Local resident Gaynor is one of the five FarmStarters at Woodbank. Her father was a Stockport greengrocer (as well as a keen gardener), supplying fruit and vegetables to the local community, so she grew up appreciating the value of fresh produce. She’s been growing on an allotment scale for several years and also worked for a commercial mushroom growing operation, now she’s learning the horticultural and business skills for a whole new career direction:
Bailey McCracken joined Kindling last year to help get our organic box scheme off the ground – if you’re a Veg Box People customer you’ll know her friendly face from the Tuesday afternoon pick up at Manchester University. But she’s also getting stuck in growing at our Woodbank Park site in Stockport. This means she gets to see the whole food chain, from plant to plate (almost…)
The EU influences every aspect of the UK’s food and farming systems; subsiding farming to the tune of billions and regulating everything from worker and consumer protection to rural development, biodiversity and river water quality.
We’ve just entered our one and a half acres at Woodbank Park into organic conversion, a process that covers the changeover from non-organic to organic growing. It’s being overseen by the Soil Association, one of the UK’s organisations for licensing organic food growing. The Association annually inspects every grower it licenses, to ensure that everyone sticks to its stringent set of standards. We now begin the three-year pathway to providing organic, local produce for the Stockport area.
We’ve recently spent a couple of days helping a group of 8-10 year olds from Hulme to create a Wangari Maathai Peace Grove, in honour of the first African women to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
The grove is one of three being created in the city through the wonderful Manchester Environmental Education Network (MEEN). According to MEEN’s co-ordinator Raichael, the project aims to “inspire our communities with Wangari Maathai’s story, to bring young and older community activists together to share their stories whilst taking positive action together by planting trees”.
Once again the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) gave us a great start to the year, made even more exciting by the very first meeting of the Kindling farm's advisory group!
The conference, now in its fifth year, is a unique gathering of the UK’s agroecological farming movement. And the evening before the start of ORFC, some of the most respected people in the sector met to explore and challenge our vision for Kindling’s farm. As well as offering very positive and useful feedback, they started to look at how to help us communicate our vision for the farm to the outside world.
We’ve got a brand new crop of seven FarmStarters spread over our two FarmStart sites, who will soon be getting stuck into their first ever season of organic veg production on a commercial scale. Here’s some thoughts from the folk taking part:
Last weekend was the UK’s 2nd Food Sovereignty gathering, bringing together over 200 people from across the UK: well established farmers and growers, new entrants to farming, buyers, NGOs/ campaign organisations, academics, activists (and loads more!).
Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.
Well it's been a busy month and I feel quite giddy.