A personal account by Jill, a FarmStart trainee at the Plot

As May unfolds, the late arrival of spring’s growth proves that our worries about nothing growing in the wet soil were unnecessary. While a few plants have bolted prematurely, there is hope for more settled weather ahead.

The blossom has been long awaited and is particularly special this spring. The arrival of bluebells and the delightful aroma of wild garlic finally fill the air. It seems the hedgerows have awoken from their slumber, ready to embrace the season. I am hopeful that the new growth here will inspire and invigorate our veggies!

The Plot is slower to flourish, and we find ourselves completing April jobs of sowing and planting out. Those plants hardy enough to endure the weather are beginning to recover – the broad beans are finally drawing down nitrogen, but the peas are still not happy. Perhaps it’s not going to be their year, alongside the carrots and potatoes.

We care for the young seedlings, always surprised at their sudden growth spurt after a week under the sun’s warmth. We weed and water, germinate and sow, rotavate and mulch, all in the hope that our crops will thrive. It’s a time of mindful tending, ensuring the plants have everything they need to flourish. Each task is completed with steady effort, and there is immense satisfaction in a job well done, as we look around and see our efforts rewarded. Every grower understands the profound connection to the land: a deep appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of awe and wonder at how nature provides abundance.

Meanwhile, in the polytunnel, salads are sprouting, spinach is bolting, nasturtiums are flowering, and wood chip compost is surprising us with potatoes and beans, improving the soil through their symbiotic relationship with the plants. It’s a different story here. The plants are full of joy, unruly, taking over, growing fast, and enjoying the light and shelter. In some ways, it seems the better option to be inside – given this season’s climate.

As part of our training, we visit other farms to see how growers design their businesses and make a living. I’m particularly interested in what happens around the edges – in the margins. At Growing with Grace, for example, its borage, poppies, and weed salad. A pond in the greenhouse and birds live there too. It’s fascinating to see how different growers innovate and adapt to the challenges they face.

I wonder how we can transform the food system to support such crucial knowledge sharing. Food sovereignty is on my mind. How can we ensure that future generations not only have access to but also understand how to cultivate healthy, locally-grown food? The wisdom of experienced growers must be preserved and passed down. I’m still figuring out what my contribution to this will be. By empowering local communities and fostering sustainable practices, we are creating a resilient food network that values both the growers and the land. This involves advocating for policies that support small-scale farmers, investing in agricultural education, and promoting the use of organic farming techniques.

As May draws to an end, we are digging deep to get fresh, wonderful food on the table and still hope that all will come good. The Plot remind us of nature’s resilience and our own. Despite the challenges, we push forward with determination and hope, trusting that the seeds we plant today will yield a bountiful harvest tomorrow. This season, like every other, teaches us patience, perseverance, and the joy of watching life unfold in its own time.

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