An amazing visit to Buttervilla
One of our fruit and veggie suppliers, Buttervilla recently hosted us as part of our sourcing trip programme and we were invited along to visit some of the fields and farms that form part of the co-operative that is Buttervilla.
Our first stop was at Skye Grove – a 9.5 acre field near Dobwalls in SE Cornwall which is owned by Kevin Austin, who works at the Eden Project and is looked after by himself and agriculturalist Sean O’Neill. This agricultural land shows a sustainable system of crop production using horse power, and blending traditional and new progressive growing techniques. Brian Cavendish owns and works the two Comtois draft horses which are used to plough the land – they are called Bill and Ben!
Having had an introduction from both Sean and Brian and after saying ‘hello’ to the horses, we split off into two groups. I joined the first group to be lead by Sean and he took us across the fields, explaining their growing methods (they still use tools from 150 years ago!), and showing us all the different crops that they grew there, and allowing us to dig up some delicious veggies for our lunch later. Whilst we were checking out the crops, Rob from Buttervilla Farm (another part of the co-operative) arrived to say hello.
Meanwhile, the other group were having a great time with Brain who allowed each of the apprentices to have a go at leading Bill and Ben up and down the land. It was a really great thing to see! The two groups then swapped over before we all headed back to the bus to make our way to our next destination – Keverel Farm.
Keveral Farm sits high above the South Cornwall coast near Seaton, around five miles from Looe. It has supported a community of growers, using organic methods since the early seventies becoming one of the first Soil Association Certified farms. The Keveral community of growers which is headed up by Sean, produce veg boxes from crops grown across the land of co-operatives, but the Keveral is where all the boxes are packed and sits in the middle of the farm, surrounded the apple press, chickens and a range of other buildings which the community have plans for in the future.
On arrival at the farm, we all had quarter of an hour for tea and coffee before Sean and Rob lead us down a short winding lane, past a series of polytunnels which are all huddled together and which house some of the famous funky leaves that we serve at the restaurant, as well as some of the best heritage tomatoes and winter salads that you will ever taste! Having explored the polytunnels it was then to the bottom of the field where a bonfire was already on the go and the lunch table was laid ready for us – all that was missing was the food…….and so the apprentices got to work, using the fantastic produce that they’d harvested from the land earlier in the day alongside some produce that we’d brought from the restaurant they prepared some fantastic food!
So after an hour or so of cooking, we all sat down and enjoyed vegetable soup, stuffed marrow, antipasti (from produce that we’d brought from the restaurant), and bruschetta topped with a tasty mix of goats cheese and fresh veggies. Mmmm – it was delicious!
A great end to a really great day…..thank you to everyone from the Buttervilla co-operative who hosted us! We really appreciate your support.