It’s happening! We are expanding our patch from 0.5 acres to 1.5 acres. Eek! We have been growing incrementally by design and out of necessity since we started over four years ago. Starting with 1/8 of an acre and then slowly taking on more land as time, finance and energy allowed. But seriously, an extra acre…? That’s a leap.
It will help us produce more veggies but also allow us to be more efficient by having large chunks of the land resting in green manures and ready for the next season’s crop. Slowly over time we’re testing the boundaries of what size growing area is both viable and manageable, and this is the next step on that journey.
After the old orchard trees were ripped out, lovely Dave Griffiths, who Yeomans ploughed and worked his soil magic on our last patch, came and Yeomansed the new acre. He commented on how extremely compacted the ground was after decades of tractors driving up and down it and rows running down hill that carry water away rather than across the slope to sow and catch the water. The Yeomans plough is designed in such a way that it deep rips the soil, opening it up and aerating it without turning it over and disrupting the soil structure. This helps let air and water into the soil .
Since Dave’s plough went through, we’ve been rotary hoeing the soil to loosen it enough to get a crop of green manure sown into it while these lovely rains are coming. Progressively from December onwards we’re going to work with Tessa to put the cows on the green manure crop, eating, pooing, weeing and trampling it where we would normally use our bodies and walk behind tractor. It’s a bit of an experiment inspired by the Holistic Management(HM) course that we’ve been doing the last few months. Come January and February, the new patch (which we’ve called ‘Peaches and Cream’ because of its previous history as orchard and our use of the cows in it) will be ready for us to plant our autumn crops into. In theory!
One of the many things that has come out of the HM course we’ve been doing is that we have reviewed and written our Holistic Context for Gung Hoe. Part of this is like a ‘statement of purpose’ or ‘vision statement’ which we would like to share coz its helped us re-invigorate our focus and motivation to keep doing what we’re doing. Here it is:
“We nourish ourselves and our community with the life force of the food we grow. By daring to do things differently, we work with the elements to grow thriving, robust, diverse and joyful communities of living things.”
Like all vision statements, it isn’t worth the paper its written on unless you have the means and motivation to bring it into reality as well as continually reflecting on it adapting it as things change. That’s what we’re pulling apart by creating our whole business holistic management plan. So stay tuned for more developments.
We’re also gearing up for our next season of veggie boxes. Mel has been madly plugging away at planning the crop rotations and numbers of crops that we need to grow in order to feed people well and consistently over the next 8 months. Sas takes that plan and numbers and turns it into the right number of babies in the hothouse to plant out at the right time. Part of our planning process for the next season is to do a little ten question feedback survey for all the people who have got veggie boxes off us before. This helps us review what has worked and what hasn’t and improve our boxes for the next round.
If you have five minutes and wouldn’t mind answering our veggie box feedback survey, that would be amazing! It really helps us do the best we can, to feed you!
That’s all for now. Who ever said that winter was the quiet time in farming!!
Sas (and Mel)
VEGGIE BOX SURVEY link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HNYJTZT
Gung Hoe Growers
69 Danns Rd Harcourt