Sunday, October 9, 2011

Soil Association National Horticultural Symposium.

As Bosavern Community Farm is a producer-member of the Soil Association (, the UK's leading organic certification body, Hugh attended their symposium for two days in Bristol last week. It was good to put faces to names, get new ideas, hear the latest news, but most of all to meet all those other people scraping a living from growing organic vegetables around the country and realise that we're not alone! On the first day there were talks and presentations, plus heated debates, about topics such as growing green manures in polytunnels, the state of the current UK market for organics, school meals, and open-pollinated seed varieties (i.e. non-hybrids). On the second day we visited four farms in the Cotswolds area north of Bristol, to see for ourselves how other farms do things, and get their stories straight from the horses' mouths. These are particularly useful, as you can learn from other people's mistakes, and maybe even offer solutions of your own experiences.
Tales of organic carrots and excessive supermarket controls at Duchy Home Farm.

The veg field at the second Duchy farm.

Salad crops in a polytunnel at Abbey Home Farm.

The walled garden at Stroud CSA.
The most pertinent of these visits to our own situation was Stroud Community Supported Agriculture, who grow biodynamically on a mixed farm, and supply 190 "shares" per week to their members - see their website at
Many thanks to staff at the Soil Association for organising such a good 2-day event, and to all the growers whose nuggets of wisdom made the symposium even more worthwhile attending (even if it was just crying into each other's pints about that root of all evil - couch grass!).

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