For the 2019 growing season, I have returned to grow organic salad on a Growing Communities micro-site near the Hackney Marshes for their Veg Bag Scheme. I am also setting up growing space through Organiclea’s Farm Start Program using a Chef-Supported Agriculture model. This site is based at the Wolves Lane Nursery in Haringey and all the produce - including tromboncino courgettes, heritage tomatoes and climbing french beans - is being grown for Ottolenghi’s plant-focused restaurant, Rovi. Alongside my active growing endeavours, I have written articles about growing edible plants for publications including Waitrose Food Magazine and Bloom Magazine.
For Spring / Summer 2018, I relocated to Wiltshire where I worked on an organic vegetable farm growing produce for markets and wholesale. I then moved on to volunteering at a Buddhist Retreat Centre where amongst a number of DIY and maintenance jobs, I worked to begin reclaiming a vegetable patch that has not been used for some time by clearing, weeding and introducing green manures to improve the soil - a huge challenge in a heatwave!
Having completed the Growing Communities trainee growers program in 2016, I went on to work as a Patchwork Farmer growing salad leaves for their award-winning Hackney Salad on a certified organic site in Stoke Newington. Growing Communities is a social enterprise that supports small scale sustainable farmers and helps communities take back control of their food by providing a real alternative to the current food system.
As the lead gardener in the initial stage of Farmopolis, I looked after thousands of donated plants and flowers from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the two months in the lead up to their move to their new home on a jetty in North Greenwich.
I trained and worked as a beekeeper from June 2015 to May 2016 using conventional methods. Yet having found myself perplexed by many of the normalised practices in conventional beekeeping (for example: swarm suppression, feeding bees with sugar in winter, applying pesticides to hives), I began to look for an alternative approach that is more in line with my training in and passion for organic practices as a food grower. I retrained as a Sustainable Beekeeper with Sean Hearn and have taken on the care of a warré hive in Hackney.
To learn more about bee-centric approaches to beekeeping, visit The Natural Beekeeping Trust's website: http://www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.org/
As a conventional beekeeper, I worked as part of a team who kept hives in Central London since 2002 with apiaries at locations including The Natural History Museum, The British Museum, London College of Fashion and The London School of Economics .
ARTICLE: The Secret Lives of the LSE Bees
During this time, I was also an Urban Gardener for the Bee Friendly Trust where I project managed the installation of bee friendly planters on the platforms at West Brompton, Barnes and Richmond train stations as well as planning and installing planters for educational purposes at Heathmere Primary School in Roehampton, Surrey. The planting project at Richmond Station - which I project managed and designed - won Gold in the Richmond in Bloom Awards in the Serco Award for Best Environmental Garden or Project category.