The Merry Month of May
Here on the farm, May will see the harvesting of our 400 Lemon Verbena grown in our Botanical Gardens 2 and 3. We’re now self-sufficient in lemon balm, lemon thyme and lemon verbena – all of which go in to making our incredible Warner’s Lemon Balm Gin. It’s a tricky process as we harvest botanicals and distil them fresh, within an hour.
It’s swarm season down on the farm and our sustainability manager and beekeeper has been putting the distillery team through their paces to help catch and hive honeybees. In late spring colonies will go through a natural process of splitting, sending out a new queen and the flying bees to set up a new place to live, whilst the old queen and the baby bees enjoy the space they have just been granted, the colony rapidly builds up numbers again to take advantage of the wildflowers coming into bloom over the summer.
It is the job of the beekeeper to split the colonies at the right time to make them think they have swarmed, to avoid losing bees but also to make sure they don’t end up somewhere that would cause a nuisance.
Our solitary bee hotels have been buzzing this week, these important pollinators are amazing workmates, and they don’t get nearly enough attention as they deserve. Making space for pollinators helps us in our everyday running of the farm, they help us pollinate botanicals such as our angelica, which in turn gives us seed for next year’s crops.
Fact about bees!
Did you know that solitary bees are 125 times more affective at pollinating than a honeybee (except honeybees get all the credit!), these bees don’t sting and make up the most diverse group of bee species in the UK. Did you know there are over 250 species of solitary bee in the UK and over 20,000 species worldwide?
As the weather warms the elders in the hedgerows prepare for coming into flower towards the end of the month. As with a lot of things at the farm, harvest time is determined by the weather, a warm wet spring and we will see flowering in the end of May. We need to keep tuned into the seasons, so we pick the freshest of elderflower blossom soon after they open to capture the freshest flavour.
This month we played host to the wonderful Becca and Lizzie from the “Boots and Heels” Podcast. They spent the day with us, and were given a tour of the farm, hosted by Jonny Easter our Sustainability Manger and Tom Warner, our Founder, where they found out about the diversification of the farm, our approach to sustainability, and how we manage our environment. They also donned beekeepers’ suits in an iconic Boots versus Heels challenge. Look out for their podcast about their trip to our farm.
This month we’ve welcomed our Horticulture Heroes back to the farm, these are volunteers studying horticulture at our local land-based college. Putting into practice their plant establishment skills, we continue to increase the volume of home-grown botanical flavour at falls farm. By working with local education providers, we look to work in tandem to provide learning opportunities at Falls Farm for students.
We also say a big hello to Charley who is studying level 3 extended diploma in Countryside Management, working alongside Martyn and Merlin to manage our slice of Northamptonshire countryside for people and wildlife.