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Spotlight on Volunteers: Adrian; and Chefs in Schools charity

What amazing weather we have had all of a sudden and to have temperatures so high really early in the season. Some plants will thrive but others won’t like it if it gets quite cool again. We certainly have had the situation with some of our leafy produce where we have been awaiting the last crop to appear, or in the case of some of our winter lettuces, to be of a reasonable size, many were over and bolted before we had a chance to use them. Never easy when dealing with climate change temperatures so we just have to be flexible and adaptable.

We look forward to welcoming our artists this weekend for our contribution to the Emsworth Arts Trail. The girls will be busy baking home made cakes for the pop up cafe which will be open throughout the trial (this weekend and the Bank Holiday weekend including Monday). This Saturday will also be our first plant sale of the year. If you don’t manage to get to the sale we will be leaving plants for sale also available for the Arts Trail duration. Lindsey and the growing team did a lot of fruit bush cuttings last year from our fruit cage so we have lots of potted on fruit bushes available. This includes the more unusual jostaberries, boysenberries or Japanese wine berries.

Adrian, our bee keeper, is one of our great volunteers that helps with the gardening as well as helping to build items throughout the site. His latest project are the new raised beds within the dedicated horticulture therapy polytunnel. He has put out an appeal for wood for this particular project, something like scaffold boards or similar to help with the edging – or indeed lengths of thin logs. If anyone has some and would like to donate we would be really grateful. Being a charity with limited resources we are always keen to upcycle materials where we can.

Food education to our visiting school children is our number one charitable objective. It was therefore pleasing to read that Prue Leith has joined restaurateurs Yotam Ottolenghi and Thomasina Miers to help launch a charity that hopes to recruit leading chefs to work in school kitchens. Steven Cross, who you will know as the lead chef at park Community School, came from a fine dining background, even cooking at Buckingham Palace previously. He is such a great example of someone of his calibre and enthusiasm whoo can change the lives of children by givng the pupils outstanding food education. The aim of this charity is not only to improve the quality of school food, which is still not great for the many, but to teach children fast disappearing cookery skills that may help to improve their health. Sadly, the facts are that one in five children leave primary school obese, with those in deprived areas three times more likely to be in that category than their wealthier peers. The charity, Chefs in Schools, hopes to recruit 100 restaurant-trained professional chefs for 100 state schools over the next 5 years. Restaurants such as Dishoom, Wahaca, Murano, the River Cafe and Moro will support the chefs’ retraining so they are ready for the school kitchen.