Clearing the site
Ben Raskin - 18 December 2010
Wheatfields is a 45 acres site that had previously been a nursery producing pot plants, after the Dutch had killed that industry off, the site had been abandoned for a number of years before the current plan to develop a diverse site with lots of small growers and community groups.
There are pots everywhere, and my piece of land had some netting and rabbit fencing left on it that had long since been consumed by the scrubby grass. So the first step was to clear the rubbish off. We had some help from "volunteers" from the local umemployed community, some of whom were very helpful, others not so. We managed to get most of it moved into tidier piles ready for the trailer to pick them up. We also found a couple of hidden gems - notably a couple of piles of very very well rotted manure, and around 50 Rhubarb plants, which may well provide my first (tiny) income from the site.
After discovering the outdoor life on an organic vineyard in Northern Italy, and a one year professional gardening course at Lackham College, Ben has worked in horticulture for 16 years. Previous incarnations include running a walled garden in Sussex, working for the HDRA (now Garden Organic) at their gardens in Kent, setting up and running the horticultural production at Daylesford Organic Farm, before moving to the Welsh College of Horticulture as commercial manager. Ben is passionate both about the commercial production of high quality organic vegetables and teaching practical skills through on farm learning. He currently works as horticultural advisor and learning manager for the Soil Association, as horticultural advisor for The Community Farm at Chew Magna, and has just signed the lease on a piece of land near Bristol to plant an experimental and educational fruit and agroforestry system.