Over the past few months our stops and markets have experienced icy rain and snow followed by glorious sunshine and temperatures warm enough for us to finally take off our thermals. And it feels like we’ve been experiencing similar highs and lows in the day-to-day running of Cultivate.
We have expressed the uncertainty surrounding the Cultivate farm before, but a few weeks ago it was very much confirmed that we’d definitely be leaving our farmland at the Earth Trust in Little Wittenham. Cultivate have occupied 10 acres of land as part of the Earth Trust’s Farmstep programme since 2012 and our 4 large polytunnels have become a regular sight for me while heading into our barn. Although I wasn’t there in the first few days of Cultivate, I know from looking at photos of the staff and volunteers that building the polytunnels and planting them up (especially the tomatoes) involved a lot of love, passion and hard work. So it was a sad moment when we found out we’d have to vacate the plot and won’t be growing our own veg – for a little while at least.
There is a benefit to relinquishing the farm: the Earth Trust have some exciting plans in the pipeline for their own development, which may see Cultivates plot being used for growing again, but more immediately we have sold all four tunnels to George (of Sandy Lane fame) and Kevin (Brill Organics). So we have directly helped two local growers expand their operations in order to provide you with yet more tasty produce. It also means we’ll be able to focus much more on helping other local growers, farmers and producers get their delicious fare to the people of Oxfordshire.
As we watched the polytunnels being driven away we were presented with two new and exciting opportunities. The first, an invitation to trade at North Parade Market twice a month. The second, an offer to supply The White Hart in Wytham’s summer pop-up shop with all our fresh produce. It really did feel like a burst of sunshine after a pretty grey and drizzly moment, especially as our first appearances at North Parade were gloriously sunny and full of warm welcomes.
Just like our fruit and veg it seems that we need both the rain and sun in order to grow our co-op. Although I still have my fingers crossed for a little more sunshine in the months to come.