What a great day, 9 June! Yet another successful Open Farm Sunday at the Hutton Dundee. Crowds of visitors enjoying themselves in sunny weather. The Living Field garden did its bit as before – exhibits on barley and legumes in the polytunnel, potato varieties in the west garden and further science exhibits in the cabins.
Our friends from Dundee Astronomical Society were here again showing people round the new observatory and explaining about the sun, moon and noctilucent clouds. And this year we were helped for the first time by a workshop on cyanotype imagery run by Kit Martin.
The centrepiece was the new Vegetable Map of Scotland, shown top left and centre in the panel above. For more on how it was made, see Vegetable map made real. The map occasioned much comment and wonder that the country was already growing such a wide range of vegetables and could grow much more of its own.
The two posters located next to the Vegetable map are available to view or download here.
The Vegetable Posters
One of the posters – The Vegetable Products of Scotland – explained the background to the original Vegetable map which was first shown at Can we grow more vegetables? The poster is reproduced below as a low resolution jpg image. It is also available as a pdf file printable up to A3 size.
The other poster – Vegetables in the Living Field garden – showed many of the vegetables typically grown in the garden, grouped into leaves, fleshy fruits, roots and seeds. More on the plants can be seen at the garden pages under Vegetables. This poster is also reproduced as a jpeg below and available as a pdf.
Since its publication on these pages in 2017 the Vegetable Map of Scotland  has attracted much interest. There is a growing awareness of the benefits of local, nutritious food – especially if bought from short supply chains that use the least possible carbon.
People want to know where their food comes from, how much is imported and how much grown locally and whether the country can grow more of its food within or near its borders.
These questions are asked especially of vegetables, including pulses and potato, because they are (or should be) mostly eaten very fresh, such as leaf, or else, like carrot and swede, kept not too long on the shelf before being cooked.
With this background of interest, the Vegetable Map was constructed by researchers at the Institute as part of joint interests with Nourish Scotland . The group interrogated EU databases provided by the Scottish Government  to locate the fields in which the various vegetables and soft fruits were grown.
An example of part of the region is shown above. The Map remained available through this web site, then in late 2018, ideas began to form about making the map real – complete with vegetables – and it would be constructed in the Living Field garden .
Time went by. Ground was weeded, cleared and cultivated – a rare barrenness in the otherwise plant-rich garden. Then gradually, over the winter, tectonic plates shifted.
People began to wonder about the strange earthworks dotted with rocks that appeared in the plot. Was the garden being visited at night by strange forces or was the Living Field community finally just losing it? Rumours were rife.
More time went by. Turf was laid in a great rectangle over the whole patch, but people were still unclear of what it was all for …. and what lay underneath.
The turf rooted and formed a fine carpet. But what were the rocks? A ritual landscape? Tayside’s answer to the Ring of Brodgar?
Then one day in late spring 2019 an outline was traced and the turf was cut to reveal the unmistakable shape of ….. Scotland ….. its indented coast now clear and the land inside complete with hills and mountains.
All well so far ……. a map of the country covered in grass and rocks …… nothing new there. But then in May, holes were cut in the turf and plants put in the holes: and you’ll guess what plants – Yes, vegetables.
And that is where we are at the beginning of June 2019. The Farm’s drone was flown to photograph the Living Field garden from the air on 5 June. The image of the map appears below.
Different types of vegetable are being planted in the parts of the country where they are typically grown. It is possible to see the early plantings to the right of the image. The brown holes in the turf are where circles have been cut in readiness for later plantings. (The ‘corners’ and lower border are spare turf in case of need.)
Planting will continue well into the summer. There will be some surprises which we shall show later.
For now, you can read more about the history of vegetable growing at the original page . photographs of the construction will follow – link to be provided. And there will be more articles on what can and can’t be grown in the soils and climates of our northern latitudes.
Living Field people will be on hand at Open Farm Sunday 9 June 2019 to explain more about the Vegetable Map of Scotland. See you there!
With apologies to the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland, presently missing from the map but to be included.
