Bristol market garden breaks new ground to feed the local community during the pandemic

In response to the desperate need for accessible fresh produce, a Bristol-based market garden, Edible Futures, have teamed up with local organic producers Lilliput Farm to scale up their veg production.

Following a public search for land in March, Oliver and Bernadette Stanley from Lilliput Farm near Wick, a Pasture-Fed, Livestock Association-certified native breed beef and sheep farm, have made available a field for Edible Futures to use for this season. The growers from Edible Futures have sown thousands of plants, bought a tractor and – since a little over a month after the crisis struck – have been on the ground getting crops in the soil.

Humphrey Lloyd, head grower at Edible Futures says: “The COVID-19 crisis almost instantly revealed how reliant we are on foreign fruit and veg imports. Straight away we were seeing a massive unmet demand for local fresh food, with veg box schemes and other farms supplying their local markets totally flooded with new customers.

“We’ve decided to take on a new field as a response to this situation. It’s great that we’re doing this, but the more important question is why is this necessary in the first place? It’s crazy that we’ve let the suburban market gardens that once fed our cities dwindle to the point that a situation like COVID-19 creates such disruption to our food supply.”

Oliver and Bernadette Stanley from Lilliput Farm said: “It’s important that communities can get fresh, healthy food locally, that it’s produced organically and respects natural ecosystems. We’re creating a farm kitchen to help people access local, sustainably-produced meat and fresh vegetables for exactly this reason, and partnering with Edible Futures will help us to achieve this.”

Local organisation Bristol Food Producers, a network of farmers, growers, retailers, restaurants and distributors have been working to support new entrant farmers over the last four years and have found that land access is one of the biggest challenges facing people getting into farming.

Bristol Food Producers coordinator Steph Wetherell said: “Providing new entrant farmers with access to land is a key part of increasing local food production and the resilience of our food supply. Gaining access to land can be a real barrier facing new entrants, and we would really like to hear from local landowners who would be interested in supporting new entrant farmers through selling or leasing them land, helping increase the security of Bristol’s food future.”

Bristol Food Producers have compiled a list of people who are looking for land in the area and can be contacted on bristolfoodproducers@gmail.com.

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