How did Alan become an organic farmer?

Alan Schofield from Growing With Nature tells us how he ended up being an organic farmer.

The Faces Behind Our Food

“When I was starting off in agriculture, which was basically as soon  as I left school in the mid-1970s, agriculture was undergoing quite  a chemical revolution. I worked on a lot of farms that were starting  to use chemicals [which] they had never used before, and I just felt  there had to be a different way other than using some of these  chemicals. In the mid-1970s [agro chemicals] were not as specific  or … crop-target specific as they are today, and did an awful lot of  environmental damage which organisations like Greenpeace and  Friends of the Earth in the day were starting to pick up.“

“I was very fortunate that at the time, after leaving school, I was  working in Devon and I met a character called Mark Purdey who  was one of the first commercial organic farmers in the UK. Mark  took me under his wing, showed me around his farm, and showed me how he did things differently. And it’s on that very strong foundation that I came back to Lancashire in the early 80s and actually hooked up with Doug Blaire, who was again one of the pioneer organic vegetable growers in the UK, and I have not looked back since.”

“All my vegetable producing career I have always grown organically. So we have been growing organically now for 36 years”.

“To an organic grower the soil is our most important asset. It is a living, breathing entity and as such needs all of the things that life requires. So it needs feeding, it needs aerating, and this we do very gently with different machines [and methods] than conventional farmers will use.”

“We are a vegan, organic holding here which means we don’t use any animal products, or any animal manures in our growing system. I started this in the late 90s when BSE was first heard about. I was very, very frightened that whatever it was that was causing mad cow disease, or BSE as it became known, could have been transmitted from the animal to a human being via its manures. And again, no matter how clean you are, if you are using animal manures there is a potential risk of cross contamination.”

“So we withdrew all animal manures and moved onto a system of green manures and making our own compost.”

To find out more about Growing With Nature and to buy their produce, visit www.growing-with-nature.co.uk

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