Swapping a geographically local market of some 2 to 3 million for the 20-odd thousand who live in a small town in west Wales, at first sight doest make any sense. But that’s just what Adam York and Lesley Bryson did when they moved to Manchester to Cardigan to set up Glebelands Market Garden.
Adam was one of the co-founders of the independent supermarket Unicorn, based in Manchester and a co-founder, with partner Lesley, of the sister enterprise Glebelands City Growers, which was featured earlier on Feeding Body and Soul. They had spent 9 years by the River Mersey in Sale with City Growers honing their salad and leafy crop skills, but in 2010 though the lure of the rural life was too much. Off to Wales they went.
They have now established their new market garden site and its a wonderful demonstration of commercially successful local fresh crop growing within a tight community. The Welsh site was chosen for its proximity and accessibility to Cardigan. That accessibility has enabled them to grow a business, just like Gerald Miles at Caerhys, with a market penetration that is quite staggering. To gain sufficient customers out of a population of 22,00 or so in order to be able to run a healthy small farm of some 6 acres is just amazing – extrapolate that across Manchester and there would be hundreds of small, local growers all gaining a healthy living from selling their produce into the city. The fact that this isn’t happening says so much for the community based life the people of west Wales.
Unlike the original Glebelands in Manchester, Glebelands Wales has an on-site shop. As with Unicorn, Adam believes that this direct selling model with a short chain from source to customer leads to low costs and hence the ability to offer competitive retail prices and successful trading against supermarkets. Based on his experience Adam believes that on site Farm Shops have good potential to be a lot more viable than selling at Farmer Markets or box schemes.
Whichever way you look at it, and whatever you belive causative to what, Adam and Lesley’s story has to be inspirational and offer so much hope. You can find a further insight into his thinking on the various pages of the Glebelands Market Garden website, and there is also an article by Andy Jones: The Glebelands – Unicorn Model, a Cooperative Approach to Sustainable Urban Food Supply. Even better news, Adam is happy to speak about the learnings and insights at events and conferences. Give him a call!
Do have a look at the images though first! The day I was there, emplyee, Phil, was busy preparing a polytunnel for a new crop, ably aided and assisted by WWOOF visiter Anna. Big thanks to everyone for a really lovely afternoon.
[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]