From the editor… It’s been a wild ride since autumn 2018, when I pressed ‘publish’ on the first ever Wicked Leeks article. Five years on and here we are – thanks to you, our brilliant reader community, who have kept us going with your questions, comments and positivity. NP
STAR LETTER, and winner of four Riverford veg boxes
I would like to nominate Laura Stratford, coordinator of the Greater Lincolnshire Food Partnership. It’s dramatically grown as an organisation over the last few years in terms of geography and numbers of members and partners, far too many of which are food banks in this unfashionable and disregarded corner of the East Midlands (one of the ten most deprived regions of northern Europe). The need is stratospheric. Laura copes with a burgeoning workload with unending good cheer and dedication, always seeking to improve the region’s food system through practical and creative ways. From helping to fundraise £10k for an exceptional food bank in just one night, to organising workshops for bakers and local wheat farmers to develop a nutritious bread ecosystem in the county. Laura’s commitment is exceptional and the region is lucky to have her.
I have so many people who I’d like to mention. Firstly, Roger from White Lake Cheese. He’s so passionate about his cheese and a fantastic person. He loves to experiment with new artisan cheeses and is forever getting people into share his kitchen to dream up new ways of using cheeses. Secondly, David from Wraxall Vineyard. David is new to growing and making wine but he’s bought a vineyard and is doing tremendous things to improve the health of the vines and build a brand that attracts people to the area. Thirdly, Paul from Black Bee Honey. The team have worked really hard to get B Corp certification. They produce single origin, British honey and are really championing the industry and beekeepers across the country. I’d also love to champion Hugh from The Frome Food Network who has done a fantastic job creating a network for Frome-based farmers/growers/producers and many more of us that fall into ‘other’. Through the network I’ve met so many amazing people, been on farm tours, and have really found my tribe. A group of people that want to do better with food for people, planet and pocket.
Given children’s vegetable consumption continues to decline, TastEd’s work is even more vital today than ever. The most under explored part of this problem is figuring out WHY children aren’t eating veg. It’s largely because they don’t like them, have no experience of them (are unfamiliar and scary) or have never tried them. TastEd addresses all this gently with children, free from lectures about health and nutrition. Going through joy, pleasure and fun, alongside peers and trusted adults, means children’s natural curiosity takes over. I’ve seen children sit on their hands when presented cauliflower – but at the end of a TastEd session have not only tried them but go home telling parents they actually liked roasted cauliflower. TastEd is so simple, so cheap and easy to run and so effective, we need to urgently get all schools and early years children doing it.
I’d like to celebrate our daughter Kate’s incredible achievement in persevering with her dream and building her vertical indoor farm in Kent. GrowUp is now producing bags of delicious salad leaves without any pesticides. It can’t be called organic as it is not grown in soil and therefore does require fertiliser. We’re so proud of what Kate and her team have accomplished after ten years of solid grind.
I would like to nominate Jo Cartwright. Jo runs an organic rare breed farm in Swillington near Leeds. She also has one of the very first CSAs – community supported agriculture – in the country, operating in her two-acre walled garden. Jo has a small poultry abattoir where she is licensed to kill and prepare her own meat birds. She welcomes visitors to the farm about once a month when she has meat ready for sale, and hosts school visits. Her ancient woodland hosts a forest school business, run separately from the farm. She is currently farming solo and would love someone competent to help with a farm share. On top of this, she does farmers’ markets around the area. An amazing woman.
Wild by Nature need celebrating! They are doing amazing things using regenerative farming methods, working with nature. Sammy Smith, head butcher, produces amazing charcuterie in their butchery on the farm in the Black Mountains.
I would like to nominate the whole volunteer team at FoodCycle Peterborough who work so hard every Monday to produce a delicious three-course vegetarian nutritious meal for those in need in our community. They use the surplus food from local shops and farms, including Riverford at Sacrewell, for which we are extremely grateful. The food we receive is always a surprise, which can be challenging but there is always a wonderful meal on the table by midday. We also share our recipes and cooking tips to guests who need help in that way.