The market garden at Henbant permaculture farm (c) Rianne Mason

Transformation at Henbant

The seasons have changed, crops have grown and campers are rolling in. It feels like life is buzzing here at Henbant. We’ve started producing our weekly veg boxes, feeding our crops with home-made teas and moving our pigs around the forest.

Building veg beds in the chicken polytunnel

At the end of April the chickens came out of the polytunnel and we started to build beds ready for tomatoes and cucumbers. We made sure that the ammonia-rich layer was removed before we built the beds as this would have been a bit too much for the plant.

Our tomato plants and intercropping of basil, borage, onions are now thriving and I can’t wait for our first crop.

Disturbing forest ground with pigs

In May we moved our pigs to the forest and put them on a paddock rotation every couple of weeks. I’ve been amazed at how quickly they dig up the earth with their ‘trowel snouts’ and it’s been a great experience for me to see pigs in their natural habitat.

I’ve learnt that pigs are literally ‘nosey’! They want to investigate everything and have a keen interest in my shoelaces, zips and toggles when I’m giving them a scratch.

Getting to know Rocky

I’m not going to lie, Rocky has become a friend of mine. He’s a lone pig who we had to separate from his sisters, so I give him quite a lot of attention and cuddles outside of the usual feeding duties. He loves to have his belly scratched and when it’s hot he makes his own paddling pool by tipping over his water trough (which I then have to refill).

Sometimes he’s naughty and pushes his bedroom outside of his paddock, but mainly he’s cute. He loves to eat old potatoes and gets the occasional bowl of spare milk as a treat.

Producing weekly veg boxes

  • Harvesting kale at Henbant permaculture farm (c) Rianne Mason

Last month we kicked of our veg box season and I’ve had the joy of providing people with healthy fresh food. It definitely feels good when we’re harvesting as a team at 6am every Thursday and later watching all of our hard work getting packed into bags and taken away by happy customers.

I’ve harvested mesclun salad, rocket, lettuce heads, basil, rainbow chard, chives, dill, parsley, kale, pak choi and spicy salad so far. I am a fan of the kale because it’s so easy to pick and amazing quality thanks to our mesh that kept the pests at bay.

Planting sweet peas

Planting a sweet pea wigwam (c) Rianne Mason

It started to become a running joke on the farm that I was forever needing to plant sweet peas – I sowed 500 plugs! I started out with building a wigwam, then I planted them up a fence and eventually they got stuck in barrels and any spare spot that could take them.

Fingers crossed the campers can enjoy their sweet scent this summer.

Making teas

Comfrey flower (c) Rianne Mason
A comfrey flower (c) Rianne Mason

From the end of May onwards we’ve been making teas with nettle, comfrey and compost. I never knew comfrey flowers were so pretty and the plant grows rapidly – which is handy! Making the tea with leaves is easy, we just fill the barrel with leaves and top it with water and some molasses. It’s aerated with a bubbler and/or regular stirring.

For the compost tea we make a huge ‘tea bag’ full of our compost and hang it in the barrel of bubbling water.

Welcoming a cow, a calf and plenty of milk

  • Dora at Henbant permaculture farm (c) Rianne Mason
  • Jo and her calf at Henbant permaculture farm (c) Rianne Mason
  • Inger and Julie in the kitchen at Henbant permaculture farm (c) Rianne Mason

The Henbant livestock has been slowly expanding these past two months. We’ve bought in some chicks for broilers. We got a new dairy cow, Dora, who gave us an abundance of milk and kept the kitchen very busy trying to find new ways to use it. And our other dairy cow, Jo, gave birth to her calf a couple of weeks ago.

Now we have regular experiments with ice cream using flavours from the farm, my current favourite being elderflower and lemon. Delicious.

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