Autumn newsletters seldom escape some reference to mists and mellow fruitfulness. In two hundred years no one has evoked a grower’s September satisfaction better than Keats in the first verse of ‘To Autumn’. As a philistine farmer I never get beyond the first line, but such is the diversity of our workforce that one particularly beautiful autumn morning while harvesting a particularly bountiful crop of squash, we were treated to a perfect rendition of all three verses from an otherwise subdued field worker. It was many years ago and I can’t remember his name but I can remember exactly where I was in that field on top of a hill looking down on the clearing mist in the valley, the satisfying weight of the gourds and a feeling of overwhelming harmony and wellbeing.
Like many growers I love autumn; when we reap the rewards of summer’s work, when dews last longer, the sun is gentle and things slow down, affording a chance to savour. After a miserable July and August the dry, sunny weather we have enjoyed recently is particularly welcome. The bounty is spectacular, almost worrying: leeks, corn, cabbages, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, beans, spinach and chard are rolling in by the trailer load; to the extent that for the first time ever we are planning to export some surplus to a box scheme in Denmark. Mercifully, as the days shorten and night temperatures drop, growth is slowing down so I am pretty confident it will all find space on a plate somewhere.