the Hardwick Estate.
We sat in the sun on the valley sides and drank locally brewed beer, ate locally grown foods, admired the most magnificent array of squashes and enjoyed some local bands.
The Tiny Overlord practiced some serious toddling.
And we explored the farm. I often underestimate how much food is frown locally. Maybe I often mistakenly (or lazily) assume that we must rely on big supermarkets for our food. But these fields were bustling with tasty things to eat. I really want us to try to eat more seasonally, at least, and support more local growers like Tolhurst. Fresh, tasty and surely better for all of us? I am inspired.
The festival was a real joy. I’m not too fond of commercial Halloween, but this festival felt like a proper celebration of the seasons – of truly appreciating what comes from the ground and the passing of that growing season to the winter. Do I sound like a hippy? Maybe. But good food, beer and music in a beautiful setting floats my boat far more than ‘trick or treat’.
Looking at the veggie patch, this year’s big plans for growing haven’t quite panned out as I thought they might back in January, I wanted to grow our Christmas dinner, instead I grew a baby. The only people that have been dining out on the content of our garden are the Thames Valley’s slugs and snails.
Thames Valley Snails – Very fond of sprouts
I’ve always had plans for our outdoors space – daydreams of an urban very very small holding. Being self sufficient. Ish… But the arrival of Tiny Overlord has made me even more determined to make our garden a positive place. He might only be six weeks old but I want to try a create somewhere where he can forge a good relationship with nature, where he can see food grow, where we can all grow, as a family.
Proof that Rainbow Chard will survive anywhere
So we are starting small, doing some tidying and mulching, planting daffs and getting ready for the spring. Next year, 2014, our little patch of land might be the place to manifest some little dreams.