Firstly, a few diary dates: Today, Southwater shopping centre in Telford opened, where an Apley member of staff was handing out Apley Farm Shop leaflets to raise awareness amongst those who haven’t yet discovered us ! Tomorrow (Sunday 3 August) we are holding the monthly Apley Craft Fair again, 10-4pm. On Tuesday 5 August, there will be an Open Tour of Apley Walled Garden (meet at the Shop 10am). There will be open tours held on 2 September & 7 October, after which we’ll only be running pre-booked private group tours. Then on Thursday 7 August, Apley will have a stand at the Burwarton Show – it’s always a great day out, so drop in & see us there.
Next for some Apley food news: Friends on the Pitchford Estate have a flock of ewes from which Mr Moyden has made ‘Lockley cheese’ (photographed here), now in stock at Apley Farm Shop. We’re also one of the first stockists of Mr Moyden’s new amazing blue ewes’ cheese which is very exciting for Shropshire as there are very few blue ewes’ cheeses made anywhere in the UK. Other new cheeses on our Delicatessen include the Gubbeen cheese & Beauvale, a soft blue cheese by Cropwell Bishop.
Apley Walled Garden vegetables & potatoes will be used for a regional dinner at the University of Wolverhampton in a couple of weeks’ time, with a special request for some edible flowers to decorate the starter & pudding.
Staff news celebrates the fantastic 45 years Dennis Price has worked for the Apley Estate. We thank him very much for the immense contribution he has made to the Estate. He has just begun to work part time for 3 days per week, Tuesday to Thursday.
Scotty’s Donkeys & Animal Park shared with me 3 key Summer dates: They are holding storytime every Tuesday during the summer holidays (Fri 18 July to Mon 1 Sept) at 11am; They’ll host a Teddy bears’ picnic in the Animal Park on Friday 8 August at 10.30am & Meet & Greet with Peppa Pig on Friday 22 August at 11am, 1pm & 3pm. Call 01952 730469 or 07792 544008 for more information or to book a place on the Teddy Bears’ Picnic.
Shropshire’s central position in the UK means its surrounded on all sides by a wide variety of tourist attractions. West Midlands Safari Park has been on our doorstep just 40 mins away, but we’ve just never made the time to go since we moved to Shropshire late in 2006. We were so pleasantly surprised & the children amazed to be up so close to so many species. We had the heads of camels, ostrichs & buffalo stretching their necks into our car windows ! The children of course loved it all, saying ‘I touched it !’ over & over again in their delight.
We saw masses including a lion & lionesses, a tiger, white tiger, African elephants, white & Indian rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes, Ankole cattle, elands, waterbuck, deer, camels, wild dogs, buffalo & the cheetahs. Click here to watch a 5 second clip of the baby elephant with its mother & here for a tiny clip of the giraffes, so graceful & beautiful with their extra long eyelashes.
Today’s rain was welcome for the whole garden which was looking so dry, but especially the pumpkins which Phil has been weeding. He’ll soon begin trying to grow a square pumpkin in time for the Spookley Pumpkin Festival 25-31 October 2014 at Apley Farm Shop.
The gardens are looking more colourful this year, with marigolds, comfry, nasturciums, sweet peas, sunflowers, oriental poppies, cornflowers, Californian cornflowers, violas & antirrhinums (dragon flowers or snapdragons). Many of those are edible, so have been used in salads & as well as being great for attracting butterflies & bees.
The Polytunnel plastic is on its way, which will extend our planting season to be all year round, as well as increasing the range of what we can produce.
Sadly, the last of the peas got ruined by pea maggots. They were so delicious whilst they lasted, so hopefully they’ll do better next year in a new position in the garden.
Spring 2015 vegetables have been planted including cabbages, Bok Choi, lettuces, winter Eskimo carrots & beetroot.
Clare of Scotty’s Donkeys & Animal Park sent me with details of their Summer programme: They have storytime every Tuesday during the summer holidays (running until Mon 1 Sept) at 11am & a teddy bears’ picnic in the animal park on Friday 8 August at 10.30am. Their third Summer event will be ‘Meet & Greet Peppa Pig‘ on Friday 22 August at 11am, 1pm & 3pm. Call 01952 730469 or 07792 544008 for more information or to book one of the last remaining places on the teddy bears’ picnic.
There are lots of Apley Walled Garden courgettes available now, so why not try this easy courgette soup with paprika & toasted almonds:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
4 medium courgettes, cut into thick coins
2 bay leaves
1.2 litres stock
1 bunch of chopped parsley
100g flaked almonds
½ teaspoon paprika
For the garnish: coat the almonds in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & paprika. Toast under a grill in a hot oven until coloured.
In a medium saucepan: heat the oil & soften the onions. Add salt & garlic, then courgettes & bay leaves. After 5 mins, add stock. Bring to a simmer & cook on a low heat, covered, for a further 20 mins. Remove the bay leaves & add the parsley. Blend the soup until smooth. Serve topped with flaked almonds, a sprinkle of paprika & a drizzle of olive oil.
