By Feline Charpentier, Teacher of Outdoor Work
The summer term is a very busy one for us in Outdoor Work, with new life zipping through the earth and lots of events to get ready for.
In the gardens we have lots of vegetables growing apace: broad beans, garlic, shallots, courgettes, beans, peas, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflowers, asparagus to name but a few, and an enormous pumpkin patch – so watch this space come the autumn! All this produce will be used for cooking and making things in ODW, from the pizzas on a Wednesday to the breads and cakes we make every Thursday. Block 3s have also been busy planting up early crops for their Parents’ Day celebration which will be full of delicious produce including lots of radishes, carrots, salad leaves and flowers.
Our grapevines are also doing brilliantly, as are our fig trees, blueberry bushes and kiwis in the ‘weird and wonderful poly tunnel’. We are also working on a new herbaceous border to run alongside the vegetables, with the aim of creating a large potager garden with everything growing together in what is hopefully chaotic harmony…
We have had a hugely busy few weeks with our bees, with a record swarming season in full swing. We now have five hives, including an observation hive, so that students and visitors can go and watch the bees busy making honey without having to don an unwieldy bee suit. We have also harvested our first crop of spring honey, and will hopefully get some more in the next month or so.
In the kitchens we have been busy getting ready for events, making lots of sausages, plus curing our own salami, chorizo, and even having a go at our first Bedales ‘Parma’ ham, which will be ready in a year’s time. We made 100 Litres of super healthy raw cider vinegar with our apples last year, and have bottled it ready to sell on Parents’ Day. We also added some of last year’s frozen raspberries to some of it, making a delicious and beautiful smelling raspberry vinegar, as well as chive flower vinegar. The students will be busy making butter and simple cheese over the next few weeks, and flavouring these with foraged herbs, greens and flowers.
Of course all of this happens alongside all of our farm estate and husbandry work, construction, renovation and maintenance jobs, plus our Block 4s beginning their BAC projects. You will be getting regular updates on these over the coming months.