It’s a balmy evening at Casalinho as I write. The animals are all shut up for the night and the bats, which I never tire of watching, are beginning to appear. Our dinner tonight will be based around tomatoes and red peppers which I harvested from the garden just an hour ago. It’s hard to believe it’s mid-October. Evenings like this are a reminder of how very fortunate we are.
We spent a few weeks in England recently, a wonderful break from farm life and an opportunity to rediscover such wonders as hot running water and supermarkets you can get lost in. Whilst there I had a long conversation with a man who has just set up a food bank in the area, operated by the Trussell Trust. Those in crisis can be referred to the service, where they will be given three days worth of nutritionally balanced emergency food. Incredibly, this is in one of the wealthiest parts of the UK, where a quick scoot around the net tells me that the average house price is £346,000. Another reminder, if we needed one, that we are very fortunate. Even when we’re desperately short of cash, which is pretty much all the time, at least we have the land, the good health and enough knowledge to build our own food security.
Everywhere we went in England we saw trees loaded with unharvested apples. I had to be constantly reminded that I had failed to pack jam jars or I’d have been stopping the car on every street corner for a spot of scrumping. So we’ve got a situation where you’ve got people so desperate for food that they need a food bank, yet there is perfectly good fruit lying rotting on the ground. Perhaps it doesn’t look as perfect as the stuff in Tescos, but you can always chop it up. Now I’m not suggesting that a carrier bag full of windfall apples would solve the problems which make a food bank necessary, but really, there’s got to be something pretty illogical about the whole state of affairs.
Enough of my ramblings. Volunteers need feeding and dinner is smelling good. Our biggest project over the past weeks has been harvesting grapes for making wine, jeropiga and aguardente. I’ll tell you more about it next time.