Growing up close to and in contact with the earth is privilege few have in these days of hermetically sealed living. The sight of families with young children engrossed with the growing and farming around them was one of the delights of my journeys, a source of entertainment and hope for the future. That was no more so than at Trill Farm Market Garden.
The market garden at Trill Farm is the growing space for Ash Wheeler and partner Kate. Its land leased from Trill Farm, 300 acres of farmland set in the rolling hills and woodlands of east Devon. It was bought in 2008 by Romy Fraser – the founder of Neil’s Yard Remedies – with the aim of developing an education centre and community of small businesses that could work together to use the land’s resources. Ash and Kate have been at Trill running the 2.5 acre vegetable garden since 2010. Using traditional organic principles, they produce around two tonnes of salad a year from over 80 different varieties of leaf and flowers.
Ash had decided at a very early age he wanted to be a grower, inspired by his father to follow in his footsteps. It’s not too surprising then that the young children of Ash and Kate are fully integrated into operations with the place strewn with toddler toys and implements! The day I was there, eldest Digby kept me both entertained and firmly in tow with a tour of his domain which was carried out with such consummate ease and confidence. He is totally at home even at his tender years with a proximity and relationship with the soil, one which seems to breed a keen interest in the work of the garden when Dad takes him up on a ‘helping’ hand. A truly privileged young man, privileged in a way that just can’t be bought. Great stuff Digby, you are mankind’s future.
In the meantime…….there is serious work to be done planting out l’agretti seedlings. Tipped as the ‘must have’ ingredient for the salads served by the restaurateurs of Lyme Regis, Ash has planned for a lot of it. Also known as Salsola Salad it’s of Italian origin and looks, at least in seeding stage, like very fine chives, its planting is a reminder that whilst volunteering is no easy task it is a chance for all of us to ‘get dirty’!
For more on Trill Farm Market Garden, see my post from earlier in the year.
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