Daniel Martin, a philosophy student from Lancaster University, talks about his involvement with Claver Hill community farm.
The importance of getting involved in local projects and integrating fully within the place you live, is vital to foster a healthy relationship with the place and people with which you live. For me, that meant getting involved in Claver Hill Farm.
I was first informed about the farm by members of the Incredible Edible Lancaster food group who showed me around. I then began to learn how to hedge lay and am continuing to do so.
There is nothing more satisfying than being able to go up to the farm at the weekend on a sunny day to do some work, knowing you’re physically contributing to the project. It has become a source of pride after a hard day’s work hedge-laying, to be able to think that it will still be there in a decade or two.
Having done environmental projects before, but nothing of this nature, I found the physical work a great focus to have and a good way to learn new skills (in the hope of one-day being able to fully commit myself to a co-operative farm). Also, the importance of knowing where your food comes from must not be underestimated. People often forget about the environmental and social exploitation that occurs at every step of the food supply chain- from the growing of food to its processing and transportation. For me this is what Claver is about. The raw processes of food production are exposed and volunteers have control over everything that happens in the growing process.
As a student, academic life usually separates the paper with which you are writing from the physical event. I therefore have a duty to pursue the farm for the sake of my research in ethics. It is more than having knowledge however; it is also about being sustainable and fostering a culture of environmentalism.
Claver Hill farm uses many different growing methods and land management practices, which mean that many different skills can be learnt. The project is run entirely by volunteers and it is for me a testament to the commitment to sustainable agriculture. Furthermore, the farm proves that local growing can work and it can be a sustainable source of food. Volunteers receive fresh veg in return for their labour.
For me the farm symbolizes the stance against multi-national companies that dominate and in some cases force local independent food providers out of the market.
Anyone can get involved in Claver Hill. Regular workdays are held every Sunday from 1pm onwards.