Last week I joined spud club members from the Claver Hill Community Food project on a visit to Growing Well and Low Sizergh Barn. The trip was organised by Claver Hill for learning purposes; to learn from Growing Well’s growing practices and methods of integrating different community groups within its work. You can see photos from the trip by visiting the ‘Growing Our Local Food Economy – GOLFE Lancaster’ Facebook page. Otherwise you will have to make-do with this column!
The entrance to the Growing Well site was marked by a colourful WELCOME sign and a line of espalier apple trees. An open field on the right and a field of garlic and onions on the left accompanied a path toward a series of yurts and polytunnels. Yurts were used for teaching and socialising and were heated by wood burners. The polytunnels were used for growing a variety of herbs, vegetables and some fruit. An outdoor space was also managed on a crop rotation basis to grow vegetables, and plans were in place to visually divide the outdoor growing area in four using fruit bushes such as gooseberries.
One polytunnel was used for propagation – for sowing seeds and raising young plants for the growing season ahead. Another was dedicated to the growing of various salads- a crucial crop for many growers due its high commercial value. The remaining polytunnels were dedicated to the growing of vegetables, which were managed on a crop rotation basis to reduce the risk of pests and diseases. On the day of our visit we got to admire flowering broad beans, peas, rocket and winter purslane, amongst other salads.
A couple of bee hives were located on the edge of the six acre site, and bug houses were dotted throughout the polytunnels to attract beneficial insects. Flowers such as tagetes were planted at the entrances of pollytunnels to attract pollinators inside.
Harvested fruit and vegetables were provided as a crop share to Growing Well’s members. During the main growing season, fromapproximately June to December, members were said to receive a diverse and seasonal veg bag every week.
From December onwards, as the availability of local vegetables decreased, members receive a veg bag every other week and then once a month until the growing season starts again. Veg bags worked out on average at £9 each, and consisted of Growing Well’s produce only. No produce was bought in to fill the ‘hungry gap,’ and members collected their veg bags from the Growing Well site.
To find out more about Growing Well and Low Sizergh Barn visit LESS’s online local food directory: www.lessuk.org/directory.