The actual River Cottage itself is a 17th century traditional long house, which was somewhat derelict 9 years ago but has been lovingly restored by the team there and the certified organic smallholding farm now has around 16,000 visitors a year! Within its 90,000 acres of land there's a mixture of livestock,fruit and vegetables, plus flowers and herbs, all for use within the farm's employees and visitors. There's now a wind turbine to generate energy and they use well water only, along with some special reed system for waste disposal.. Its all about sustainability, and what they can't produce comes from local farms. There is also now under the River Cottage banner a number of 'canteen's' (I had a rhubarb fumble last year which was quite divine!) and the on site cookery school and courses which holds a whole host of things to do from foraging to fishy feasts, oh a restaurant for special occasions and you can arrange corporate events. Something for everyone!
I am lucky enough where we are in Surrey to be a little bit rural but part of me does crave the River Cottage, sustainable farming lifestyle, though I am not sure physically my body could manage so much to have my own farm! Despite not living anywhere near Devon, it has always held a very special place in my heart, having been lucky enough to have family in Devon, I have had many a holiday there! I grew up knowing neighbouring farms and opportunities to see happy livestock and it was a joy to see the happy animals at River Cottage, and of course the rather stunning views!
Our day was a mixture of food styling - cooking - eating and a tour of the River Cottage farm. A good day in all! Crop rotation is in full force and I learned why there are flowers tucked in with the veggies - its all part of the organic pest control, with the flowers attracting the birds n bugs they will hopefully leave the good stuff for us humans to enjoy!
The beautiful grounds and kitchen garden at River Cottage - I so want one of those gorgeous swing seats in a future garden! The gorgeous orange hue of the pumpkins also reminds my halloween is coming around fast - where has this year gone?!
Our Food styling workshop was run by the lovely Lucy from Capture by Lucy - its a new blog for me too devour her beautiful photography and I picked up a lot of tips and advice - hopefully it will improve my own photos, especially with the dreaded winter light coming! I did get a bit concerned over finding out red is hard to photo on white... I may have bought just the night before a new set of crockery which is er, red and white! We shall see!!
Among the photos below you will spot some rather unusual coloured yellow raspberries - they are known as 'All gold' and as they look 'unripe' the birds leave them alone! They are lovely though and I was glad the birds had left us plenty as my group devoured their fair share of them!
After the tour of the farm and building up a good appetite we enjoyed a lovely, very tasty lunch of Dexter beef ravioli with an end of the summer vegetable stew - the beef was unctuous and so, so tasty! Followed by a heavenly pudding of vanilla icecream with roasted damsons, crmble and fennel infused meringues! Despite really needing a nap after all that lovely food it was time to make my very own soda bread and butter with the group head chef Gill Mellor- I added violets, rosemary and fennel seeds to the butter - it was so easy, if a little joyously messy to make, definitely something to do now I am back home! It was really good to be able to make butter from scratch and use the leftover buttermilk to make the bread!
Though a slight interval for me ended up getting to ride in HFW's red land rover to go and move my car! I thought the ride down hill in the tractor trailer was kinda fun but the ride up in the land rover holding onto the seat for dear life beat it hands down for saying my prayers!