What a relief to get the 2023 harvest finally finished.

This year has been so different from last year. In 2022 we were so hot that it was a major undertaking simply to make it through every day without a major fire. In the total reverse, this year it’s been challenging just trying to get the corn in to the barn dry enough because of all the rain. It rained on St Swithun’s Day, the 15th July. If this happens then an old wives’ tale predicts it will rain for 40 days straight and that was pretty much what happened.

When I was a child, we were brought up with these funny old sayings and ultimately, we’re all in the hands of the weather when it comes to the growing season, climate change is really affecting us all. Those of us growing food of any kind, know that it’s very important we have the right amount of water and sunshine at just the right times of the month. On top of that, there’s the importance of soil type which is key to what we grow. You’ll be pleased to learn that if you have a lot of earthworms, then they’re a great indicator that you have good soil. The presence of the humble worm tells us that we have lots of healthy soil to start growing things in our garden. Vegetables, flowers and a good grass lawn too. In my pub and restaurant, I’ve always tried to grow at least one or two seasonal vegetables to put on the customers’ plate. Whether it’s salad leaves, spinach, courgettes, green beans, carrots or beetroot, it’s something straight from the pub veggie garden onto the diner’s plate, that really has no food miles travelled.

Usually the end of September or beginning of October is time for the official harvest supper. A time to celebrate everything from the fields that our farmers have safely gathered during the harvest. There’s nothing better than sharing food whilst sitting down with friends and family. If you’re not a cook then you can enjoy a simple ploughman’s supper of local cheeses, chutneys, fresh bread and crackers, absolutely perfect with a nice bottle of wine or glass of beer.

Friends have often said to me that they’re nervous to cook for me because they can’t cook like I can. I’ve had years of the pub, restaurant and family to cater for, it’s in my blood. Please don’t think it matters how simple the food you make is, it’s all about sharing it with friends and family. It can be a soup or stew, roast dinner or pasta, it doesn’t matter at all. You don’t need to make hard work of entertaining. Ask your friends to bring a bottle, some cheese or a dessert, that they can add to the table. Pot-luck suppers they are called and they can be fabulous, it’s like a surprise meal all in one. The most important thing about eating good food is about sharing it and being with others. Let’s celebrate our British farmers and make them feel appreciated by eating more of what is produced in our own country.