Source: www.RootCamp.co.uk in Pembrokeshire for 15-21 yr olds
Every month, I try to profile one of Apley Farm Shop’s suppliers, but sometimes other more time-sensitive events need mentioning & rather take over ! This month, my chosen supplier of the month is Halfpenny Green Vineyards, whose wines we’ve been successfully stocking since we opened. They’re one our more pro-active suppliers who take the time to come to the Farm Shop to promote their products & chat to our customers – the effect is positive all round.
Halfpenny Green Vineyard have a licensed restaurant, tea rooms, winery, shop & deli in South Staffordshire, where they produce over 12 excellent English wines including whites, roses, reds, sparkling wines & sweet wines. It’s all produced on over 30 acres, making it one of the largest in the UK.
For an impressive 23 years (since 1983), they have consistently been awarded prizes for their wines, including international national & regional recognition. Using the traditional method to produce their sparkling wines, their grapes are all handpicked & processed. In line with Apley’s local philosophy, there are absolutely no food miles in their wine production.
You can participate in a guided vineyard tour & wine tasting, including visiting the winery where they produce their own wine as well as contract wine making for other UK vineyards. They also have a self-guided vineyard trail, craft centre & coarse fishing.
Halfpenny Green Vineyards, South Staffordshire, DY7 5EP, 01384 22 11 22, www.halfpenny-green-wineyards.co.uk
Whilst Gavin (Lord Hamilton) went to speak at the Cosford Food Festival (Phil Allen, Head Gardener, also spoke), the Apley farming team were busy making the most of the recent hot & sunny weather. They have harvested the winter barley & oil seed rape (though, amazingly for the UK, the oil seed rape became too dry to harvest – its water content must be within a certain range). They’ll do the wheat, Spring barley & Spring oil seed rape (we don’t grow oats). They work incredibly long hours at this time of year, sometimes only sleeping a few hours a night, working long into the nights with headlights on the tractors & combines, floodlights on at the grain store.
Here’s a link to a 45 sec film I made. As the combine goes up & down the field, straw comes out of the back of the combine & the grain is stored inside the combine until it’s full. Then a tractor & trailer come alongside & the grain is transferred via a spout from the combine harvester into the trailer. The trailer then goes to the grain store, where the grain is kept or sold – for food (flour), seed for next year’s crop or animal feed.
The Apley Harvest Festival on Saturday 27 September will be a celebration at the end of the 2014 growing season with great selections of local fruit & vegetables to taste & buy, including Apley Walled Garden produce. We always aim to provide at least 1 free recipe with each item.
This morning the children made some flapjack for them (like breakfast bars) to keep them going, then this evening, when we got back from a show jumping competition, they were baling hay from one of our paddocks. We had too much grass this year, so had to either get a local farmer to graze his sheep or borrow a small baler (Apley only has big bales) to make it into hay. The children ran out (Venetia in her pyjamas) to help load & unload the hay onto the loader & into the barn.
We’ve had almost every meal out in the garden this week, eating delicious fruit & vegetables from Apley Walled Gardens, like this trug full here which includes 4 types of unusual potatoes – Pink Fir Apple, Apache, International Kidney & Purple Majesty (navy blue when cooked).
Cosford Food Festival continues tomorrow, Sunday 28 July – a great day out for all the family.
The lowest food miles at Apley Farm Shop are for our home grown apricots from our Courtyard. Now on sale for £4.90/ kg, it’s our second crop off this plant & all thanks to good siting, pruning & gardening care. Some which can’t be sold if they are too blemished have come to our home, where we’ve all been eating them for breakfast, lunch & supper !
For the Bridgnorth Carnival on 28 June, the Apley Estate farms loaned a trailer to Parish Churches of Bridgnorth for their float – photographed here in preparation & on the parade.
Come & see Apley Farm Shop’s stand at the Cosford Food Festival this weekend – 26-27 July 2014. Last year, it was a great family day with lots of Shropshire food & drink suppliers offering fresh, local & handmade food to buy & free tasters. Other attractions include live music, children’s activities, a flypast & cookery demonstrations. Whilst there, why not take the chance to visit the RAF museum at the same time.
This photo is Gavin (Lord Hamilton) with Apley Walled Garden vegetables.
For ticket prices & more details, see http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/cosford/whats-going-on/events/cosford-food-festiva/
Pigg’s Playbarn at Apley Farm Shop have a programme of summer activities every Wednesday for 6 weeks, starting today with a teddy bears’ picnic, followed by kite making, parachute games, boat building & water fighting & finishes with an Alice in Wonderland’s tea party.
Our children pretty much know the words to this lovely Teddy Bears’ picnic song, which may be heard today down on the Skylark Nature Trail. If you’re in need of an adventure today, why not bring your children to Apley Farm Shop. Meet at 11.45am at the entrance to Pigg’s Playbarn, with your teddy & wellington boots, before heading down to the woods (Rookery Coppice) on the Skylark Nature Trail. We expect to be back by 1.45pm. The price of £6.50 includes a picnic & 2hr play afterwards in the Playbarn. Adults can also order a picnic for themselves for £5.50.
Just click on this link to book tickets or call 01952 730 345 to check availability: https://apleyfarmshop.digitickets.co.uk/tickets?branches.branchID=402