Hi, I’m Martin and I am thrilled to be part of this year’s FarmStart programme; which I hope will allow me to be an active agent in changing food production and supply in our local area.

I became interested in food production due to my growing realisation that we need to develop strategies to alleviate the clear consequences of climate-change and environmental degradation. In mitigating the global impact of changes in our weather systems, it is crucial that we develop resilient and thriving local food systems.

I also feel it is vitally important that environmentally sound produce is accessible to all and an element of this is working with the wider community in encouraging skills in cooking and meal planning. Mass produced and nutrient poor food can often be seen as the easy and cheaper option. As a local community initiative, I believe farm set ups are in a position to re-address this issue and facilitate an attitudinal shift. By embedding an infrastructure of locally produced food will enable access to nutritious food and lessen inequality in the ability to purchase food.

I have formally worked as a chef which has embedded in me a clear understanding of nutrition and an appreciation of how quality and locally sourced ingredients can be transformative. I am still a passionate home cook and am very much looking forward to cooking with the vegetables that I have had a hand in growing!

As a registered nurse, I appreciate that inequality in health outcomes is a concern. Growing organically is a means of helping local populations to experience food which has nutritional health benefits. There is significant potential for land-based programmes to offer opportunities for all members of society to feel valued, secure and included. In the future, I am keen to use the knowledge and experience gained through the FarmStart programme to explore the field of therapeutic horticulture.

I believe this project has the potential to enrich the local food system in many ways and can act as a model for other towns and cities, thereby creating large-scale, systemic change. The Lancaster and Morecambe locality is blessed because we already have many progressive food businesses and growing initiatives; I believe this has resulted in a more informed and engaged population however, there is still lots of room for more local producers and food initiatives. It also creates potential opportunities for these food businesses to work together and support one another e.g. by creating local food hubs or in creating food waste initiatives.

I really appreciate all the ways the FarmStart programme has already benefited the local community and all the planning/preparation that has enabled this ten year programme. The expert knowledge of the team involved has allowed a successful project to be embedded on the farm in Garstang and for the training programmes to be offered. Working in collaboration with other trainees and with the guidance of experienced growers is an excellent way to start a career working in organic growing.

If you would like to find out more about the FarmStart programme and The Plot visit www.foodfutures.org.uk/theplot

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