I am lucky enough to live close to many farms and country houses that grow beautiful produce and sell it on site. There is nothing more exciting for me than discovering new ones and visiting them. One such place is the beautiful and serene Redisham Hall nursery, part of Redisham Hall, a privately owned manor house in Suffolk. A visit to the nursery was recommended by a friend, who explained that one can buy produce grown in the magnificent two- acre walled kitchen garden. As is always the case with me, I could not contain my curiosity, and had to visit on the very day I was told about it! It is looked after and run by a couple who live in a cottage on the grounds of the Hall, so although it was about to close at lunchtime when we arrived, the friendly lady assured us we could take our time and wander around. So of course, being the princess that I am, I was delighted to have the place to ourselves!
Seasonal eating is one of the best ways to nurture not only our health and wellbeing, but also look after this amazing planet we live on. Now, more than ever before, we are becoming aware of the devastating effects on Mother Earth that our self-indulgent activities are having. We have created a culture of short fixes, of having everything at our fingertips, and throwing away what we no longer desire. This applies to clothes, household objects, and food. The supermarket phenomenon has caused us to bulk buy, and to strive to stock up on non-essentials, for fear of running out. We soon realise that we overbought, ended up with more than we needed, and so we throw it away. This is increasingly becoming our way of life.
I love to cook with locally sourced and seasonal foods as often as I can throughout the year. I enjoy the carefree feeling of buying just picked, unpackaged, and imperfectly perfect fruit and vegetables that seem to be ‘happy’ and fulfilled. It’s not just animals that should be helped to have a carefree lifespan. Crops are tastiest and truest to their identity when they have grown and remained in their place of origin, rooted and undisturbed as much as possible by Man, until the very moment they are to be picked, and soon afterwards, consumed. It is the way it always was, and it is the way it should still be. Uncomplicated, unforced, and natural.
Seasonal food, locally grown (at least in the same country) tastes like heaven, looks and feels fresh and healthy, and provides us with the nutrients that we require for balance during a particular time of year. We are currently in full summer season in the UK. This is the warmest season of our calendar year; a time when we get to harvest and enjoy the majority of our home grown produce. It is now we get to enjoy brightly coloured sweet raspberries and strawberries, gooseberries, cherries, juicy tomatoes, vivid green salad leaves of all varieties, shapes and sizes, cabbage greens, cucumbers, courgettes and all other types of squash, as well as broccoli, spinach and artichokes.
Summer is Pitta Dosha season in Ayurveda, when the sun is at its strongest, and the qualities that describe this Dosha are more evident. Pitta qualities are hot, sharp, acidic, spreading, slightly oily and penetrating. These qualities can easily be disturbed during the summer, when similar qualities are seen in the climate. It is Mother Nature’s way of helping us to enjoy balanced health by offering crops each season that maintain mind/body equilibrium. Sweet, bitter and astringent tastes reduce Pitta Dosha, and will especially help those who have a predominately Pitta constitution. Pitta time of day is 10-2 (morning and night). So, it makes sense to eat lunch around midday, when digestion (governed by the fire element, which also resides in the sun) is at its strongest.
Redisham Hall is a delightful example of how to grow healthy seasonal crops that have plenty of space, and the right environment in which to flourish. When I visited, there were soft berries, espalier apple and pear trees growing against gorgeous red brick walls (an ingenious and attractive space saving method of growing fruit, that also creates a sense of architectural beauty), white painted greenhouses full of tomato plants, and a separate area where one can buy the harvested food as well as plants for the garden. I left Redisham feeling seasonally fulfilled, inspired, full of admiration for the couple who care for this space with a loyalty that is rare, and happy with my box full of gorgeous produce to eat and enjoy. There is now a recently opened tearoom at the nursery, which was sadly closed when we were there, so a return visit is planned.