We’re plotting to grow more organic food locally! 

This is the third week in a series of posts about the 2021 cohort of FarmStarters.

Lucy is one of four ‘FarmStarters’ in the 2021 cohort – trainees who work on both sites to establish the project and learn about more sustainable growing practices. 

FarmStart is an international movement supporting new-entrant farmers through training and land access. The Plot is North Lancashire’s new regenerative market garden with two sites run by the FarmStarters, FoodFutures and LESS CIC. 

Lucy shares how she got involved in growing

I was born in Cambridge and have dabbled in the soil for as long as I can remember. I picked strawberries for the Chivers jam factory in my early teens, and had a summer job with the Plant Breeding Institute’s oil seed rape department, who were trying to breed out the part of the plant that was toxic to cows, so it could become a big part of the ‘cake’ they get fed in the winter. I also worked as a gardener for Corpus Christi College, where they had a Rosemary plant so big and old it peeped into the first floor windows.

I went to Uni at St Johns College in York, and spent a number of summers before and during, as well as 2 years after college, working on an Organic Farm in upstate New York. We sold our vegetables, flowers and salad mix at the Farmers Market in Union Square in New York City, getting up at 5 in the morning to drive in on the 6 lane highway on market days.

Back in the UK, I applied for a PGCE and began work as a Primary School teacher in Bedford.

When we moved to the Lakes, I taught in Grasmere, introducing them to the Earthworm survey, and a little later, was a teaching assistant in Coniston. Whilst my own children were small I also started to work for Cumbria Libraries, where I still am 15 years later, but luckily, part-time, so I can fit FarmStart in!

I have nearly always had my own allotment or garden, helping to start Rydal Community Garden when living in Ambleside with a small slate-covered front yard and no scope to plant.

When we moved to Kendal, I got involved in Growing Well as a support volunteer, particularly enjoying helping with Farm Tours for School visits.

Starting my own plants from seed, learning to take cuttings on an NVQ Level 2 in Horticulture at Growing Well, plus 3 raspberry gluts in a row made me wonder if I might turn a profit from growing, with the right skills. I don’t have the confidence to do it on my own, and I feel very lucky that the FarmStart Program accepted me. I am looking forward to learning how to make sound decisions, and think like a proper Grower!”

We need your help to establish these growing projects. Can you spare £5 per month? Become a FoodFriend through our small-scale society lottery scheme and you could win one of six prizes every month. Your monthly membership fee supports the establishment of The Plot, training for FarmStarters AND supports local businesses who we purchase the prizes from. 

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