Home is where the (celery) heart is
Today is World Food Day… and this year’s theme is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”
We know that CropShare feels like a family – we cycle or drive together, we share our lunch, our recipes, our tired backs at the end of a day hoeing and ultimately our delight and happy tummies when the weed freed plants grow us fab veg.
But CropShare is also a key part of how family farming is still surviving at Willow Farm.
We help Waterland Organics survive in a food production age where family has been replaced by big business, with extensive infrastructure such as cold stores and massively expensive machinery which not only can be programmed with GPS to hoe between the rows but now can actually tell the difference between a weed and the crop plant in the rows themselves!
Paul admits that Waterland Organics would be more profitable if they specialised and only grew a couple of organic crops rather than the wide variety it grows at the moment… right now there are 11 crops, with different varieties of each, flourishing in the fields and during summer there are 30 odd different types of veg all keeping each other company. Fewer crops would mean significant benefits from economies of scale and it would mean the farm could have tools specific to a particular crop which would save a lot of time – unlike Willow Farm’s multi-talented kit such as the undercutter which has to keep being adapted for use with leeks, then carrots, then the parsnips… and so it goes on.
But Waterland Organics grow such a range of organic veg in part because they care about the land. Family farming is the antithesis of commercial enterprises which act to maximise their profit margins and so benefit their shareholders. Paul, Doreen and CropShare are aware of the needs of the farm as a whole. They have watched over the years as the surrounding precious fen top soil has rapidly disappeared, they know that so much less herbicides and pesticides are needed when crops are mixed rather than just being one big monoculture and live surrounded by all sorts of wildlife protected by their non intensive, sensitive farming ways.
CropShare means that Paul and Doreen can rely on people who are also emotionally invested in farm and in return, well, we are family (though for goodness sake don’t let Paul start singing ‘I’ve got all my CropSharers with me…’)