Hear from our FarmStarters about how they're getting on over at Woodbank - they're halfway through their first year already!
As we’re starting to get into long days and warmer weather, things have started getting busier at Woodbank. We’re starting a little earlier in the day and enjoying working in the polytunnels before the heat makes them too toasty and then making the most of our sun hats to work on the rest of the site for the remainder.
With lots of the crops that were planted earlier in the season ready for harvesting, our learning curve has climbed up to include all the different ways to harvest mangetout, beetroot and fennel, as well as heaps of others. It's awesome to see little seeds that we planted go out as fully fledged food. Even more exciting has been to actually see the produce for sale and receive it in my Veg Box People veg bag.
A recent highlight has been the Open Farm Sunday event, the whole site was looking top banana. FarmStart had a stall selling some veggies and also some plants, which were great to start chatting to folk about the produce and what happens with the FarmStart program. Getting direct feedback and seeing people’s enthusiasm was really encouraging. Also finding out that everyone loves beetroot as much as I do.
There’s lots more to come, I’m excited for all the squash that’s been transplanted and the cucumbers that have been strung and already looking like they’re going to burst with baby cucumbers. There’s always plenty to do at the moment and I’m still looking forward to everyday I come in, so something must be going right.
We’ve been working in absolutely glorious sunshine recently and it is a joy to see the site continue to bloom in the beautiful weather (although working in the polytunnels on a hot day is a bit like doing a work-out in a sauna!). The focus has turned to harvesting, with the first few hours of every session spent picking, bunching, and bagging produce to make it ready to sell. It is very rewarding to see such tangible results of all our hard work, the bunched beetroot looks particularly gorgeous. We also continue to sow and transplant. The need to plan and manage to ensure a steady supply of produce throughout the season is becoming increasingly apparent. We’ve also been experimenting with different types of compost, and it has been really interesting to see the impact this can have on plant growth. It has been great to learn from Adam as well as Helen. Adam has shown us how to do some of the more practical stuff around the site like fixing the irrigation and making holes in the mypex membrane for curcubits to grow through, which was fun. We also all enjoyed having a go on the rotavator.
The site looks completely different to a couple of months ago. We can now see the fruit of our earlier work as we harvest kale, mangetout, garlic, kohlrabi and more. The site is a hive of activity and it looks and smells gorgeous.
I can now see just how much planning goes into everything; when to sow or transplant, when to harvest, when to clear a bed to prepare for the next crop, how frequent to water and organising who will do what. But plans aren't static and changes are needed depending on various factors such as weather and availability of people.
Seeing photos of our produce in Unicorn has been a highlight for me. It fills me with pride to know what we've planted as a team is being bought locally and looks and tastes fab.