Jenny Jefferies, a farmer’s wife, mother of two and author of two books, in conversation with our editor, Catherina Cunnane.
“I live on a family-run arable farm in a village called Little Gransden in South Cambridgeshire. I have lived here for eight years since marrying my husband in November 2014.
Furthermore, I am not from a farming background and used to live in St. Albans, where I took pavements and restaurants on my doorstep for granted.
My favourite thing is to share food with friends and family; it is the only time we stop what we are doing to eat and drink, and I love the whole social and culinary experience.
How it began
It does not matter if it is at your home, in a pub, restaurant, cafe, or festival; the interaction with each other over the table, bar or fire pit is wonderful.
I have always enjoyed food, certainly ever since my father used to potter about in the kitchen and put on a large buffet for our extended family whenever we met up at each other’s houses.
He and his late brother-in-law used to drink wine together in the kitchen whilst preparing all this wonderful food at Christmas, special occasions and holidays.
I have very fond memories of us all being together and food being the main source of activity. Food, love and laughter always filled our respective home.
I remember seeing and being involved with the family harvest in the summer of 2013 for the very first time. Honestly, I was so amazed, if a little overwhelmed, at the hard work and passion that goes into just producing a bowl of cereal or a loaf of bread for our kitchen tables.
I felt shamefully ignorant about simply where our food comes from, and I desperately wanted to share my husband’s story.
I was weaning my eldest daughter, who is now 5, and thinking, what on Earth, do I feed my new family on?
For The Love Of The Land
With a revolving kitchen door, feeding my baby, and John, who was going up and down fields on the tractor every day, I started to think about what has now become For The Love Of The Land: A Cook Book To Celebrate British Farmers And Their Food published by Meze Publishing.
The main aim of For The Love Of The Land is to educate and inform everybody about British farming in hopefully an entertaining and informative way such as a cookbook; to help bridge the gap between producer and consumer, town and country, food and technology, and to help people reconnect with their food. I think for one to enjoy food, one has to understand how it is produced.
For The Love Of The Land was published in July 2020, just after the first lockdown and my desperate attempts at feeding my family with a young baby continued from the summer of 2018.
So it took at least two years from having the idea to seeing it in Waterstones.
It could not have happened without Minette Batters, the National Farmers’ Union President, coming onboard from such an early part of the whole process.
Minette very kindly agreed to write the foreword to For The Love Of The Land very early on. That gave the book fantastic credibility and really helped to recruit the farmers to contribute.
Forty amazing farmers from all over the UK tell their stories with such passion and with brilliant words of tradition, heritage and culture, making For The Love Of The Land an important book of British farming social history.
There are beautiful images of not just the dishes showcasing their wonderful produce but of the farmers and their families themselves. For The Love Of The Land flies the flag for sustainability, regenerative agriculture, community spirit and food provenance.
I thoroughly enjoyed compiling and researching For The Love Of The Land and speaking directly to the farmers.
I used to put my two daughters to bed and settle down for the evening. By the light of my mobile phone and with a glass of wine, I worked on it when I had time to myself. It is very much a hobby and one that I love.
For The Love Of The Sea
I loved it so much I published my recent second book in April 2021. For The Love Of The Sea, also published by Meze Publishing, celebrates the British seafood community and their food.
It includes recipes and stories from fishermen and women, fishmongers, chefs, scientists, researchers, musicians, artists, and many more.
Support farmers and fishermen
I certainly think that the global pandemic has ignited an urgent response from the general public to support our farmers and fishermen a lot more and be appreciative of what they do and how they do it.
We are becoming increasingly aware of general food provenance. With a greater enjoyment and need for cooking from scratch in our own kitchens, my main message would be to buy local, buy seasonally, buy sustainably, And above all, to buy British.
I have recently become a food hero with Love British Food. Their members are a community of businesses who care about promoting quality British products, and producing, using, selling or promoting British is part of their core brand proposition.
I am also very grateful to Meze Publishing for helping to produce a beautiful book that ultimately is a respectful and beautiful keepsake that belongs in your kitchen and upon your bedside table or coffee table.
Purchase books and donations to charity
You can purchase a copy from my website, where I also offer complimentary signature and gift wrapping www.jennyjefferies.co.uk, and Meze Publishing, Joules, Amazon and all good bookshops at £22 per copy.
I will donate 22% of my net profits from For The Love Of The Land to the National Literacy Trust. Furthermore, I will donate 22% of my net profits from For The Love Of The Sea to the RNLI.
I am so incredibly proud of both For The Love Of The Land and For The Love Of The Sea.
A legacy for my daughters
I hope people enjoy reading and cooking from it as much as I have enjoyed working with Meze Publishing in putting it all together.
Both books are a little legacy for my two daughters and hopefully a lovely credible source of information and inspiration for you, the reader.
I enjoyed the research and compiling the books so much I may just be working on another. Watch this space!” Jenny Jefferies concluded.
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