A visit to Spitalfields City Farm

We’ve written about all the urban farms in London, but we realised that we hadn’t visited enough of them! So we headed to east London, snuck behind Shoreditch High Street station, took a left, took a right and there we were! At Spitalfields City Farm…it sounds cliché, but it really is a little oasis in the middle of chaotic east London. If you fancy a coffee and cake, or you want to say hello to some chickens and donkeys, or you’d like to volunteer, go check it out! In the meantime, here’s a little video we made about our visit. Enjoy!

London’s top sustainable restaurants

The Clerkenwell Kitchen

Up first is the winner of the 2008 Time Out “Best Sustainable Restaurant” award. The Clerkenwell Kitchen prides itself on its endeavour to serve locally-sourced produce. To this end, most of it’s produce comes from London-adjacent Buckinghamshire, and also Mill Hill. Although not completely organic, the Clerkenwell Kitchen does acquire its meat from traditional farms as opposed to those that employ intensive farming.

Based in – you guessed it – stylish Clerkenwell, this one is top of our list and well worth a stop by.


The Modern Pantry

Keeping it Clerkenwell, we skip down the road to another Urban Farmer favourite – The Modern Pantry! We can attest to this little gem’s beautiful Sunday Brunch, perfect for that weekend hangover that you need to shake.

The menu of this gorgeous little deli-cum-restaurant is forever changing. This keeps the style and feel of the place fresh, and also wonderfully in-season. The setting is just divine – slap bang in the middle of the historic St. John’s Square with the midday sun falling on the front step, so sunglasses for hangovers can be perfectly acceptable!


Franklins

Hopping over the river now, to Franklins. Another brunch hotspot favourite for us here at the Urban Farmer, Franklin upholds the ethos of locally-sourced produce. In fact, it’s about as “local” as it gets. Beers, local. Produce, local. Meat, local. Bread, homemade! So if you’re eco-conscious but fancy a lovely meal out, Franklins is your best bet!

Also, after you’ve eaten, pop across the road to the Franklin Farm Shop, where you can pick up something to tide you over later in the day!


The Vanbrugh

Our list’s top pub choice. The Vanbrugh is the place for those of you who want to eat ethically, while catching the latest game. The Greenwich-based Vanbrugh sources all its pub-style food locally, and the beer is too. This family-friendly bistro pub is an all-weather favourite, so bring the kids!


Damson & Co

Last but not least, a trip to sultry Soho is not complete without a late lunch at Damson & Co. This restaurant has a very British feel to it, and that comes through especially in its menu. All the produce is locally-sources, and the restaurant also encourages you to partake in one of its many varieties of English wine! Who’d have thought… English wine! Well we guarantee you won’t come away from this place left wanting – it really is a must!

3 Favourite Farm-to-Table Restaurants in London

In terms of trends, I think this is one of the best food trends out there- Farm-to-Table.  Originally taking off in California- this concept that has now turned into a movement.  Its basic concept is what it literally means- a farm’s most fresh and seasonal products that is closest to your ‘table’.  One word: LOCAL.

At its essence- it is a picture of community supported farming and also taking the restaurant experience to a new level. It has taken off in England in recent years with new restaurants popping up showcasing our local farmers as well as world-class culinary talents.

Some use the trendy term as a marketing tool while others just simply live it out.  Regardless – its one that we warmly welcome to our foodie city. Here are 3 of my personal favourites.

1- Daylesford Farms

Courtesy Homes and Property

Daylesford Farms in Gloucestershire now has 5 locations in London.  Their concept is a perfect example of what some people call Farm-to-Fork.  All of their food comes from their farm- even their creamery. They boast on being sustainable and an organic farm and have developed into a true success story.  The most recent store in Marylebone just opened!  Check it out or find the one closest to you.  And don’t forget to read our post on cooking up savoury organic Lamb Burgers from their Farm Shop!

2- The Shed

The Shed in Notting Hill Gate is owned and run by two brothers from Nutbourne, West Sussex.  One focuses on the farming side of things while the other runs the restaurant.  Their menu changes daily sourcing their own produce as well as neighbouring suppliers.  They’re menu is wildly diverse and also using creative methods to waste nothing in terms of meat… if you know what I mean!

3- The Grain Store

IMG_9952

I’ve been hearing about The Grain Store in King’s Cross by a foodie friend for months before I finally visited.  The space is buzzing and nearly impossible to get in during brunch on Sundays.  This restaurant is large and therefore sources their menu from local suppliers such as Daily Fish and Lake District Farms among many others.  They also have a few outside suppliers but in general the menu steers to local and fresh.  The cocktails are legendary in themselves.

