September 10, 2021
Spring Greens in Autumn? A Farm's Quest For An Organic Future.
We had a call from George Gagg, the farm manager at The Lettuce Company earlier this year to inform us of their wish to move to some organic produce. The Lettuce Company are part of a pretty substantial co-op with farms scattered across Kent, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. The Kent branch, 1,500 acres in the Isle of Grain. They primarily grow spring onions in Kent and as we are always up for a chat with new producers we paid a visit.
The move to organic, George told us, is fraught with logistical issues. Primarily, what the bloody hell are you going to do with the soil?
Different plants have different nutritional needs and are susceptible to different pathogens and pests. The Lettuce Company have big fields devoted to spring onions, and if they were to continue to just plant spring onions year on year, the same nutrients would be pulled from the soil and not replenished. In addition to stripping the soil of these nutrients, pests and diseases happily make themselves at home in conditions that are perfectly suited to them.
This means, that year on year the amount of chemical fertilizers to enrich the soil, as well as pesticides to keep pests and diseases at bay need to increase to keep the crop healthy.
By introducing different vegetation into this soil, a larger variety nutrients are deposited and taken and leads to much greater soil health though biomass from the diversity of root structures. Those pests that are at home with spring onions, don’t survive as well with this new crop allowing their numbers to decrease naturally.
The second logistical issue, for a big grower of a single crop, is what to do with all that new produce. The normal sales channels big growers use aren’t open to them. At The Lettuce Company, this exact question was buzzing around George’s mind he saw one of our adverts and thought what about Kent Veg Box?
Due to this being an exercise in soil health, it allows The Lettuce Company some degree of room to experiment. In the call, they were keen to know what we would buy. Of most importance is that of soil health, but that still allowed for various options. Of these, we were able to take our pick for your boxes going forward.
And so, in the boxes are some broad beans and spring greens (traditionally spring vegetables, obviously?) in early autumn! We have also had pak choi, and green beans as well as some superb spring onions.
The end of seasons can sometimes be a struggle, as we start treading down the same path of similar vegetables weekly in the boxes before the onslaught of a new season’s crop. With this new partnership, we are not only helping a farm along with it’s goal to move toward organic produce, but allowing you at home a better product.
We couldn’t be happier, especially as just 25 Food Miles
This is great. I wish more farms would move to organic growing and move away from monoculture. A healthy soil should be able to support vegetative growth without the need of chemical fertiliser. I grow many types of vegetable in my own garden (supplemented by those supplied in my two weekly veg box delivery). I use a no dig system and use no fertilisers but too dress my beds with compost. It provides all the nutrients my vegetables need. Knowing that my support for Kent Veg Box helps promote a move to organic growing is a real bonus.
Robert October 07, 2021