Powderham Food Festival 2014 Preview


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Saturday 4th October  10am-5pm at Powderham Castle, Kenton, Exeter Devon EX6 8JQ http://www.powderhamfoodfestival.com/

It’s Autumn: think fire, succulent barbequed meat,hot chestnuts, slow-cooked pulled pork, roasted pumpkins, fish baked in corn husks, clams scattered onto hot coals, sizzling mussels, ravishing ribs.  Outdoor cooking over traditional fire all served up in the beautiful surroundings of Powderham Castle. Rose Gdn shot - Rinus Kool BBQ cooking is taking Britain by storm – chefs all over UK are installing fire pits in their kitchens, giving customers a simple but delicious alternative to more complicated offerings.  At Powderham Festival 2014 we are reflecting this in our dazzling line up of guest cooks. Bring out your inner caveman! Feast your eyes on our theatre of fire ‘n smoke and then literally feast on chunks of beautifully char-grilled Devon meat washed down with fabulous West Country ales and cider.GW7_meat From fire-pits to charcoal filled wheel barrows, via flaming tandoori ovens, the festival provides a bonanza of barbecued and char-grilled meats including venison from Powderham parkland, fish and shellfish from Exe Estuary, superb grass fed Devon beef and pork from Pipers Farm.  The sparks will fly as our pit-masters cook up a storm. Expect delicious outdoor kitchen fireworks.DSC_0043_4 We will be reveling in all things fiery and smoky with over 100 producers exhibiting in the castle and grounds, fascinating demonstrations, talks and tastings. Heading the lineup –

Tim Hayward, food geek, Guardian writer, broadcaster, editor of “Fire and Knives” which won “Best Food Magazine” at 2012 Food Writers Awards. Author of “FoodDIY” – how to make your own everything!  Tim will bring wit, wisdom and fiery expertise to Powderham’s finest produce using a charcoal and seaweed filled wheelbarrow as his favoured cooking medium.Author image

Jane Baxter – ex head chef Riverford Field Kitchen Jane Baxter is a chef and food writer. She trained at the Carved Angel under Joyce Molyneux before moving to the River Café. After a stint travelling and cooking around the world, in 2005 she set up the acclaimed Riverford Field Kitchen in Devon. She is co-author of the Riverford Farm Cookbook and Recipes for Everyday and Sunday. Currently based in south Devon, her latest book, co-written with Henry Dimbleby, is Leon: Fast Vegetarian.Image 7 Ben Bulger – Devon Chef of the year Magdalen Chapter Hotel - Ben is an award-winning chef whose core ethos is to create simple, seasonal and classic dishes, with a focus on local produce. During his career he has won an Observer Food Monthly Award and just months after The Magdalen Chapter opened its doors, he was named as Chef of the Year 2012 in the Devon Life Food and Drink Awards. Before joining The Magdalen Chapter, Ben was Head Chef at The Riverford Field Kitchen, where he worked alongside Jane Baxter. Ben’s style of cooking helped them to gain a reputation for simple but excellent food.

Peter Greig co-owner with wife Henrietta, of Pipers Farm, produces award winning grass fed free range meat. Peter began by working in his father’s industrial chicken unit but was keen to change direction to traditional, slow growing farming methods.

Peter Greig of Pipers Farm

Peter Greig of Pipers Farm

Heading down to Devon and establishing Pipers Farm, Peter then travelled continental Europe to witness very different butchery methods, teaching himself to butcher. The prime focus is producing contented animals, slowly, on the land in small groups to minimise stress – and to produce fantastic tasting meat. Today Pipers a Farm embraces 25 family farms who use traditional, sustainable values to produce healthy food. Peter is a master at the fire pits, famous for his smoked BBQ beef brisket.

