384 pages, colour illustrations
Upon discovering and falling in love with a plot of land on the sunny banks of the River Otter in Devon, Mark Diacono set out to do something ambitious: to grow exotic and unusual vegetables and fruit – treasures that are available only to the home-grower. Salsify, bamboo shoots, apricots, Asian pears, creeping Japanese raspberries, spicy Nepalese pepper and cool Eastern mint: these are just a few of the extraordinary delights that Mark cultivates at Otter Farm, where everything is as enchanting to the eye as it is delicious on the tongue. With a celebration of food at its heart, A Year at Otter Farm follows life on the smallholding month by month. In his warm, evocative writing, Mark charts the challenges and excitements of rural living, from looking after his chickens and pigs, to picking the peaches, pepper and almonds; from pruning the grape vines in freezing February, to the arrival of the sparkling wine.
But this is not all: Mark offers practical guidance, tips and advice on how to grow exciting and unusual fruit and vegetables at home, and A Year at Otter Farm is packed with over a hundred recipes, including wild garlic risotto, fennel sugar plums and quince doughnuts, garlic scape mimosa, walnut and lavender fudge, elderflower delight, and nectarine frangipane tart. With luminous photography capturing the delicate beauty of the changing seasons and vibrantly delicious dishes, this ground-breaking book reveals how the most exotic and exciting tastes can have their roots in British soil.
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A smallholder, environmental consultant and award-winning writer and photographer, Mark Diacono is known for his commitment to sustainable, ethically produced food. His name has become synonymous with climate-change growing, an approach to producing food that takes sustainable advantage of recent weather patterns. As well as running Otter Farm, Mark was, for many years, head of the Garden Team at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage and is a regular on the TV series. Mark's book Veg Patch: River Cottage Handbook No.4 was named Practical Book of the Year at the Garden Media Guild Awards 2009 and A Taste of the Unexpected won the Guild of Food Writers' Book of the Year 2011. Mark was also named Book Photographer of the Year at the Garden Media Guild Awards 2011 for the outstanding photography in Fruit: River Cottage Handbook No.9.