Chronicles of the Chelsea Flower Show

DSC01903

Last Saturday, we took a camera, an umbrella and a bit of luck to the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show.  Despite the usual London weather patterns, there was only one real challenge- no ticket and sold out.  Prepared for rejection at the gate, it still seemed a worthy effort to jump on the tube and give it a shot. Sure enough… after a little old fashion networking magic- a ticket was being ripped from the man’s roll of printed entry tokens.  Victory!

As a newcomer to this famous British flower tradition- I was blown away at the level of artistry, creativity, and the amount of flowers is still hard for me grasp.  Small gardens, big gardens, exotic gardens, artisan gardens– it was a feast for the eyes, nose and especially the soul.  There were reports of over 100,000 people expected to visit the show. If you didn’t get to go this year- BBC had beautiful coverage with all 15 episodes still available on BBC iPlayer.

And just In case you missed tracking us live on twitter – here are a few of favourite images I took with my DSLR. You can check out more from our live feed via Twitter – @urbanfarmerLDN.  We do have one tip for next year- take your best totes with you for the mass exodus of flowers on the last day.  The exhibits sell off or even GIVE AWAY FLOWERS.  My arms are still sore from the tube ride home with hands full of very LARGE red tulips.

DSC01729 DSC01726 DSC01685DSC01626 DSC01542DSC01775DSC01559DSC01562

DSC01906 DSC01809 DSC01817         DSC01917DSC01826

Looking at London: Public Open Space

Map of London Greenspace Open space
Image rights granted by Maria Longley at Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL)

The Urban Farmer took a look at some stats collected by Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL Source) to assess just how much of our beautiful capital is open space with public access. Generally, the picture looks quite good!

Total Area

However, not everyone is benefitting from this huge amount of public open space. As you can imagine the great majority of this open space lies to the outskirts of the city. And as this dataset takes outlying boroughs into account, much of the space is to be found in Hillingdon, Richmond, Bromley and the like.

A better measure would be to look at how individuals can access this green space. The image is much graver. Measuring people’s access to all four categories of open space, only 16.6% of Londoners have access.

Access

There are some stars however. When we reduce the figures to just the 10 central London boroughs, Tower Hamlets comes out on top with almost 6 million square metres of open public space.

Islington doesn’t fare so well, and has the smallest amount of open space of any London borough by a long long way! Just 2 million square metres!

Havering is London’s open space star, with 67 million square metres! That’s 20% more than the London average!

Inds

Experience London’s ONLY ‘English Wine Shop’

England’s wine business is booming yet interestingly, there is only one store in the entire capitol that exclusively showcases English Wine. Most people don’t think of England as being a grape growing- or you could call it grape farming region.  But the story is true and for us Londonites – it’s developing right under our nose.  So we thought to go check out what this little store with a big mission is all about.

Here is a short video of our trip down to The Wine Pantry at Borough Market and the lovely girls that make it come alive.   Next stop will be our visit with Julia to her new store. Be on the lookout!

The Wine Pantry is a wine store and tasting room situated in London’s Borough Market.  One of the founders- Julia Stafford -could also be considered an ambassador of sorts for English wine.  Several years ago she was taken back at the fact that a city as big as London and as close to a fine grape growing region had no exclusive English Wine Store. She then was inspired to do something about it.  And so the Wine Pantry opened its doors, strategically in Borough Market. (See our Blog on ‘Borough Market‘)  Building the business was one thing, but more so was her desire to promote and support our local vineyards by connecting them directly to the consumer in the city.

The business has grown so much and received loads of community enthusiasm that they opened a second store- English Wine and Spirits Co.  just last year. The team felt it was also important to expand from wine into various other spirits made here in the UK while providing a larger and full service tasting room.  But Julia’s inspiration came from the wine- grapes grown just outside of London that are now winning global competitions with not enough people knowing it.  (See our blog for more about the story- ‘A growing trend… Grapes‘)

This is another story of how important these human links are in bringing value to our city life- connecting farmers to urban dwellers, boosting local sales and expanding local pride. And in this case for what seems to be a hidden secret- English Wine. But not for long…

The Urban Farmer’s Lunchtime Hotspots!

Good Morning!

So the bank holiday is over, but look on the plus side – four day working week! In order to make those four days as enjoyable as possible, we at the Urban Farmer have compiled a list of our favourite lunchtime destinations that provide us that midday kick to see us through the afternoon. Local produce, local people, and great food…. so let’s dive in!

