In this week’s column we hear Helena’s food story and how she ended up joining the FarmStart organic growers support course.

helena headshotMy name is Helena Appleton and I currently live in Liverpool.

I don’t have too much experience growing food, but I’ve always had a go at growing herbs and the odd tomato. However last year, by a strange twist of fate, I had the opportunity to work on Permaculture project in Italy and it was a revelation.

I was amazed by the holistic benefits of growing your own food.

I have found it benefits almost every aspect of my physical and emotional health. Locally grown organic food tastes significantly better and it can also have a greater nutritional value. Also, let us not forget that when you grow your own food there is absolutely no need for a gym – it keeps you fit, healthy and topped up on vitamin D.

I heard about the FarmStart course through Lucy Antal at the Alchemic Kitchen, who is developing a foodwaste enterprise based in Liverpool and Knowsley. Being a fairly recent convert to this way of life, I felt like it would be idiotic to pass up such a fantastic opportunity especially given my very limited growing experience.

FarmStart has offered me the opportunity to learn the fundamental skills required to grow my own food, and possibly develop a commercial venture. Even after one session I have already learnt so much about the support structures and networks available for people who would like to get into farming. It was fantastic meeting Steve Jenkins and Caroline Jackson at the Claver Hill farm and learning about their journey as a community growing scheme. Their hard work seems to have really paid off – Claver Hill has the capacity to benefit so many in the Lancaster area. I whole-heartedly agreed with Steve’s notion that growing your own food can be a small act of rebellion especially when the increase in food poverty in the UK is taken into consideration.

I have only just embarked on my farming journey and so it was such a pleasure to meet so many like-minded people taking part in the program. Needless to say most of my course mates are slightly further along than I am. Some have an allotment and others have already purchased land. (I have a windowsill with a few rather sorry looking tomato plants!)

Hopefully with the help of Ellen and Anna from LESS that won’t be the case for too much longer. As luck would have it we went to a tomato farm this past weekend, so my weedy tomatoes got some professional advice!

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