Incredible by name, incredible by nature!
Nick Green created Incredible Farm in 2010 with the aim of teaching small scale commercial food growing and marketing skills to young people. The idea being that they then to start food production businesses. The farm is just outside Todmorden where east meets west – Yorkshire meets Lancashire – and the exact boundary seems in almost constant change according to political whim. Its a wild and woolly place up amongst the Pennine hills, and Incredible farm itself is no different. Its on a one acre site which is more moorland bog than fertile plain. But it was land to which Nick had been kindly granted access to try out his ideas.
Since November 2010 Nick and team of largely, but not exclusively, unpaid workers have worked with this small plot of land to create a viable growing business. The aim is to produce food with minimal impact on the environment using permaculture methods and to create and maintain an intact ecosystem of food production which is more predictable, less damaging and more sustainable than we find in conventional farming. Over 150 fruit trees have been planted in this boggy spot, along with numerous edible plants, whilst creating community growing beds, installing three commercial sized large polytunnels and introducing a number of beehives. The site also has several innovative design features – partly enabled by its unique Pennine location – such hot beds, a passive solar greenhouse, Hugel beds and many novel plants.
Its now a productive space run on a day to day basis by Nick and small team who are from time to time by WWOF volunteers. On duty for my visit were Head Grower, Mike Smith – a local lad – and Head Apprentice, Jo Yeoman – whose strong scouse accent left no doubt where her roots lay! Together the team and the site are producing high quality food for the local sale and have been supplying local pubs and cafes with salad leaves herbs and vegetables since late February 2012 . Its a place where growing works with the natural resources, no matter how inclement they may seem……….. and takes along with it ducks and chickens and a couple of Jersey cows!
Its difficult to ignore these two lovely Jerseys. I first met Nick at the Oxford Real Farming Conference in January of 2015. He used an open mic session to put out an appeal for trained oxen! He was looking for them to ease the burden of the heavy humping work around the site – which apparently is easier on sleighs than anything with wheels which sink into the wet ground, but still never an easy task. No-one did seem to have a couple of trained beasts going spare with the result that when I visited Nick had had a better idea. Train his own Jersey cows!! Having been given a good humoured demonstration , I’m sorry Nick, the cows are winning!
Incredible Farm takes its name from the now famous Incredible Edible movement of Todmorden, and indeed was originally framed as a project within Incredible Edible Todmorden. Its appearance – partly down to its location and geography, partly also down to Nick’s bubbling character and the team he has assembled around him – may be playful, but the ambition is deadly serious. The aim remains one of demonstrating the idea that it is possible to make a career in growing food and teaching youngsters the skills. A place driven by the desire for a better world. Incredible by name, incredible by nature.
PS The farm is also now the place through which Nick was awarded runner-up spot in the Lloyd’s bank Social Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2015…..a distinction which earned £6000 towards the continued development of Incredible farm.
For more see Incredible Farm
For more on Incredible Edible Todmorden, click here.
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