Exmouth Market

This one has it covered – from Japanese and Vietnamese, to French or Italian – Exmouth market has an abundance of lovely restaurants. But best of all, when the clock hits twelve, Exmouth Market plays host to an array of fantastic food stalls! German, Thai, Indian, Turkish… there’s no end of choice, and much of it locally sourced!

Learn more here!

Whitecross Street Market

Just a little further South is another hidden gem. Popping up at midday for stressed office workers, one can hope to find hog roasts, vietnamese noodles, and french baguettes. While you’re at it, take a chance to browse some of the arts and crafts stalls that accompany the food market!

Learn more here!

Lower Marsh Market

Flying South of the river now, to one of London’s most underrated market destinations. Lower Marsh Market recently launched its Produce Market – so while you’re grabbing a lunchtime bite to eat, grab yourself the components of a lovely, locally-sourced supper! From fruit and veg, to meat and game; Lower Marsh has you covered!

Learn more here!

Berwick Street

A reliable lunchtime spot in the heart of Soho. Also, while you’re here take the chance to support local business and browse some of the other stalls to see what’s on offer…

Also, check out their new stylish website here!

Kew Village Market

Now for the most charming of the markets on our list. Kew Village Market truly is a taste of the countryside in London and is a stalwart for us here at the Urban Farmer. The produce on offer is unparalleled and while it may not be feasible as a lunch spot for you City workers out there, stay-at-home mummies and daddies might want to take advantage of the wonderful weather a take a trip here. Enjoy a pot of tea, a scone, and some thoroughly good company!

Learn more here!

Broadway Market

And finally we leave you with our star choice – Broadway Market. Broadway is experiencing a bit of a revival at the moment and it’s well-deserved. This market upholds all the values we hold dear here at the Urban Farmer – supporting the community, sourcing locally, and great food! We won’t try and explain the place too much, just make sure you go visit… SOON!

Learn more here!

How to make the best local ORGANIC Lamb Burger in town… at home.

A new local ORGANIC favourite from Kate’s Kitchen

IMG_0304

It starts with a trip to Daylesford Farms in Notting Hill.  This Organic Farm located in Gloucestershire has now 5 stores in London- selling and serving top quality organic meat and produce straight from their farm.   I heard about this organic cafe and grocery near my neighbourhood and had to go check it out.  Expecting high price tags on beautiful food- I was pleasantly surprised at the options I took home- one of which is a favourite… Lamb Burgers.

Many are always on the hunt for local organic food at affordable prices which can be challenging.  For this single girl in London- 4 already ORGANIC Lamb burgers for less than £8 was a find!   OK- so the burgers were already in patties – even better in my book!  And to find a locally farmed lamb this close with a good price- SOLD.  Anyway- it’s not a perfect burger without everything else on top.  For our Urban Farmer London Cooks – here is the best locally farmed lamb burgers to make at home.

Step 1- Buy these at the Daylesford Farm Store closest to you

IMG_0306

IMG_0307

Step 2- Have these ingredients ready

Bread of choice, sliced onions, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, spinach, gruyere cheese, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil

Step 3- Time to cook

Slice mushrooms and onions.

Warm Olive Oil up in a med-hot skillet, add sliced onions and sauté for about 10 minutes.

Get Grill ready and hot for the burger as the onions are cooking

Add Mushrooms and turn heat up slightly for about 3-5 minutes. (careful NOT to overcook the mushrooms!) 

Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

Step 4- Grill up the burgers on med-high heat

Make sure to get those lovely grill marks!

Have the sliced gruyere cheese ready and the bun sliced and for toasting. Timing is everything. 

Step 5- Serve it up with your choice of sauce.

Step 6- Don’t forget the red wine

Favourite wine pairing for lamb would be either a Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo from Italy

IMG_0303

\

What is urban farming?

We asked nine people about urban farming.

We spoke to:
Ben (24) who has been to a number of urban farms.
Lauren (22) who is intrigued about urban farming.
Ross (23) who recently became aware about urban farming.
Judy (50+) who has been to several urban farms and recognises the community importance of them.
Hannah (23) who is unsure about what urban farming is but thinks that there is equality amongst male and female workers.
Lorna (22) who needs a better understanding about urban farming.
Heidi (22) who has never been to an urban farm and is unsure about what it is.
Chloe (24) who believes there are more men than women who work in urban farming.
Saskia (22) who does not know what an urban farm is.

We put the information we received into an infogram.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.09.03Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.09.14

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.09.26

Follow us @urbanfarmerLDN for more updates and please contact us if you have any comments about the data we compiled!