Saturday, November 27, 2021
AGM in the polytunnel
TTD held its AGM a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit chilly – for reasons of good ventilation, it was held in the polytunnel rather than a pub. We had fifteen people there, which generated lots of good discussion.
After reports about TTD activities, we talked mostly about future plans, two of which are really important for our times:
Habitats – we have been creating habitats in a vague sort of way for years, mostly by accident, understanding the importance but not really focussing on it while we were setting up the basics of the farm. But now is the time to devise a more robust strategy for our insects, butterflies, bees, birds, to utilise the space we have in the most beneficial way we can. Suggestions include: leave areas uncut over the winter, especially with long plant stems, encourage umbellifers, e.g. giant hogweed, for hoverflies, leave stagnant water with organic material in it in bottles for rat tailed maggots (hoverflies), leave patches of nettles in sunny spots for butterfly larvae, research plants specifically attractive to a wider variety of insects, build log piles, bug hotels. Signs are needed to indicate what has been put in place to avoid creating ‘ecological traps’ – someone inadvertently scythes a patch of nettles carefully left as habitat by someone else, effectively wiping out the species targeted for conservation.
Soils – it takes a long time to build up a farm, but we have got the basics sorted now, so it is time to take our soil more seriously, bearing in mind that food is only as good as the soil in which it is grown. Rubbish soil produces rubbish crops. We have been reading about Regenerative Agriculture recently, defined as ‘food production which at the same time improves the environment’, and that is what we want to aim for. We will make more, and better, compost, and turn it more often so that it composts more quickly. We have planted green manure this year and will continue to do that, digging it in in the springtime.