A personal account by Lucy, one of our FarmStart trainees.
The journey from seed to edible leaf/fruit/root is such an everyday, yet gob- smackingly miraculous, occurrence. At this leaf/fruit/root time year, our work is heavily geared towards picking and packing. We are very proud of our boxes and bags of produce, with their ‘The Plot’ labels as they go off into the big world to be displayed, bought and eaten.
A wide variety of salad items are picked each week for our salad bags, and I have come across some awesome new tastes – buckthorn plantain, nasturtium and coriander flowers, amaranth, new zealand spinach, as well as 5 or 6 varieties of sweet leafy lettuce. It is also astonishing how quickly beans and courgette plants put on weight and need picking again.
We have started early in the morning since July, as this is the best for the produce when it’s going to be hot, but August has had more varied weather. Sun-hats, raincoats, shorts and wooly jumpers are quite common all in one day, especially when working both on the Plot and in the polytunnel, with its mediterranean temperatures.
When we are not picking, (and let’s be honest, we are doing a lot of picking!) we have been making repeat sowings of our salads, pea shoots, mizuna, yellow and purple frills and argula; checking the backs of the kale leaves and heads of the Calabrese for Cabbage White butterfly eggs (tiny yellow and white things) and caterpillars; removing tufts of grass that are trying to repopulate the beds and turn it back into the pastureland that it was only last year; sowing and planting out crops that will over winter; reviewing the state of the crops and working out what will be ready for next week.
The polytunnel has a healthy crop of green manure getting ready to become part of next seasons soil, and our winter beds are all being ‘mucked’ and ‘limed’ (with well rotted cow muck and powdered lime (not the fruit)) where necessary, before the crops go in.
We have enjoyed a great range of birds; the daily journey of the Old Holly Cows to the milking parlour; and a young bunny. It has been hiding in our beetroot, which is so tall and leafy, it hasn’t burrowed under the soil and has instead created a winding route though it. Not entirely helpful for the beets. We have had fun trying to chase it out with almost no lasting success so far. Wish us luck!
Finally, August hasn’t all been work! Last week we were treated to a wonderful tour of Brook House Farm where we met up with Farmstarters from Manchester. Started over 30 years ago, with just 3 polytunnels and some derelict buildings, Libby and her husband have built a very impressive 2 person, 19 polytunnel Organic Veg outfit. It was great to see. There was tea, flapjack and home grown fruit, and I had time to reflect on just how well plants, people and places grow organically.