By Victoria Plum
At the end of January I attended an open day at Eves Hill Veg Co, the not-for-profit community market garden just outside Reepham on the Norwich Road in Booton.
I found several hardy souls amidst the rain and wind and polytunnels in a very exposed position.
(I used to ride on the high tracks round here and well remember thinking to myself on a wild and windy day that if I needed emergency dental treatment now would be a good time because one side of my face was completely numbed by the wind and weather.)
Here I met that force of nature, Hannah Claxton, who started this exciting enterprise in April 2016 on a piece of stubble ground, creating a market garden out of nothing.
This project is for people and the community, and relies on people from the community to supply labour and support. What volunteers gain is expertise and fulfilment, support and comradeship in exchange for their efforts.
Money raised from the sale of veg boxes, and salads to restaurants, goes into the project, and although keenness and hard work can achieve miracles, sometimes only money will do.
For example, the first polytunnel, which was principally made using reclaimed materials, proved not man enough to withstand this winter’s wind, so money is needed for a stronger version.
Some machinery is needed to make the best use of the man-hours available – and money is needed for this.
Lest you think this project is woolly and airy-fairy, please think again. Innovative, radical and well-thought-out methods are employed.
For instance, produce is assessed by the square metre and weighed to monitor productivity and profitability.
Although this is farming on a small scale, large-scale farmers could learn lots from the modern and clear-thinking approaches employed here.
Another important task for Eves Hill Veg Co is to facilitate entry to farming for young people. To this end a “100 Club” has been started to raise money for an apprenticeship scheme.
And from June you can order your own veg box to bring locally grown, fresh veg to your kitchen. Look out for the open days and check out the new website.