It’s faced slugs, snow and a profusion of cucumbers, but that’s not stopped an unusual farm from celebrating its first successful year.
Five Acre Community Farm provides local, seasonal, organic, fresh vegetables to more than 60 households. All the vegetables come from the farm, which is on the grounds of Garden Organic in Ryton.
During the course of the past year, members have heard direct from the grower about the joys and challenges of growing vegetables, from prolific cucumber plants, to battles with the slugs in the wet summer we endured last year.
Gareth Davies, who helps run the farm, said: “We have begun to create a vibrant community of people who care about where their vegetables come from and who are prepared to make a regular financial commitment to ensure that they have excellent veg from a local source.”
Susan Brown, the farm’s grower, cultivated more than 100 varieties of vegetables in the past year. The farm’s polytunnels extend the growing season – even when the snow was thick on the ground, leafy green vegetables happily grew inside them.
Members of the farm pay a regular amount per month, and are in groups who take it in turns to collect their vegetables weekly from the farm.
Gareth added: “Vegetables are harvested early that morning by Susan, so couldn’t be fresher.
“It is the regular financial commitment of the members which enable us to employ Susan. We also have a small number of additional helpers who work for a few hours per week in exchange for veg.”
And Gareth believes the farm’s benefits are not just culinary. He said: “We have had many social gatherings on the field, and are developing one part of the field to be child-friendly – a place where all members can come and relax.
“Bring and share lunches are a regular part of our calendar at the farm, as are activities for families, such as scarecrow-making and den-building.
“Some members enjoy coming to help out, particularly at important times when lots of hands are needed planting and harvesting.”
Anyone interested in joining the farm can visit facebook.com/FiveAcreCommunityFarm, twitter.com/5AFarm or fiveacrefarm.org.uk