A personal account by Juliet, FarmStart trainee at The Plot

April has been what they describe as ‘full on’. There’s been a sudden immersion into the world of commercial growing for us as FarmStart trainees in our first full month on the programme. 

At the Plot, we are not planning to feed just one family but many!

As a result, there’s the race to plant enough seeds to make sure we grow the right quantity of the right things to provide the healthy produce our customers expect. And then of course, there’s the obsession with the weather, (will the water come over my boots?), and concerns that such a wet March and April has implications for getting our wonderful seedlings in the wet clay soil at Old Holly farm.

There is a new polytunnel to cultivate from a weedy, gravel and wood chip base and we are relishing the challenge of bringing life to this new growing space. There will definitely be a few ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos taken. I hope you are looking forward to eating the squash, french beans, broad beans and new potatoes that we plan to produce there. We have put down a lovely path of green manure seed to help boost the ground for next year’s crops too.

Our usual polytunnel is getting the infrastructure and seedlings in place now to supply the

delicious tomatoes Dennis (the Grower at the Plot)  is famous for, and of course the cucumbers, peppers, courgettes and lovely herbs (with a new French tarragon gifted from Sizergh’s Growing Well garden).

Then you have to add to the April calendar all the events surrounding the celebrations of the Silver award for the Sustainable Food Places.

I feel incredibly lucky to be involved in The Plot at a point when so many local projects and

initiatives have been set up, developed and in turn are inspiring more great work. It is wonderful to see the energy and sense of shared purpose from such a diverse group, building a community network of people all connecting and supporting each other like the best natural ecology works together.

There are so many skills out there – in community work; crop and livestock farming; chefs and councillors; photographers and people with media, IT and marketing skills; educators; bee keepers; policy makers; and community allotment growers to name just a few. The coming together and sharing of hopes, plans, ideas and anxieties and the problem solving and encouragement was a manifestation of the strength of the best kind of human interaction.

Please read all you can on the events and projects highlighted in the Spring into Action week and see where you might want to get involved.

I am learning as much as I can from my opportunity on this year’s FarmStart training programme and all the networks of great work and great folk around us. 

I can definitely reassure you that The Plot could not be further away from the ills of the mainstream monocultures. 

There is an array of now empty seed packets (saved for the organic audit people who check that all our seeds and inputs meet the organic certification standards), and a tapestry of colours on the seedling tables. 

Out in the old paddocks on Old Holly Farm there is a daily developing picture of rows of plants settling into their final growing positions, making patterns with their different colours, heights and shapes. 

It is a joy to the eye as you stand up and stretch your achy back. 

I am reminded of the evocative watercolours of Mr. Mcgregor’s garden in my childhood books.

My sympathies are more with the gardener than Peter Rabbit now though!!

May we wish you a warmer and sunnier May and as always our thanks for your support.

 

You can find out more about the Plot at www.the-plot.uk including how to join the Plot crop-share and/or volunteer your time.

You can read about the Spring into Action events at https://foodfutures.org.uk/spring-into-action-reflections/

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