How we grow

Reducing our impact

Wildlife

Gradually, the way in which we grow has encouraged the wildlife to return.  Worms are back and now we even have moles helping with our field drainage!  Over the years we have also noticed lots more songbirds and regular appearances from birds of prey – Sparrow Hawk, Red Kite, Kestrel and Buzzard.  Growing in diverse polycultures rather than intensively farmed monoculture crops helps to provide vital habitat and food for our insects.

Single-use plastic

Our vegetables all come wrapped in mud, rather than plastic.  One of our members biggest concerns has been the use of single-use plastic wrapping.  Members collecting their veg shares all bring their own, reusable bags.

Soil health

Soil health and showing that our food can be produced without harming our environment are at the heart of everything we do.

When we started growing on our Ovington site, the fields had been unused for some time and the soil was of very poor quality – there were no worms and when it rained the field turned into a river.

Compost

Using only manure, compost and ‘intelligent’ growing we have improved the soil and increased our yield on 2 acres from 3 to 9 tons. 

We try and make as much of our own compost as possible, which is used across the site to improve our soil and build nutrients. Take a look at our diagram and see how we make our compost on our Ovington fields!

Using our compost, together with horse manure and green manure, means that we don’t have to use artificial fertilisers and pesticides to produce our veg.  The increase of organic matter in the soil means that our soil now holds more water and we experience less water run off in heavy rain.  This, together with growing on a smaller scale and keeping our field margins and hedges, all contribute to keeping the soil where it belongs, on the field, rather than it being eroded in very wet or dry weather.

Seasonal eating

The expectation that all vegetables should be available to the consumer at all times of the year has resulted in a wasteful system that uses an enormous amount of energy. Growing and eating seasonally means we are working with the environment and our members are getting very good at finding tasty recipes for some of the more ‘unusual’ veg that they may receive in their share of the crop!

Food miles

Eating seasonal and local food all helps to reduce our food miles.  Some of our members collect for other members in their area, reducing the number of individual trips to the field to collect crop shares.  Others cycle or walk and have made it part of their weekly routine.

Reuse and recycle

If it is possible to repurpose or reuse an item then we will do it.  Not only does it save money, but also saves resources. Our members are very creative, from bucket handle hooks in our polytunnels to the creation of a whole propagating room –  our field is full of inventions made from recycled materials!

Small doesn’t mean less

We have 100+ members sharing a concern for the environment, demonstrating it is possible to do things differently and grow veg without having a negative impact on our environment.  With the help of 3 large and 2 small polytunnels, we produce over 50 types of veg to feed our local community.  Imagine the impact even more Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) schemes would make to the food production system.