Somerset Stories: Fairy Hill Market Garden

The head of Fairy Hill Market Garden shares how Somerset Community Foundation helped the project bring the benefits of sustainable, locally-grown, organic food to more local people, helping change people’s lives from the ground up thanks to £2,000 of funding from our SWEF Enterprise Grants programme. 

“I didn’t grow up with a farming background. I did a traineeship on an organic farm in Cirencester, Gloucestershire and just knew that I had found my passion. I used what I learnt to set up a small-scale regenerative market garden in Compton Dando (in BANES), growing a mix of vegetables while encouraging biodiversity and nurturing the soil. It feels like it’s really flourishing. I’ve always wanted to work outdoors and I’d like that to continue.

Lots of leafy green vegetables growing in the ground with a polytunnel in the distanceI sell to various box schemes which are based in Bristol. That includes the Mazi Project, who work with marginalised 16 – 25-year-olds and Bristol Greens who also support families. I sell to box schemes because I want healthy, nutritious food to be accessible to as many people as possible while contributing to the overall wellbeing of our environment.

For me, focusing on sustainable horticulture is all about looking after the land – encouraging biodiversity and having a very low impact on the planet. Using chemical-free methods is better for everyone’s health and the soil. So instead of pesticides we use natural solutions including green manures (cover crops) and crop rotations. Observation and patience really is key. And our chickens are really great at keeping the slugs down.

I used the funding from Somerset Community Foundation to put towards purchasing a polytunnel so I can prolong the harvest. We can use it to grow lots of leafy vegetables that wouldn’t survive during the winter, plus Mediterranean vegetables like tomatoes. I’m hoping that sales from the harvest will help pay someone else for the 2024 season. Then hopefully we’ll be able to produce more food and reach more people.

There’s huge potential for us to grow our own food in the UK. We don’t need to import vegetables if we grow them here – and that’s great for reducing air miles.”

 

You can find out more about our SWEF Enterprise Grants programme, which provides business grants of up £2,000 to young people aged between 18 – 35 in Somerset, North Somerset and BANES, here. 

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