James Strawbridge, proprietor “Posh Pasty Company”, grower, poet, environmentalist, eco-technologist, TV presenter and cook, brings along his “BBQ Smokehouse” serving home-produced pastrami sandwiches.  A “Hungry Sailor”, together with his Dad, Dick Strawbridge, he has sailed the coast of South West Britain making landfalls to find the best locally produced food and appeared on his own show. They also appeared together on “It’s not easy being green” and “Saturday Farm”.

Patrick Fogarty, Bronx Grill and Bar in Teignmouth – London restaurant entrepreneur, Patrick Fogarty is a Devon lad returning to his roots to open Bronx BBQ restaurant and bar to add to the emerging and exciting Teignmouth restaurant scene. Committed  to using best local meat, serving killer cocktails and Devon craft ales, Patrick will be serving up a fiery storm at Powderham Castle Food Fest this October.

DSCF2289 And that’s not all. Are your loaves leaden? Do you despair at your sagging sponges? Are your rock hard scones even rejected by the ducks? Help is at hand in the “The Garton King Perfection Marquee” where we’ll be serving up superb demos on how to faultlessly bake everything from the perfect meringue to the perfect pasty.DSCF3581 Family fun, live music in two venues and an abundance of fabulous food & drink – don’t miss it. With much more to come…… watch this space. Powderham Castle, Kenton, Exeter Devon EX6 8JQ http://www.powderhamfoodfestival.com/ Sponsors: Helpful Holidays, Garton King, WBW Solicitors  DSCF3179



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Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival Highlights 2014

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ph: Matt Austin

Here’s a video of the festival which was a great success for both exhibitors and visitors and we had a lot of fun too.

Watch it here: Toby Buckland Garden Festival 2014 Film  2min 26 sec

The festival brings together celebrity gardener, horticulturist and author, Toby Buckland, Powderham Castle and the leading South West specialist gardening magazine Country Gardener in a gardening event unique to Devon. A perfect festival for every type of gardener.

The annual event takes place on the first May bank holiday of the year. Exact dates and times for 2015 will be announced shortly. See the website for details http://www.tobygardenfest.co.uk/


ThIs video was produced by: Tony Gray Productions

 tonygray014@gmail.com M:0779 2010 758

Wild Garlic Season is here again

Wild Garlic pasta pesto

Wild Garlic pasta pesto

It’s wild garlic season again, whoopie! I just ate a fabulous sandwich of local Devonian Curworthy cheese with a perfect accompaniment of garlic leaves.  Here are some more ideas of how to use this abundant spring herb.

Things to do with wild garlic:DSC_0021_9

Pesto – Whizz the leaves with pine nuts, grated Parmesan and olive oil to make pesto. Or add pancetta, and egg to make a variation of wild garlic carbonaraDSC_0032_4

Rice – Wild garlic risotto

Mash – Chop the leaves and mix them into mashed potato

Fish – Wrap the leaves around fillets of buttered trout and bake gently in the oven. The leaves also compliment smoked fish

Mayo – Chop the leaves into sour cream or fresh mayonnaise and use as a dip

Salad – Use whole leaves in salads and decorate with the flowers.

Sandwiches – Add the leaves to cheese or ham and mustard sandwiches.

Spinach – steam with spinach, I prefer to mix as they are a bit watery steamed alone.

Puree – puree with oil and use as a drizzle or dressing.

Scrambled eggs – chopped into creamy scrambled eggs, divine.

Butter – flavour softened butter with chopped leaves and harden in the fridge

Frittata – one of the best

Hummus – tahini, chickpeas, wild garlic

or try my wild garlic flower tempura

Wild Garlic Tempura

Wild Garlic Tempura

or use wild garlic instead of nettles in my gnocci recipe


Nettle/wild garlic gnocci



Gardening Fans Alert! Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival 2/3 May Line Up

HDR tonemappedToby Buckland’s Garden Festival, a two-day celebration set in the glorious grounds of Powderham Castle, nr Exeter in Devon this Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd May.

