The average age of a British farmer is 59. So how did I, at the age of 21, find myself falling head first into the growing of vegetables? I ask myself this question all the time and I'm not entirely sure, it seems as though it was a number of things all muddled up together that pushed me towards food production. I've always been keen on helping the environment as best I can, which I think is one of the many reasons I think I found myself here. I used to ask myself "How can we help improve our planets health as well as our own?" It's a really broad question and the issues can seem mindbogglingly huge, it often also relies on other people making the change. Encouraging consumers to refuse wasteful packaging, cycle to work more, conserve water, Or encouraging businesses to reduce their packaging, or get solar panels, or recycle more. I didn't feel I could directly affect any of the problems I was seeing, the onus was always on someone else. So I started rephrasing.
"How can I help improve our planet, and what can I do, right here, right now?" Amethi Veg was my answer. It directly addresses all the environmental issues I was hearing and seeing. By eradicating agro-chemicals from my growing I can encourage wildlife and preserve our precious soil. At the same time I can reduce the carbon footprint of food by producing locally, reducing food miles and using minimal machinery. As well as that I can provide people with delicious food, that's healthy too and with zero single use packaging, reducing waste for the consumer. I could go on and on.
Our market garden is free from any nasty chemicals. We don't use any artificial fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. The soil fertility and health is fed with a heavy dose of compost as well as a small amount of organically certified plant based fertilisers and chicken poop. We use minimal tillage techniques, which preserves the precious soil biota and structure, as well as it's intrinsic health. The healthier the soil, the healthier the veggies are that come from that soil. The many trace elements in the soil also contribute to the taste of the produce, something which the vast, hydroponic greenhouse systems can never recreate (Anyone who has tasted tomatoes grown in their own garden knows exactly what I'm talking about here).
Wildlife on our farm, especially those beautiful bees, are positively encouraged and we are developing long term strategies to create the most wildlife friendly farm habitat as possible. Biodiversity on our farm is like our own personal pest patrol, for every annoying pest, like slugs or aphids, there's a predator to combat it, so if we encourage the habitat of those predators, we should greatly decrease our pest damage. This means we will not only will we be saving our crops and eradicating pesticide use, we will be actively feeding the wildlife, it's a win win.
Food packaging accounts for around 11 million tonnes of waste a year in the UK. When walking through the fresh fruit and veg aisle in a supermarket it's easy to notice how much of this is non-recyclable single use plastics. We aim to one day be waste free for all our customers by using reusable packaging on a deposit-return basis. Our regular Veg box customers and restaurants will be the first to enjoy 100% waste free veggies, as we utilise long lasting reusable packaging for the produce that needs it (why carrots are packaged in plastic bags is beyond me). For any "on-farm sale" customers, we will have almost all of our produce available loose, so don't forget your bags for life!
Our veggie loving community
To all our wonderful community who buy our produce, you are at the heart of our operation and we don't want your involvement to stop merely at the purchase of vegetables. If you feel we can package our produce better, or grow a new vegetable variety please don't hesitate to say. If you have a question about our production methods and are wondering why we do things the way we do (maybe even to just nick some ideas for your own veggie garden) feel free to get in touch. Or maybe you just want to come and hang out on the farm and lend a hand. We welcome any feedback or questions that you have.