Tales from the polytunnel

Tue, 08/02/2016
Jack in the polytunnel

In the heart of urban Stockport, FarmStart Woodbank is one of Kindling's farm business incubators, offering a gradual transition from community or allotment growing to commercial production. New FarmStarter Jack Webb updates on on progress and explains how setbacks can be bad for the crops but good for the growers! 

"The last few weeks at Woodbank we been appreciating the odd dry and sunny day here and there in what feels like a very wet few months. We are spending a large part of our time hand-weeding our outdoor brassicas as well as our indoor crops. We have a had a few successful crops so far, such as mange tout, which we have just harvested the last of, as well as fresh garlic, broad beans, edible flowers and kohl rabi. It has been satisfying harvesting some good quality crops from such a new site, which isn’t without its problems.

Our outdoor growing area along with one of our polytunnels have some drainage and localised flooding issues. The outdoor soil, which was recently added to the site, lacks structure and has become waterlogged in places, resulting in the loss of a substantial amount of crops. Although disappointing, from my personal learning perspective these losses and soil issues have been more positive than negative. I have learnt a great deal from the resulting conversations and research surrounding these issues. So what has been very bad for chard, carrots and courgettes has been very good for me! One of the highlights of the season so far has been taking one of the polytunnels from being a bare structure, through creating raised beds, installing crop wires and irrigation to having a healthy cucumber crop.

At Woodbank we are often mixing, working and discussing with other growers and doers, both local and from further afield. This ebb and flow of people through the site has its negative side, but for me this is vastly outweighed by the positives that come with this diverse, knowledgeable and innovative group.

Being a part of FarmStart has shown me the need for diverse community engagement within organic food production. This along with keen observation of the growing site are two things which I believe will stay with me throughout my growing career".

The Kindling Trust is a not for profit social enterprise with charitable aims (Company number: 6136029).
Kindling Trust Ltd - Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 7HR