Summertime scribblings: mid-year review

Farleigh sweetpeas - give them a good sniff - stunning!

Summer is here! Farleigh is awash with sweetpea scents and confetti sorting and all sorts of wonderful chaos in between. We are just managing to catch our breath as we have been all of a spin here at Farleigh. The Ecohub is starting to land in our pilot year, and I thought I'd just catch you up on some of our happenings!

We have learned an incredible amount over the past couple of months, have tested out a number of ideas (some successful, some less so!) and connected with a whole host of people. It's been a whirl of colour and learning, musings and discoveries.

A clutch full of Farleigh produce for supper!

Veggie patch growing:

We've had great success with our perpetual spinach and broadbeans and even discovered a whole lot of recipes, including this one for #broadbean burgers by #Ottolenghi. Onions have been wondrous, garlic just amazing (although we still need to finish digging it up!). The courgettes are just coming (such stunning flowers!). Tomatoes are just round the corner (some in the polytunnel and some straight outside in the ground), cucumbers growing up (albeit a little curly!). Salad leaves were a total flop (but not for the slugs!). The kale at first was completely chomped (I think by pigeons - a feast in one night!) and now regrown. Beetroot and carrots planted together, but a bit too close (I find tiny seeds rather infuriating to say the least!) and now I've left it a bit late to thin out I think. The leeks look beautiful but went to seed, and I just can't bring myself to dig them up! Let's blame it on the funny weather. Strawberries are just the most delicious I've ever tasted (and the mice think so too!). We really enjoy our #Riverford vegbox (especially Guy Watson's newsletter, he really speaks sense and does his homework on the environmental impacts of his business) and love being able to supplement it with our own produce. One day, we hope to offer a seasonal, fresh lunch to our gardening volunteers and Farleigh Ecohub groups! This was totally inspired by #Organicarts, a wonderful and local organisation in Ide, Exeter.

Delightful dahlia!


After the success and enjoyment we had with our tulip-growing, we really wanted to continue to use the flower-growing as a focus to our community-centred eco-enterprise. We have learned and learned, and connected with all sorts of people along the way! Local growers such as Naomi at Wards Farm Flowers and Flowers by Clowance helped us to supplement our home-grown flowers to provide and arrange for a local wedding. Tom, the vicar at Cadeleigh church kindly said that we had "brought a little piece of the Devon countryside inside". The hard graft that went in was coupled with a fair amount of stress and a whole lot of creativity and enjoyment. We'd love to offer this a bit more. Contact us if you'd like to commission us for the floral work at a #Devon or #Somerset #wedding.

Due to the birth of Rowan (might as well blame the baby!), we were very late in planting and so there was a (heart-palpating) gap between our #spring #bulbs and #summer #flowers. People were asking for #bouquets we just couldn't provide. I connected with Katie Vanstone who gardens locally and she gave us some of her dead-headings which we turn into #confetti and market online through our shop. We met a local grower in our village and have been planting seeds as fast as we can! #Sweetpeas are now in full flourish and we have stocked up our top of the drive #flowerstall and are selling #bunches and #buckets where we can. Perfect for weddings and events, we can even deliver! Give us a shout if we can help you.

At the high end side of things, we are taking great pleasure in learning about and producing exhibition flowers such as #delphiniums and #roses and hope to grow (haha!) this side of things in the coming years. We have met a new friend in Roberta, the Good Florist, who is inspiring in the floral design work that she does. We have been providing her with beech lengths by the bucketful which is just beautiful to work with and can help you design large floral features and hoop displays for a more relaxed, natural feel to your wedding or #event. You can buy a bucket of beech from our shop.

A bucketful of beech lengths for floristry design

We hope to continue offering boxed flowers, dried floral arrangements, local bouquets and #seasonal flower subscriptions as well as regular local deliveries. More about this soon! For now it's confetti and sweet peas mainly.

Farleigh Ecohub:

As for our "eco-venue", we have had great fun with the work that we have done so far. Still in its early stages, we have a regular home-education 1:1 session, some childrens' social sessions and have some childrens' groups to come over the summer. These have just given us so much pleasure as it is really at the heart of what we aim to do here at Farleigh Ecohub. Shortly we will be reaching out to #volunteers for a regular gardening day and getting in touch with local charities to see if there is a way we can facilitate groups that would benefit from some time here in our beautiful, rural setting. So, do watch this space! Having worked for the National Trust as conservation project co-ordinator on a large nature conservation programme, the environment is a real passion of mine and I love to share my love of the outdoors with others and inspire people on the principles of #ecology. I have to admit to needing some improvement on my botanical knowledge, but have set myself the target of knowing every plant species on the property by July 2020.