Shaftesbury Homegrown is a community group who grow food seasonally as naturally and sustainably as we can. At our 4-acre field on the edge of town a changing group of volunteers have shared farm tasks, learned new skills and enjoyed good company for more than 12 years.
During the Covid 19 pandemic, with the majority of volunteers needing to practice ‘social distancing’, whilst on the farm we’re all keeping 2m apart. (We make an exception for people who live together!) At the same time, we’ve appreciated the outdoor activity and social side of collaboration. We set out to grow as much food as possible this year and introduced an extra working session. We are also experimenting with the ‘no-dig’ approach.
Summer 2020 gave us an abundant harvest of fruit, vegetables, and safe fun. Many of us have described our involvement as ‘a life saver’ and this is one of the things our chair, Helen English, spoke about when interviewed for This is Alfred. Hear her on the 27th August podcast at 17:06.
We’re open to new members who want to grow food with like-minded people. Members get a discount (proportional to the hours worked) on seasonal produce. We work on any or all of Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings from 10am - 1pm.
If you would like to join us, or just want to visit to see if you’d like to join us, then please call or email first:
Helen 07789845498 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In September 2020 our group to decided to explore using the land more effectively and playing a larger part in Shaftesbury’s community. As well as inviting more people to become involved in food production, we are opening up opportunities for land-based projects to run alongside the farm’s core activities. See September’s blog post for more details. Since then
Several additional volunteers have become regulars in our work sessions.
There is already an arrangement with Shaftesbury’s Tree Group who have established a tree nursery. Over the winter of 2020/21 young trees that couldn’t yet be planted because of the pandemic were safely held in the tree nursery within the Shaftesbury Homegrown site.
A local shepherd continues to graze sheep on part of the land. The sheep go away in midwinter but will soon be returning with their lambs.
Some of our volunteers with children experimented with family sessions which have now become a weekly family work day.
Initiatives such as ‘In Jolly Good Company’ which is a dementia-friendly group set up to benefit people with or without memory loss have shown an interest in joining us for a regular session and making use of our resources.
We are investigating (applying permaculture principles) the options for adding a compost toilet to the site. This would make us even more family-friendly and facilitate use of the site for therapeutic gardening – perhaps later in 2021.
With more active volunteers we’ve been able to do the hedgelaying which went even more enjoyably this year than previously. The work was finished before the snowdrops started to emerge, we received many (very welcome) compliments about the appearance of the hedge, and the poles that have been cut provide a valuable resource. These have now been trimmed and one of our volunteers has already made a wattle fence panel which has been put to good use. Others are constructing supports for beans and squash.
We have permission for a polytunnel to be placed on a new site near the main buildings and are currently raising funds for this through https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/shaftesbury-homegrown-community-farm with a target of £4K. This will enable us to expand our vision, extend our growing season, and produce more food for the benefit of our local community.
Several teenagers doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award have recently joined us for one session a week on a Sunday when they are not in school. They have all committed themselves to working enthusiastically on the land and applied themselves to all manner of tasks. (It is so important to engage young people in this way.)
The poles from the hedge are now being trimmed and volunteers are looking forward to constructing supports for beans and squash, experimenting with making wattle fence panels, and more.
May 2022 Update:
Our Crowdfunder appeal was successful and the new polytunnel is already productive.