Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience

Hedgerow Bounty

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Thursday’s warm afternoon brought a welcome treat; helping our resident Jam Maker Sue Ganderton pick blackberries for her latest home made Church Farm preserve.

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Blackberries were the name of the game, and picking these little onyx jewels really is one of life’s simple pleasures. Although there was a gauntlet of stinging nettles to be run, my tub was full (mostly), my belly was full (definitely), and I was able to work on my tan and enjoy good company all at the same time (blackberry picking is kind of like the farm girls version of a chat over a latte, gives you a chance to catch up on the gossip but doesn’t require Jimmy Choos or a pencil skirt and matching suit jacket).

You can get a really good crop from the brambles that run along Vicarage field at the moment, and the fruits are ripening readily, providing a glut of sugary goodness for birds, insects, and humans alike. As well as the wild berries on the hedgerow, we also cultivate blackberries in our soft fruits patch on Church Farm. Rik the grower propagates around 3 different types of blackberries, and these are much larger and less round in shape than the wild variety. Very soon they will be available in our fruit boxes for our lucky box customers!

The fruits of mine and Sue’s labour will be stewed and bubbled into delicious blackberry jam. Sue has been working on the farm for around 3 months now as an intern, and has produced all sorts of jams and chutneys which are sold in our Farm Store (and they are all more than rather good, I can assure you, the strawberry jam is my favourite). Come to the store or café and sample some of Sue’s produce, she is also a dab hand at making cakes!

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