It’s been a busy old Easter weekend for the Veg Men and whilst getting caught up in all the work that has been going on I found myself thinking back to what was happening twelve months ago...
This time last year we were working hard to get the greenhouse set up, we were running behind but breaking new ground while our first salads grew all around us. One thing that became quickly evident was that we could not have achieved what we did without the help our friends and family gave us, whether they were digging, picking salad or giving advice, we found their support to be one of the most important and wonderful things that our first years toil brought along.
Now we are in year two and once again those unfortunate enough to know or be related to us have been digging in (quite literally) to help get the second stage of things up and running. We took an acre of land on the outskirts of Frodsham at the end of last year and since day one we have had great help from all who dare to come for a visit. From a small army of friends marking out beds, making new paths, cutting plastic sheeting to size and barrowing mountains of compost this weekend to mums helping build fences and uncles helping plan the water pump installation, they all brought food and laughs with them by the bag full.
In terms of the sheer amount achieved in such a short space of time, the past four days have probably been the most productive we've had since we started up. And whilst there is still much to do, we are in a great place to really get things going as planned. This weekend was also helped by some cracking weather, although a lovely breeze deceived us on the true heat of the sun, with Sam came off the worst as you can see from the picture below.
One of the reasons we decided to start up the Veg Men was because we hoped to have our friends and family around us more and reflecting on the year we've had it's wonderful to see that is exactly what has happened. The amount of positivity, help and support we've received has been invaluable and if one thing is true of this last twelve months, it is that we are incredibly lucky to know so many enthusiastic people who are so generous with their time.
So a massive THANK YOU to all whom have helped, whether it’s been an hour, a day or a week. We quite simply couldn't have achieved this without you.
All that remains to be said is... when are you coming back?
Forget the building of the Burj Khalifa tower in Duba or the Three Gorges Dam in Chinai, the Veg Men have undertaken their greatest construction project to date...
Striking fear in to the hearts of producers of bland food everywhere and keeping the rain off of our heads... we are very happy with it.
It’s been a very colourful and very tasty month for us here at Veg Men HQ. All because of our favourite fruit: tomatoes... we’ve had red ones, yellow ones, black ones, white ones, green stripped ones and gold ones. Whatever the colour, whatever the size, whatever the shape, we absolutely love them. Of all the things we grow these delicious delights bring untold levels of joy.
This year we've grown fourteen varieties across more than four hundred plants, normally we wouldn't grow quite so many but there has been a lot of trials going on as part of Veg Men R&D and there have been some interesting results. We've found some definite keepers that will be part of our planting plans for years to come and also some that definitely won’t. Part of the joy that comes from growing is that even those that didn’t make the cut have been beautiful and tasty additions to this years crop. Next year we'll have a core of around seven varieties alongside a couple more trials, as we constantly refine the selection we offer and quest for the tastiest we can find. The thought that each year our tomatoes will get better and better makes me very excited.
For us, tomatoes are a prime example of what is going wrong with the food industry today. Tomatoes have unbelievable taste, they are things of great beauty that come in all shapes and sizes. There are varieties that work well for sauces and others that are better for salads. There are some that have citrus flavours and some that are super sweet. However, in supermarkets the everyday tomato is frequently a bland watery ball of nothing, it is the kind of food that saps inspiration and turns people off them altogether. Very often, the longer people are exposed to a product that is developed for appearance, with flavour being a secondary consideration will inevitably utter the words 'I don't like tomatoes'.
We see tomatoes as a beacon of hope that very clearly demonstrates the difference between what is happening to the food being presented by industry Goliath's and what proper fruit and veg should taste like.