The garden is my church, the kitchen my altar and pantry a prayer book By Jake

At 22 years old, our new kitchen volunteer has developed an important path as a cook. 

Born and raised in Brighton, Jake shares with us his experience at Newbold and gives away this brief but very emotional testimony of his daily encounter with the kitchen.

He started as dishwasher when he was 14 and got his first chance as a chef at the age of 18. Since then, he has been working and travelling around places such as England, New Zealand, Uganda, Thailand & Vietnam. This has created a great impact on his life and of course in his cooking style.

His aim? To create community through food…. to bring people together.

We are grateful for Jake and his wonderful collaboration and hard work and hope you enjoy his blog post:  

Every time I sit to eat; it is an act of worship.

The garden is my church, the kitchen my altar and pantry a prayer book from which I can, with luxurious will, draw on flavours like a chorus of hymns.

Food for me is a direct connection to creation, to the source of our nourishment, the bubbling spring of natural abundance and expession of nature in tangibly tasty form.

We depend upon the myriad miracles of nature that align (maybe with a little assistance from the gardeners shadow) along a transformative process from sun to soil, seed to fruit, to eventually meet us, yet another integral contributor to the cycle of life.

And so it seems a great dis-justice for these precious jewels of divinity to so often be asphyxiated in lifeless plastic.

In stark contrast I find myself taking a stroll from the bubbling alchemical environment of the kitchen to take some time in communion within the Newbold gardens, harvesting with a grateful whistle, a prayer of sorts, parsley, sorrel, spinach, lettuce and other april offerings. These first enthusiastic arrivals setting the scene for a season of sensual theatrics as vines twine and pods pop.

It is at this threshold, between garden and kitchen where I thrive most. Knowing that the instant a stem snaps there is an obligation to honour in its freshest form the days harvest. I have been known to be found on all fours in the polytunnel grazing hands free to maximise the ‘freshness experience’. It is here that my native self is proven. As I play my part in this sacred cycle i acknowledge I am holding sunlight, condensed into a leaf or berry, lifegiving, planet sustaining sunlight.

Whereas a tree or plant can largely gather information directly from the sun, we as humans must depend upon a far more intricate and longer process of concentrating that energy into be it leaves or flesh. As we have not yet evolved photosynthetic powers, we seek from other organisms. Therefore as a necessary harvest this becomes an act of sacrifice that in turn should rightfully be worshipped. It is with this truth that I cook. 

By Jake

Newbold Garden – Thinking Back/Looking Forward

The calendar year is drawing to a close and this morning Kristy and I are doing a spot of tidying around the front lawns. The last forgotten leaves of autumn are matted, thick and damp on the butterfly lawn and we’re raking them up to let the grass breathe and stretch out. It’s good meditative work and perfect at this time of reflection and planning. Occasionally I pause, lean on my rake and muse over the lessons from the year gone by and weave my dreams for the one to come. Colours, shapes and green sculptures form in my mind’s eye. Something as simple as removing leaves from one place and allowing them to rest in others carves out space and gives definition, painting with leaf, grass and rake.

SAM_0547It’s amazingly mild and seems to have been for some time. It’s easy to think that spring is here already…… but January and February are still ahead so beware impatient gardeners ;-). The low winter sun casts a warm, golden light on the vibrant, rusty, brown bark of the Scot’s Pines surrounding us. I’m sure the mere sight of the light, from my place in the shadows of the lawn raises my temperature a couple of degrees. I shed a sweater and woollen hat before continuing with my meditation.

 

Lunchtime finds me atop the wall of the vegetable garden, I don’t know how, it just seems so long since I looked at the garden from this place. Even in the depth of winter the land gives nourishing food, only less variety is there. Row upon row of leeks, and beyond out of sight but still there, the same in parsnip and further to the left swede, sprouts, cabbage and kale. As I gaze over the land I remember the many people that helped create this beautiful space, especially in 2015. Ben and his calendula strawberry combination, Kristy and Steve sowing swede and beans, Coco and Charlotte planting garlic and the host of Monday volunteers that helped among many other things to shape and plant the chicken run. The list goes on, too many to mention but rest assured I carry you all in my heart and it nourishes me every day as I walk in this beautiful garden.

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My dreaming continues. I see 2016 as a year to welcome even more people to this wonderful venue, both to contribute in its evolution and simply to take respite and enjoy the surroundings. The air rings with flute, violin and laughter as I anticipate fun filled Spring Saturdays and lazy, balmy summer evenings. A seat to enjoy morning tea with the chickens and outside, on the edge of the woods, another to enjoy the orchestra of bees surrounded by tall comfrey.

Lunchtime is over and the dreams are paused as the present moment demands more active pursuits in some of the cluttered sheds. More cleaning and sweeping ahead of the new season. I wish you all a prosperous 2016 and hope to meet at least some of you in the year to come.

Warm wishes from Martin and the Garden Team ☺ .

Garden Blog: All about Apples

Mid August in the walled garden, the first variety of apple ripen and fall. The snow in early December has ensured the remainder of any hanging fruit has fallen, the blackbirds feasting on the frozen Bramley’s Seedling variety plump on the ground, creating apple carcasses on the frozen earth.

apple_juiceThe last trees baring fruit were the six Bramley’s Seedling and the first in September where the Beauty of Bath. In between this seasonal parade of
70 apple trees in leaf, in bloom, with apples, without apples, without leaves, dormant, we create and celebrate the bounty of these beautiful trees.

There are around 35 different variety of apple some of them Heritage varieties. Some planted 100 years ago, they have experienced much more than any of the human beings living here now. They are home to many lichens, mosses, birds, insects and help create the atmosphere of the walled garden that grows a majority of the food for the community of Newbold House.

IMG_5833This year Newbold Trust with the help of the Voluntary Action Fund created a Volunteer Coordinator post that enabled the coordination of preserving of many garden harvests including apples. Thanks to all the volunteers who come to our preserving days and to work in the garden.

We made apple – compote, butter, curd, chutney, rings, cake,
tarts and all those things forgotten. We also, together with the garden volunteers, picked up windfalls, picked from the tree, processed apples into apple juice, sorted apples for storage, and spat a pip on Apple Day.
It will soon be time for pruning the trees. Each is very unique and with loving human attention and a positive outcome at the COP21 talks (see http://www.transitionnetwork.org) will again bear fruit for many years to come.

For more photographs of Apple Day and Food Preservation follow us on Facebook or click here.