Thursday, 3 November 2011

A special open space in East London

Here at Duck Island Cottage we’re working on our programme for Open Garden Squares Weekend, 9-10 June 2012, and we’re very excited about the forthcoming event. We’ve just come back from a visit to Abbey Gardens, in East London – a truly inspirational location.

Harvesting at Abbey Gardens
Four years ago, two artists, Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope, designed the unique open-access Harvest Garden on neglected wasteland. The ruins of a 12th-century abbey gave the Gardens its name as well as protection from development. Karen and Nina were influenced by the idea of returning the land to production and today everyone can participate in the communal growing and harvesting of vegetables and herbs. Free garden club sessions take place three times a week, from March to October. There are no individual plots – produce is split between regular gardeners and is sold on site.

We love the positive and welcoming atmosphere at Abbey Gardens.

At Duck Island Cottage we’re also passionate about fresh, natural produce. In June 2012, at Abbey Gardens, the first of the season’s vegetables will be ready for harvesting, including our early summer favourites: peas, broad beans, new potatoes and young salad leaves. The following recipe makes the most of this early crop - and mint and parsley, also in season:

Salad of Broad Beans, Peas and New Potatoes in a lemon and mint dressing

A mix of the following vegetables:

fresh peas, broad beans, new potatoes and salad leaves

For the dressing:

light olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper, mint and parsley

Make a dressing by combining three parts olive oil to one part lemon juice, seasoning with salt and pepper. Finely chop a combined handful of mint leaves and parsley, avoid using the thicker parts of the parsley stalks, and add these to the dressing.

Fresh Mint
Cook the peas and broad beans until just tender, and the new potoates until cooked through. Combine the cooked vegetables and whilst still warm, pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix well together. Allow to cool, to room temperature. Line a salad bowl with the salad leaves and pile in the salad. Just before serving chop the remainder of the mint and parsley and scatter over the salad.

We’ll be back next month with a preview of another one of our exclusive Gardens for June 2012!