From a mono-crop Maize field to a mosaic of mixed farms producing local, seasonal and healthy food and flowers — meet the new entrant farmers the Ecological Land Cooperative is helping to get on the land.
Read the full press release here.
We are super excited to announce that we have signed leases with two households for Martinsfield in Arlington, East Sussex. After years of development and planning sagas we can introduce you to the farmers that will make it their home as they develop their farm businesses and transform the land into an abundant diverse landscape. We can't wait to watch their projects unfold.
Sinead Fenton & Adam Smith
Sinead and Adam of Aweside Farm started their journey as farmers in London. Working a small, rented patch of land in East London, producing edible flowers, speciality leaves and heritage vegetables for restaurants across the city, the pair decided to move to pastures new and settle for more permanent roots.
Not satisfied with the idea of solely pursuing sustainable production Sinead & Adam took the plot at ELC, “to take our growing further and dedicate our lives and work to a piece of land that we could love, nurture and most importantly to us — regenerate. We want to try our hands at attempting to fix the broken, through agroecological and regenerative farming practices.”
“It's no secret that access into farming for new entrants is really hard here in the UK and given our backgrounds of growing up in cities with no links to food and farming, the chances of us being able to follow and pursue livelihoods in this sector were going to be slim. But the ELC have really shaken things up to create opportunities for a new generation of farmers to create the changes that are needed within agriculture. Without the ELC navigating a really tricky space, we wouldn't have been able to make our passion and dream a reality.”
I always loved being outdoors, I was that kid that purposely got covered in mud, jumped in all the puddles and had a bad habit for running into lakes fully clothed as a toddler. I was so drawn to being outside. As a city kid, I always struggled with the city, I found it too much, there's an inner peace in me that can only be sparked by being surrounded by trees, mud and water.
Growing up I had a peculiar fascination for the ground beneath me. Rocks, soil, loved it. I think it was the hidden world down there, of minerals and rocks that make the world around us, to the secret world of the life that lives in the soil that does so much for us. We're dependent on the world underneath our feet and I'm in awe of how it all works.
As I got older my heart quite literally broke as I understood more about the destruction and devastation that's happening to our environment, and how the damage being done to this hidden world is so overlooked. And that's what fuels me to want to farm regeneratively, to try and do something that helps and puts back what we've taken and destructed.
The one that's good at numbers and loves all things nature. You'll find his heart melting at the sight of any animal, bird or insect. A lover of wildlife and protecting them, he's the big inspiration around us wanting to take on this new patch of land and turn it into a haven for wildlife.
He's full of compassion for wildlife and it's endearing and catching. He's the one that'll take you on an adventure, even in a bare open field, as he shows you all the great things he's seen. This is the fella that see's a spiders web and can look at it for hours in awe.
Emily and Chris Huskins
Their passion for good food has inspired them to focus on producing seasonal and organic veg boxes to Arlington and the surrounding areas — bringing healthy, local food directly through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme. CSA’s are a popular way farmers can connect with their customers in a relationship that shares the risk and the bounty of the growing season between the growers and the eaters.
Fanfield CSA is the main thrust of their business aiming to feed 200 local households in time. CSAs are embedded in the communities they serve providing local food to local people.
“At first glance it seemed that the ELC were too good to be true, but our journey is proof that they are not. A lot needs to change in the UK. We need to go back to smaller farms and move away from large monoculture agriculture. We have taken too much from our soils for too long. Moving back to small farms and people growing food locally is incredibly important, and promoting practices that replenish our soil is a very important part of our plan.”
Chris’ first job as a young teenager was in a local fruit and vegetable shop called ‘The Country Market’ in the village he grew up in. This showed him from a young age the importance of having a place in the community and of people buying produce locally.
In addition to this early experience in selling produce, Chris also spent his summers assisting on his Great-Aunt’s Dairy Farm in Worksop, formerly named Fanfield Farm. The name of the business is a continuation of this memory and the fond memories of a very hard working farm. Whilst the business name comes from fond memories, there is no disputing that agricultural work is hard work. The memory is in fact of Chris’ Great-Aunt Prue who purchased the farm with her husband at the age of 18, only for her husband to pass away in a quarry accident at 19. Prue then continued to run the farm almost single-handedly from 19 until the age of 94, and Chris’ experience of the farm was never one of a summer holiday but of hard work and the rewards of the land coming only after the day’s work was complete.
Emily has grown up on and around farmland and SSSI’s her whole life, riding horses from a young age and with multiple family members and friends living on or next to working farms. One of her first jobs was working in a local hardware store, getting to know the local villagers and their needs. This shared love of farming and the outdoors has led to Chris and Emily’s vision of one day running a farm that is integral to the local community.
Chris and Emily now run a marketing agency part-time that covers their living costs. Through the years previous they worked in media, sales, marketing, administration and hospitality management (including bookkeeping, accounting, health and safety and HR). The skills of sales, marketing and running a business are what have led to Fanfield Farm becoming a reality.
Previous to joining the ELC, the plans for a farm developed rapidly, and rather than building up the marketing business to allow the purchase of land or a farm outright, Chris and Emily begun ‘urban’ farming on leased land around the area of Romsey, Hampshire. Last growing season saw three plots of land being cultivated in ways that would be scaled up on to farmland, and testing different ways of growing the base vegetables they would produce and sell in their CSA vegetable boxes.