Velwell Orchard

Biodynamics, Aikido, and Traditional Rural Skills

Volunteer days have now ended until the Spring…

Today was our last volunteer day this season. Thanks so much to all of you who have helped out this year, it’s been really good fun and so much work has been done. We really really appreciate all the hard work put in by volunteers and we enjoy the company too. It’s a relief to be able to share the produce rather than having to sell it.

We will have a few work days over the winter, but they’ll be rather impromptu and will depend on the weather. Please keep a look out on the blog for news of these.

We want to especially thank Tim, who arrived at Midsummer and has worked incredibly hard for us. His skills, knowledge, enthusiasm and strong work ethic have been a huge help. Without his efforts things would’ve been extremely difficult and we would never have got to where we have. Tim will be leaving us in the next few weeks to return to Pentiddy to help with the coppicing over the Winter. We hope he’ll come back again one day soon!

Our baby will be arriving soon, he’s due on the 22nd of December, so Kate is busy preparing for that, while I am now needing to work full time hedgelaying, dry stone walling and gate making.

We wish you all a warm and cosy Wintertime.

Apples, pizza and biochar… at Velwell Orchard

Apple pressing, pizza eating, and lots of biochar for sale… oh yes, and lots of nice dry logs…

Continue reading “Apples, pizza and biochar… at Velwell Orchard”

Want to learn to lay a hedge?

Due to a last minute cancellation the Dartmoor Hill Farm Project have a space available on their two day hedge laying course on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd of September (this week!). The course is instructed by Devon Rural Skills Trust instructor Jeremy Weiss and is at Scorriton. Contact David Attwell for details: 01822 890912 or Jeremy Weiss on: 07962 432317.

The next DRST hedge course with spaces available is on the 3rd of November. The DRST runs hedging and walling courses on saturdays throughout the season. See their website here:

Apples, courgettes and volunteer days at Velwell Orchard…

As of Wednesday, 5th of September we will be running our volunteer days on a Wednesday instead of the usual Thursday… Volunteers are welcome anytime from sunrise until 4pm. Over the next few weeks we will have the apple press up and running so please bring any windfalls you can find and some bottles to take the juice away in.

As usual, we have loads of courgettes, so Anne has kindly put together a few recipes. See below:

Creamy courgette soufflé

By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Preparation time: less than 30 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins to 1 hour
Serves 5-6
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1lb 2oz small courgettes, finely sliced
55g/2oz butter
55g/2oz plain flour
250ml/8fl oz milk heated
4 eggs separated into 3 yolks and 4 whites
55g/2oz cheddar or gruyère, grated
black pepper
butter, to grease
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease 6 ramekins.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic and courgettes.
Cook the courgettes gently, on a slow sizzle so they soften without browning. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until they are completely soft and almost all their water has evaporated (this may take 20 minutes or more). Then bash to a pulpy consistency with a wooden spoon or potato masher and set aside.
In a small pan, melt the butter and add the flour. Mix together, cook for 1 minute, then stir in the hot milk to make a thick béchamel, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
Allow to bubble for just 1 minute (this ensures the flour is cooked through) then remove from the heat.
Add the bechamel to the courgette, along with the egg yolks, cheese, and a few twists of black pepper, and beat well to get a nice sticky mixture.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold carefully into the mixture.
Divide between five to six ramekins or pile into one large soufflé dish.
Bake in a preheated oven for 12-15 minutes for ramekins, up to 35 minutes for large one. Serve straight from the oven, without delay.

Courgette and Lemon Salad

Courgettes are tasty eaten raw, fresh and simple. This salad looks lovely with different coloured courgettes, golden-yellow and deep and pale-green. It is good just as it is, or with a handful of toasted pine nuts or quartered almonds scattered over the top. It’s ideal with a rich creamy pasta sauce or risotto.
Serves 6-8
3-4 courgettes
Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon
Grated zest of 1 lime and juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped summer savory or tarragon
1 teaspoon runny honey
Salt and black pepper
Cut the courgettes very thinly lengthways with a potato peeler and put the slices in a shallow dish. Grate over the zest of the lemon and lime.
Make a dressing with the olive oil, lime and lemon juice, together with the herbs, honey and salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the courgettes and toss gently.

