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A strange summer, hope for a long back end and no more washing up!

Well, from drought in June to the wettest July - our artichokes have been through another tough season. We got off to a good start with some good heads and then came that dry spell. My 6000 litres of stored rain water seemed to disappear so quickly and with no showers for any top up, the plants became stressed and the yield down.

Our new Californian varieties needed to be hand watered to keep them going, but they survived and we have had a small bonus crop, with more to come from them in 2024 as the plants mature.

The Italian Heirloom courgettes, which relish the heat, produced an excellent crop and we harvested and sold about 200 heads of garlic too. The other positive was the launch of our artichoke & truffle and artichoke & lemon creams, which have gone down really well.

I am going to be preserving some artichokes, but alas not for sale this year as I need to do some shelf life trials first. They will be preserved in olive pommace oil (the oil from crushed olive stones) as this has a less intense flavour. We'll be using compostable vacuum pack bags, as the price of glass has become prohibitive for small scale production. Watch this space for further updates...

And the long back end... Well, it's a farming phrase for me, although computer programmers may have a different understanding! We have a fine crop of winter squash and a long back end with warm dry days in September means the squash can full cure in the field, forming their thick protective skin that will allow some of them to be stored right through till March.

I have grown several varieties. Tromboncino d'Albenga can be eaten in the summer or winter and they have the flavour of artichokes! Marina di Chioggi is a famous Italian squash, often roasted whole and will store well into next year - also with a great flavour. Sweet Dumpling is a smaller green and white striped squash, one to eat early on. Uchiki Kuri, often called the onion squash, has a great chestnut like flavour and will store well. They are a pale yellow colour at the moment, but will turn a dark orange colour as the summer progresses.

We will harvest the squash in September and they will be available through Tamar Valley Food Hubs as mixed squash boxes, with storage instructions and usage by variety. Individual squash will be available through Continental Fruits in Tavistock and the Copper Penny Farm Shop.

Our first Feast went down a storm at Weir Quay Boatyard and despite the weather and cramped dining conditions, your feedback was tremendous. Thank you. Your support and enjoyment of my style of cookery has encouraged me to branch out a little more. Birland Feasts will have a new semi-pemanent home at The Voting Tree in Bere Alston, which is now running as a pop up venue for hire. We will be offering Autumn and Winter Feasts on the first Saturday of the month, starting this October.

The Voting Tree has a delightful, roomy dining space we'll decorate for the occasion, a full dinner service and a great commercial kitchen, so expect even more delights - with no need to bring your own crockery and cutlery. We will of course do the washing up as well! Feasts will continue to be BYOB events, with glasses also provided.

For the Saturday 7th October menu and all the other details, go here . Pre-booking is essential and with dining for just 24 people, we recommend booking early to be guaranteed a place!

And if you want to book the venue and me for your own special occasion for 10 to 24 people, please do get in touch and I can design a menu to fit your tastes.

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