Interview with The Peasant’s Joel

We were curious at the Urban Farmer. Curious about just how restaurants in the middle of an urban metropolis get fresh produce everyday, and where it comes from! To this end, we took a stroll to one of London’s favourite pubs, just down the road – The Peasant! While there, we spoke to pub manager Joel about just how an inner-city pub can provide great food, every day.

Thomas: Hello Joel, can you introduce yourself?

Joel: Sure – I’m Joel and I am the manager here at the Peasant.

Thomas: What kind of customers come to the Peasant?

Joel: Well we have a lot of offices in the area, so it’s generally a lot of people coming on their lunchbreaks. Oh, and at the end of the day – especially Fridays. This place can really fill up. But I suppose when we get to the weekend, it’s much more of a destination pub rather than somewhere you might fall into. We’re pretty well known for our Sunday Roast, so I think people often come down just for that.

Thomas: Oh lovely – what Sunday roast do you do?

Joel: Meat with the usual trimmings. Pork belly, beef, chicken, and a veggie option. And of course, giant Yorkshires.

Thomas: Do you get those meats locally?

Joel: Unfortunately not. Our meat tends to be from Yorkshire and Suffolk. It’s hard to get local meat.

Thomas: How about all the other produce?

Joel: Well all our fruit and veg is seasonal and we try to source that as locally as possible.

Thomas: Is that difficult?

Joel: Yes. It really is quite difficult to buy locally. It’s a cost issue really. As a pub, we served pretty reasonably-priced food. We’re well-priced in comparison to other places in the area. Some restaurants might chose to source their produce and meat locally and often organically, but for us to maintain our prices, that’s not so easy. Don’t get me wrong, we try to buy as close to us as possible, but sometimes it’s just not practical.

Thomas: Are there many markets nearby for you to even do that?

Joel: A couple. And it depends on the daily market prices, we might add something new to our menu. If something is affordable, we’ll get it.

Thomas: How about your beer, is that local?

Joel: We try to buy all our draught beer from within the M25. Definitely. I’d say we have at least 80% local beers.

Thomas: And finally – do you think the Peasant would benefit from more green space nearby?

Joel: I suppose, but I don’t know where they would go. It’s a shame we can’t have more green spaces in London, but the fact of the matter is, there’s no room. We could cultivate the spaces we already have, but beyond that there’s literally no room without knocking a few buildings down…

Thomas: Thanks Joel!

Joel: No problem.

Guest Blog from CSA Flower Farmer, Katy Phillips

After our trip down to Columbia Road Flower Market, I asked Katy if she would be interested in writing for Urban Farmer London- of course once settled back in the United States! Her visit to England was full of many trips to flower farms, visiting growers that have inspired her from across the ocean.  Working with local farmers and now having her own flower growing business, she had much to say on the subject we love most here- Farms and City living.  She explains more about this and her CSA membership in her post below as well as her travels here. 

Follow this link to read more about CSA Farmers like Katy here in the UK:  Community Supported Agriculture, UK

Meet Katy Phillips- Flower Farmer, US

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Courtesy Katy Phillips

It is a real pleasure to be a guest blogger on The Urban Farmer London. I recently spent 10 fabulous days getting to know a small piece of England – including the yellow- flowering and rolling countryside, the enchanting coastline and the incredible city of London. It was well worth the effort of leaving my flower farm for these fabulous and rejuvenating days particularly for the chance to see a variety of beautiful gardens, including one of the leaders in the seasonal flower movement in the U.K, Green and Gorgeous.

 I am a novice flower farmer here in North Carolina. I live on some old tobacco land now farmed for pick-your-own strawberries. ¼ of an acre, a small and intimate piece of land behind my house has now become the fertile grounds through which I grow a variety of cut flowers for the farm stand and a 25 member CSA, which I have named Poesy. The farm is conveniently situated between 2 affluent university towns where there is an urban center, ideal for a flower pick up location and the occasional passerby looking for a beautiful, or sentimental gift! With one successful year under my wings, I am really looking forward to developing my existing relationships and learning as much as I can from other passionate flower growers.

