In this week’s food column we hear a personal account from Juliet one of the 2024 FarmStart trainees.

Hi I’m Juliet! If I’m honest I wish I had been able to do this 30 years ago because I have always had both a love of the countryside (which is a more complex word than it seems) and a need for purpose.

I discovered information about the FarmStart program while volunteering at Eggcup, the logistics and warehouse hub for many of the food clubs in the Lancaster and Morecambe area. I couldn’t sign up quickly enough. It felt like the perfect match for my interests, core values, and, as I mentioned, a love for everything ‘outdoors’.

There is a lot to learn, and I love the mental stimulation of trying to take in all the theories of ‘working the land’. Thanks to our super knowledgeable and very hardworking lead trainer Dennis, and all the information online and in books which he directs us towards. He has opened the world of agroecology to my consciousness. It’s fascinating to combine the wisdom of the ancient practices we are learning about with our innovative ideas, as we speak through trials and research in soil science, propagation, natural fertilisers, water management, waste management, and more.

Throughout my long career in the NHS of ‘making kids better’ and ‘making properties better’, through house renovation, I’ve had a strong desire to dedicate more time and energy to connecting with nature. I felt as though I needed a way to play my small part in tackling the many environmental issues, including food inequality.

Due to my work with children in health and education settings, I believe strongly that we need to help children see, feel, and experience the wonders of nature, including how their life-giving food is produced. I hope this will enable them to develop a respect for the world, both locally and globally, and encourage them as they grow into adulthood to contribute in their own way to nurturing the world around them.

I understand that there is a large population to feed, but current large-scale agricultural methods are depleting and polluting the land.

On a small scale here at The Plot, we are learning how to grow food more healthily, for both local people and land, to contribute good quality food that can gradually change our local food economy for the better. When I see the definition for the word ‘regenerative’, I have the sense that my FarmStart experience is having a profound regenerative effect on me too!

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