Monday, 29 October 2012

Fine Farm Produce Awards 2012

Fine Farm Produce Awards 2012

Chyvarloe Farm

Pork Chipolata Sausages

The meat for the pork chipolata sausages comes from the pigs reared on Chyvarloe Farm in Cornwall by Paul and Charlotte Parfitt. The couple have only been farming for three years (the last two years at Chyvarloe) and keep 30 pigs (at any one time), 600 chickens and a 70 strong suckler herd.

Paul says: “We wanted to create a really meaty, great tasting sausage and have done this by ensuring that the whole of the animal goes into the sausage rather than just the usual ‘leftovers’ that many producers use. This gives a better quality sausage not only for taste, but also when cooking.”

The recipe for the sausage was devised by Paul’s wife Charlotte who used to work as a chef. She says: “We didn’t need to add many extra ingredients because the quality of the meat is so good. I’ve just added seasonings and a few secret ingredients to further enhance the flavour.”

Paul continues: “Winning the award is the highest level of endorsement we can get given what the National Trust stands for in terms of conservation and animal welfare

07979 196569

The Fine Farm Produce Awards recognise the very best produce from National Trust tenant farms and estates. For more information visit:

Friday, 26 October 2012

80 volunteers give the Lizard's famous rare wildflowers a helping hand

University of Exeter students lend a hand for wildlife

It's been a busy few weeks on the Lizard, with over 80 different volunteers aged 17 to 70 kindly donating many an hour to help safeguard some of our rarest wildflowers. 

First up, our working holiday team of 12 tackled the outcrops at Carn Barrow, near Cadgwith, where the resident cows kept a careful eye on proceedings! The old quarries here support a wealth of rarities including dwarf rush and a tiny grass like fern named land quillwort. Thanks to the team's hard work, the outcrops have been saved from encroaching scrub.

Rare and tiny - dwarf rush

Next up came 30 willing volunteers from the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus. The Geography students joined us for a day's work experience, tackling gorse on an outcrop at Bodriggy, near Cadgwith. This site is one of the few in Cornwall supporting four leaved allseed, which requires open ground to germinate and thrive. No cows to entertain here, just two inquisitive goats! The students made short work of clearing the whole site. 

Lizard speciality, twin headed clover

Moving on round the coast, to the cliffs above Poltesco, 35 students from Truro College joined us for a day out and about, where the aim was to clear yet more gorse from outcrops where our ponies graze. Here we've slowly been restoring the outcrops to more open grassy habitat, with the hope that the pretty little twin headed clover will make a re-appearance, last seen here 30 years ago. It's recently been refound on a neighbouring outcrop, so all looks hopeful now conditions are right.

What's happening here then? Inquisitive cows watch working holiday volunteers 

Special mention must also go to our team of regular volunteers, both residential and local, who have got involved too. Yes you guessed it - clearing scrub from rare plant sites! We've even been out and about lending a hand away from National Trust land, as part of a co-ordinated plan of winter work, led by representatives from all the local groups with an interest in the Lizard's rare plants. We spent half a day opening up overgrown trackway puddles that support a rare mint called Pennyroyal at Penhale near Mullion.

Thanks to all this hard work, we've got off to a great start this habitat management season, and the future is looking brighter for the Lizard's rarest plants.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Fungi Foray Fun

   Saturday 13th and Friday 19th October blessed us with beautiful Autumnal sunshine, combine this with the idyllic setting of the Helford Passage and you have a perfect setting for some fun in the woods, finding mushrooms.
   We all met at Gear Farm (they do amazing pasties) where Justin, the Head Ranger, gave an enthusiastic and engaging talk on the variety of fungi to be found in the area, what to eat, what to leave and useful ID tips to find out what you’ve picked. Armed with our new knowledge, we set off into the woods to explore.

