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Developing our kitchen garden

Food is such an important part of life at Green Farm and the arrival of our newest team member, Rachel Clark, means we can accelerate plans to grow more of our own produce and move a step closer to being self-sufficient.

Rachel has joined us from Walmer Castle, managed by English Heritage, where she was the senior gardener responsible for the heritage site’s kitchen garden. You can read more about Rachel’s career here.

One of the first tasks Rachel is helping us with is that of improving the soil structure in our raised beds:

“The soil here is sticky and very difficult to work with, so we’ve got tonnes of local horse manure coming in which will help,” Rachel said.

“Because of that and the awful weather recently we’re holding back on sowing but I am going to sow and grow as much as I can in the beds and the polytunnels so the productivity is increased this year. I have a list of things I want to try and grow, based on what Catherine has told me about what is and isn’t successful.

“For each of our raised beds I’ll be drawing a scaled plan plotting the salads and veg so that we maximise the space we have available and not oversowing or wasting seeds. I did the same every year at Walmer usually in December. Planning in this way really helps you for the following year as well as crop rotation which is important for minimising pests and diseases.

“Usually by the end of the season , I’ve made loads of notes alongside the plan on how the crops have performed. This all helps towards improving how and what works best for your garden.”

Longer term Rachel will also work with Amelia, another recent addition to our team. Amelia is busy developing recipes for our guests which will make the most of the seasonal produce we grow.

“It's a bit of an experimental learning curve for the first year but a lot of the salads and vegetables that Amelia wants to make meals and soups from, we’ll just go for it. In time we can look at what has worked this year and tweak it as we go along.”

With new composters in place and plans for attractive climbing supports the gardens will look quite different to our guests when they can finally return to Green Farm.

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