half full

given that this has become known as the climate change farm, this year was starting to feel a little like i backed betamax just when i should've bought vhs

the idea of growing previously 'foreign' food - olives, peaches, apricots, grinding pepper etc - was a simple, sustainable way of taking advantage of climate change – or at least it seemed like it in the blaze of last summer



as you might imagine it's not been exactly peach-friendly precipitation, and watching the abundant blossom getting battered and washed from them along with the nectarines, apricots and almonds this spring left us feeling a bit flat: it was a miserable late spring and early summer didn’t feel much different

we’d built the predicted unpredictability of our new weather patterns into the equation by going for a large number of small to medium harvests - spreading our bets as it were – adding a range of forgotten fruit (quince, medlars, mulberries etc) as a kind of edible insurance, in the hope that in any given year we might get perhaps 80% of our potential harvests to materialize whatever the weather: we just weren’t quite expecting one of those occasional wetter, windier, decidedly unmediterranean years to come along quite so soon, in year 3

now that we’ve had a little sun, these forgotten english favourites on their damp-tolerant rootstocks have come into their own, hopefully providing us with a delicious, if small, payout, with the few peach, apricot and nectarine trees i’d kept in the polytunnel providing confirmation that when they flourish out in the open they won't be shy of flavour - forget the vapid early-picked supermarket spheres, the difference with these is like that between juice and squash



so sitting here eating nectarines by the river while looking at fruitless almond trees, i’m not quite sure what to think of this weird year, much less what to expect from next...i'm also trying to resist that male urge to reach conclusions before i should, after all it's early days when it comes to wrestling with the challenges and opportunities of climate change and this is just one year in the midst of many.... perhaps we can’t rely on four distinct seasons anymore, maybe this flux where autumn can turn up in summer, where spring comes, goes and reappears, just means that there’s even less for the grower to hang their hat on....i don’t know, but with more downtime than normal, it’s been a summer of conversations with growers across the farmgate and across the internet, and it seems that for most of us it's this year even more than last that feels like confirmation that there's something on the move, something fundamental, that's not just a tweak away from the norm

as george monbiot puts far more eloquenter than i ever could, part of our problem in dealing with climate change is that we tend to see the future as enhanced replications of today, our storyline of dreams and schemes played out on an essentially unchanging stage - but the whole backdrop is moving, and that's not easy to bring into the everyday when the sun still rises in the same place, liverpool finish outside the top two, night follows day....this year might just make that reality of global change more believable, at least to us growers out in it every day, and if we can recognize that, bring it into the everyday of what we do and communicate it to those unlucky enough not to work on the land then maybe there’s at least something positive to rescue from all this rain

Go to Otter Farm | by Mark D