TV gardener and horticulturist Toby Buckland will head a host of gardening stars, fabulous plants people and more, inspiring gardeners of all ages and abilities with an exciting line-up of speakers, demonstrations and all things gardening for your enjoyment. Come and see the stunning display with over 100 exhibitors showcasing the wonderful nurseries in the region, in addition to children’s gardening activities, food and craft stalls and live music to help create a garden party atmosphere.

Here’s the line up:



11.30. Toby Buckland

Toby Buckland owns a Plant Centre and nursery at Powderham Castle which he runs with his wife Lisa Buckland and will be speaking at the Festival on both days in additin to running the Question & Answer panel. Toby is a qualified horticulturist, TV broadcaster, author and a lifelong gardener who is well-known for his practical, hands-on style. His career has taken him from Devon nurseryman, to professional gardener and on to presenting numerous TV shows. He is an award-winning garden designer, taking RHS Gold and Best in Show at BBC Gardeners’ World Live. Books include Flowers: Planning & Planting for Continuous ColourBBC Practical Gardening Handbook and How to Make Your Garden Grow.

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Toby Buckland by Matt Austin

12.30. Jim Buttress

We’re delighted Jim Buttress VMH, AHRHS, FIHort, Former Superintendent of The Royal Parks and well-known RHS Judge at Chelsea Flowershow and Britain in Bloom will be joining us on both days of the Festival to give talks and be a member of the Q and A panel. Jim is a very entertaining and knowledgeable gardener and star of BBC 2’s forthcoming spring series The Big Allotment Challenge presented by Fern Britton. He also appeared on Return to Lullingstone Castle, BBC Chelsea Flowershow coverage and is a gardening expert on BBC Radio Sussex/Surrey Dig It.

Jim Buttress

Jim Buttress

13.30. Kevin Croucher

Kevin Croucher has been running the hugely popular and successful Thornhayes Nursery with his wife Pat in Devon since 1991 .The nursery specialises in trees of all descriptions, from hedges to ornamental trees to fruit and specialist varieties and boasts one of the widest selection in the UK. Kevin is an well-known international expert on trees. All the compost used at Thornhayes Nursery is totally peat-free and Kevin will be picking up this theme with his talk on climate, microclimate, soils and site conditions that make West Country gardening challenging.

Thornhayes - KevinIMG_0186

Kevin Croucher

14.00. Q and A Jim Buttress, Toby Buckland, Neil Lucas, Charles Dowding, Kevin Croucher

15.00. Neil Lucas

Neil Lucas is the UK’s leading ornamental grass specialist, an RHS Council Member and judge, best-selling author and holder of ten consecutive Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medals. His internationally renowned naturalistic gardening style can be seen at Knoll Gardens, his four-acre showcase and nursery in east Dorset. This is also the base for the Knoll Gardens Foundation, a charity dedicated to promoting the benefits of sustainable gardening without sacrificing the ‘wow factor’. A real hands-on enthusiast, Neil will be sharing his passion for grasses at the Festival as well as providing some expert advice on planning and planting for stunning year-round effect.  Well-established on the media circuit Neil made his most memorable television appearance during BBC’s Chelsea coverage when he was seen reducing the roots of a miscanthus with a large saw!

16.00. Dr.Todd Gray

Dr Todd Gray has devoted his working career to the study of Devon’s history. He is the author of more than 40 books on the history of Devon including the Garden History of DevonVictorian Wild Flowers of Devon and Devon Country Houses & Gardens Engraved. His passion for his adopted county is self-evident through his publications and in his lectures. He has written more widely on Devon than any other Devon historian and is at the heart of its historical community. Dr Gray will also be signing copies of his new book The Art of the Devon Garden published by The Mint Press at the Powderham Festival

Kitchen Cuttings Talks in Victorian Kitchen in the castle programmed by Creative Director, Gabrielle Jackson

FRIDAY 2nd May

11.00  Waste Not Weeds, Sally Harvey, an expert forager, shows us how to love weeds – and eat them too!  Sally is a trained home economist who worked for IPC magazines on recipe development, food photography and styling before moving to Cornwall and becoming administrator at Rick Stein’s  Seafood School.  She has always used wild foods in her cooking and set up Cornish Country Cordials using apples from Tamar Valley and other locally sourced fruits, winning several Taste of the West awards.

