Episode 63 Mark Rogers
Twinways Orchard and Bees

I’ve waited a very long time to interview this weeks guest.  But patience paid off, and I’m utterly sure this programme will blow, or at least open your mind just a little bit more. 

It’s about those tiny little creatures without whom this podcast would not exist, in the sense that so much of the food and drink we eat is dependent on this insect’s ability to pollinate plants.  

Mark Rogers, owner of Twinways Orchard, has immersed himself in the world of bees for years. Whilst I knew bees were important, and I knew they were being threatened, for a very long time I’ve wanted to speak to an expert about what exactly is going on and why we should be concerned. 

Mark will reveal parts of bees lives that sound like they belong to science fiction – and yet they’re happening all around us, without us noticing.    

For instance, I thought being Queen Bee was a nice gig.  It turns out she’s not the boss at all but the hive’s egg slave, being herded around by her inferiors. 

And did you know that honeybees are greedy vandals?  Give them half a chance and they will rip a hole in the bottom of a flower to get to the nectar, leaving nothing for other types of insect whose tongues were designed specifically for that plant and will pollinate it properly.  

And we haven’t got onto the figure-of-eight dance that bees do, and the amazing things it tells other bees, or how long bees can survive in the post. 

When you listen, I hope you learn as much as I did, and I hope that you will never want to spray your roses, or any other plant, again. 

Episode 59 John Rensten
Forage London

Mushrooms, who knew?  Well, some people do, but most us will be  doing some intensive learning in this episode.  Mushrooms do some amazing things and cover miles and miles of the forest floor without us even knowing. 

By the time you finish listening to this interview with John, you’ll be wondering why on earth we don’t do more of what he does, and why restaurants and cafes don’t feature more food sourced in this way.   

I’m talking about foraging.   

To me, foraging is a no brainer. The foods you come across, whether they are roots, berries, leaves, mushrooms, seaweeds or flowers, are true super foods. The act of searching for them also helps your wellbeing, either because you’re enjoying it with family and friends, or, if you’re on your own, it’s like a form of meditation.  

You might have ruled out this activity, because you live in a town or city.  Think again!  John discovered the rewards of foraging in London, as he explored his local park in Stoke Newington.  You won’t believe how many different species of plant he has eaten from that square mile, but you’ll find out later.  

Now that his home is in Dorset, John’s foraging patch extends to woods and the seashore, as well as different green spaces in the capital. Through his foraging walks, workshops and book, he’s doing his bit to spread the word about wild foods and just how fascinating they are.  

Andrew Parry Norton

Episode 53 Andrew Parry Norton
New Forest Commoner

I think it’s fair to say that, from a global perspective, we’re living through uncertain times. In particular I hope as a listener of this podcast you are asking questions about what to eat, where to purchase our food and how our food choices are impacting the environment and world around us.   

Whilst sometimes these are complicated questions, what’s been inspirational about many of the podcast conversations I’ve now had, is how – despite the politics and complexity – many food and drink producers are just getting on with it, and making a big difference to their local communities. As this weeks guest, Andrew Parry-Norton puts it, ‘What’s on your doorstep is the most important thing.  Once you get that right, it spreads from there’.  

Andrew’s lucky.  He happens to have the beautiful landscape of the New Forest literally, on his doorstep.  As a Commoner, as well as a farmer, his animals can truly range free, through heathland and ancient woods. (Sometimes they range a bit too freely, as you’ll hear!) 

In this programme we explore the peculiarities of Commoning history. We also discover how, and even more fascinatingly, why, we are seeing the return of regional native breeds such as Ruby Red cattle and Saddleback pigs, rather than the influx of larger continental breeds.  It makes good business and environmental sense, especially now that the Commoners have their own shared brand, the ‘New Forest Marque’.  In essence, to support a more artisan, kinder, traditional approach to farming, Andrew needs to charge around 10% more and supply more directly to the end consumer.   

Is this the way other regions could go?