Caroline Shipsey

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Community Farm Open Day

The Community Farm held it's first Open Day on 9th April and the weather Gods were certainly smiling on us. More like a midsummer's day than early April with unbroken sunshine and the merest wisps of cloud.

I hadn't actually committed to attending as there were several other interesting possibilities for the day in question, but a last minute decision to go along was a good one.

I was able to join the last tour being led by Phil Haughton but had missed out on the introductory chat. There were about 20 of us in our group with ages ranging from tiny tots to senior/retired people.

There are currently 22 acres of land under cultivation and we were taken around areas growing the last of the leeks, land being prepared for runner beans, long, long rows of onion sets, and brassicas. There are strawberry beds, with flowers already set, fruit bushes, raspberry canes and 2 large polytunnels with salad greens.

Phil explained about the problems the lack of rain during March has caused - when beds are cleared of crops they have to be rolled to pack the surface down to prevent further drying out and wind erosion. If you doubt that Global Warming and Climate Change are real, and how serious the consequences will be, then just listening to Phil talking from the perspective of farmers and growers will make you think again.

There was talk of bee hives in a more sheltered area of the farm and the possibility of rearing some sheep too. The more Phil talked, the more enthusiastic I felt myself becoming and he really made me feel as though I am part of the farm - not just a person who invested a few quid! I AM A SHAREHOLDER AND CO-OWNER of The Community Farm and proud of it!

Around 100 people in total came to the farm, not bad out a total membership of 410, with a good percentage cycling rather than using a car. 30 volunteers worked on the farm during the morning, which I felt rather put me to shame, after all I'm fit and healthy!

Tours were led by Phil Haughton - Operations Director; Ben Raskin - Horticultural Adviser, Andy Dibben - grower and John English - seasonal grower.

After the tours had finished we headed for tea and cake at a 'secret location' on the opposite side of the lake. Most of the visitors were taken there on the specially provided tractor and trailer. Yummy cakes and tea finished off a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

There are plans to run courses at the farm so as I've got a lot to learn I'll be looking forward to these and also to working as a volunteer.