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Courtesy Katy Phillips

This is why my spirit leaped at the chance to visit a flower farm while visiting England! My visit did not disappoint! In fact, I was delighted to discover that Rachel Siegfried and her partner Ashley Pearson and their farm Green and Gorgeous are leading the way for flower growers across England. Their farm is located in Little Stoke, Wallingford close to the university town of Oxford. It is an enchanting little piece of paradise and their hospitality to two jet-lagged Americans was a welcome reprieve. We walked around their cottage beds, took a peek in their hoop house full of ranunculus, and explored their newly planted acreage. It was such a treat! Even their cat followed our footsteps as though giving us the tour himself.

Courtesy Katy Phillips
Hoop house with Ranunculus @ Green and Gorgeous Farm, Courtesy Katy Phillips

Green and Gorgeous grows quintessential English flowers, but also host on-farm flower farming, photography and flower design workshops as part of their farmer-florist operation in Oxfordshire. Additionally, they host ‘Farm Gate Sales’, which are a bit like a ‘pop up’ shop, or my farm stand back in the States. They are held on the farm every Saturday next to their flower fields. The adorable little packing shed is filled with buckets of beauty and customers have the pleasure of walking through their gardens and picking bouquets of choice.

Courtesy Katy Phillips
Packing Shed @ Green and Gorgeous, Courtesy Katy Phillips

There has definitely been a huge change in people’s awareness of local flowers and the number of growers around the country of England and the US is increasing. Close proximity to urban centers helps growers’ continue to boost the local flower movement and raise customer awareness to the importance of supporting a more sustainable market. I look forward to taking some of the ideas gleaned from my visit to Oxfordshire back to my own small burgeoning flower farm!

Katy

CSA Shares from Poesy Farm, Courtesy Katy Phillips
CSA Shares from Poesy Farm, Courtesy Katy Phillips

Guest post: Forage London

Forage London

Hello everybody, this is John, founder of Forage London. It’s a pleasure to be a guest author on Urban Farmer London this week.

In case you’re wondering how I got into foraging, about 17 years ago my girlfriend and I decided we should go and have a weekend out of London to, you know, see if we like each other where we’re not at a party! Turns out we did, 17 years later we’re still together! We went to the New Forest where she grew up and went for a walk. She started pointing out edible mushrooms. I knew nothing about that sort of stuff and I thought that was really cool. Needless to say, she got me into mushroom hunting!

I had been mushroom hunting for a few years when I had a sort of epiphany: “What about all the other stuff? All the trees and greenery?” In my quest to find out what else I could eat while out hiking, I became kind of obsessed with finding out everything there is to know about foraging.

The more I learnt about wild foods, the more I started looking at London parks in a different way. I was stunned by how much diversity there is. London is a very green city and, in my local park alone, I’ve identified over 135 different species of edible plants.

If you’re thinking of trying foraging, good! It’s easy, but you have to learn how to forage safely and the best way to do that is to go out with someone who will teach you how to look out for plants (both edible and non-edible) and teach you a basic method of keeping yourself safe. Once you get started, as a general rule of thumb, always ask yourself, “Am I 100% sure this is safe to eat?”. If you’re not, don’t eat it!

Forage London

On my organised walks I take a group of 10 or 12 people to a large green space in London. I show them a different way of looking at their surroundings. We walk, we talk and we pick things. I show them how to recognise plants, point out key features, things to look out for and then we try different wild foods I’ve pickled and fermented. Some flavours are quite extreme, so this is a great experience for any foodie.

From a health point of view, wild foods are amazing and we should be eating more! Wild foods have not been bred or modified to taste sweeter, travel well, last longer or look good. They are natural. They are off the scale in terms of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and phyto-nutrients. So try and introduce a little bit of wild food into your diet, it’s good for you and it’s fun.

I love foraging. It’s an absorbing past time and every outing is a multi-sensory treasure hunt. Whether you want the benefits of natural food or you’re a foodie who wants to explore new flavours, foraging is for you!

For more information on my foraging walks, check out my website or follow Forage London on Facebook.

(Images courtesy of Forage London)

 

Coming soon: guest post by Forage London

Next week we will bring you a special post featuring a guest: John from Forage London.

John runs the extremely popular foraging courses around London, which are usually fully sold out weeks ahead of time. He takes people around specific London parks and shows them which plants are edible! I’ve sampled a salad made entirely of plants found on Hampstead Heath and it was delicious. Find out more about John’s courses by following Forage London on Facebook or checking out his website.

We’ll be bringing you the guest post with John next week. In the meantime, the weekend is coming, so check out our list of London food market.

Happy friday!