This year, I (Rosie) was really elated to receive a place on the very new mentoring programme from the Landworkers’ alliance. Who advocate for small agro-ecological farmers in the UK.
After a few phone calls with my mentor to get to know eachother and some seminars on accounting (boring but necessary), the cherry in the icing was visiting Calixta at ‘Flourish’, in Cambridge and taking part in one of her volunteer days.
Most of my learning is via online courses and Youtube these days (Charles Dowding is a living legend!), but there is no substitution for watching how someone manages a team and coordinates growing at the start of the season, actual harvesting in the field and sowing in the polytunnel. I’ve volunteered at many places and the experience is like a jigsaw of market gardening with lots of holes! I know fellow growers whose experience i can call on and who have helped me immeasurably and I’m so grateful for that. (Aaron and Emma from Stortvalley organics , Gareth from the CSA network, Brian from Organiclea being some of them)
My relationship with her will hopefully last for many years and its lovely to be able to watch as she develops her land with agroforestry and fruit trees. I’m hoping my germination rate will improve and health and quality of produce throughout the whole growing season.
I’ve managed to keep the hot bed at 20 degrees so I feel like I’m winning. The direct seeds are germinating outdoors and every year I learn more and more. I’ve learnt that you don’t necessarily need to be really confident, skilled or knowledgeable to start a CSA, just be unashamed, ask for help and advice wherever you can get it, own your mistakes, be kind to yourself and recognise progress rather than how far you are away from your ideal.