We have now had to bid farewell to many of our FarmStart 2022 cohort, having completed their Level 1 year with us in the past few weeks. Although we may be saying ‘goodbye’ to some, it’s also the case that we will soon be saying ‘hello’ to others... namely, those who have signed up for next year’s FarmStart! We’re accepting applications until Sunday 27th November by the way, if you didn’t already know!
With all this in mind, we spoke to a couple of FarmStarters from this year’s cohort to get their thoughts on the growing journey they have been on with us…
When asked what the main thing is that they’ll be taking away from FarmStart, Emily puts forward just how much she really wants to grow produce, as well as the realisation that she does have the ability to be a part of a positive change in the food system. Maria, meanwhile, suggests three main elements that drive successful market gardening: “physically demanding work, strategic crop planning and good relationships”.
And what about the most surprising aspect of their FarmStart journey this year? Maria tells us: “the most surprising aspect of my time on FarmStart is that the more I learn, the more I realise I've barely touched the surface - there is just so much to learn! Not only in terms of soil health, crop planning and biodiversity (although these are vastly important), but also in terms of what healthy eating really looks like. My own eating habits have changed and are changing; I'm re-learning how to cook from a very different ingredient base than previously, and I'm enjoying it!” Emily jokes that she surprised herself with how much beetroot she could eat! In all seriousness though, she explains: “the other surprising aspect was how really delightful it was to grow food, and watching plants progress [...] was more rewarding than I expected.”
Finally, we asked what was the biggest hurdle that they had to overcome as FarmStarters, and how they did it. Emily tells us that time management posed a challenge initially: “being able to commit to FarmStart in the beginning, obviously trying to reschedule my life around it… and I think I overcame that by prioritising this as something that I really wanted to be a part of.” Working outside all day also hit her energy levels at first, but Emily noticed herself getting better at this as the weeks went on. When asking Maria about her FarmStart hurdles, she mentions her fear of creepy crawlies: “learning how vital they are to the future of all life on Earth has changed my perception. I'm now much happier picking up worms and slugs and working around spiders!”
We are accepting FarmStart applications now until 5pm on Sunday 27th November. You can get more information here, where you can also find the application form.