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Farm life with Nell Benney


As spring draws nearer, Oakbrook Community Farm’s newest project is starting to come to life, writes Nell Benney.

Jessie Marcham and Sarah Roberston, have been busy over the winter planting twenty-two apple trees with strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, jostaberries, gooseberries, tayberries, and daffodils in strips underneath. The fruits of their labours are starting to show with the arrival of the first spring bulbs.

They are trialling an innovative new farming system called ‘agroforestry’, where trees are grown amongst crops. There are many proven benefits of incorporating trees within land management, including improving soil health and water holding capacity, increased biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

All these benefit their crops by boosting the soil’s fertility and reducing the risk of drought.

Their new season, chemical free daffodils are currently on sale at Loose, Star Anise, Four Seasons and The Crown and Sceptre Community Shop.

Jessie and Sarah are looking to start a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme, where members would receive a share of their fruit.

There will be opportunities to get involved and volunteer at the Orchard this next planting season and they will be looking for regular help with the upkeep of the trees once they are more established. Any help with book-keeping, web-design, fundraising and marketing support would be very much appreciated.

Jessie Marcham said: “Being at Oakbrook is an amazing opportunity to farm and experiment in a collaborative, community situation.”

FIND OUT MORE: www.oakbrookorchard.wordpress.com or www.oakbrookfarm.org.uk 

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