The Market Year - October
Welcome to the October edition of the Market Year. The bounty of this year’s incredible harvest is now with us so it’s time to rediscover the delights of colder-weather eating. Dig out your favourite soup and casserole recipes to make the most of the root vegetables, but try not to lose the habit of eating salads – a warm element of fish, meat or roast vegetables makes them more satisfying.
This year’s fruit crop is one of the best for decades, so make sure you don’t miss out. October is the peak of the top fruit season so try the many varieties of apples and pears on offer – with a little cheese or a few nuts on your plate, there is no better end to a meal than a ripe golden pear or a nutty Russet apple.
Photograph: Carlotta Luke
Thirty-five years ago, a young Dutch woman cycled through Sussex looking for good soil and an opportunity to farm. Discovering excellent Horsham greensand in Cuckfield she and her family eventually bought the fields that are now Laines' Organic Farm, a haven of flowers, fruit and vegetables.
On a tight budget and with few possessions, Toos decided that she could get started by growing vegetables. At that time, when the co-operative at Infinity Foods in Brighton was strictly vegan, they asked her to grow some specific crops – one was squashes called Red Kuri and Green Hokaidu, which have a high calcium content to help supplement a dairy-free diet. At one time she grew five acres of squash and her home was so tightly packed with the stored vegetables that her children had to squeeze past the piles and try to avoid being squashed(!) if the vegetables rolled around.
Although Toos loves the community at Lewes Food Market, her passion is growing, not selling. She no longer has a farm shop, though Cuckfield residents can buy produce from her sister. Her land is mostly used for outdoor-grown vegetables. “That way the plants get to experience sun, rain and frost, all of which improve the flavour and strengthen the plants”, Toos explains.
Her incredible energy for working the land means she would need to employ three people to replace her labour should she retire - though she does take volunteers from the Steiner school and Woofers to help grow her mixed crops of fruit and all-year-round vegetables. These are grown in a closed system using local animal manure and green manures to keep the soil in good heart. “The plants do the growing – I just provide the best conditions for them”, she insists. Her principles are biodynamic, based on Rudolf Steiner’s, and inspired by Maria Thun, the key figure in establishing a modern sowing-and-planting calendar which incorporates the phases of the moon and movement of the planets. These practices aim to avoid plant stresses and insect invasions, to give Toos's plants optimum quality.
Toos is known in Lewes Food Market for her sunny, smiling face. The reason is simple. “I love my job. I am the happiest woman in the world!” she says.
More of Carlotta Luke's photographes of Laine's Organics are here...
In Season Now
Onions, leeks, cabbages, chard, kale, beetroot, carrots and tomatoes, squashes and pumpkins, swede and celeriac, jerusalem artichokes, sweetcorn, wild mushrooms, cobnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts, apples, blackberries, sloes, quince and pears. Sea bass, haddock, Dover sole, scallops, mussels, crab, lobster and oysters.
Seasonal Recipes by Polly Senter
Lewes Food Market is run by Lewes Local Community Interest Company. It was founded to give the people of Lewes, and visitors, a unique opportunity to buy locally sourced fresh food products direct from the producers on a weekly basis.
Details of all the Lewes Food Market traders here...
See www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for help with wasting less food.
See www.makinglocalfoodwork.co.uk for exciting food news.
By buying local and eating food in season we are supporting and encouraging our local food producers. We can help them survive and multiply so that we are not so dependent on importing most of our food. With rising fuel costs, climate change affecting crops and constant international conflicts, importing is a risky business which can easily break down.