- Established in February 2010 we are a ‘not for profit’ group working co-operatively to grow food in teams.
- Currently 180 Stakeholders from all districts of Eastleigh and its surrounding areas comprising:
- individuals, families
- young, retired
- fit, disabled
- 70% of stakeholders join with little or no growing experience.
- No mains water on site, we harvest and store rain water
- If the growing areas require additional water this is drawn from an adjacent pond
- Toilets are available on another part of the farm
- Shelter and Storage is provided by temporary structures (tents/sheds)
In 2011 we were gifted with 200 apple trees from a local grower. varieties included heritage and modern.These will provide a welcome addition to our veg production. Our ‘bring your own apples for juicing’ has proven very successful
- Other fruits
We have recently been investing in a wide variety of fruit bushes and trees
Nothing more than:
- A nominal contribution to costs, currently £10 per annum
- A commitment of, as a minimum, 10 hours per month, every month, supporting cultivation and crop production
- A willingness to be part of the community and work within a team and toward our aims
We are a formal Co-operative.
- Providing a formal structure
- Recognisable by other organisations and in law
- Able to enter contracts on behalf of the project
Stakeholders also enjoy:
- Reduced food bills
- Stakeholder's have the option to purchase a share (roughly 1% or production divided by number of stakeholders) of the produce at roughly production costs
- Acquiring knowledge and experience of how to grow food
- An appreciation for what we eat and what is required to produce it
We aspire to form, and assist others to form, groups and micro projects to manage
more land successfully:
- Apple orchards
- Soft fruit
- Hazel and willow coppicing
- Garden sharing
- Explore other growing techniques such as Permaculture
It is unlikely that our model (structure, organisation and growing methods) could be increased beyond 200 stakeholders but we believe that it could be repeated along similar lines if land were available.
It is our hope that others will form similar groups with the same objectives as ours and we will encourage and support these where possible.
Henry Russell, Highbridge Farm, offered a 1.7 acre field for our project
The farm is located just north of Eastleigh and is near the river Itchen. We see many types of wildlife and are often treated to the spectacle of swans flying over low as they approach the river.
Wild fruit and wild plant area
- In 2010 the Woodland Trust gave the project several hundred hedgerow trees and shrubs
- Blackthorn (Sloe)
- Elder (Elder flower and berry)
- Crab apple
- Hazel (nuts)
- Rosa rugosa (rosehips)
- Along with wildflowers these have been sown/planted around a pond to create a beautiful wild area with foraging opportunities.
Although not certified, we use organic practices to grow our crops.
Crops are produced:
- in a low carbon consumption way,
- minimal fossil fuel input
- with environmental consideration and sensitivity in a sustainable manner,
- we care for the land and respect its needs
Organisation and structure
We are organised and operate on a 'co-operative' basis
We have 12 teams covering:
- 20 plots of land
- 3 poly tunnels
- Fruit cages
- Communal areas
- Wild fruiting areas
- Organisation and structure
Each team is responsible for producing a particular crop to be consumed by everyone, crop rotation means that there is always something new to learn !
Volunteer team leaders provide:
- Co-ordination for team communications
- Planning of plot specific activities
- Ground preparation
- Feedback into the project
A small team of experienced growers provide guidance and advice including
- Central planning
- Planting plans
- Crop rotation
- Pest and disease response
- Growing issues
- Environmental factors such as weather impact
A Steering Committee
- Providing an interface with external bodies (marketing, recruitment etc)
- Co-ordination for the overall project
- Review and recommendations for organisational considerations
Our stakeholders enjoy:
- Sharing effort, experience and time producing wonderful food for each other
- The benefits of constructive physical activity
- Participation within a friendly and supportive community
What makes us different to allotments ?
- In our project each stakeholder grows food for everyone else not just themselves.
- Effort is shared – if someone is absent team members will be able to cover tasks.
- Accessibility - Those with little growing knowledge are put off allotments.
- Allotments are incredibly hard to acquire – 4 yr wait list.
- Allotment holders provide for their own individual need.
- We do however support the principal and need for provision of Allotments to all those that would like one (come on Councils ...do what you should be doing ! )and believe that both have something very special to offer (many of our stakeholders are lucky to be allotment holders too).
We hope that what you have seen and read will have interested and perhaps inspired you enough to get in touch with a view to joining us.
We hope to see you soon !
.....and lastly, but rather importantly, just what is it we are all enjoying as a result of our hard work ?