"I never had any other Desire so strong, and so like to Covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be Master at last of a small House and large Garden, with very moderate Conveniences joined to them, and there dedicate the Remainder of my life to the Culture of them, and Study of Nature,..."John Evelyn (1620-1706)
We were originally employed by Worton Farms Ltd in January 2005, to develop the existing two-acre market garden: one ploughed field with two polytunnels. We have gradually improved the infrastructure, protecting cropping and building a greenhouse. We have also extended the cultivation area to seven acres, four of which produce field crops and fruit, the rest for intensive and protected cropping. From just the two of us working full time, we moved on to employ two fulltime staff, and now also count four part-timers and one volunteer. We are always open to taking on more volunteers!
The Soil Association certifies all our vegetables, herbs, fruit, flowers and eggs, so our standards are naturally high. According to good organic practice, soil fertility is maintained by means of green manure, compost and liberal amounts of weathered straw. A variety of hens, bantams and guinea fowl are free to range and roost in the wooded borders of our fields, and their droppings provide rich nutrition for the soil.
Successful smallholdings demand care and attention, so we don't use any heavy machinery, harvesting everything, except for potatoes, by hand. It is undeniably hard work, but the contact with the soil is always rewarding. Being so experimental in our sowing and planting, often with many heritage and open-pollinated varieties, we find our yields are quite often small, but the taste is incomparable.
text Penny Williams | design Anneke Germers