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HughFW

June at River Cottage

by HughFW published on
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I don’t think I could ever be pinned down decisively on which time of year is my favourite, but early summer has got to rank as a pretty hot contender for the top spot. It’s not just the balmy days (if we’re lucky), or the long evenings (which, hopefully, are filled with play rather than work), it’s something to do with the sheer, brazen green-ness of it.

Fresh young leaves and lush new grass have that particular shade of shining, yellowy green that seems to glow with energy and to almost give off its own light. You see it everywhere, from city centre parks and B-road hedgerows to riverbanks and deep woods and, of course, our own back yards.

June is the month when the garden comes good in a very real and satisfying sense. The work that’s gone into it – both the gardener’s own efforts and that rather more mysterious and indefinable work done by the elements, the seasons and the soil itself – suddenly starts to bear fruit in the most fabulous and delicious way.

I’ve been growing fruit and veg for well over a decade now and I never tire of the sight of a veg patch chock-a-block with verdant growth, or a greenhouse whose windows are half obscured by sky-reaching vines, tendrils and stems.

True, much of the actual produce is still a little on the immature side, but by now I can at least see what it will become: the incipient green chillies that will glow with colour and heat in a few weeks time, or the hard, green berries on the currant bushes that will soon be bursting with sugary juices.

In any case, there are many veg which are absolutely worth eating in these very early stages – indeed, I have to restrain myself from harvesting too many finger-sized courgettes and  miniature carrots in order to ensure there’s some left to see me through the summer.

If you grow some of your own fruit and veg, you will know what I’m talking about. And I’d urge you to look at this time of year as an invitation to sample your produce in its purest, sweetest, truest manifestation.

I eat more raw food in June and early July than at any other time because when peas, beans, greens, herbs and even some roots are still in their juicy infancy, they taste fantastic uncooked. Just picked, briefly washed and patted dry, everything from tiny beetroot to just-unfurled chard leaves and baby fennel bulbs will amaze you with its intense flavour.

Take a bit of time over preparation – finely sliced or julienned veg are often particularly delicious – and add a little top-notch seasoning in the form of extra virgin oils, lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and you will not be disappointed.


It’s no accident that we chose June as the month for our fantastic River Cottage Spring into Summer Fair. This event, now in its fourth year, is a terrific opportunity for visitors to explore River Cottage HQ and meet some of the people who make the place tick. There will be live music, activities for kids, demos, talks, workshops and, of course, lots and lots of lovely food.

One of my favourite elements in the mix is our hugely popular produce exchange stall. We invite all our visitors to bring along some of their own produce, whether it’s a few dozen eggs, an armful of fresh spinach, or a batch of homemade flapjacks, and swap it with others.

It’s always a great success and it sums up to me what the fair is all about: celebrating this most exciting part of the year when everything is starting to fruit, flourish and flow. Even if you can’t make it to Park Farm for the fair on June 12th, you could always organise a little bit of produce-trading with your friends and neighbours.

In my experience, not many people will turn down something homegrown or homemade – and just about everyone has something to offer.  

3 replies
Replied on

Should I be worried about the weather forecast for Sunday?

Replied on

Hugh - wonderful opening paragraph. I agree. Green park tonight in London is just the most magical collection of greens. More importantly though - your new hair cut is fab!

Replied on

I've never particularly liked raw veg, but served with the dip of Hugh's from the River Cottage Everyday Cookbook (and also a good one by Sarah Raven in her Food for Friends and Family Cookbook), even I was convinced. Debra

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