The Cultivate team hit the land for the first time this week. We’re saving the bulk of our first field work for during and after our farm launch day on Saturday March 10th (see this article) but there were a couple of jobs that needed starting this week.

1. Measuring out – we’ve designed a 10 bed rotation system, and we needed to peg this out to get some perspective on what was otherwise a 5 acre blank canvas.

Design for our 10 bed crop rotation - trial beds for heritage and exotic varieties to the left, polytunnels to the right

  

2. A bit of rotavating – we’ll be planting some broad beans, rocket and onion sets with the first dry weather in March. The field currently has an overwinter green manure mix of cereal rye (nitrogen lifting) and vetch (nitrogen fixing). This ley is quite lush by now and needs a good couple of weeks to break down, so we hired an 8hp rotavator to do the first strips.

 

It felt pretty good to be out there 3 times in one week, and after months of desk based planning and thinking, some physical action was very welcome – and very educational.

Lessons learned:

– Many hands … you wouldn’t think measuring and pegging out a few straight lines would be that much work, but trying to do it with just Joe and me (plus Bertie the hound) on Monday was a nightmare. On Thursday, there were four of us (minus the hound) and the whole thing worked much more smoothly – we were still all working hard for two hours, but 4 pairs of hands in the team made it run much more smoothly …. luckily we’ll have 200+ pairs of members’ hands to call on!

– Volunteers – this week saw the first volunteering sessions – Frank, a maths teacher from Oxford enjoyed being out in sun during half term, helping us to peg out on Thursday. “I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the morning” said Frank on the way home. Film producer Nina came down for the rotavating this morning: “Feels great to get stuck in to some outside work after a long week – and what a beautiful setting – Red Kites just metres away…” Great fun for the Cultivate team too to have some new faces and enthusiasm on the farm.

– Try before you buy – renting the rotatvator was very useful – just about powerful enough, but a couple of extra horsepower, and a second gear will probably now feature in the final purchase of our own.

– Buy orange string next time – buying 2km of green string which then all but disappeared against a green field was not my cleverest move.

If you like the sound of any of this, join us on the 10th (here).

Members will have access to the farm and volunteering opportunities like this all year round (invest here to become a member).

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