I was both honoured and humbled to be asked by BBC2 to participate in their new series Back to the Land (filmed by 7Wonder) featuring (in their words) innovative entrepreneurial rural businesses that are bucking the decline in farming by being a bit different and a bit creative. The aim was to film over the course of a year and look at how Maddocks Farm Organics operates and the ups and downs of the season. Filming over several occasions by, sometimes at short notice, was quite a challenge for such a small firm. Maddocks Farm Organics comprises just myself and a full time seasonal picker and we work flat out every day at the height of the summer from 6 in the morning until late at night. There was a certain irony that the BBC were wanting to film the pressure points of the business when in fact, their being here was probably the biggest pressure point itself with my lovely sidekick JJ tearing up and down the field doing all the work whilst I attempted to brush the manure out of my hair and and look intelligent (was never going to happen) but it was a wonderful opportunity to showcase what we do and to bang both the organic drum and the British Flower drum. So many people helped us in the preparation for the filming days and/or were involved in the show. I am so grateful to them all. JJ, who did not want to be in the film at all but whose hands appear at the beginning of the piece packing up flowers, spent hours weeding and making brilliant tea and his lovely parents Debs and Carl even made a flying visit from north Wales to give us a hand sprucing up the place a bit and some moral support. Thanks guys - so much appreciated.
The BBC also wanted to talk to and film some of our customers and find out what they did with our flowers. After giving them a selection of ideas they choose to feature two of my favourite customers. Matt Mason has been head chef at the Jack in the Green for 20 odd years and I've been lucky enough to work with him for the last five of those. Matt is a passionate advocate of seasonal and local food (before it because trendy to do so) and is also a proud Devonian. The award winning food at the Jack reflects this with their Totally Devon option taking centre stage. As well as supplying them with edible flowers I grow the garnishes and salads for the restaurant and I can honestly say I have never worked with a nicer team. All the chefs from top to bottom are a joy to work with, enthusiastic, fun and we have a great rapport. I am very lucky. Over the years, we've done demos together, argued on stage over salad dressing, bickered on the radio and featured in Grow Eat Gather's lovely episode on Edible Flowers. Matt below filming at Maddocks Farm for Grow Eat Gather. He has also written a cracking cook book called The Jack.
The Back To The Land camera crew took over the Jack in the Green both in the kitchen and in the restaurant for a couple of hours to film the process of my delivery and the restaurant's preparation of the ingredients and and serving of a beautiful terrine. Thank you so much Paul (owner of The Jack in the Green) and team Jack for your time. It was amusing that on the day that this was filmed my lovely 'green' little car wouldn't start and so I had to deliver in the farm 4 x 4 which was disgustingly dirty and had a fair amount of unidentifiable stuff growing in it - and a unique smell. Jim the camera guy was appalled having to get in such a vehicle with me.
The other customer they chose to feature was Bee Berrie who is the fabulous mastermind behind Bees Bakery and author of numerous books on baking cakes and biscuits. Based in London she is queen of the petal confetti cake and uses hundreds of our edible flowers each year for wedding and celebration cakes. Again we have been supplying her for a number of years and she is great fun to work with. Creative, fun, animated but has ambitions to steal my dog Lily. Fair is fair though - I have ambitions to steal her gorgeous baby!
Here photographed at Maddocks Farm last summer where she stopped by to decorate three wedding cakes that she was delivering locally - dedication. Bee made a beautiful wedding cake for the show decorated with our organic rose petals but also containing a rose and prosecco syrup and with rose petals blended into the icing. Just stunning.
Whilst the whole segment of the show about Maddocks Farm was only about 5 minutes long it was filmed over 4 occasions and and sadly it was typical that the day that the programme's cohost Geetie Singh-Watson came to film at the end of June the weather was cold and blustery and the day before heavy rain and wind had battered all the flowers. That's just life though. It was a wet summer and several other participants in the show were filmed in pouring rain so we got off lightly and hopefully the farm still looked ok despite its battering. Here Geetie going over her lines.
The unsung heros of the show - other than JJ above were my lovely hubby Long Suffering Stu who tidied, weeded and generally dealt with me worrying (but also refused to appear on camera). He is my rock. AND my fabulous courier driver Lewis who did take after take for the camera in his new shirt walking too and from his van and then was only very briefly seen, from behind and from the knees down. Still its a very good thing because otherwise Hollywood would have poached him away and I'd be without the best courier driver in Devon. Jim and Rob from Back to the Land, charging their electric car.
And then they were gone and it seemed very quiet although we did find the odd piece of evidence that they had been here...... Thank you all and thank you Back to the Land and BBC 2 for a fabulous opportunity and experience. Great fun to take part in.