 The original digital map was produced during work on the distribution of crops as part of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Research Programme.
 Gladys Wright had the idea of constructing the Vegetable Map in the Living Field garden and was soon offered enthusiastic help by The Farm. Together, and with other coopted helpers they measured out the grid, made the mountains (like Titans), laid and cut the turf and raised and planted the plants. A great effort by the Living Field community!
As a long-time vegetarian and fan of Asian food, particularly tofu, in recent years I have limited my consumption of soya due to the sustainability issues of soya production and potential negative impacts on health.
My inspiration grew from a Japanese anime series, ‘Yakitate!! Ja-pan’ (i.e ‘Freshly Baked!! Ja-pan’), which follows the adventures of the young protagonist, Kazuma Azuma, as he follows his passion to invent an authentic Japanese bread of which the Japanese people can be proud. In a similar vein, I have embarked on a quest to produce an authentic Scottish tofu, using local ingredients and some gastronomic daring.
I acquired some faba bean powder (flour) from the Institute’s Pete Iannetta, who is growing beans in experimental fields at the Dundee site (and using them to create new bean-based products including craft beers).
My first experiment, ScoFu No. 1, was to test the production method and make some technical adjustments. It was marginally successful, but the quantity of final product after pressing resembled a crêpe with a lot of left-over okara (bean pulp). Not really what I was aiming for, though the okara could be used for faba bean falafel – an experiment I will save for another time.
ScoFu No. 2
For ScoFu No. 2, I increased the quantity of ingredients and modified the processes. Firstly, I produced the purée. After a bit of culinary alchemy, and a handy little tofu box, I managed to produce a very neat-looking block of tofu (image below).
After a little more magical waving and muttering, the tofu became a delight of pan-fried strips, infused with chilli and garlic, served with spicy rice and a dash of soy sauce. The texture, although soft and crumbly, held together nicely when cutting and cooking.
The flavour was definitely faba bean, with a hint of bitterness due to the preparation method (and maybe the coagulant), but also a touch of umami; beany flavours are often preferred in East Asia. On a firmness scale of 1 to 5, with five being very firm, I would put this at 3.5, or ‘momen-dofu’ as the Japanese would say.
A rather delicious stock was produced in the formation of curds, which could form the base of type of miso soup, or vegetable stock.
Whilst this has been a success, there are so many different variables to consider when making tofu that can influence taste, texture and firmness that I feel my adventure has only just begun. Onward to ScoFu No.3!
With Dundee Science Centre, the James Hutton Institute is contributing to a range of outreach activities in 2016 as part of The Crunch, and initiative headed by the UK-wide Association of Science and Discovery Centres and supported by the Wellcome trust.
Our exhibit at a community-run event in Baxter Park Dundee on 28 July 2016 was called – Feel the Pulse – a display of beans and peas, which along with lentils are known as ‘pulses’ (images below).
Why pulses? They yield a highly nutritious, plant protein that can be grown without nitrogen fertiliser because the plants themselves fix nitrogen gas from the air into their own bodies. Nitrogen is essential for plant growth, but in its mineral form (from bags of fertiliser) can be a serious pollutant, contaminating streams and drinking water.
Once, peas and beans were widely grown and eaten, but the arrival of industrially made nitrogen fertiliser about 100 years ago and the ready import of plant protein from other countries caused pulses to decline as crops.
Yet today, pulses are widely acclaimed for their benefits to health and the environment. The field bean Vicia faba crops above were grown locally without nitrogen fertiliser. They also offered a habitat and refuge for insects and small animals.
Is there a way to turn the tide – to farm more locally-grown cereal and legume produce, use less mineral N and support a cleaner environment.
We believe there is but one of the first things to do is to increase awareness of the benefits of peas and beans and similar products.
Our exhibit – Feel the Pulse – shows some of the things that are being done, such as finding types of peas and beans suited to the local conditions, comparing the nutritional value of different pulses and finding new pulse-based products for the market, for example bean bread and bean beer, both made from field bean flour.