11.45  Ian Mundy, First Great Western and Friends of Dawlish Station – Val Mawhood. Hear the story of a dramatically destroyed railway line and restoration of the station –  not least with flowers. Val tells us something of the floral history of Dawlish and its station.

12.30  Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb.  Only thing that flourishes in your garden? Learn to love it. Lori Reich, Shute Fruit farmer and gold medal winning jam and chutney maker tells us how.

13.45  Sweet Smell of Success. Carolyn Bourne of Whetman Pinks has won  The Queens Award for Enterprise for International Trade.  She and her team grow sweet smelling pinks, sold worldwide and their home-bred “Memories”, a particularly perfumed white flower, has raised £25,000 for Alzheimers Society.Whetman Pinks carolyn in greenhouse

14.30  Answer lies in the soil. The art of good composting. Nicky Scott, compost maestro, reveals his favourite recipe

15.15  So you want to be buried in your garden?  Every passionate gardeners’ dream? Yuli Somme, natural burial expert, felt maker and artist sensitively describes how to make this possible.

16.00  Need a gardening health check? Tracy Wilson, Radio Cornwall’s gardening correspondent will be giving a presentation on plant health and disease in the garden – and most importantly, how to prevent it. Questions welcome.

SATURDAY 3 May – Speakers Marquee

10.30. Jim Buttress

Jim is a very entertaining and knowledgeable gardener and star of BBC 2’s forthcoming spring series The Big Allotment Challenge presented by Fern Britton. See above

11.30. Anne Swithinbank

Anne is one of Britain’s most popular gardeners, a trained horticulturist, freelance gardening broadcaster and writer. Anne will be at the Festival on Saturday 3rd talking about her favourite plants, both ornamental and edible, indoors and outdoors as well as answering gardening queries as a member of the Q&A panel.

Toby and Anne Swithinbank

Toby and Anne Swithinbank

12.30. Toby Buckland

13.30. Jason Ingram –

Jason is a Bristol based award winning garden photographer who has travelled widely photographing gardens, plants, food and people for magazines, books and advertising. He takes pictures for BBC Gardeners’ World, Gardens Illustrated, Country Living, The Observer, the Telegraph and many more, in addition to providing the images for both of Toby’s BBC books. Jason will be talking about his work and his new book Kitchen Garden Experts published by Frances Lincoln in May and written by Cinead McTernan.

14.00. Q and A Toby Buckland, Jim Buttress and Anne Swithinbank

15.00. Anne Swithinbank

Kitchen Cuttings Talks in Victorian Kitchen in the castle programmed by Creative Director, Gabrielle Jackson


Ray & Sasha Hubbard

Raymond and Sacha Hubbard

11.00 Ray Hubbard, Hill House Nursery – a life in gardening.

His Bluebird Nemesia has sold over 12 million plants world wide and he has many  horticultural tales to tell – not least his rise from growing cucumbers and tomatoes in Essex to owning beautiful Hill House Nursery, near Totnes and breeding highly successful new varieties of favourite plants.

11.45  Devon Violets where are they now? In Bridport in Dorset where Groves Nurseries hold the world famous National Collection of viola odorata plus 70 other violet varieties. What happened to Devon Violets?  Clive Grove relates the history of Devon’s much loved spring flowers.

12.30 Incredible Edible Garden. Fancy lunch of Mexican Mouse Melon and Wolfberries or a supper of Scorzonera sprinkled with Good King Harry and Skirret Seed? These “Incredible Edibles” are available from Pennard Plants, a Somerset nursery housing one of the most remarkable collections of beautiful and productive plants. Chris reveals why.

