I’ve known for a while that come the end of the growing season I’d be handing over my gardening belt and heading back to Zimbabwe. Yet despite the time I’ve had to get used to the idea, it’s no easier to say good-bye, both to the sites I’ve been working these last five years and the rather amazing group of people I’ve worked with.
When I started in 2007, there was the grower, two of us apprentices, and a fairly flexible programme for volunteers. Now as I leave my post as grower, the volunteer programme is still going strong but as well as the grower there’s also an assistant, five Patchwork Farmers and four newly graduated apprentices. In addition to growing a serious amount of food, we’ve really managed to grow a fine team of growers!
With our Clissold site becoming more and more productive (we turned the butterfly tunnel into a polytunnel last year) and the Patchwork Farmers running four microsites as part of the Patchwork Farm, it’s become quite an operation. One which saw us harvesting and then packing over 80kg of mixed salad leaves at the height of the growing season: getting a bag of salad out to every member of the box scheme plus onto the plates of many more people through local restaurants – and we kept this up for 6 weeks running. It’s been hard work to say the least, with the rather large dose of logistics that comes with growing at multiple sites. But the level of cheer and dedication from my fellow growers plus the honest appreciation for the delicious organic leaves we are growing right here in London has been more than enough to buoy me along. It’s been so great to work with an organisation that is pushing up the amount of food grown and eaten locally, making small but important steps towards an alternative food system.
I wish Paul well as he takes up the reins: may your secateurs be sharp, the compost rich, the robin friendly, the slug scarce and let the salad growing continue on.
Here’s me at our Springfield site, about to make one of my final voyages with the trailer, well loaded with salad after the harvest. Thanks to Amy Scaife for the picture – one of only a few of me on the sites in all my time at Growing Communities.