In this week’s column Andrea introduces us to Project Serenity- a new Lancashire based food project.

Project serenity tomatoes

There’s nothing quite like the taste of your first home-grown tomato of the season. The sun-warmed flesh, juicy texture and intense flavour are pure pleasure. But then there’s the first fresh peas popped from the pod, the first juicy sweetcorn and that first crisp apple straight from the tree…The reason we started eating seasonally and growing our own is that you get all those firsts every year if you’re lucky. And then you get seconds and thirds and…

We are Andrea Veda and Lloyd Schober, and in 2020 we will open our market garden at Project Serenity in Greenhalgh, Lancashire.

Project serenity team

In 2018, concerned about the environmental and health impact of intensive farming and food miles, we challenged ourselves to grow as much of our own food as possible.

Although it was a lot of work on top of our jobs, we were proud at the amount of food we grew. Not only quantity, but the superior taste and variety: from fat Borlotti beans to purple French beans; pumpkins that stored all winter; yellow mange-tout and stripy beetroot; not to mention aubergines alongside cucumbers and even loofahs.

Alongside edibles, we focused on nectar-rich plants for our honeybees and the growing population of pollinators and birds we were attracting. Witnessing the growing wildlife population is as big a thrill as that first tomato!

After feeding ourselves, we still had surplus to sell and donate. We also found that people were really interested in varieties that weren’t available on supermarket shelves.

As we spent the winter podding dried beans and watching YouTube videos on market gardening, our confidence grew around the idea of scaling-up to offer quality veg and fruit to sell. So we summoned our courage to buy a 12-acre plot.

A chance meeting with Anna from LESS at Lancaster’s Potato Day introduced us to the FarmStart Growers Support Course and it’s been a valuable experience to go ‘behind the scenes’ at various farms. We benefit from seeing their methods and aim to tailor them to create a growing model that works for us. It’s also helpful to meet other growers and swap ideas. It’s very inspirational to see how others are succeeding at doing things differently to the big supermarket model, focusing on local and great quality produce.

We’re excited to get started on our life-changing project. To not only provide great-tasting produce grown using organic principles to local people and businesses, but to incite some of that thrill of seasonal ‘firsts’ in our customers, visitors and co-workers.

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