We were delighted to get news that James Powell, who participated in our Commercial Growers Course last autumn, has completed his land purchase near his home in Milton Keynes. After 15 years of allotment-eering and providing a seasonal veg box to 28 local families, he's ready to scale up production to a more commercial scale, and hopes to eventually transition from his day job...
"After completing the commercial growers course we completed on our purchase of the land. It was an arduous and stressful process but too good an opportunity to pass up! The land is south-facing and has mains water supply, along the southern border is a small brook that I can also pump water from. The soil is full of Northampton ironstone and has been a bit of a pain to cultivate. It is a beautiful place that is teeming with wildlife so I will be looking increase biodiversity and try to use that to my strengths as pest control.
As far as progress goes I am in the process of building some stables, this should produce a small income to enable me to transition to farming from my full time job. It will also provide some lovely manure :) I think the transition and wage difference is the biggest threat I face and I will try to do as much as I can to mitigate against lack of cash flow. My next steps once the stables are in place will be to prep the areas I intend to use for polytunnels and get the polytunnels erected. After that I will install the irrigation and look to start growing. I hope to achieve this by summer! Fingers crossed.
The business side of the course for me was especially helpful, I have never run a business before and it was a real eye opener! I feel far more prepared now for sure. I learnt so many new techniques and methods for growing on this course to mention, the information you receive is just so vast and relevant!
I would recommend the Commercial Growers Course to anyone who has an interest in food sustainability and would like to run a business growing veg. I have been on a lot of courses in my lifetime and this was by far the best, it was both engaging and empowering. The people I met through the course (both tutors and students) gave me a sense of hope that people do care about the planet and want people to have access to clean, fresh vegetables. Many thanks to Jenny Hall! Jenny was our main tutor and was a fountain of knowledge, she really did give us all the impression that this can be done and offered us help with any problems we faced. She is an absolute gem of a person and her book is fantastic! Many thanks also to Alex, he gave me a lot of great information and advice! His hair is also the most epic mane I have seen on a dude!
I wish the Kindling trust all the very best in the future! It warms my heart to know there are people like you guys out there doing what you are doing."
We wish you all the best too James!
For others dreaming of something similar, find out how we can support you at https://kindling.org.uk/horticulture-training