Archive for the ‘Apprentices’ Category

Here we go!

April 1, 2011

So, here we stand at the brink of a new season…of course the growing season has begun already, this week we harvested over 15kg of the finest salad…but this is the time I traditionally think of as the start. For next week our new apprentices begin their programme of growing with us at our urban market gardens. This year there’ll be four of them – Jo, Jack, Shelagh and Julie – each attached to the various sites and coming together on a Tuesday afternoon to harvest, mix and pack our wonderful salad. Pip and I can hardly wait!

And as if this wasn’t enough of an exciting beginning, next week Stephanie will be starting as our Patchwork Farm Coordinator. She’ll be getting going on finding new pieces of land in Hackney for this year’s brood to cut their teeth on come the end of the growing season. Send any prospects our way!


Come grow with me!

February 6, 2011

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was posting our call for apprentices last year. And here I am doing this seasonal task again, letting you know of the opportunities at Growing Communities. But, this year is a little different to the last few years. In fact, it’s gearing up to be a whole lot different…

Rather excitingly, we’ve secured a piece of funding from the Local Food Fund, so we’re able to double the number of apprenticeships that we can offer! And, like other apprentices before them, at the end of the coming growing season we’ll be offering successful applicants a piece of land on which they can use all the knowledge they amass to set up their own market garden.

It’s all part of our Patchwork Farm Project which will see more food than ever grown right here in Hackney. And just so it all runs smoothly, we’re also recruiting a Patchwork Farm Coordinator. All the details and job packs are here, so get your application in, chop chop!

Going, going, but not gone…

September 30, 2010

This week marked the end of the growing season for this year’s apprentices. And they’ve been great. They started back in April and each week they have been tirelessly involved in the growing, picking and packing of our salad, and lots of learning besides.

Here they are, up to their elbows in salad…

That’s Ximena on the left. She’s been doing the one-day-a-week slot, working with me at our Springfield Park site. And on the right, that’s Emma, who did the one-day at Allens Gardens and then half a day on Tuesday, harvesting the sites and ending up with the packing session.

So, what’s on the cards now their apprenticeship has come to an end? Well, as successful graduates of our scheme, they’ll be setting up their very own site as part of our Patchwork Farm project. Over the winter, they’ll be building their site along similar lines to our urban market gardens. Then, come spring, they’ll join other graduates of our apprenticeship scheme, and bring trailer loads of delicious, freshly harvested salad to the Old Fire Station in Stoke Newington. Here we will happily buy it to mix up with ours and pack it into bags for Hackney locals – pushing up the amount of locally-grown food we’re able to produce in our small part of London.

Watch this space if you’re keen to follow in their footsteps…we’ll be recruiting next year’s apprentices towards the end of winter…

Slimy diversity…

June 21, 2010

It’s been a while since I posted a tale from the grosser side of gardening, but I just can’t resist sharing this one with you…

Today, I gave Tom, one of our newest volunteers, the job of compost turning to add to his widening range of experiences in the food growing process. It’s a fine old job, seeing how fresh (or perhaps starting to rot) ingredients are miraculously transformed into more recognisable compost – a precious commodity on our sites. Today was the second turning and the life Tom found in there was incredible.

Now, some slugs in your compost bin is not a bad thing, per se. Slugs like to eat decaying plant material, aiding the decomposition process, and perhaps, while they are focused on that, their minds (if they have such a thing!) are not on our delicate and delectable salad leaves…However, the quantity we unearthed was something else!

Here they are all collected up in a 1 litre yoghurt pot. Whoever thought there could be so many shapes, colours and sizes in slug?

Why were there so many? Well, my theory has set upon the ‘soft’ nature of our volunteers and my apprentice at Allens Gardens. Hard-working? Certainly. Enthusiastic and wonderfully curious about all things to do with salad growing? For sure! But ruthless, they are not. On a site that abounds in slugs and snails, testament of which is the speed that our lettuces get devoured on planting, a certain harshness must be applied. But I can’t, and wouldn’t, enforce this. And so, along with the weeds and other plant debris, the slugs are slung into the compost heap. And there they live rather too happily. Having a few is fine. And the eggs that they lay in there should be killed off in the heat of the composting process. But the more there are, the more chance there is that some of these eggs might get spread over our sites in the resulting compost. A bit of a recipe for disaster, really. Turning the compost today was a good time then to adjust the balance, and this rather large pot of slugs went on a little trip down the road, to a place they were likely to do less damage…for this, they have apprentice Emma to thank for her intervention…

Apprentices make an April appearance…

April 5, 2010

Well, it’s officially April as our new apprentices started today – the best way to spend a bank holiday, I reckon. I’m delighted to welcome Emma and Ximena to Growing Communities for this growing season…two Hackney locals keen to learn how an urban market garden is run. I’ll introduce them to you in my usual ‘This is…’  style when they’ve had a chance to settle in…if they’ll let me!

We also had our annual volunteer forum in which bees and an exciting new seed bank idea featured, along with updates on all the sites and some rather delicious, if a little hard, vegan carrot cake.

The new propagation area at Allens Gardens is bringing on some lovely little seedlings. Our own-saved red orache is doing particularly well and will need to be hardened off in the next couple of weeks, all signs that  the growing season is starting in earnest. Exciting times!

What are you doing this growing season?

March 5, 2010

Very excitingly, we are now recruiting this year’s apprentices! And we’re looking for an assistant grower too…

Here’s what’s involved:

Apprentice Growers (Two unpaid positions): To learn about the production of organic salads, vegetables and fruit at our urban market gardens in Hackney. Both posts start at the end of March and run for 28 weeks. One post 1 ½ days per week (Mon 9.00am – 4.00pm, Tues 2.00pm – 7.00pm) and the second is Tuesdays only (9.00am – 7.00pm).  Both positions are voluntary.

Basically, we are looking for two enthusiastic people keen to put their Interest in sustainable and commercial urban food production into practice, the desire to grow food for a living and the willingness to work mainly outdoors throughout the year (yes, you’ve been reading my blog, so you know what’s involved!)

Assistant Grower (Paid position): To assist the Grower (that’s me!) in all areas of work, in particular the work related to supplying organic produce to the Fruit & Veg Scheme and Urban Farm Shop. The post is 1 day per week: Tuesdays: 9am – 7pm.  £17,510 pro-rata (pay award pending).

We’re looking for someone with an interest in sustainable urban food production and the desire to put that interest into practice, some experience of growing and the ability to supervise volunteers.

If you want to apply, download an application pack here. And don’t hang about…deadline is 5pm on Wednesday, 17th March.

Looking forward to seeing your application!