A three-strong team from Salford make up our new Abbey Leys FarmStart contingent. Brother and sister Sam and Jo plus friend Ashley have a mix of growing experience between them, including home growing, working on a potato farm and long-term wwoofing in New Zealand.
Along with the others, Ashley’s been keen on the idea of growing food as a career for some time: “I have always wanted to do this but never thought I would be able to. I didn't have the knowledge and experience nor the land and capital to start it. I decided to join FarmStart as I thought it would give me the experience in growing I needed to one day do it myself”.
Jo, who’s always wanted to work outside, would love to use this experience to be able to one day sell to the public directly and cut out the large supermarket middle men: “This will hopefully help towards the new way we grow and buy food in Manchester”.
She updates us with their progress:
“It was really exciting in February as we began choosing what to grow. We had to consider why, how and when so we could make a proper plan for the whole growing year. It was definitely a tad overwhelming at first but that was completely overridden with the anticipation of actually getting to grow and harvest in the months to come.
Sam, who’s a bit of a science geek, began to create some excel spreadsheets to calculate things like our yield and man hours we will be working on the farm, we are filling this in as we go and by the end of the year we hope it will show us exact figures. Plus it will help when we start again next year.
Early March mainly consisted of seeds. Ordering was a bigger task than we anticipated as we checked out all the prices online and tried to get the cheapest prices and the most appropriate amounts, which is tricky when some sell in grams and some sell per number of seeds! Late March we prepped our poly tunnel and ordered compost etc. with Alex.
April has been by far the most fun so far. We’ve sowed leeks, spring onions and kale in the tunnel and direct sowed the onions, garlic and parsnips. The runner beans are in their individual pots in the tunnel and the broad beans have been direct-sowed outside with the rest.
So far we have probably spent more money than we predicted as we have bought capillary mats to the keep the seedlings watered as we can only get down 3-4 times a week realistically, so these mats are perfect. Costs like this, petrol and insurance etc. will be input into the spreadsheet. I think a general list of expected costs would have been a good heads up for us when we started would have helped but all in all, so far so good!
It’s been super informative so far. We all feel like we are learning so much and getting to do it all hands on means (for me especially, I’m a doer not a thinker when it comes to learning) that we’re really getting our heads around the realities of being organic growers.”