13.15 Neals Yard Remedies believe health and beauty should be more natural, less synthetic, that’s it down to all of us to protect our precious planet. Toby Curtis from Exeter store explains how plants, herbs and flowers are used to great effect in their organic beauty and well being products. Neals Yard Remedies believe health and beauty should be more natural, less synthetic, that’s it down to all of us to protect our precious planet. Toby Curtis from Exeter store explains how plants, herbs and flowers are used to great effect in their organic beauty and well being products.

14.00 Jan Billington, Maddocks Farm Organics, produces beautiful and tasty edible flowers and award winning organic salads and salad bags. But she also creates stunning dishes using her delectable flowers.  Carefully crystallised, casually thrown in a colourful salad, adorning glorious cakes, you will look at your flower bed with new eyes!Maddocks Farm Edible FlowersPIMMS


14.45 Bugs and Beasties in the Garden – how to beat them and save your sanity. Tim Penrose of Bowdens Hostas, winners of 30 RHS Gold Medals, tells us how to stop slugs and snails eating your garden – offering practical advice with a good dash of quirky humour. He should know as he holds the National Collection of hostas and we all know a snail’s favourite supper.


Tim Penrose

15.30 Blueberry Brothers. Challenges and Triumphs – a tale of successful diversification.  Nick and Toby grow 700 blueberry bushes on the edge of Dartmoor selling within the county.  But blueberry season is short so how to survive? Bringing in other sources of fruit they work with local producers to develop and make delicious blueberry foods and drinks such as chocolates, muffins, tarts, brownies and beer. Tastings!

Blueberry Brothers

Gardening fun for everyone.  http://www.tobygardenfest.co.uk

Friday 2nd May 10am – 5pm: Saturday 3rd May 10am – 6pm.http://www.tobygardenfest.co.uk/ Ticket costs: Adults £5, children under 16 free. Entry includes admission to Powderham Castle. Free parking. Discounts available. Group discounts are available for groups of 12 and over. Please contact info@tobybuckland.com with your requirements

Getting to the festival by train:

The Citizens’ Rail project has created a series of free printable train timetables for the festival weekend, showing times from locations including Exeter, Torquay and Paignton to Starcross station, close to Powderham Castle. www.citizensrail.org/garden-festival-by-train

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Lighter Waldorf Salad


1/2 cup chopped, mixed nuts tossed in a hot pan with a slosh of tamari or soy sauce
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red seedless grapes
1 sweet apple, cored and chopped
1 tsp mayonnaise
3 tablespoons go low fat plain yoghurt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt, be generous

Dry fry the nuts in an iron skillet with the tamari sauce for 1 minute. Allow to cool. In medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, yogurt and the lemon juice. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Mix in the apple, celery, grapes, and nuts. Serve on a bed of fresh lettuce.


Crystallised Flowers for Easter Fun

imageMy twelve year old daughter and I had great fun making edible crystallised flowers for Easter today. All you need is an egg white, a paintbrush, castor sugar, spring blooms and a bit of sunshine. Many flowers are edible, like the ones I picked in our garden this morning – primroses, violets, apple blossom, cherry blossom, tiny rosemary flowers and even tulip petals. However, a few flowers are poisonous, like Lily of the Valley, so look them up on the internet to check before you start. I found out how to crystallise them from Jan Billington who grows edible flowers commercially (www.MaddocksFarmOrganics.co.uk) when I met her on a photo shoot for the Toby Buckland Garden Festival at Powderham Castle (this May 2nd & 3rd).


1. Pick your flowers. 2. Lightly beat the white of an egg and place it in a cup. 3. Measure out half a cup of castor sugar (Jan recommends you blitz it in a food processor to create a finer texture). 4. Line a baking tray with parchment or wax paper.

Take your brush and paint the flowers carefully with egg white.

Don’t forget the underside and check you have covered every bit.

Sprinkle over the sugar.

Make sure you to sprinkle every part of the flower.

