What are the day-to-day goings on of an organic farm? Well, last week the whole Farmdrop team vacated their London office and hotfooted it to Chegworth Valley Farm in the heart of Kent on a perfect summer’s day to find out.
Boy did we have it good last week. Jumping out of our mini-van choc full of Farmdroppers, we looked up to a view of fields full of cherry trees, row upon row of speciality tomatoes, baby aubergines, and more freshly pressed apple juice than you can shake a broad bean pole at. This was just a first glimpse the many food-growing goings on at Chegworth, (more of which we were privy to on our tour later) - and it’s all made possible by the hard, passionate work of David and Linda of the Deme family (and their gorgeous dog, Jack, below).
Started by David and Linda over 30 years ago in 1983, the farm is now run by two generations of the family, is 100 acres and famed for it’s multi-award winning organic fruit and fruit juices. So, with that in mind, first stop on our tour was a walk around where all their juices are stored, bottled and packed.
Next we followed our tour guide David out of the juicing shed and into their well-tended fields of fruits and vegetables, almost as far as the eye could see. (It takes a while for our ‘London eyes’ to adjust to luscious swathes of green!).
Apple trees at Chegworth Valley
The team hunkered down around David - the fountain of all organic fruit and vegetable farming knowledge - to hear his stories of courgette, cucumber, salad leaf and herb growing.
David (right) with our CEO Ben (left) showing the unwieldy ways of the cucumber
We then made our way through tunnels of beautiful varieties of San Marzano plum, Dometica, Douglas, Sakura and Black Cherry tomatoes. We oogled at beef tomatoes that were due to be ready in four to five weeks. David mentioned too that when tomatoes are ready to be picked, there’s no time for them to hang around - when they’re red and ready they’ve got to be picked and are put straight on a van out for sale post-harvest.
‘Country Taste’ variety of tomatoes getting big and growing well
David then talked us through newly planted-from-seed runner beans that are due to flourish in about four weeks’ time. We hopped, skipped and jumped over a few low lying nettles to view all kinds of aubergine plants. At Chegworth they grow white ones, striped ones, black ones and curly ones so there really is something for everybody!
After hearing about what will be a bumper crop for this year of apples this year, we learned news of a beekeeper who gathers honey from a hive on David’s farm, and can produce twice as much honey from his hive at Chegworth than he can nearby. As one of the few organic farms in the area, happy beetles as well as bees help pass the pollen around and make for a happy beekeeper too.
The tour then began to wrap up as we embarked on a poor attempt at strawberry picking (we really didn’t eat any, promise), after which we then enjoyed the fruits of our scant labour over a BBQ and strawberries and cream.
A massive thank you is in order to David and Linda for hosting and giving us a tour. Not only did we learn first-hand the benefits of organic fruit and veg farming, we got to taste them there and then. Together with the Deme family (not forgetting Jack!), we’re all really excited to be working together to bring you that same field fresh taste, in the most direct way you can get it.
See Chegworth Valley on Farmdrop