A personal account by Lucy, FarmStarter (2021) and Seasonal Grower/Packer
Sam, Paula, Jess and I were the first cohort of FarmStarters, down on The Plot, starting our training with Tamsin (the then Grower) on what was two grass covered fields, in early spring 2021. We finished with a delicious Jacob’s Join gathering in December 2021.
What have I done since then?
My allotment in 2022 was, as ever, messy but better planned. It’s always very rewarding and that year I had raspberry canes, strawberries and other seedlings to give away. By summer I had such a raspberry and kale glut I approached Low Sizergh Barn shop as they have a ‘Crop for the Shop’ scheme where you exchange your produce for gift vouchers.
I was also very excited to have home grown apples, some of which we crushed for apple juice, and pears, but nowhere near enough!
Autumn 2022 saw me collecting nuts and berries for seed – the acorns, sweet chestnut and beech mast got eaten, as my mesh wasn’t fine enough to keep everything out, but I am very pleased with a tiny yew, a couple of hollies and five black walnut trees.
I had lots of other new things to do, and I didn’t look around for new growing opportunities until spring 2023. I was very pleased to get a seasonal role down here at The Plot.
The time has gone very fast, with great company, and super veg – I can’t quite believe I am into my last month!!
I started in mid May with many hours of hoeing and hand-weeding. It’s amazing how cool the weeds feel to the touch compared to the hot sunshine on your head and back. It was the year of pineapple weed on the Plot, and I got to know it very well!
A packing role came up shortly after I had started, and that became my focus. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays are all picking days – getting orders ready for delivery to local businesses as well as for the crop-share and orders from the online shop.
We have a packing shed up near the milking parlour on Old Holly Farm, with electricity, lighting, water and WiFi. This is a big improvement on packing as a Farmstarter in 2021, when it was in the Shepherds hut – which is small, dark and lovely, but doesn’t have any of these extras!
Later in the year I had my first taster of pretending to be Dennis the Grower, when he was on annual leave. The preparation for it was a sharp learning curve on the IT and record keeping side of things, and the whole experience (feeling like I was in charge, but with back up from Ellen if I needed it) was great for building my confidence and understanding.
The next time, all the new bits were familiar. I enjoyed both – mostly because we have such a good team of willing, hard working FarmStarters here. A busy time, but it all went pretty smoothly.
It’s been a real pleasure getting our fresh produce ready for our local customers. We are all about local business, so if you know anyone who’d like to order from us, put them in touch!