Self Heal

3 Jul 2018 | 0 comments

If you wander through the woods at Trill Farm in the summer time you will find a pretty member of the mint family purple-blue flowers called self heal. It is loved by bees and grows all over Britain and Europe in woods, garden lawns, grassy meadows, clearings, and all over my garden! The young leaves and flowers can be added to salads and the whole plant can be steamed and eaten as a vegetable.

Although largely neglected by Western herbalists until recently, the leaves and flowers of self-heal are used as a cooling remedy in Chinese medicine, according to which it enters the liver meridian, gently reducing “liver fire” and nourishing the blood. As liver fire can be linked to inflammatory eye problems, self-heal is used for sore, red, and dry eyes, and also in high blood pressure and glaucoma. It is ideal for other symptoms associated with heat including inflammatory skin problems, anger, irritability, and frustration, depression, anxiety, stress and PMS. Self-heal is also widely used for its anti-tumour properties.

In the Western tradition, as its name suggests, self-heal can enhance our inherent self-healing and improve immunity. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties and is used to clear toxins from the system supporting the cleansing work of the liver. It can be helpful for clearing boils and other inflammatory skin problems, and for problems associated with the lymphatic system such as swollen glands, mumps, glandular fever, and mastitis. When taken in hot tea, it increases sweating and brings down fevers. The astringent tannins in the plant strengthen the digestive tract which is useful during or following a bout of diarrhoea.

With its astringent, antiseptic, and healing actions, self-heal makes an excellent wound healer when used externally. The tea can be used, or the fresh plant rubbed on to the skin to stop bleeding and speed healing of minor injuries like cuts, sores, burns, and bruises and to reduce swelling from bites and stings. It is said to protect the skin from sun damage and would make an excellent component of sun creams. Self-heal can also be used for inflammatory skin problems, piles, type 1 and 2 Herpes lesions, varicose veins, and ulcers. A weak infusion can be used as an eyewash for sore, red, irritated eyes, as well as for sties and conjunctivitis. Dilute tinctures or infusions can be used as astringent gargles for sore throats and as mouthwashes for mouth ulcers and bleeding gums. It can also be used in lotions and douches to treat vaginal infections.


Anne McIntyre runs seasonal courses in experiential herbalism at Trill Farm, using the herb gardens and hedgerows to teach the practical ways to use beneficial herbs.

Summer Berries

3 Jul 2018 | 0 comments

Summer brings an abundance of home grown berries. Picking these bedazzling jewels is one of the pleasures of the summer months. Strawberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, loganberries; the choice is yours, but my favourite has always been the raspberry.

Raspberries (Rubus idaeus) have been eaten throughout Europe since prehistoric times. The generic name ‘Rubus’ means ‘a thorny shrub’ and ‘idaeus’ after Mount Ida in Asia minor where the shrub grew abundantly. According to legend, raspberries were originally white. The nymph, Ida, pricked her finger while picking berries for the crying infant, Jupiter, and raspberries have since been tinged red with her blood. 

Raspberries are nutritional powerhouses. They are a good source of folic acid which is essential for brain and nerve function and are packed full of fibre which helps to support digestive harmony.

They are also high in the powerful anti-oxidants beta carotene and Vitamin C. Anti-oxidants block oxidative damage to cells, and so have the potential to protect against abnormal cell replication, considered a primary step in the development of cancer. 

Raspberries are rich in anthocyanins, the compounds that provide colour to fruits and have many potential health benefits. They have been linked to controlling diabetes, improving vision and circulation, and slowing the effects of ageing, particularly loss of memory and motor skills.

Ellagic acid is found in many fruits but is exceptionally high in raspberries. Ellagic acid is a powerful anti-oxidant and potent anti-inflammatory, and together with Vitamin C can help to protect skin from the summer sun.

It’s hard to perfect on a bowl of fresh raspberries but there is often a seasonal glut, so I like to make a ‘shrub’ by preserving them in vinegar and honey. Shrubs can be mixed with sparkling water or alcohol to make refreshing drinks or cocktails. This one will be on offer at the Trill Farm Summer Party.


250g raspberries
250ml apple cider vinegar
Handful torn basil leaves
200ml runny honey 

Put the raspberries in a large bowl. Add the basil, pour over the vinegar and muddle all together well. Cover with muslin and leave in a cool place for 2 – 3 days.

