2 Apr 2018 | 0 comments

So the old saying goes. And as we approach spring every beekeeper wonders what the new season will bring.

Will the weather be warm and gentle? Will they make a crop of honey this year? But keeping bees is not just about taking the stores that the hive has made, there’s much more to the subject than that. Here at Trill an important part of the farm project is education. We have the opportunity to both teach and learn.

When keeping bees there is always more to discover and the delight when watching the bees at work brings a sense of wonder and respect for all life. And this is something to share with those who visit or attend training courses whatever their age.

When there is an opportunity to look inside the bee colony no one can fail to be impressed by the organisation: the worker bees, the hexagonal cells with eggs, larvae and developing brood.

There we can also see the stores of pollen and honey. Of course, there can be dangers in beekeeping. Stings are painful. So we have just built an observation hive which allows us to see inside without interfering. Put simply, if we don’t interfere then the bees will not sting!

We usually extract the honey in early August. But we only take what the bees can spare and are sure to leave them plenty of stores for the winter. It is always good to be mindful of the full cycle of the year both for the bees and the beekeeper. Take too much at the wrong time and we all pay the price later. That is why the swarm in May is the most valuable: it is the result of the strong growth of the colony in the spring. And that in turn is dependent upon the strength of the colony as it comes out of winter. So this month is the most critical in many ways.

Julian Barnard is a founder and teacher at Healing Herbs Bach ower essences. He regularly stays in this part of Devon and is establishing a bee colony at Trill Farm. Julian is running courses on April 28th and May 5th.

Spring Recipes

2 Apr 2018 | 0 comments

As with many of our recipes in the Old Dairy Kitchen we work on an idea or flavour simply because the ingredient is perfect on that day.


This soup is a very versatile recipe, perfect for a light lunch as it is or used as a base to serve with plump nettle gnocchi, torn yesterday’s bread or a beautiful piece of white fish or steamed mussels. This is an instinctive recipe to cook, be gentle with the cooking and quick when needs be, this is how you keep it all fresh and green.


1 small onion ( nely diced)
4 asparagus spears (cut into 1 cm pieces)
2kg whole young & tender broad beans (podded)
700g whole fresh peas (podded)
1 large potato (peeled and cut into 1 cm dice)
1 small bunch of parsley (leaves removed)
1 small bunch of mint (leaves removed and finely sliced)
8 fresh wild garlic leaves (finely sliced)
Chicken Stock (can use veg stock or water)
3 tbsp olive oil
1⁄2 lemon zest
Spring shoots to garnish
300ml whey 

Warm 1.5tbsp of olive oil in a heavy based pan, add the onion, gently fry without colour until tender. Add the potatoes, half the mint, half the parsley and enough stock to cover, bring to a simmer. After 5 minutes of simmering add the peas, asparagus and half the broad beans and continue cooking. 

Meanwhile heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy based frying pan. Once the oil is warm add the remaining broad beans and cook gently for 2 minutes. Add the whey, zest and wild garlic and increase the heat, cook until the whey has all but evaporated, this will only take a few minutes on a high heat, by now the broad beans should be tender, add the remaining mint and parsley and remove from the heat. Using a pestle and mortar smash up the mixture to create a chunky broad bean paste, thin with a little water if too dry. 

Mix the chunky broad beans back into the soup, check the seasoning garnish with spring shoots and wild flowers such as primroses or wild garlic flowers.


500g Chicory Leaves

30 wild garlic stalks (alternatively use 8 peeled and finely slices garlic cloves)
1L of 2% Brine Solution (Dissolve 20g of salt in 1litre of water and chill)
30ml of organic whey (optional)

6 white peppercorns

Sterilise a jar large enough to hold all the ingredients when tightly packed. There may be a little extra brine.

Fill the jar with the chicory, garlic and peppercorns and push down firmly but try not to break the chicory leaves.

Combine the whey and brine and pour on top of the vegetables until they are totally submerged. Place a non-metallic plate or bowl on top ensuring that the vegetables are completely submerged; this shall prevent decolourisation and a mould forming.

Leave a room temperature for at least one week or until the chicory has lost it’s bitterness and taken on a tangy deliciousness.

This eats fantastically well with soft cheese.

Chris Onions runs the Old Dairy Kitchen. He caters for all our events, courses and farm lunches, produces delicious treats for sale and teaches his own courses. Chris also hosts his own monthly dinner series and runs other events. 

Cabbage - Brassica

2 Apr 2018 | 0 comments

“Doctor of the poor” and “a gift from heaven” are eulogies from the days when the cabbage was recognised as a panacea for all ills. High in fibre, low in calories, rich in vitamin C and a good source of bio flavonoids, potassium, folic acid and the B vitamins, this vegetable has a wonderful ability to detoxify the body, cleanse the skin, renew energy and promote feelings of wellbeing. 

Strange as it may seem, the ancient Egyptians built a temple to honour the cabbage. The Greeks went one step further and passed a law that made stealing cabbages a crime punishable by death. Pythagoras apparently promoted the practice of eating raw cabbages every day, particularly to cure nervous or mental disorders. Ancient cultures were also quick to discover the cabbage’s welcome power to combat the debilitating effects of headaches and hangovers. 

Juices or soups are the best way to sample the healing properties of cabbages, whether they are the green, white, red, Savoy or Chinese variety. Raw cabbage blended into a juice is very beneficial, particularly for peptic ulcers. The juice can generate intestinal gas, however, causing bloating or flatulence. Red cabbage has the most vitamin C, while Savoy is a richer source of beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. Cabbage contains sulphur, a contributor to its characteristic smell during cooking. When putting cabbages into a soup, drop a piece of stale bread into the water to eliminate the smell. Add some lemon juice and an aromatic spice, such as cumin, to complement the cabbage flavour.
Only buy cabbages that look fresh with crisp leaves, firm heads and a good colour. Avoid any that have wilted leaves, cracked heads or that seem to have signs of insect damage. 


“Last evening you were drinking deep
So now your head aches: go to sleep
Take some boiled cabbage when you awake
There’s an end of your headache.” 

Tsar Alexis of Russia (1629-70) 


  • Cabbage stimulates the immune system and the production of antibodies, and is an excellent remedy for fighting bacterial and viral infections, such as colds and flu. 
  • The sulphur content of cabbage is probably responsible for its antiseptic, antibiotic and disinfectant actions, particularly in the respiratory system.
  • Raw cabbage juice promotes the healing of ulcers, both internally and externally. Mucilaginous substances protect the lining of the digestive tract from irritants, and an amino acid, methionine, promotes healing. 
  • Bio flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins A, C and E afford some protection against tissue damage, degenerative disease and premature aging from free radicals. 
  • Cabbage juice makes a soothing, antiseptic gargle for sore throats and a mouthwash for mouth ulcers. 

Anne McIntyre runs a one year course in experiential herbalism at Trill Farm, using the herb gardens and hedgerows to teach the practical side of using herbs. 

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