In March we said goodbye to our allotments to create a brand new kitchen garden just fifty steps from the Food Library kitchen. Tucked away behind a neighbouring workshop, Michael has worked tirelessly to transform a grassed area and establish raised beds and a polytunnel and new areas for our rhubarb, redcurrants and blackcurrants. We’ve now got a dedicated horseradish and wasabi section, herb beds and crucially…a huge compost bed and bin.
It’s truly energising to be surrounded by our good Queens Park neighbours and to share some of the produce coming through such as colourful salads and radishes. There’s even a little tortoise next door called ‘Snowflake’ that we can share lettuce leaves with.
The Food Library books are a huge resource for learning about growing, troubleshooting, inspiration for things to cook with the produce and how to preserve the surplus.
As well as the books, time and people have helped shape the kitchen garden, a huge thanks to our friend Charlie, a local gardener who has helped out massively and supplies lots of grass clippings, to our neighbour Bridget for the cups of tea and to everyone that has visited and supported to make so much happen in such a short space of time. Thanks also to everyone at the workshop. We’ll see more rewards soon in tomatoes, sweetcorn, courgettes and fresh peas and then potatoes, cabbages, broccoli and sprouts as summer progresses into autumn and beyond.
It seems idyllic to us; being more self sufficient and knowing where our food comes from – right down to the rotten rhubarb leaves, comfrey and egg shells making up the compost; however working to grow chemical free veg and planting according to bio-dynamic timings is hard work. We currently have crickets and other creatures nibbling away (huge chunks) of the brassicas and the frogs Michael’s encouraged do not seem to be touching them. We’ve also gotten confused over some of the seeds we’ve planted and we’ve been challenged by collecting enough rainwater to water the precious crops that we’ve planted.
You’ll hear similar stories from other passionate, confused, frustrated and elated allotmenteers and gardeners but one person to definitely follow locally is Alice Whitehead, a Northampton based blogger, journalist and campaigner who spends a lot of time on her allotment. Go to http://allotmentalice.co.uk to see what Alice gets up to….and also see the excellent Cotesbatch Estate walled garden project https://www.cotesbatch.net/gardens
If you’d like to join us for a tour of The Food Library kitchen garden and to leaf through the books that inspire what we do (you can borrow them if you become a member too!), we have an Open Day on Saturday August 21st from 12pm-6pm. More details are on our events page.
If you’d like to join us for a Dining Club event, these are bespoke meals for 8 people at our Food Library dining table with a menu crafted by Michael using fresh produce from the kitchen gardens and our own liqueurs and preserves. Again more details are on our events page.
The liqueurs and preserves available to buy in our larder and shop are largely made from what we grow and in the gallery below you can literally see where the fruit and veg that goes into our gins, chutneys, jams and other preserves come from.