Volunteers Create a Veg Patch from Scratch

In February, a group of volunteers led by horticulture tutor Malcolm Berry embarked on a project to turn an area of grass at Denmark Farm (used for overflow car parking!) into a productive kitchen garden.

As our ‘Veg Patch from Scratch’ programme comes to an end, Jacky, one of the volunteers reflects on the group’s achievements:

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Polyculture bed at Denmark Farm

“In spite of rain in February and March and a recent heat wave, we have enjoyed ourselves this spring. Malcolm’s design for the new vegetable beds has helped us to see the difference between monoculture and polyculture. Monoculture – putting plants of the same kind closely together in beds – makes some plants more susceptible to pests and diseases. Polyculture – mixing different groups of plants on one bed  gives some protection because pests and diseases are less likely to spread through a whole crop. We saw the truth of this in the brassica bed!”  (cabbage root-fly decimated the majority of the monoculture broccoli, wheras only one or two plants were affected in the polyculture bed) .

“Some of the preparation was hard work, especially cutting turf off the surface and the digging that had to follow, but progress since then has been worthwhile and there should be a good harvest”.

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The Veg Patch in January…                                 …the same view in June

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Jacky and the other ‘Veg Patch’ volunteers with Malcolm (back left)

“We are all very grateful for the ways in which Malcolm has shared his knowledge and experience, often with humour, always explaining matters clearly – even to those of us who need to be told everything twice. He is a very patient man!”

And another of our volunteers added: “But it isn’t just his knowledge that is so helpful – he’s a very friendly person who loves what he does and is excited to share ideas with people who are excited to grow their own food. ……How lucky are we to have access to all of this!”

Visitors are welcome to come and see the Veg Patch at any time – follow the sign from the car park.

Our new volunteer programme ‘Sowing Seeds, Sharing Skills’ begins on Sunday 17th July, and sessions will run fortnightly. The focus of this programme is ‘Protected Cropping’, and will involve the installation of a large greenhouse, kindly donated by a local supporter. Malcolm will continue to share his knowledge and experience (and patience!) with our volunteers, as they continue their food-growing journey under glass.  Places are available for new volunteers, so please do get in touch if you would like to join the programme.

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