BETHANY SAVANNAH DAVIES - ORGANIC GROWER AT OUR FARM
As a grower, my day-to-day life feels much more in tune with these rhythms of nature, something that has become apparent now more than ever. I slow down in winter and speed up in spring, unaltered by the halt of lock-down. March, in particular, is a period where things begin to gather momentum on the farm and which, this year, also brought with it the closure of the restaurants for which we grow.
The day following this announcement was undeniably strange; but, as our manager says, ‘you can’t turn the taps off on the farm’ and so, despite lock-down, we were still faced with the responsibility of running a farm oblivious to the changing world around it.
5000 seeds were waiting to be sown that day for the crops we will harvest months down the line. What could we do other than carry on with little insight to when normality would return? And did we not have a responsibility to ensure our food reached people and not the compost pile? So many questions followed, but what was evident was that nature could not be paused and closure would not be an option.
We finished sowing those 5000 seeds that day while hatching a plan of action for the foreseeable future. Like many farms growing for restaurants, we made the decision to redirect our produce to the local community. Not only a sensible option but one we believed to be morally right. Needless to say, this was a test for the business mind as we transitioned our farm from restaurant sales to veg boxes, and it certainty took a week of adjustments before we got it right. But, once we’d learnt the ways of packaging and realised that a limit of 30 boxes a day was not achievable with four people and a farm to manage, we found our system and were thankful to be feeding people.
I don’t think I am alone in saying that, while this period has undoubtedly strengthened our relationship with nature, it has reconnected our industry even more with the people we feed. An intense focus on the food we grow, produce and cook has been somewhat softened as we ask instead what is it that people need and want, placing them firmly back into conversations on food. No doubt that focus will return when the restaurants reopen, but the relationships we’ve formed with people, as well as nature, will not be lost.