Shake off the excess and lay it on the baking parchment. Leave them somewhere dry and warm. We put ours in the sun as Dartmoor sunlight in May is not too scorchy! After two hours the flowers were crisp, but they may need to dry over-night depending on heat and humidity. Once they’re dry you can repeat the process to make a more robust sugared flower or just leave them as delicate blossoms that melt away in the mouth in a floral instant.   Image 3

Our family traditionally make Easter Bonnet Biscuits at this time of year so we used them to decorate the little hats, but the flowers would make a perfect finishing touch to holiday cupcakes, or home-made chocolates. The bonnets however, never last long as they’re wolfed down by my gang in a blur!Image 2





Authentic Indian Home Cooking in Exeter

imageAuthenticity is surprisingly hard to find when dining on Indian food in Britain.  Restaurants, ground down by decades of ignorance and abuse,  often give the public what they deserve with wilful complicity – rich, salty, creamy or tomatoey slop using meat that is only just a cut above rat.

Well, I don’t want to eat it.  What I do want is simple – food cooked with love and confidence based on a deep faith in tradition, untainted by the perceived needs of the foreign (British) customer. In my experience this is often to be found on the street,  so when I noticed the ‘El Shaddais Traditional South Indian Food’ sign on a flappy, pop-up tent on Sidwell Street in Exeter,  I was hopeful.

imageEl Shaddais might not look much with its camp kitchen and two plastic tables plonked on the pavement for the few who prefer a seat when they eat, but Alexander and Shyla Devadhas run a tip-top eatery from this basic set up. Here, you will find authentic home cooking from Nagercoil, a town in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu in the southernmost tip of India.image

The menu is small but beautifully formed.  I stopped to sit with my friend Gabrielle and we feasted on dosa, (a type of pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter) with chicken curry that was heady with aroma of blended spices that lingered in layers on the tongue.  In my rush to savour the dish, I broke two of their flimsy plastic forks, and soon gave up the cutlery to eat properly, with my fingers.  We followed this with a tasty chickpea curry, sopped up with delicious savoury idli (savoury rice cakes) and washed it all down with milky tea infused with cardamom.image

Alexander and Shyla enjoyed our relish in their food almost as much as we did eating it, and as we chatted, a few devotees in-the-know whipped up to their stand to rush away with a byriani or extremely reasonable rice and ‘cury’. “I can also cater for people who eat a wheat free or have food allergies,” explained Shyla with simple candour,  “as everything is homemade from scratch.” Indeed, it is, and they sell home-made lime pickle and mango chutney in jars to take home too. Not to be missed.

‘El Shaddais Traditional South Indian Food’ is open Thursday, Friday & Saturday (weather depending in the winter).  Look for the pop up tent on Sidwell Street on the opposite side of the road to Poundland and near John Lewis. They also cater for parties and events.

For events and special orders call 07878 852229 or email samandhas@gmail.com











Olympians are not the only Brits to win gold – Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival unearths treasures

Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival at Powderham Castle on

Friday 2nd& Saturday 3rd May 2014

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Toby Buckland at the Powderham Castle Estate ph: Matt Austin

Olympians are not the only Brits to win gold – the  exhibitors at Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival can boast over 100 RHS Gold Medals between them. See a spectacular display of extraordinary, unusual and beautiful plants with over 100 exhibitors showing across the Castle estate, children’s gardening activities, food and craft stalls and live music to help create a garden party atmosphere.

Meet Whetman Pinks, filling the festival air with the exceptional perfume of their internationally famous blooms,

Whetman Pinks carolyn in greenhouse

Carolyn Bourne of Whetman Pinks

and the Heucheraolics, bringing their astonishing Technicolour Dreamcoat of these leafy, showy plants.



