The last few weeks have been a bit hectic with the opening of the shop and cafe so my blog postings have suffered in frequency. Sorry, I will mend my ways and get back on track posting more frequently.
This is a busy time of year even without those two new commitments. It is always a dilema that when you are at your busiest harvesting, you still have to keep up with the sowing and planting otherwise there will be nothing to harvest in the winter.
Keeping on top of things outdoors has also been a challenge this last few weeks with the heavy deluges soaking the ground through. Getting the tractor on the land to work it up for new crops has been an impossibility, putting us further behind. Growing wise, this weather has been great and the weeds are flourishing.
This week I am trying to put those concerns behind me as I take a short break from farming and get on with some writing. It gives me a chance to reflect on what has been happening on the farm lately and realise the mountain that Greenslate Community Farm has climbed.
Firstly, there is the straw bale build and its opening event. Two years in the making, two years of toil for Kath and her team and then finally it is here. Well, nearly, if you could have seen the place the night before it opened with Kath still laying floor tiles and people painting whilst washing down, you wouldn’t have believed it could have gone ahead, but it did.
Move on a few weeks and the shop opens. A highlight for me to at last have a dedicated space for all the fruit and veg that we have been working on growing since January to be displayed and sold. It’s what I am here for, it’s what I needed to see.
Another week later and another labour into the night sees the cafe open. So now people are cooking and eating the food that we grew here on site, eating it in our own cafe. It’s the real deal, food yards not food miles. Hazel, Annmarie and their team, congratulations.
So many people have contributed and worked so hard to bring all of this together. It would be pointless even trying to thank and represent them all here. To honour them and what they have achieved, we now need the world to know about our cafe so that it can support itself; economic sustainability enabling environmental sustainability.
An Australian Winstanley In Wigan
I had a great day last week working with a young man all the way from Australia who knew about Greenslate Farm before he set off on his journey to England. Dane Winstanley came on a journey during a break from college and he is returning to his studies on ecology in January. In the mean time he is on a road trip, firstly to meet up with family in the UK, then going on to other parts of Europe to see friends.
Dane had been reading about Greenslate Farm online in Australia and had decided to come and volunteer here during his visit. He picked beans with me and did other tasks, a really good worker who has had experience working on other farms. I treated us both to a scone from the Cafe (home baked by Annmarie and brilliant by the way) and we talked about all sorts of things as we worked and ate together including environmental issues and politics.
Dane was well aware of Gerald Winstanley and the forthcoming Diggers Festival which he won’t be able to get to as he will be elsewhere in Europe. As I showed Dane around the farm, we stood looking at the allotments and talked about Gerald Winstanley.
The relevance of his family name and the idea of a community farm and allotments worked by people to feed themselves and their families seemed highly symbolic and I felt my voice cracking with emotion as we talked about it. I said, “this is something to tick off your bucket list” and he agreed.