Meet our new FarmStarters!

Aoife at Woodbank

Meet the new cohort for this year’s FarmStart programme! We welcome Aoife and B to the team over at Woodbank. We’re extremely pleased they chose to learn with us and are really excited to see what plans they make for the gardens in the next couple of years. Here they explain to us a little more about the journey they came on to join us.

Now, I’m not saying that all social problems can be solved by access to good quality, nutritious food but I think it’s a pretty good place to start. Over the last year COVID and Brexit have shown us that the network that gets food from the farm to our plates is fragile. Creating a robust food system, sourced locally is the solution I really believe in and want to be part of.

After I was made redundant in 2015, I decided that a change in life and attitude was in order.  I’d always been interested in WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and felt that it was the right time to have a go at a different way of life that didn’t involve sitting in front of a computer screen for eight hours a day. I was skint after being made redundant so traveling abroad wasn’t an option. The first farm I visited was a 30-acre commercial veg growing enterprise in Wiltshire.  When asked what I was up to, my best friend loved telling everyone ‘she’s gone to find herself in Swindon’. Later that year I visited a self-sufficient homestead in Powys, Wales. I absolutely fell in love and ended up living there for two seasons.  I got thrown in the deep end during my time there doing everything from woodland management, growing, natural building and all sorts of growing and maintenance jobs.  My mantra after this experience and one I am taking into my first year of Farmstart is that ‘I’m more capable than I think I am’.

I’m very lucky that in the past I have had plenty of conversations with growers, around farm kitchen tables.  This gave me an awareness of not only the pitfalls but also the possibilities that come with organic growing.  One of the things I’m most excited about with the Farmstart program is the opportunity to learn in a more structured way.  To build on the knowledge I have gained so far, so I can get to the stage where I can feel confident about starting my own business.  I like the way that the Farmstart program is not just a horticulture course but is designed specifically with growing commercially in mind.  I’m looking forward to the business elements of the program as much as I am learning about growing and soil science.

After a year in lockdown, I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work outside, not alone doing something I love but also doing something valuable and learning a new trade all at the same time. I intend to enjoy every single minute of it!



Vanessa made me do it!

That is, this FarmStart training with the Kindling Trust.

Vanessa and I have known each other for several, several years.

We share an allotment - and have done for 15 years. That kind of contact can teach you something about another person: a shared preference for agro-ecology at all levels; a common understanding of how things appear to be, how they might be and, possibly, how they will be.

This gives strength to a dream we have come to share, a dream that looks very much like Kindling Farm - though we're looking a little further towards the setting sun, the hills, and sea beyond. We're also thinking a bit smaller. But we find we're still looking in much the same direction, on the same path, so to speak. 

This identifies Kindling Trust FarmStart as an ideal partner towards realising these dreams, while being recently retired. With a background that includes environmental thinking from an early age, it puts me in pole position to jump the bus and get a move on.

Which of us is the right person, at the right time, and in the right place etc. is difficult to tell: maybe we all are.

This imbues confidence, which is particularly useful when the morning sunrise sparkles against a night-time frost and there are 8 miles south to cycle once dressed; a magical journey through public parks, on cycle paths, and, importantly, alongside the pandemic-hush of rush hour traffic with the sunlight staring me in the face.

An excellent route, past projects I'm busy with and people who are dear, delivering me comfortably to where I might need to be towards realising the dream: the Kindling Farm Trust SK1 4JS.

This journey started a long time ago. I hold my Grandfather largely responsible. When I was 4, he took my hand and shoved it under the grass cuttings in the compost: wow! The heat surprised me! While the memory brings him back, that house and garden in Chorlton M21 have long since disappeared. The house in Didsbury M20 - where I had charge of the rhubarb patch - also disappeared, while where I’ve lived since 1989 (M15) finds me promoted to Community Leader and Hulme in Bloom Project Leader.

These roles stem from the Our Manchester Strategy and marry easily with the FarmStart training at Kindling Trust – as well as the dreams beyond.

As a long-term environmental activist, issues around climate change, global justice, and the value of 'natural capital' head my list of interests. I have an understanding of the concerns that rage around these issues, as well as a recognition of the community that shares them and feels strongly enough about them to respond positively in favour of securing a future for our species on this planet. Being retired puts the opportunity to head more confidently in this direction solidly front and centre.

Psalm 23 sings in my head.

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