Back again in the Moss Valley of Sheffield this time to visit another small scale producer who is doing everything organic with the aim of bringing vibrant and nutrient packed vegetables to dinner tables across the city. There’s something slightly satisfying about putting on my wellies and visiting a place like this, it just feels right.
Meet Nick Johnson (Sheffield Organic Growers) having watched the documentary Food.inc which looks at how modern day agriculture is producing not only unsustainable impacts on the environment but also unhealthy food too Nick’s passion for growing veg began to simmer, having worked in a wholesale shrub nursery he decided to take a leap into the world of WWOOfing – whereby you’re put up in accommodation and help work on the land of other farmers and growers….now up in Scotland a passion really began to blossom.
After a 2 year apprenticeship at Troed y Rhiw organic farm situated in the blissful scenery of West Wales learning his trade Nick made the move to Sheffield and in January 2015 began work on his 1.2 acre site.
When asked about his philosophy on growing food Nick talks about how soil ecology is the number one priority as this has a huge impact on the lands ability to retain moisture and also absorb rainfall. He also touches on the fact that without heavy machinery or harsh farming techniques intensive productivity is still possible as shown by Canadian grower Jean-Martin Fortier http://www.possiblemedia.org/marketgardener/
Along with the use of new emerging techniques such as wild flower buffer strips in field margins as shown by the work of UK based organic grower Iain Tolhurst http://www.agricology.co.uk/farmers-and-growers/iain-tolhurst
After only a short time on the site Nick has also setup a veg box delivery scheme which operates within the Sheffield area and whilst in the poly tunnel we discuss this setup…
There is no denying the hard work that is put into a small scale operation such as this, on my visit we ventured towards the top end of the site to examine some slug damage to newly planted coriander seedlings which need constant attention…
I also got the chance to help out planting some veg too with a new patch of beans being done that day. Nick explained how the seeds he sources are all organic although it is possible to grow from non-organic as part of the organic certification this requires informing the soil association which seeds you wish to use, they can then come back with any organically available to use from their records.
Taking the time to appreciate the surroundings of the total 12 acre Sheffield Organic Growers site is something to behold, an absolute hotbed for fruit and veg production done right, which gives you the local consumer the opportunity to get your hands on truly fresh and seasonal produce throughout the year.
Not only does Nick think about the foods he grows in an ethical and sustainable way he also provides customers with veg bags that are made with an environmental conscious in mind too.
To learn more about Sheffield Organic Growers and what they do head over to their site http://sheffieldorganicgrowers.com/
Nick finishes off by saying “growing food is an interaction with the environment and how food is grown can have a big effect on the biodiversity of the planet.”
As always with the Real Food Func Producer Profiles we aim to highlight the best of what the local area has to offer when it comes to the foods available, this is one right at the top of the list if you’re looking to reconnect with what’s around you and also help a producer such as Nick continue to develop his thriving veg growing business.
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