Kathy Barton from Claver Hill Community Food project discusses the project’s development over the last few years.
Claver Hill Community Food Growing Project has been going for two years now. It started as a rutted field and has become a lush vegetable garden. We have been supported by people from all over Lancaster District and have gratefully received funding from many sources.
Our opening event involved a scarecrow competition and seed sowing of green manure (clovers and grasses). We don’t use chemicals so this is a natural way of fixing nitrogen and bringing life back to the earth. Every spadeful of soil now holds a variety of worms, beetles, fungi and minute life.
As the winter 2013/2014 drew to a close, we developed the Spud Club. Anyone can join for £10 a year (which goes on seed). Every time a person volunteers, they take home fresh veg.
We now have fresh veg growing all year round. There are some vegetables you may never have tried like golden beetroot, sprouting kale, kohlrabi, the greens from beetroot, and yacon, to name a few. We also have all the usual veg like potatoes, onions, lettuces, courgettes, beans and peas (my favourite eaten raw).
We use a “No Dig Method” on our beds – placing a layer of cardboard on the soil and topping this with manure and compost. We then plant straight into this. As each crop finishes a new layer of compost is added and replanted. By not turning the soil, you do not damage the beneficial microfilaments. In theory, no dormant weed seeds buried deep in the soil will be brought up from the depths (by digging) to sprout once they are watered by rain and warmed by sunshine. Unfortunately we still get wind-blown weeds sprouting on the soil surface.
The cardboard acts as mulch, holding in water until it decomposes and becomes part of the soil.
We recently wrote the first edition of a quarterly newsletter. You can now find out what’s going on at Claver Hill by signing up to the Friends of Claver Hill newsletter – without having to get your hands dirty!
There are many volunteer opportunities besides planting, weeding, harvesting, and mowing. In winter we have hedge-laying for example. A cookbook of recipes that use what we grow is in development, and we always need help with marketing and writing funding bids. In other words, there is a task for everyone at Claver Hill!
To find out more join the Claver Hill Facebook page.