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Last summer an enterprising, green-fingered, nature-loving family upped sticks and left the urban life behind for four-acres of paradise in Essex – a space for food growing, a teaching centre, a woodland, an orchard and a home. They hit the ground running, arriving in their new home at the height of harvest season. There was no time to unpack – it was straight into picking, sorting and delivering crate-loads of plums, apples, berries and green gages to London and setting up their stall at the farmers’ market to provide Hackney food loving folk with a delicious array of fruits, jams, cordials and cakes.
This small-holding enterprise was set-up by Ian and Rebecca who live with their three young daughters, the “pippins”, Romily, Miriam and Gwendolyn. This year they’re back with more of their delicious fruits which they’ll be selling at the farmers’ market as well as to the veg scheme.
“So far the year has been very good to us” says Ian. “On the stall you’ll find lots of lovely summer fruits: culinary gooseberries, a smattering of dessert gooseberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and New Zealand spinach. We’ve also got a store cupboard of jam and jelly and plenty of homemade elderflower cordial.”
Back on the smallholding, the polytunnel has been reaching the dizzy heights of 40C since May so the flowers are looking very happy. They will have zinnias, sunflowers, cornflowers, foxgloves and astromeria to sell as well.
For those of you that like your eggs truly free-range and organic, you'll be pleased to hear they've expanded their small flock of lovely chickens - not quite as many as they’d hoped due to a dastardly fox but they are definitely more egg-bundant than last year. Their delicious white eggs will also be available at the market.
The three pippins now have their own bespoke walnut tree play areas, complete with tree swing and mud kitchen and the walnut tree has gifted them with few kilograms of June nuts to pickle.
We’re glad to say they’re all settling in well to their new life and looking forward to another season at the Growing Communities Farmers’ Market.