Ashley Wheeler Ashley runs Trill Farm Garden with his partner Kate. They specialise in growing salads to sell to restaurants around Lyme Regis. Ashley is a founding member of Landworkers' Alliance.
Charles Dowding Charles Dowding, runs a quarter acre, super intensive no dig garden in Somerset, selling salad bags and veg to local restaurants and shops. He writes and teaches extensively on growing vegetables, and on his speciality of no dig.
Ruth Hancock Ruth bought a field in 2006 and has made a successful market garden there, selling vegetables through a box scheme. Ruth has been involved in various forms of farming, growing, land work, and other ecological projects since coming to live in Devon thirty years ago. She completed a National Diploma in Agriculture at Bicton College, but the organic growing is mainly self taught, by scaling up from domestic production. She is currently a member of The Land Workers Alliance Coordinating group, and has a particular interest in food sovereignty, and finding ways of making things a little bit easier for new entrants to agroecological farming, and growing.
Course detail This workshop will not only cover much of the fundamental principles of crop production, but will also focus on how to run a successful market garden business. One of the critical aspects of running a market garden well is being organised, so record keeping and basic accounts will be talked about as well as crop planning, sowing schedules and crop rotations. The course will be suitable for people who are looking into starting up a small scale market gardening business, as well as those who have already started. Soil types as well as soil health and fertility will be talked about along with other technical aspects of growing vegetables such as propagation, cultivation, protected cropping, pests and disease, seed saving and harvesting, packing and storing vegetables.
The course will be run over three days (4th, 5th and 6th May 2019) and led by three different tutors at three different holdings.
On the first day, the participants will meet at Trill Farm Garden where Ashley runs a 2.5 acre smallholding with his partner Kate. Ashley will cover the following:
The importance of crop planning
Selling to restaurants
Growing salad all year round
Propagating all your plants
Small scale growing techniques with minimal machinery
Making the most of a small plot by growing high value crops that grow well on your soil and can be easily marketed.
On the second day, participants will go to Fresh and Green, near Ottery St Mary in Devon. Ruth will run through how the box scheme works, and how they choose what to grow, to provide vegetables for the boxes year round. She will talk about the overall setup, including initial site design and layout, propagation, cultivation techniques, fertility, and the different tools and techniques used, for growing on sandy soil. The system incorporates some tractor work mainly for initial cultivations, and materials handling, then scales down to predominantly handwork once crops are established. Ruth will be discussing how growing on a site this size, is made more achievable on a commercial basis by the considered use of machinery. Two flocks of free range hens are 'chicken tractored' around the growing site, contributing fertility, and crop clearing services, in addition to providing another income stream through egg sales alongside the vegetables.
On the final day of the course we will be visiting Homeacres, where Charles Dowding grows salad and vegetables using a no dig system. He will talk about the merits of using no dig in a market garden, covering the following:
small scale no dig
initial weed clearance using compost and/or polythene
being clear of pests, especially slugs
intensive cropping, early cropping and double cropping
low weed pressure
time management, setting beds up in winter for minimum time needed in summer
using a hotbed for propagation
share yield figures to assess profitability of certain veg
methods for growing and packing salad leaves
selling methods - boxes, markets, direct sales.
Overall the course will cover three very different production systems from tutors with a combined experience of over 60 years of growing vegetables.
For course prices click on the link below. 10% discount available to Landworkers' Alliance and CSA members. There will also be one bursary ticket (half price) offered to those who cannot afford the full ticket price - contact us if you wish to apply for this.