Current direction of the commercial growing operation (from meeting on the 9th)
Hello! This is a little summary i've jotted up from our meeting today (09/10) re the commercial growing business. Please do add what i have missed, and add any comments/questions! Cheers, Finn
Vegetable enterprise size, plan and cultivation:
The area for the commercial growing area has been roughly marked out in the field and will be accurately plotted next week. It is 60m x 60m and will contain 6 plots which will be separated by tree rows (approx 3m wide). The tree rows could provide wind protection, biodiversity improvements, commercial / useful resources (e.g fruit, herbs, woodchip, weaving willow etc) and tasty forage for volunteers.
Each plot will contain 20 beds on the East/West gradient, these will be 30 inches wide and 15m long. Paths size will be 12” - 18” (TBC!).
The total area will be ploughed soon. And the 6 plots will be treated as pairs, with 2 plots covered by heavy duty silage tarps, 2 plots prepared into beds with cardboard and compost, and 2 plots sown by hand with a phacelia/vetch green manure.
Additional funding is needed for the start-up of the enterprise. Tools + equipment, polytunnels, tarps, compost, tool shed/packing area and sourcing water are all vital but costly ventures. We need to get applying for funding!
Winter Jobs for saturday volunteer sessions:
With some additional resources there will be lots to do:
. Tree row + Orchard planting + mulching.
. Marking out plots, paths and tree rows.
. Green manure sowing on 2 plots
. Total bed preparation on 2 plots (marking out beds and paths, cardboard mulch, compost, wood chip paths)
. Collect + spread manure/seaweed
. Rainwater harvesting on polytunnels would not provide total crop requirements - But could still be integrated into the water system in combination with other supply.
. Borehole remains a potential solution, although has a high upfront cost.
. Hopefully we will have access to mains water that is to be connected to a new house that borders loveland. However using mains water to irrigate crops has its disadvantages with all the additives and purification that is involved with it
Francesca Sat 9 Oct 2021 5:39PM
Hi, thanks Finn for writing this down, good to see what I have missed.
I do not have a van but a car, I would like to help on the seaweed quest! I am sure I can fit some in :)
I will upload this on Drive too, but the map was part of the conversation too today, so I am going to attach an updated version, ready to go to Savills (fingers crossed)!
Sally Mon 11 Oct 2021 9:27AM
Mix of 2/3 phacelia 1/3 vetch ordered from Cotswold Seeds to arrive by next Saturday, I have phone Trent to arrange ploughing/ power harrowing the area and will borrow the hand seed drill from Goonown
Loveland Mon 11 Oct 2021 9:50AM
This is great Finn - be good to share the job lists for the Saturday gardening sessions, so people can get a feel of what is happening at Loveland at the moment and what is being worked towards - a bit of a summery and vision of the future would be great for the newsletter, if you are interested in doing that and introducing yourself as the new kickstarter? We can also put a shout out for seaweed collecting and give your email, so if anyone's interested beyond the usual group they can get in touch?
Duncan Mon 11 Oct 2021 6:54PM
Thanks loads Finn for writing up the notes. I have a small MPV style van that can do a seaweed mission in, if we've got containers to stop it leaking everywhere . A lot less keen on manure in general, not just the stink in van factor, but also the issue of ghost acres and taking fertility from elsewhere that Sally mentioned. I know some people have concerns about removing seaweed too but for me, it's like ploughing: not ideal but gets us started quickly whilst we work on building fertility from the land itself. We will need a hell of a lot though to cover that size area. Hard to find issue with using Flicka's manure, especially if they need to get rid of it. I don't know anything about preventing runoff from manure though...
Finn Wed 13 Oct 2021 10:11AM
Thanks for thhe offer on the van Duncan! Yes, keep your eye out for trugs and containers... Theh coloured recycling bags that are used for plastic or cardboard are pretty good too, as are the strong Ikea and Lidl-style large re-usable bags.
Definetly hear you on the external input and run-off issues. The way i see it is that both seaweed and manure are often waste products, the council are often asked to clear seaweed of beaches as it smells, and heaps of manure, such as that at Flicka are just sat in the open, definetly creating run-off. This initial input of fertility and mulch to me is a way of ensuring that any minerals and biological activity are up to scratch, whilst mulching out weeds. A heavy initial mulch (currently of seaweed, manure and compost) to me is the only viable way i know to allow us to produce food without a tractor (than can cultivate and clear plots of weed with ease), but im keen to hear of other options!.
Its definetly a one-off application, with the resources and space at loveland i can see us sustaining our inputs from the site (with waste woodchip) after this year. In terms of run-off, 2 of the plots will be covered with a tarp, which will stop run off, whilst 2 will be fully prepared with compost on top of the manure and seaweed. Compost is pretty stable so doesnt leach nutrients like manure, but it's possible that we could plant broad beans, onions and garlic in these beds this autumn, which would help! The green manure bed will probably be sown before we manage to apply a seaweed/manure mulch, so that will remain solely green manure.
All good things to discuss though! Am looking forward to the next meeting!
Duncan Mon 11 Oct 2021 7:32PM
Also the numbers on the rainwater harvesting will look a lot better if we do build other shelters that we harvest rain from. The model is linked below if anyone wants to have a play with increasing the catch area and seeing the effect. I've left it as requiring 2.4 litres per m2 (318 litres per day) in summer, but the figures Sally found require at least 7 litres per m2 (924 litres per day). Definitely interested in people's thoughts especially if anyone's got any good links to polytunnel watering requirements for different crops and how much the yield might drop if watering is X% less than optimal.
Finn Thu 14 Oct 2021 10:43AM
Just looked at your calculations! Awesome work. We will be using permanent beds both outside and under the polytunnels, which means we can calculate the actual area of bed space without the paths that will need watering.
Outside there will be 120 x 15m long beds that will be 30" wide - which is 1,368m^2 of growing area.
The polytunnel size is yet to be discussed, but we did talk of having 2x 15m long polytunnels. These would be about 4m wide and between them would contain atleast 8 x 15m beds (30" wide) , which equates to 91m^2 of growing area indoors. It would be more accurate if we knew the size of polytunnel we will get.
What this means is that per polytunnel, there will be less bed space that requires watering than you'd think, as part of it will be taken by paths (~16" wide)
Duncan Sun 17 Oct 2021 7:07PM
Cheers Finn, had a play around with a 15x4m tunnel and 45m2 of growing space. Just harvesting water from the tunnel itself would have got us 3.5 litres per m2 Mar - Sept in the last two years. To get up to 7L per M2, we'd need an extra catch area of 140m2. Not sure how big a shelter folk were talking about for packing and tool storage, but 7x20m would be a great space. We'd obviously need twice that though to feed two tunnels 7L per m2. That's 315litres per day, per tunnel.
Finn · Sat 9 Oct 2021 4:47PM
A job i'd love to begin moving forward is bringing manure and seaweed up to the commercial growing plot - to be spread onto the area. Both are excellent soil builders and ammendments. For this however we will need people with vans and/or trailers. Flicka usually has an abundant source of manure, and the stormy weather brings plenty of seaweed onto the falmouth beaches. I only have my bicycle but am happy to coordinate this. If you are happy to help with this please do let me know!