Knotweed Invasion//Beef Stew 2

At the start of the week we received the call that no landowners want to hear…

Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that found its way over to the UK during the Victorian era from Japan (funnily enough!).

When it was first introduced to the UK the gardeners and horticulturalists of Britain were completely enamoured with this wonder plant. Not only did it grow fast but the budding gardeners of the time also discovered that it had the ability to push back other plants, making it useful for keeping unwanted plants off the railway lines that were getting constantly built up and down the country at the time.

Unfortunately, the Victorians had underestimated how industrious Japanese knotweed could be. They’d not accounted for the plant’s ability to grow up to 20cm a day and they (falsely) believed that because the English climate was too cold for it to flower that the plant would not spread any further: they were wrong.

Over the last 100 years or so Japanese knotweed has spread out from it’s various origin points throughout the country and found it’s way into the back gardens, fields and homes of thousands around the country. The plant has the capacity to grow through walls and even uproot small structures such as sheds, this is why it’s now being treated as an ‘invasive non-native plant‘ by the government. Fail to dispose of your knotweed in the correct fashion and you could face a serious fine.

When we got a call from one of our lads that he’d spotted several Japanese knotweed plants breaking through a neighbouring land border, we knew we had to sort the problem out right away. We enlisted the help of Knotweed Help to assess our situation and get us a quote on removing the plants. Whilst our visitors were having a poke around, Gerald and I made ourselves busy in the kitchen cooking up a heart beef stew to keep the men outside warm.

The right beef stew takes more than a good joint of beef, this recipe is one that we’ve had in the family for years. Unlike some of our other ‘untouchable’ family recipes we always try and add a little something extra into this to make it a bit special:

Our Traditional Beef Stew

Serves 5 hungry farmers and 1 knotweed specialist

What You Need:

Vegetable oil

1kg best braising beef,

Plain flour

2 onions, roughly chopped

Couple of glasses of red wine

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1cm cubes

5 bay leaves

2 tbsp Harissa paste

Method:

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees.

Dust your beef in couple of tablespoons of flour and then fry in a heated pan with a dash of oil.

Once your beef is sealed toss in your vegetable along with the garlic, bay and harissa.

Cook this out for a few minutes before adding the puree, Worcestershire sauce, wine and stock.

Bring this all to the boil and let it cook for 10 minutes before seasoning, then stick it in the oven for 3-4 hours.

Give it a stir occasionally and make sure you’ve got some lovely fresh bread to soak it up with when it’s ready.

Welcome – An Introduction

After operating ‘off the grid’ for nearly 17 years we’ve finally got a website!

As farmers and all-round country folk we’ve never really had that much time for the internet…

It sounds like a bit of a broad stereotype, but Gerald and I have always found the internet a little confusing. Our kids had railed at us for years to get it installed, but the cost of getting a line sent out to our little farm seemed so astronomical at the time that we had to bat away their complaints until they were old enough to go to university in a big town, where they could get all the internet that they wanted.

It took us until 2010 to get an internet connection of our own and another four years for us to really figure out what do with it!

As with all new technologies we were lucky to have our kids to show us how to get the most of it. Even with their guiding hands it took us another 4 years to get our very first website online and ready to go. We’re a local business, selling locally sourced produced to local people so this website will never be about selling you any products. Instead, this site will be dedicated to everything that we love about food and what you can do with it.

Now that Gerald and I have been able to pass the management of Farm Food Shop over to our kids it’s given us more time to explore the rest of the country, as well as all the fantastic foods that we have on offer here. We’ve taken it upon ourselves this year try out as many new food experiences as possible – that means more days out to food festivals, road trips to great restaurants and a whole lot of cooking at home.

After spending a lifetime working together we’ve finally got the chance to taste some of the great food that we’ve been selling to our customers for so long!

Over the next year we’ll be posting our favourite recipes – you’ll be able to try out everything from some of the oldest family recipes to some of our latest innovations. We’ll be keeping you up to date on the best restaurants that we’ve been visiting throughout the week and we’ll also be giving you updates on any changes that have been taking place on the farm.

It’s going to be a big year for the team here at Farm Shop Food – we hope you can make the time to keep up with us!