General News

Please see the list of producers attending the market and taking orders.

Please see the list of producers that have confirmed their booking.   While the market is a relatively safe way to shop the news about the pandemic grows ever grimmer.  We will continue with the market in its present form but with the reminder to remain extra vigilant. 

Orders are now being accepted with the following deadlines:

  • Wednesday midnight for products that need preparation  e.g.baked goods
  • Thursday 2.pm for Whitbrook Growers*
  • The earlier the better for all other items to ensure supply and to minimise stress for producers.

* Alison, from Whitebrrok,  has messaged that the combined effects of  Covid, weather and Brexit means fewer people available for organising orders at Whitebrook.

Otherwise,Happy New year and we look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

 

Come and collect your Christmas orders from turkeys, Christmas Cakes, gammons and stocking fillers.  Under the present restrictions, Christmas is likely to be quieter for most of us than usual, so having traditional seasonal fare will bring some joy.

Please do all that can be done to minimise contact when collecting orders. Make sure orders have been placed before Wednesday and payments, where possible, completed remotely.

  

By Alicia Miller, originally published by Sustainable Food Trust

  • December 10, 2019

Image removed.

As we celebrate World Soil Day 2019, the need for and value of healthy soil continues to be of utmost importance. The statistics are well known: a third of global arable soils are degraded with 25% severely degraded. In the UK, 84% of topsoil has been lost since 1850, and the UK may only be 30 to 40 years away from eradicating its soil fertility. Globally, it is predicted that only 60 years of farming are left if the rate of degradation continues.

Into this grim scenario, comes an expanding new sector: soil-less agriculture. While hydroponic production has been around for some time, its incorporation into ‘vertical farming’ has been a more recent innovation that is taking hold. It falls into a family of practices known as ‘Controlled Environment Agriculture’ (CEA) which includes heated glasshouses and indoor crops sown in soil as well as varied types of hydroponic production, including aquaponics. In Wales, where my husband and I grow organic vegetables on a 23 acre smallholding, CEA is getting a lot of Government support as a vitally important component of Welsh food security and for its ‘sustainability’ – a word I put in quotes because it means different things to different people, and never more so than in CEA.

As I wrote in an earlier piece on vertical farming, the ‘sustainability’ of vertical farming most definitely depends on how it is defined. Most often cited is how little water it uses in contrast to land-based agriculture and this is certainly something to weigh up, especially in a century where water is likely to be a continuing area of conflict, opening up ongoing ‘hydro-politics’. Proponents of vertical farming see a potential new future for agriculture in which the conventional chemical practices of controlling weeds, killing insects and diseases, and the constant striving for productivity present one failure of sustainability; and on the organic side, the lumbering soil-based production and expansive land use is simply not efficient enough to make its sustainability viable in the long run. Vertical farming is a 21st Century agriculture to those involved – better, stronger, faster, and with a lot more money.

Perhaps as we move forward in this turbulent century, there is a place for soil-less agriculture to provide more than just expensive micro-greens. But where is the ecology in soil-less agriculture? This is what concerns me. Soil is a breathing, squirming, thriving, living thing. It gives back to its environment and helps it survive and thrive. That interconnection is important in a world where we are increasingly disconnected from nature – a disconnection which threatens our continued existence on the planet. The most important part of being an organic farmer is taking care of your soil – a good farmer has a deep, enduring relationship with it. This relationship ties you to the earth, compels you to be mindful of what you do on your land. We care what happens in the ground.

It’s hard to have this relationship if you don’t walk your land regularly and smell your soil, to understand what it is telling you. You have to know the weeds and know what they offer you as well as what they take. You have to put your hands in the ground and forge that bond. As fields get bigger, it is this which falls away. If we ride around on tractors, criss-crossing vast tracks of land that produce only one or two crops and leave no space for living things, we cannot possibly understand what is taking place beneath our feet. That soil holds a quarter of the biodiversity of the world, is testament to its profound complexity. Our land is shared with host of other creatures, both great and very small, and as stewards of the farm, we must remember this and live by it.

Soil microbes are fantastic beasts, far more numerous and diverse than all the human population of the earth. Healthy soil imparts its health to the plants that are grown in it, and the plants consequently carry more trace elements and micronutrients. Microbes play an essential role in the nutrient cycles of soil, to humanity’s great benefit. And soil microbes have produced some of our greatest lines of defense against illness – for example, ivermectin– and one common strain of microbes, M. vaccae, has been shown to help our mental healthRecent research on antibiotics has indicated that the earth’s soils might well be the best place to look for new ones. It’s unlikely that an inorganic nutrient solution will ever give us what soil can.

If we lose soil, we ultimately lose ourselves. As said so profoundly by poet and agriculturalist Wendell Berry,

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”

We need to re-engage people with its magnificence and wonder and foster an enduring understanding of what it is, why we need it and what needs to be done to save it. So, let us not let go of soil, let’s bury ourselves in it more deeply.

Photograph: Aqua Mechanical

 

Stallholders are finalising arrangements for Christmas and, to make sure you have all your desires fulfilled! now is the time to make your final orders. 

There will be a special order collection market on 23rd December 4.00 pm - 6.00 pm (Memorial Hall Car Park)

Bird Influenza

Appropriate measures have been put in place on the farms and there should not be any problem with the supply of poultry and eggs.

There has been some exciting news from Brecon Brewing with the announcement of becoming an Official Partner of the Wales Rugby Union.  Two new beers WRU IPA and WRU Gold have  been brewed especially and, happily,  will be available to order and buy at Usk (make sure to order early) 

For details of which producers will be in attendance at the market this Saturday please click on the following section for a link.

 

It really is an age since we managed to pen an email.  It has been busy and the weeks fly past so quickly.   It will get even busier over the next 10 days after which we will have a well earned rest with only the daily farm chores to do.  We can still take late orders - as long as you don't want gammon  (some celeb must have said gammon was "in"  this year !!

Farm life trundles on - one day is much like the other in winter - by the time the daily feeding, yard cleaning and bedding down is done, there is not much daylight left to do much else.  Dry days are a bonus when we try to cram as much in as we can.  Thank goodness for good lights and well behaved horses - they are well used to coming in when it's dark.  

We will deliver Christmas orders on Wed 23rd and Thursday 24th and meet Usk and Riverside customers as arranged.  

From all of us at Penrhiw "Merry Christmas"

The Usk Farmers' Market has hosted Brecon Brewing since the beginning of the pandemic, bringing orders and displaying an amazing range of beers and ciders to buy direct. Buster Grant has made apologies for not being able to attend the market on a few recent occasions, because of the extra work involved in readiness for the launch of two new beers: the WRU IPA and the WRU Gold, as an Official Partner of the Rugby Union of Wales. We are proud to be able to offer these for order and sale at the markets leading up to Christmas.

Please see the list of producers with links to the products available at this market.   

There will be a chance to collect Black Mountains Smokery orders from Welsh Farmhouse Apple Juice. at this market and again on Saturday December 5th.

Monmouthshire Turkeys are taking orders for Christmas for collection at the Farm and the Usk Christmas Orders Collection Market on December 23rd.

Little Mill Natural Products  are adding to the Seasonal Focus with the first of this year's Mincemeat with Brandy

October 3rd 2020