I could see a group of half a dozen or so people in the distance working in the field as the mist lurked across the surrounding hillsides. They were rhythmically bending, rising, chopping, bending, rising, chopping. The sign on the gate said Chagfarm/Chagford Community Farm, and I was looking for Chagfood Community Market Garden – a place which seemed to figure prominently in any research I had done on sustainable farming. With the location fitting the description I had from Ed Hamer, one of three growers who set up and run the market garden on the edge of Dartmoor, I tentatively passed through. A few hundred yards of rough cart track later I was parking the car and could now make out the unmistakeable figure of Ed, another of the play makers in the Land Workers’ Alliance.
It was picking and packing day for the market garden, and with, business partners Chinnie and Yssy (also Ed’s partner) away on either maternity leave or unavoidably detained in sorting birthday for little ones, Ed was in charge. It looked a well oiled operation with a seasoned crew of volunteers helping out. Leeks and cabbages were being gathered at some speed – they of course needed to be with nearly 100 veg boxes to fill for expectant subscribers to the site’s community supported agriculture scheme. There was also great banter around the field as particularly the ladies explained that by offsetting some of the cost by volunteering they were able to buy vegetables from the scheme at less than the price of the local supermarket….and of course have them guaranteed fresh and sustainably produced. It would seem though that Devon ladies are somewhat camera shy leaving Ed and Henry bearing the brunt of the modelling!
By lunchtime all was picked and taken off to the packing shed a couple of miles down the road. Here as volunteers were in fact a bit thin on the ground compared to normal, I was enlisted into washing leeks. There was privileged to be part of the banter and kinship of the team for a few hours, leaving little doubt that such camaraderie is as much part of the package as fresh, organic veg at a reasonable price. Not sure I would actively seek out the job again though on a cold January afternoon! Got me a portion of communal lunch though.
For more see Chagfood Community Market Garden. But what was all that about Chagfarm/Chagford Community Farm…….more in the next post!
[Double clicking on any of the images below will open up that image up in a slideshow format. You can then run the slide show using ‘left’ and ‘right’ buttons. Personally I prefer to go also to full screen having opened the slide show – F11 on my PC, don’t forget to get out of full screen is the same button , not ESC!]