We are enjoying a gloriously long ‘back end’; Devon farm speak for a long, mild autumn that allows growth to continue when plants would normally be shutting down in preparation for winter. Leeks, cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli, held back by the drought and associated planting delays, have been able to make up for lost growth, making us much more confident about your box contents this winter.
The last of the squashes are in store being gently warmed by dry air, to allow their skins and stalks to cure, and any knicks (made during harvest or the sometimes bumpy ride back to the farm) to heal. Your kitchen shelf offers the perfect storage conditions for squash; with their vibrant colours and shapes, they make a great display until you are ready to eat them. Some varieties, like the super tasty, hard-skinned Crown Prince, will keep through to next summer. Customers will soon be able to order our Squash Box, available from Monday 7 November – a mixed box with 7kg of squash for £16.95, complete with recipes and a variety guide.
For the past 30 years, around this time we would have been inviting you to the farm for our pumpkin days, or flogging you a pumpkin to carve at home. I must have grown hundreds of thousands – I always enjoyed their rampant, trailing growth, ending the summer by revealing those ridiculously gargantuan fruits as the leaves died back. One evening in the 1990s, after sharing in a questionable brew at a party before walking home across the fields, I found myself in our pumpkin field. The ripe fruit glowed in the full moon’s light, swelling rhythmically and soothingly like Belisha beacons; it was the magic mushrooms kicking in, and the party was the Weirdos’ Ball, legendary among local ravers of a certain age.
Times have changed. Thatcher’s Criminal Justice Act did for the Weirdos’ Ball; I was threatened with three months in jail if we hosted it again. And climate change has done for pumpkins. After much reflection, it no longer seems acceptable to grow, pack, and transport crops to be sold as a loss leader by supermarkets before, more often than not, being thrown away uneaten. Kill joy? Maybe – but if nine billion of us are soon to share this planet, it is time to re-evaluate everything we do, and this seems like a relatively easy one to give up. To find out more, watch our video below. And maybe decorate a Crown Prince squash for this Halloween – then eat it.