Summer 2018 Newsletter

I am fortunate enough to be in Portugal while writing this. FoodSmiles certainly has an international flavour about it. Do you know we have members originating from England, Wales, Ireland, France, Spain, China, South Africa, Algeria and Poland. Nine nationalities united in one task! 

FoodSmiles really does bring people together. No more so than at our first community Incredible Edible garden. Councillor Rosemary Farmer became St Albans Mayor in May. Her theme for the year is ‘Serving and caring for all in our community’ and she has said that she ‘will be encouraging people to reach out to anyone who appears to be isolated and help ensure they get any care and support they need’. How fitting it was that she officially opened our garden as part of the St Albans Festival celebrations. 


We are continuing to work with Look St Albans and were invited to speak after their AGM about how the Incredible Edible site came about and what is planned (now imminently) in Russell Avenue.

We had a busy Sustainable St Albans week back in April, being involved in three events: “Come and Grow!" at the community food garden, the Know How Festival and we combined a Big Working Party at Hammonds End with our participation in the Open Food Gardens scheme. Our resources were certainly stretched!

In June, Hammonds End Farm participated in the national Open Farm Sunday. This was a great opportunity to publicise FoodSmiles and we have never had so many visitors on site. This week, the Farm is hosting the Rennie Grove Hospice Farm Run and again our gate will be open!

We have also been getting some publicity in the Herts Ad as part of an article on our friends at Farr Brew, and Naomi was interviewed by Becky Alexander.

One Saturday, FoodSmiles members joined a packed hall to hear a talk by Charles Dowding organised by Sandridge Road Allotment Association.  Charles Dowding is an organic vegetable grower, author and broadcaster who uses the no-dig method, details of which can be found on his website (  He spoke with passion of the many benefits of no-dig and discussed the practicalities in detail. We came away informed and enthused.

At the Community Garden in Hixberry Lane we have been experimenting with the no-dig method since we took on the heavy clay land 18 months ago.  Waterlogged in winter and like concrete in summer with a very small window between the two, improving the soil has been the top priority. Any suitable organic matter that can be acquired is used to cover the grassland including cardboard, manure, compost and spent hops kindly donated by the Farr Brew.  The adoption of the no-dig method is really a necessity as the land can not be easily worked and we are completely sold on the idea as the crops coming from the no-dig beds are far better than those grown on more conventionally worked beds.

We had a very successful Summer Party.  Whilst there were not many member attendees, their invited families augmented the gathering and were all very enthusiastic about what we are doing. Delicious food, thanks to all members present, a barbecue and wheelbarrow racing…

Finally, a seasonal recipe from our friendly chef, Alec (now working at the Lower Red Lion):

Broad Bean, Feta & Mint Dip

200g Broad Beans
100g Feta
5g Mint
½ clove garlic
Pinch of Pepper

Boil the broad beans for just a couple of minutes until softened. Blanch with cold water and then remove the grey outer husks of the beans (you obviously don’t have to do this if you consider it too much of a faff, the husks are perfectly edible, just a little bitter). Put the beans in a blender with the feta, mint, garlic and pepper. You can add salt if you like but the feta is already very salty so you probably won’t need it. Blend until smooth. 

Uses: This dip can have a number of different applications but here are a few suggestions:
With some lovely Foodsmiles grown veg cut into strips and served as crudité. With toasted pitta bread as an alternative to hummus As a sauce for pasta As a filling for a tortilla wrap