Kit and Lucy came as residential volunteers to The Fold to help out on our organic farm before the country was even discussing the possibilities of lockdown taking place! Although they were due to move on to other volunteering opportunities they made the decision to stay at The Fold and experience a unique version of quarantine. Below they give a glimpse into how they have spent their unusual quarantine experience.
It’s a little before 9am on Round About Lane, the hawthorn trees have the smallest bright green leaves emerging and a blackbird is singing. Two buzzards are calling to each other above, and below celandines jostle with nettles, meadowsweet and the first bluebells. On the right is where we saw a grass-snake, and ahead of us is a huge pile of woodchip destined to form paths around the crops of Holy Well Field.
Round About Lane is our ‘commute’ down to the field where we are working this morning, which is a big change from the train journeys we’re used to taking. We have both taken time out from office jobs to learn more about growing food sustainably. One of the things we noticed first was the number of birds, along with how many different plants there are in the verges – and growing in our carefully composted beds! It’s obvious that this kind of organic farm does more than just produce food – it sustains the local wildlife too.
In a few weeks, we have learned what cotyledons are (the first leaves a plant grows) and the difference between a spade and a shovel. We’ve even had a go at driving the tractor (very very slowly). We can prick out seedling tomatoes into pots, and shovel compost off the back of a moving trailer. It might not be obvious just how much is done by hand at The Fold, with each seed sown, pricked out, planted, weeded, and harvested by the farm team. Plus we shovel a lot of woodchip at this time of year to keep the paths and beds clear of weeds. We’ve also eaten very well here, cooking nettle pakora, bittercress pesto, and turning the last leftover leeks in Cherry Orchard Field into a tasty gratin for six hungry workers. Cooking communally means we’ve enjoyed homemade pizza, daal and chappattis, and even rhubarb and ginger crumble – with lots of the ingredients coming straight from the farm to the kitchen.
It’s been a very weird time to have an adventure, though. COVID-19 has meant the farm has been under lockdown conditions, and we haven’t been able to visit friends and family. But it’s led us to appreciate how much we depend on the land and its continued productivity. Troubling times tend to make us remember the important things in life – for us, it’s about doing valuable work, eating well, and connecting with other people – even if it’s just saying hello to strangers in the lane.
A little after 4pm on Round About Lane, there’s a family out for a walk with a small boy who’s clearly grumpy. As we pass them walking on the other side of the road we say “Aren’t you lucky – there’s a bright red tractor just about to come down the lane!” and his afternoon is suddenly exciting. It’s a tiny connection, and a reminder that in hard times, these small moments matter. And then… it’s back to today’s composting.