This is the first official post of the Our Daily Bread course, currently positioned in the quintessential English town of Newbury, UK. Our culturally diverse group consists of 7 COAers, 4 Witzenhausers, and of course Susan and Roger. Our wonderful and newly renovated accommodations have been provided by the Organic Research Centre and we all agree are quite excellent.
Day One: Jet Lag Recovery and Introductions
We began our day with a rousing briefing on the health and safety, followed by a tour of facility. After meeting the many staff members in the brand new offices we returned to the lecture hall (a beautifully renovated hay barn!!!) and learned what each office was responsible for. In addition to understanding what the ORC is all about, from Roger, we learned what in fact it is we all came to this island for.
Around the time, we finished the presentation and moved over to our brand new, shiny, and of course energy efficient, kitchen. Here we prepared an assortment of cheese, bread, and some very spicy mustard. This proved an excellent source of energy for our 2 hour walking of the 110acre (50 hectares) farm property, complete with cows eager to greet us. After the cows, our group of botany and all around farm geeks could not help but stop and examine the flora every 30 yards or so. From this we derived a first impression of the farming systems, techniques and guiding principles of organic/sustainable farming in the United Kingdom. One particular feature to note from our pictures is the field margins throughout the grass fields, used for conservation and biodiversity. This unique perspective is one often suggested by the ORC when they advise farms for conversion to organic/sustainable from conventional farming. For those blog readers interested in the historical background, you should note the slightly depressed margins. The depression in the land is a result of the extraction of the heavy clay and lime layers of the soil, used by the Romans for building the vast Roman infrastructure still found to this day.
Upon returning we quenched our thirst and satisfied our stomachs with a wonderful selection of food and drink with our hosts at the ORC.
Now to prepare for our presentations tomorrow....