Avon Bulbs, famous for their sumptuous displays at flower shows, will be there too.  Bowdens Hostas hold the National Hosta Collection as well as being champions with their ferns and bamboos;

Tim Penrose of Bowdens Hostas

Tim Penrose of Bowdens Hostas

Cornish nursery Kelnan Plants, specialist growers of South African plants, have won 26 RHS Gold Medals to date and leading ornamental grass expert, Neil Lucas of Knoll Gardens holds 10 consecutive RHS Chelsea Golds  – these are just some of the award winning exhibitors to be seen at Powderham Castle on the best Bank Holiday Gardening weekend of the year.

Toby and Anne Swithinbank

Toby and Anne Swithinbank

Headlining will be television gardening broadcaster, Toby Buckland, giving talks and demos including advice on planning and planting for year-round colour. Other garden stars include: Anne Swithinbank of Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time; organic expert and author Charles Dowding; Neil Lucas from award-winning Dorset nursery Knoll Gardens; Devon garden historian Dr Todd Gray and  garden photographer Jason Ingram who shoots for BBC Gardeners’ World, Country Living and provides images for Toby’s BBC books. International tree expert, Kevin Croucher and

Jim Buttress

Jim Buttress will give talks and be a member of the Q & A panel.

RHS Show judge and soon-to-be-star, Jim Buttress of BBC 2’s The Big Allotment Challenge (airing this Spring), will also be entertaining us in the Speaker’s Marquee.

Clive Groves of Groves Nurseries will be talking Devon Violets in the Victorian Kitchen

Clive Groves of Groves Nurseries will be talking Devon Violets in the Victorian Kitchen

Not to forget the  “Kitchen Cuttings” informal 30 min talks in the Victorian Kitchen Fourteen gripping slots filled with gardening treasures during the two day event: Waste Not Weeds, Sally Harvey shows us how to love our weeds – and eat them too! Alarik Greenfield, artist, will talk about his extraordinarily beautiful trees crafted from wire and peridot stones that take weeks to complete; “Learn to love your Rhubarb” with Lori Reich of Shute Fruit or discover the art of good soil with compost maestro, Nicky Scott. Radio Cornwall’s Tracy Wilson will be talking plant disease and if you haven’t heard of Mexican Mouse Melon then stop by and hear all about them from Pennard Plants, a Somerset nursery with one of the most remarkable collections of “Incredible Edibles”.

Maddocks Farm Edible FlowersPIMMS

Jan of Maddocks Farm Organics will be talking edible flowers in the Victorian kitchen

Toby is a father of three and keen to encourage another generation of young gardeners, there’ll be a dedicated children’s tent.

Growing Devon Schools, an initiative that gets kids outside growing food, will be at the festival.

Growing Devon Schools, an initiative that gets kids outside growing food, will be at the festival.

They are giving away thousands of free Thompson and Morgan pumpkin seeds to launch the start of Toby’s Pumpkin Fest 2014. Take away your seeds, grow a big-un and bring it back to our Autumn Harvest on Sunday 26th October and you could win a prize.

  • Powderham Forge will be demonstrating their blacksmith skills
  • Devon Dowsers will be joining us to explain the mysterious art of dowsing
  • Growing Devon Schools, Send a Cow, & Devon Gardens Trust will be sharing a stand providing fun and interactive demonstrations will engage the whole family with techniques they can copy at home, building bag gardens and tip taps.
  • Bouncy castle
  • Live bands and Dan the Hat will be providing entertainment

Come and celebrate some of the West Country’s finest nurseries with a packed programme of talks, demos, and plenty of family fun to make this one of the finest and friendliest plant fairs of the year. Ample free parking and tractor-trailer service between the car park and Festival ground. Plant sherpas and plant creche available.

Friday 2nd May 10am – 5pm: Saturday 3rd May 10am – 6pm. http://www.tobygardenfest.co.uk/ Ticket costs: Adults £5, children under 16 free. Entry includes admission to Powderham Castle. Free parking. Discounts available. Group discounts are available for groups of 12 and over. Please contact info@tobybuckland.com with your requirements

Getting to the festival by train:

The Citizens’ Rail project has created a series of free printable train timetables for the festival weekend, showing times from locations including Exeter, Torquay and Paignton to Starcross station, close to Powderham Castle. www.citizensrail.org/garden-festival-by-train

Toby Buckland infront of Powderham Castle, photo by Matt Austin

Toby Buckland in front of Powderham Castle, photo by Matt Austin


My love affair with our NutriBullet


This morning’s juice of spinach, cucumber, baby beetroot, strawberry, pineapple and banana.

