Ecological food production


July 2015

Taking a baron weedy site to healthy and vibrant

I have rented 4.34 acres of ex-arable land in Totnes, Devon. With the help of as many people as happens, I would like to turn this field into a place where beautiful things emerge. Heritage wheat will grow to be processed and made into sourdough bread locally (hopefully by Dan – the Almond thief and his talented team of bakers). This grain will be comforted and cajoled by nutrient giving cousins and danced around by butterflies and bees and ushered in by the Rowan, Cherry and Oak trees at its edges.

Practical steps:

Help the soil regain its strength by. Cutting the ‘weeds’ that are dominating before they seed again. Use their bodies to feed the soil with organic matter. This requires some form of turing the soil – rotavating, ploughing with horses, digging by hand? The advice and good sense + a slice of learning from last year lean me away from digging, and processing come to think of it, by hand.

I then need to plant out with seed, from beneficial plants for the soil, butterflies, bees, insects in general, mycelia, bacteria, birds and more. I will then rolls and cut parts of it and plant heritage wheat seeds (mainly) through it, some in the winter and then the bulk in spring next year.

Then we will all get to thinking about harvest and processing….

Please help if you can.

The first day in the new field – Totnes, Devon

4.3 acres of arable land, weedy, scorched, lifeless. Ready to prepare and plant with wheat.
4.3 acres of arable land, weedy, scorched, lifeless. Ready to prepare and plant with wheat.

The first day on the new field raised some lovely questions that I need help with:

How do I measure and what do I measure in the field – soil, plant, biodiversity – to give a base to measure any improvements against as the planting and development begins?

What seeds should I look at planting to improve; soil quality, biodiversity, nutrient levels, appearance?

What wheat should I plant? Should I plant some veg? – spring cabbage or purple sprouting broccoli maybe?

How should I mark the wheat beds?

How should I advertise the field to passers bye?

How do I engage local interested people?

day 2 to day 30 should bring some answers, with your help of course.

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