Tip the mixture into a sieve and press the pulp through.

Add the honey (more or less to taste is fine). Pour through a funnel into a clean glass bottle. Store in the fridge.

To serve – mix the shrub with sparkling water or soda to taste.


Serves 6

1¼ lb (600g) crowdie (crowdie is a creamy soft Scottish cheese. If you are unable to source this use a 50/50 mixture of yoghurt and mascarpone).
½ oz (15ml) whisky
2½ oz (60g) icing sugar
7 oz (200g) raspberries
2 tablespoons toasted oats
6 raspberries (to serve)

Place the crowdie, icing sugar and whisky in a bowl and blend together.  Spoon this mixture into serving glasses alternating with raspberries, finish with a layer of crowdie. Chill overnight.

Remove from the fridge, sprinkle over the oats and place a raspberry on top. Serve.


Serves 6

2 lb (900g) raspberries 
4 egg whites
8 oz (225g) icing sugar 
¾ pint (450ml) whipping cream

Puree the raspberries in a blender and set aside.

Combine the egg whites and sugar in an electric mixer bowl and beat until firm and shiny (about ten minutes).  Transfer this mixture to another bowl and whip the cream in the mixing bowl until it forms soft peaks.

Stir the raspberry puree into the cream and gently fold in the egg whites. Pour into a suitable container and freeze.  When the mixture is very lightly set but not hard, remove and beat well then return to the freezer.


Serves 6

9 oz (250g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) sugar
5 oz (150g) butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
1½ lb (700g) freshly picked raspberries
6 tablespoons raspberry jam

6 – 4” diameter x 1” depth individual flan dishes

Oven 190 C

To make the pastry, sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter. Add the sugar. Add the egg and 1 tablespoon of water and the other as necessary to make a smooth ball. Leave to rest for at least an hour before using. Roll out the pastry and line the baking tins. Prick the bottoms with a fork. Line with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans then bake blind in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and the greaseproof paper and bake for a further five minutes. 

Remove from the oven, cool slightly and carefully turn out the cases. When they are completely cold fill with the raspberries.  Melt the jam and sieve to remove the pips. Coat the raspberries with the jam. 

Daphne Lambert is an award winning chef, author and founding member and CEO of food education charity, the Greencuisine Trust. She is an expert in the field of health and nutrition and runs our seasonal Living Nutrition retreats, unfolding the relationship between land, food, health and vitality. 

Trill Livestock in the Summer

3 Jul 2018 | 0 comments

I know I’m writing in the summer, but I’m going to use the opportunity as therapy about the trauma of the recent past. What a relief that the nightmare winter of 2017-18 is now firmly behind us. I think I and many other farmers would not be farming for long if we had too many winters like that in succession.

Our problems started last summer when a young bull we had purchased ran out of steam in the hot weather at the end of June. We purchased a second bull at short notice, “Plan B” we could call him, who turned out to be infertile, which meant we finally borrowed a 3rd bull “Plan C”!

This has meant that after our usual calving period in late March and early April (Plan A’s progeny), we have had to wait until now for Plan C’s progeny as I write at the beginning of June. Going from a very tight calving pattern to a very long one in the course of one season is somewhat frustrating.

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the winter’s problems. After failing a TB test in January, two of our cows were taken away and slaughtered by Defra, including our favourite cow, Snowy. The TB also meant that we couldn’t move 45 yearling cattle from Trill to Turnworth Down for their summer grazing in March, leaving Trill heavily overstocked with cattle and running out of silage.

Next came the “Beast from the East” which froze the water supply, meaning that all our cattle had to be turned out to drink from the streams. The heavy clay soils of Trill Farm do not take well to cattle in the winter, and it was wetter than ever this year. I think all these problems have made it probably the worst winter we have witnessed, with some fields still looking muddy and sorry for themselves in March and into April.

As I write, it is green again and dry - I hate to complain, but too dry! There is still a fair bit of rolling and harrowing to do to repair the winter’s damage to some fields, tricky when the ground is baked hard like a rock, as it is now. So it is not all plain sailing and bucolic bliss for once, but as it is often said, if it was easy then everyone would be doing it.