Speed, that’s what I love about our NutriBullet. I used to have a juice extractor that took over an hour to produce one cup of juice – you had to chop the vegetables, ram the bits into a narrow feeder tube a little at a time, then take it apart and clean 8 different bits with a toothbrush thingy. Ahhh! and you don’t even get the fibre. I sold it on Ebay with great joy. Now I make a fabulous fruit and veg smoothie every morning in about 30 seconds, with a nifty little machine that pulverises everything to such a smooth consistency I can suck it through a straw.


Spinach, blueberries, banana, apple, spouted seeds and flax.

I discovered the NutriBullet (sometimes called Magic Bullet) through watching, of all things, an info commercial. I caught my attention because I happened to be looking for a blender as mine had just broken.  The powerful professional blenders cost about £400 so this one, though still pricey, at £99 looked like a much better buy. In the commercial they claimed all sorts of wonderful curing properties but what interested me was it could break down the pulp, skin, stems and seeds of plants into tiny drinkable particles. I was not looking for a diet plan or a medical miracle, I could just see it would make nutritional sense to start the day with a tasty drink of raw vegetables and fruit mixed with water. I do mean tasty, I have no interest in making puritanical tasteless slurry, our smoothies taste delicious.


You place the cup on upside down, press down and twist to blend. It takes only a few tens of seconds.

It does exactly what it says on the packet. It makes lovely drinks in a few seconds and you can wash it under the tap in a few more because the design places the blades in the lid of a cup which you turn upside down to blend and turn back upright to unscrew and wash. Simples.


A tasty, healthy drink that includes all the fibre a vegetable juicer would remove.

The kit includes three cups (with handles and tight-fitting lids so you can take your drink away) a general blade, a grinding blade and a couple of booklets with recipes.Image

You can pulse it to make nutty, fruit bars.image

Use the grinder for spices or coffee beans.image

Pulse a bit more to create hummus or gazpacho in under a minute. imageor use it like any blender for soup, salsa, sauces and salad dressings. Morning banana milkshakes or fruit blends have become much more simple to make for the kids. Our vege mixes are taking a bit more persuasion, but I think they’ll grow into those and soft fruit like melon or ripe peaches scooped into the bullet without water becomes a sweet frothy and refreshing treat that has them clamouring for more.

So, all in all, this has been a positive boost to the family diet. A great way to start the day.image

My favourite morning drink:

I prefer to use spinach as the main ‘green’ with cucumber and a bit of celery. You can use kale, spring greens, chard, lettuce etc., but spinach is light in flavour and blends down well.

Fill 50% of the cup with spinach leaves and cucumber and a small amount of celery

Fill the other 50% up to the line with:

Apple, banana, blueberries/stawbs/rasps

Add a few flax seeds, or sprouts or alfalfa

Add nuts if you want more protein. Soaked almonds (soak them overnight in water and they taste like fresh milky nuts) are my favourite.

Add ginger if you want some extra zing.

Fill with cold water to the line and blend.

Hummus Recipe

2 cloves garlic

1 tin of organic chickpeas

1tsp sea salt

3 tablespoons of tahini

juice of two fresh lemons

A dash of water, about 2-3 tablespoons

Place all the ingredients in the short cup, top with the mixer blade and place in the NutriBullet. Pulse. But don’t over-pulse or it will be too runny. You want it to be course but well combined. Scrape out and serve.

Here is the info commercial which is rather painfully long but may be of interest – NutruBullet Info Commercial (press to link)  I cannot say it is ‘saving my life’! but it can’t be bad to get some good stuff into your diet everyday.