As the final rays of the sun slowly faded and I stood there on my patch of soil, I took a moment to reflect on the significance of the freshly harvested, somewhat misshapen, home grown potato in my hand.
For me it was the culmination of that eureka moment 10,000 years ago when mankind first hit upon the idea of planting crops, rather than constantly getting stung and cut foraging for wild berries.
The ability to cultivate crops stands right up there with the greatest strides forward in the ascent of man – learning to communicate, the wheel, penicillin and 50 inch flat screen TVs.
Nowadays it’s recognised that the benefits of growing your own crops extend beyond feeding the family. Digging a plot is a great cardio workout and the satisfaction of nurturing plants through to harvest, combined with working in fresh air and sunlight, provides a significant boost to mental health.
We can all relate to Tom Good, the central character in the hit seventies TV sit-com The Good Life. He famously gave up the rat race, converted his suburban garden into an allotment and lived off the produce.
For those not fortunate enough to have a garden to cultivate, every council should have allotment plots available – though you may have to join a waiting list to start with. Usually about the size of a doubles tennis court they can go a long way to providing the fruit and vegetable needs of a family.
National Allotments Week encourages us all to live a more sustainable lifestyle and enjoy the benefits of growing our own food, with lots of tips, advice and blogs for gardeners of all abilities.
The results can be amazing.
In 2019 Joe Atherton of Nottingham enjoyed the swede smell of success when he grew a record breaking turnip that was over 4m long.
And when Northumberland leek grower Neil Armstrong broke the world record his achievement was naturally hailed across the globe as a giant leek for mankind.
The prize for the heaviest potato goes to Somerset’s Peter Glazebrook and weighed in at nearly 5 kilos – which certainly put my Maris Piper in the shade.
Of course climate can limit what you can grow in your garden but at SK we take the same pride in sourcing ingredients for our world food as the most meticulous of allotment holders. We constantly check the quality of produce so whether it’s the onion in our bhajis, the beetroot in our falafels or the vegetables in our spring rolls you can be sure it’s as delicious as home grown.
And speaking of beetroot falafel…..
- 1 tbsp olive pol
- 2 chopped onions
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 x cans chickpeas ,drained
- 400g raw beetroot, peeled and grated
- 100g fresh breadcrumb
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp tahini paste
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until softened. Add the cumin and cook for a few minutes before putting mixture into a food processor with the chickpeas, two-thirds of the grated beetroot, the breadcrumbs, egg and tahini. Blend until you get a rough past, then put in a bowl and add the remaining grated beetroot with plenty of seasoning.
- Shape into balls, as many as the mixture will make and place on a baking sheet.
- Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Brush the falafels with a little vegetable oil and bake for 20-25 mins until crisp and hot through. You can also deep fry.
- To serve, mix some more tahini with Greek or natural yogurt, sugar and some seasoning, then eat along with some warm flatbreads.