Justin talking about the varied Fungi in the area
   Unfortunately, the wet weather has meant a bad year for a lot of mushrooms but we still found a large variety of edible ones including chicken of the woods (tastes like chicken!), beefsteak fungus (aptly named- it looks just like a raw steak and sometimes oozes red ‘blood’), and the amethyst deceiver (a beautiful, bright purple mushroom), unfortunately the much sought after Chanterelle eluded us.
   We also found a range of others including the shiny, pure white porcelain mushroom which grows high up in beech trees, bright yellow sulphur tufts (named for their colour), false deceivers, giant funnel mushroom, yellow club fungus, bright red Russulas and a false death cap.
   We came across a deadly poisonous destroying angel. This is one of the deadliest mushrooms known to man, and can cause kidney and liver failure within 24 hours. Needless to say, we left this well alone as when handling deadly fungi, there isn’t mushroom for error!
The fruits of our forage (plus a pasty)
   At the end of the walk, everyone tucked into a Gear farm pasty and enjoyed the sunshine on the banks of the Helford. We cooked up the mushrooms that we collected and had a taste, they were lovely and no-one on the walk has died to my knowledge.
   I feel a lot more confident about mushrooms after the walks, Justin knows a huge amount and is a good teacher. With just a few simple rules, you can collect edible mushrooms in confidence, the number one rule being that if you are unsure of the species, leave it! There are only about four or five deadly mushrooms in the UK and the vast majority are inedible but not dangerous, especially in small amounts.
   If you wish to find out more, keep a look out for our future fungi forays. The best times of year for fungi are autumn and spring, don’t be afraid to pick them, mushrooms are great an d you never know what you’re going to find, just make triple sure that you know what you are picking.

Happy foraging!


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Hungry Sailors ate my mushrooms!

Earlier this month, I was approached by the production team behind The Hungry Sailors, starring father and son team Dick and James Strawbridge, requesting whether they could come and do some fungi foraging with me for their new series. Dick and James are sailing a 45’ Bristol Pilot Cutter, the Morwenna, around the SW coast, meeting foodies, farmers and foragers en route. Never shy of publicity, and the promise of a free meal, I agreed to take the boys foraging in Tremayne Woods for the day.

Now, this autumn hasn’t been the greatest for fungi. Last year I blamed the very dry and warm September and early October for the poor harvest (remember those sweltering autumn temperatures?). This year, it’s just been too damned wet! Fungi are fickle things; you can never quite predict when they’ll emerge. Earlier in the year I found Puff Balls in May, Chanterelles in June and ceps in July. October however, usually the month of fungal fruitfulness, has been a complete dead loss.

So, it was with some trepidation (and a basket of dried ceps and pickled blewits just in case) that we entered the woods last week not expecting to find anything worth picking. As expected, the woodland floor seemed all but devoid of any fungi aside from plenty of common earth balls and a couple of deadly poisonous Destroying Angels. Not exactly the culinary delights they were hoping to find.

As one enters into the more ancient oak woodlands around Tremayne, the fungi interest improves, and sure enough as we rounded the corner towards Point Field as the light was beginning to fade, a glint of orange gold in the leaf litter was the telltale sign of Chanterelles! Further scratching around amongst the litter unveiled more of these beautiful, and very sought-after, delicacies. With the added bonus of a nearby cluster of Amethyst Deceivers, (brilliant purple and frankly rather unlikely delicacies), and a most peculiar looking gelatinous Beefsteak Fungus, we finally had enough fungi for the Hungry Sailors not to go hungry.

On Sunday, I was joined by Simon and Linda, a couple of local monkfish fishermen who had taken James out fishing, and David from Gear farm who had helped Dick cook up my mushroom harvest, and we were taken out to Morwenna moored in the Helford River.

A wonderful three course dinner was then served. A superb wild mushroom ‘cappuccino’ with poached egg and wild mushroom pastry puff was served as a starter out on deck before going below deck for ‘Creek’ Curry, local monkfish cooked in a wonderful aromatic Thai style sauce. The meal was completed with a delicious hedgerow crème brulee and a shot of my very own hooch, Chanterelle Vodka.

Look out for the episode on ITV1 next spring. It should be rather entertaining!


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