Experienced horticulturalist, Rachel Clark, is the latest addition to the team here at Green Farm. She is helping us to further develop our kitchen garden and achieve our goal of becoming more self-sufficient.
Rachel is a Kent native and comes from a farming family. Despite growing up on a fruit farm, she wasn’t especially interested in horticulture when she was younger. Instead, she went to college to study spatial design and for several years she worked alongside architects in London on projects in retail and office design.
When the recession bit in the 90s, Rachel found herself re-evaluating her career. “When I first left college, I couldn’t wait to get away from Kent and live and work in London,” Rachel explained. “But after seven years I found I really missed the countryside and the changing seasons.”
Rachel returned to Kent and returned to studying. Alongside a job in the fruit industry, she took a garden design course, which led to a Royal Horticultural Society qualification and a landscape management course.
Rachel said: “I started doing some garden design projects for friends of friends and got into it that way. I really liked doing design, but I also had a passion for plants. I didn’t want to create a scheme for somebody and then walk away from it. I wanted to get more involved in the hands-on side of horticulture.”
In 2010, as well as working for private clients and studying Landscape Management at Hadlow College, Rachel secured a six month placement working for English Heritage at Walmer Castle near Deal. She returned in 2013 as their Senior Gardener responsible for the castles’ kitchen garden, cut flower garden and management of the volunteers.
“Over the last seven years working at Walmer, and with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers, I was able to make the kitchen garden very productive and experiment with lots of different varieties of salads, vegetable and fruit. I was always given the freedom to be creative, and I really appreciated that opportunity. All the produce was used in the Castles’ kitchen for our visitors.”
Luckily for us, Rachel was looking for a new challenge and joined us in January. Her design skills, creative flair and passion for growing produce makes her a fantastic addition to our team. She will work alongside Catherine Farr, who will continue to work wonders in the wildlife garden and both gardeners will help us to develop more volunteering opportunities.
Find out more about our plans for the kitchen garden here.