Turning to more positive thoughts, we are now heading towards the summer solstice when the grassland flowers are at their best. Trill has a mixture of old pastures and more recently planted grasslands. In the best of these we can find a range of grassland herbs and flowers including common spotted orchid, birds foot trefoil (sometimes known as eggs and bacon for its appropriate full-english colours), black knapweed, the tall and recognisable oxeye daisy, black medick, pignut and the wonderfully named corky-fruited water dropwort to name but a few.

Even in our more recently planted pastures, you will find a mix of red and white clovers, plantain and chicory, so budding naturalists should keep their eyes peeled for these and the many invertebrates that enjoy them.

Jake runs his cattle and sheep at Trill to manage and support our wildflower meadows. Through his business, Wessex Conservation Grazing, he also keeps herds on National Trust land. Mariel and Romy are very grateful for his and Neil’s support caring for our small flock of Gotland sheep too!

Midsummer at Trill

6 Jun 2018 | 0 comments

The sun is at its highest in the sky. It’s the time of the greatest amount of light and energy from the sun. Our solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be operating at their peak with all those extra daylight hours. The showers will be hot for longer in the camp site and the herbs will be growing more than at any other time. The meadows need cutting already -- we are just waiting for the seeds to fall.

Now there is more vitality than at any other time through the year. But life is not simple: we live in a complex universe where simultaneous influences are working together - and that is without factoring-in the impacts we make on our environment. In the summer don’t we also get the maximum amounts of plastic on our beaches, charcoal burnt on our BBQs and fuel used in our cars getting to their holiday destinations?

And what else is going on in the wider universe? At Trill we’ll soon be joined by Jude Currivan who is going to talk about exactly this. It’ll be a rare treat to hear her thoughts on cosmology, what is going on behind the scenes and how we can make a difference. Her talk is on July 27th and on the next day we are having our annual summer party.

So it’s time to celebrate! Please do join us for music, food and the summer stars. Get out the glasses and the pink sparkling rose and elderflower spritzers.

We have a brilliant band, Crannog, to enjoy, the meadows to relax in, delicious BBQ Trill lamb and Ash and Kate’s veggies.

The community of businesses here at Trill will be celebrating our beautiful farm joined by our friends and families - and hopefully you too. And please do stay the night. If there’s no room in the guest house, the camp site will be open for small groups for the one night. An amazing under the stars experience with an after party camp fire. Join us!

- Romy

Daphne Lambert On Summer Abundance and A Recipe For Pea Salad

4 Jun 2018 | 0 comments

Eating seasonally is at the core of Daphne Lambert's Living Nutrition retreats at Trill. 

"I love summer, but then I love all the seasons and feel so grateful to live where I can experience the yearly cycle of spring, summer, autumn & winter. At the moment, however, I am enjoying the longer days & the colourful plants of summer. 

I have spent the last week harvesting the early summer abundance and my kitchen is full of preserves – rose jelly, pickled ox eye daisy buds, elderflower vinegar, raspberry & basil shrub, horsetail powder, lovage vodka and fat hen pesto – each one capturing a little summer sunshine."

Join Daphne for her forthcoming Summer Living Nutrition Retreat and learn to preserve and harness the health benefits of the summer harvest. Examine our relationship with food and why we choose the foods we eat. Discover nutrient rich recipes and enjoy eating delicious plates of summer morsels outside whilst sipping pretty summer drinks.


Broad Bean & Pea Salad with Semi-Dried Tomatoes & Mint

Serves 6

6 handfuls of washed summer leaves
olive oil

  • 6 handfuls of podded broad beans, blanched and skins removed

  • 1 handful of blanched almonds, slivered & toasted

  • 1 handful of mint, roughly torn

  • 9 finely shredded semi-dried tomatoes

Pea Dressing

  • 250g podded peas

  • 1 handful of mint
juice & zest of 1 lemon

  • salt & pepper,
  • 1 clove garlic
8 tablespoons olive oil
25g hard cheese shavings (optional)
nasturtium flowers

Blitz together the dressing ingredients adding a little water if necessary to make a smooth cream. Toss the salad leaves in a little olive oil and divide between 6 plates. Scatter over the broad beans. Put three spoonfuls of dressing on to the salad. Scatter over the semi-dried tomatoes, mint & almonds and, if using, the cheese shavings. Top with nasturtium flowers.

Living Nutrition takes place on 29 June - 1 July. Residential and non-residential options available. Discover more here...