It's April 2020 and our four farmstarter's aren't half getting thrown in to their work at Woodbank Community Food Hub, where they will spend the year on a growing training programme, growing organic produce commercially. The pandemic has made us all realise the importance of local food, here's how your local growers are feeling right now in this uncertain world...
"We've been learning so much about small scale market gardening, I wonder how all of the new information will stay in my head! As someone who finds it useful to learn by doing, getting stuck straight away into core jobs for the season has helped greatly with the learning process and understanding the realities of what this type of farming entails Helen, our trainer, is very knowledgeable about all aspects of the farm. There's also a really good atmosphere on site as fellow trainees and Helen are lovely people to work with especially during these socially-distanced and surreal times.
"So far, I’ve really enjoyed the FarmStart programme (especially since the weather’s warmed up). It’s great learning about the technical detail required to accurately predict your yield, and little things like spending the time to record how much of each seed you’ll need to plant a bed to reduce the amount of pfaff and over ordering of seed etc. The amount of broad beans weighed out did the bed to the bean- magic! Although quite mundane, the biggest challenge for me is making sure I’m working with the correct posture- all the crouching, bending and lifting can be really hard on the body. Saying that though it’s really satisfying having done a day of hard graft- I’ve been surprised how many mornings I thought I’d wake up in a world of pain but have actually been fine.
It’s also really satisfying to start seeing hundreds of little shoots popping up in the propagation tunnel and the other crops zooming along in the fields and tunnels. More than that though, it feels great to be part of such an awesome team. To be surrounded with likeminded people all wanting to rise to the challenge of producing more during this strange time makes me feel like I’m in the right place. The way FarmStart has been able to adapt to the current situation in respect to the way the farm is run, and it’s changing demand in sales has shown the resilience of this type of system. I’m hoping that come the end of the season we would have surpassed expectation, both in the amount of produce we’ve been able to supply, and also in the way we’ve weathered the hardship of the time. " Georgina
The most satisfying thing so far has been seeing the difference from when we started until now, where the things we sowed in wet soggy beds are now thriving and everything seems to be coming to life. There are even flowers on the mangetout!! It is light relief to see that, despite what is going on in the world, nature continues as normal. It is certainly something positive to focus on.
Doing FarmStart has left me in no doubt that I’m on the right path for where I want to be in the future, now more than ever. During unprecedented times like these, where we are seeing empty supermarket shelves due to panic buying, plus an increase in demand for local produce, I hope that this will continue in the long-term and people will realise the importance of small scale farms providing communities with local produce in order to create a more sustainable food system." Michelle