Amelia Christie-Miller visits the eccentric pumkin and squash grower. Scroll down to view video.
Nestled in desirable Oxfordshire, where celebs and Soho House members are beginning to buy up land and fill it with lamas, rather than lamb, lies Forge Farm.
A rather rewarding sense of autumn was evoked by visiting a pumpkin farm mid-harvest. In London, the only signs of the season tend to be the plugging of #basic pumpkin spiced lattes from Starbucks and busier underground tubes.
Some of the organised chaos leading to Greg’s Kitchen
Forge farm is far removed; driving up to the farm you’ll immediately get a wave of its charm. Barge boats (Greg’s first home when he moved to the farm) line the riverbank and chickens roam freely around the quirky chaos.
Greg hands me a hot cup of coffee, sweetened from the hives on the farm. What a sweet welcome.
Greg is American. He was brought up on a farm so his passion for growing and nurturing began from a young age. He came to England for university, where he sowed the seeds for his future on British soil by meeting his lovely wife Kate.
Lucky for us.
Forge Farm is an organic farm specialising in pumpkins and squash. Greg also sells raw honey, apple cider vinegar and corn.
His operation is sustainable farming at its finest; Greg makes his own sawdust and uses it to fire up the Rayburn (old fashioned cooker). With its constant heat supply, he dries out next years seeds. He collects the essential wood ash daily from the burner to add to the soil as a fertilizer.
He has been on the 5 acre plot for 35 years.
Greg in the polytunnel
Greg takes me to the polytunnel, which is the hub of the harvest. Makeshift wooden crates are piled high with this season’s produce and he takes me through all of his babies individually. The variety he has is vast and impressive, each one having a story and a soul.
“This is the Lakota squash,” Greg tells me. “I sourced the seeds from the Lakota Tribe of the Sioux Indians.” Greg goes to both north and South America on annual expeditions to bring back heritage seeds.
Alongside the last fields of corn left to harvest
He enlightens me that supermarket favourite, the Butternut, “never properly matures in this country.” And it’s true, they look tiny and pathetic.
“Joseph, the head chef of River Cafe gave me a handful of seeds that he got out of a squash he brought back from Italy.” Greg presents me with a rather grey-green coloured squash with a huge ‘button’ on the bottom that he calls the “Ute” Squash.
He points to a bunch of carving pumpkins casually mentioning: “Those are for Stella McCartney.”
This man wearing dungarees on a humble farm in Oxfordshire sure is well connected.
The Barge boats in renovation which Greg lived in when he first bought the farm
For the rest of the afternoon Greg takes me around the rest of the farm, showing me the oak trees he planted from acorns, the barge boats he’s currently renovating and the cider he is brewing in his basement. His love for the farm is paternal and adorable.
He comes into London weekly to drop his produce at some of the city’s top restaurants, including all of Angela Hartnett’s restaurants and St. John Bread and Wine.
If you’re interested in some of Greg’s lovely produce for Halloween or for a beautiful autumnal dish, get in touch with Foodchain.