Visit to Sutton Community Farm and Calabaza, May 1st

Visiting farmers is one of my favourite things to do, and it was a beautiful day for it.

I visited Sutton first, and was really impressed by the hive of activity - lots of volunteers, a toddlers group, and vast quantities of seedlings waiting to go into the ground. I had a farm tour from Joris, their head grower, then a meeting with Sam who runs the farm and Laura who coordinates the box scheme. They've been funded by Bioregional and other charities since the beginning, and their funding finishes September this year. So they've been working hard to increase their numbers and to make sure their expenditures are in line with their income. They are growing lots of veg but need to prioritise supplying their own bags, so can't commit to growing veg for us. We will of course buy from them when possible.

Their packing shed was full of volunteers packing and visitors having a tour.

Here are some of their seedlings.

And here are coldframes they built, largely from recycled timber.

On the farm tour Joris showed me the salad crop that had been decimated by wireworm.

And he also showed me the field he's trying to rid of coodge grass:

Then I went across the road to visit Joel at Calabaza. Both farms are in an area of Wallington that has Homes for Heroes, surrounded by big tracts of land. There are lots of nursery businesses about. But many of the farmers are of retirement age. The land is owned by Surrey Council and they've been putting the rents up so high that it is driving out businesses. Many locals suspect they want to develop the land. That would be a big shame! Joel has been taking on more land is it becomes available and now has 3.5 acres plus glasshouses. The glasshouses were inherited from local farmers and he's also been able to get much of his equipment secondhand from them.

Here are the lettuces that will be in the bags tomorrow, don't they look delicious!

He's just taken on a new field; they'll be planting chard and beetroot there on the far strip later today.

Here they are today planting a quick-growing japanese broccoli in the glass house, this should be ready in June.

And here are the globe artichoke plants ready to go, I'm looking forward to those!

And here's one of Joel's fields covered in green manure. A green manure is a plant that is beneficial to the soil, but isn't a crop. In this case he's planted vetch to fix nitrogen into the soil, and rye to stop weeds.