If it takes six volunteers one and a half hours to sow thirty square metres… will all the old and heritage Winter grains saved from this year’s harvest be sown before Christmas?

The photo shows us preparing a bed for two varieties of wheat as part of the Fold’s old and heritage grain project.  Morale and energy levels were good and the work was complete in record time.  In the foreground you can see previously sown beds covered in white netting to keep the pigeons and crows from feasting on the grain.

Of the seed saved from this Summer’s harvest, five varieties of Winter barley, two of Winter naked oats and four of Wheat are now in the ground – some of them already sprouting.  Also sown are the new small samples of old English grain varieties obtained this year from the UK and French Seed Libraries.

However, this leaves six varieties of oats and eleven of wheat still to sow over the next few weeks.  Daylight is short at this time of year, the ground is often too wet to cultivate and I have to fit the project in around my work on the Site and Maintenance team here at the Fold.

The ground is forked over and roots of dandelion, dock, couch grass and other perennial weeds removed.  Lumps are broken up and furrows raked in the bed to take the grain.  After sowing, the grain is covered with soil and watered well, before spreading the netting over the bed.

The area of roughly turned bare ground behind the volunteers is for more beds of grain. Half the total area is for the Winter grains, the other half is to sow the Spring grains we have, in March and April next year.  We’re hoping for a bumper harvest in July and August.

If you are interested and would like to volunteer to help grow old and heritage grains here at the Fold, please email dave@thefold.org.uk

Article by Dave Outhwaite – Volunteer coordinator at The Fold