Courgette sauce for pasta

For 4 people

Cook 1 kg courgettes with 3 tbsp. olive oil and 3 crushed cloves garlic. Heat oil in large pan add garlic, courgettes and little salt. Cook courgettes gently, slow sizzle, soften without browning, continue cooking, stirring frequently until soft, and water evaporates. Stir in 2 tbsp. cream,, 50g Parmesan. Bubble just for 1 min, so cream is incorporated and reduced little. Cook chosen pasta, until al dente. Drain pasta toss with sauce serve.

This Pasta dish is also good with just raw grated courgettes any width and added to chosen pasta with added pesto and extra olive oil. Parmesan can be added.

Final Cob Party… and Apple Pressing Season Begins…

This Bank Holiday Monday 27th we’ll be having our final cob party of the season! It will run from 2pm until 6pm and there’ll be loads of fruit and veg to take home too. This year has so far been the best growing year ever at Velwell Orchard and we have so much produce! The cobbing will be followed by a barbeque at 6pm. Tim will get the fire going with his bow drill which is well worth seeing. Please bring your wellies and something for the barbeque.

As of Thursday 30th of August we’ll begin apple pressing. I know it’s early but the apples are ready. So please bring any apples along that you’d like pressed and as many bottles as you can find.

Cob days and gates for sale…

A very quick post to say that on Monday 20th and 27th of August we’ll be cobbing away at Velwell Orchard during the mornings if anyone can come and lend a hand… We’re so nearly there! We’ll also be picking veggies on those days so you’ll go home with a nice box.

Also, I have two small gates in stock that I’m keen to sell… See pictures below and let me know if you’re interested.

Cob Party!

Back in the Spring I said to Kate that I wouldn’t complain if this year was a drought. With all the cobbing to do over the summer I was hoping it wouldn’t be the traditional English washout. So I’m probably one of the only farmers/gardeners you’ll find who is greatful for all this heat and dryness. We just about have enough water to keep the veg irrigated using soaker hoses under a thick layer of mulch and they are looking great. The fact that the grass isn’t growing just means less work.

We really need all the help we can get for cobbing over the next 10 days or so as I have to go back to work for August as our finances have reached rock bottom again. See my last post for cobbing days.

After the great success of our last Cob Party, we’ve decided to hold another on Saturday 4th of August. The cobbing will run from 2pm followed by pizza from our cob oven at 6pm. Please bring wellies and pizza toppings, and let us know if you can come. Feel free to pitch a tent if you want to stay over.

Cob days coming up…

Over the last couple of weeks, with the aid of Tim’s boundless energy and a great cob party we have made awesome progress with the cobbing. There is still a massive amount to do however so I thought I’d post some dates on here where you are all welcome to come and lend a pair of welly-clad legs.

July: Friday 20th, Wednesday 25th, Friday 27th, Monday 30th, Tuesday 31st.

August: Wednesday 1st, Friday 3rd, and finally another cob party on Saturday 4th of August.

All these dates are weather permitting and the times are from 6am until 12:30pm. Breakfast is at 7:30am. See photo! Please let me know if you’re coming.

Hemp can save the World (hopefully)

From Nick Read

This summer is turning out to be wonderful for hemp, I am involved with 10 hemp projects & despite the drought our 20 acre field is growing well and is above waist height after only 5 weeks.
I am writing to you because we are launching a fundraising to help buy a machine to split the stalks into chiv for paper & hempcrete, and the outer layer for fabrics, bedding etc. This opens up huge numbers of new opportunities.
I was on local radio chatting about hemp this week and you can listen here (warning some tunes nsfw!)
The crowdfunding link is here… we would really appreciate your support.
With your help hemp can save the world… hopefully !

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