In 2014 our courses moved to the beautiful coast of north Northumberland where we have begun the renovation of a fine old Victorian kitchen garden at Christon Bank. The renovation work provides an unusual opportunity for our students to be involved in the development of the garden infrastructure and planning. It's many years since the garden was in full use but the site is lucky enough to have a massively high brick wall along its east and north sides. The wall was built from the dutch bricks which were used as ballast by coal ships from Newcastle in the nineteenth century.
The Christon Bank farmhouse has been lovingly restored by the Gilbert family and now includes a pond and wildflower meadow.
The kitchen garden lies on the north side (to the left of the picture). The soil is a heavy well drained loam with few nasty weeds - no creeping buttercup or couch, just a few nettles. The biggest challenge was digging out a few very old tree stumps whose roots have gone under the walls. You can see the massive (recently re-pointed) south facing wall which will give the garden such a beneficial micro-climate.
This is the garden at the end of August last year. The
runner beans are poised to deliver! We have harvested:
Potatoes, onions, lettuce, radish, rocket, beetroot, dill, spinach, shallots, peas, carrots, herbs, parsnips. Damage so far has come from the teeth of mice or rabbits! White butterfly caterpillars are raiding the sprouting broccoli but few escape my daily patrols - only another few weeks now before their season comes to an end and the battle against the winter pigeons begins!
Will Sutherland has run self-sufficiency courses for almost 20 years, teaching the methods and philosophy developed by John Seymour. Will worked for over 10 years with John Seymour in Ireland and, with John, created the New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency published by Dorling Kindersley. In 2010 we took our courses to the wine growing region near Bordeaux where the warm weather, swimming pool and excellent local wine made a nice change from the cooler climes of Ireland. Now we are moving back to cooler climes to take up the challenge of re-creating a classic old kitchen garden.
What our students said:
“Thank you so much: we really enjoyed the course and found it VERY interesting and helpful. And what a beautiful place in which to do it”
“Thank you for a wonderful holiday. The food has been amazing and we have really enjoyed the Class. You have a beautiful place here.”
Such great people. Such strong spirits. Great to know you guys!'
“The training and experience at St Leger was the best birthday present I could have had. Your book and your work have opened up for us a better way to enjoy life in harmony with the land and nature.”
Lots of Good Food - The students who came last year
were mightily impressed with the St Leger meals they enjoyed and
suggested we put the week's menu up on the
website. Good food and good conversation
are important features for all those looking for a more self-sufficient
and satisfying style of life!
Sunday - dinner Asparagus tips with garlic butter sauce
Slow cooked beef in red wine with onions, mushrooms and carrots with mashed potatoes and broccoli
Monday - lunch Cheese, newly baked bread and salad
Monday - dinner Globe artichokes with butter sauce
Salmon and haddock fish pie with salad
French cheeses and grapes
Vegetarian options provided. Meals are served with home made beer including ginger beer!