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Ideas for a No-till growers Europe (twin) network

Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:03:33 GMT

My partner and I are setting up a no-dig market garden (0.5 acres) in the UK (Devon) this season, so I've been asking questions and trying to source advice and info from British and European growers in order to make the best start possible within our means. As those of you who grow in Europe will know all too well, tools, resources, seeds, information on small-scale, hand-labour run market gardens relevant to Europe is very scarce. Richard Perkins is an exception, but I'll come back to that at the end of the post. So I've inevitably been thinking a lot about how great it would be if there was a community similar to this in Europe. No-till growers and all the info that Jesse, Josh, Jackson and all of you guys share via the forum, youtube videos and comments, etc. are so helpful for growers around the world that it would make sense to have a European spin-off which focussed on European farms, operations, tools, crops, etc. This could take any form, but I am particularly interested in two potential aspects: 1) create a sharing platform to capture and make available the kn owledge and experience of successful and inspiring growers; a podcast like Jesse's would be a dream, but I suppose it requires a lot of resources/effort; 2) create a resource bank of information about tools, methods, seeds, cultivars, climatic zones, etc. similar to what is largely available in the US thanks to the work of JM, Curtis Stone, etc. This could take the shape of a Youtube channel and/or a website/blog. I know that Richard Perkins' is a great source of inspiration, information and will also be travelling through Europe to film and interview regenerative farmers, but that's (1) less focussed on vegetable growing and more on whole-farm systems, (2) hardly a community-oriented "thing", and more the product of the immense energy Richard has. I think he would also be pleased to have something more similar to a real network with diverse outlets (website, youtube, podcast, forum, etc. and no paywalls) than Ridgedale's online platform is now. These are just thoughts, and please note that I am not proposing anything "alternative" to no-till growers, but just a European extension. I would love to get involved in any way that might seem relevant. I would love to organise a podcast series or work, with anyone interested, on a series of blog post to hear what other growers in Europe do and how they do it. It is clear to me that if anything like this will be born, it will stem from a collective effort. Even more so because I will personally have quite a lot to think about in our first season, and time will always be a limiting factor. Any fellow overseas growers who have any thoughts, suggestions, eagerness to get involved? P.S. I will document the setting up of our market garden from scratch on Youtube anyway, so stay tuned and please let me know if you are in the UK and want to get involved, give a hand or just offer some advice to an inexperienced but passionate no-till (no-dig) novice.

Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:33:17 GMT

I was thinking about this, but the challenge is language. I toured market gardens in France last year and posted on social media, but language was a barrier. As an English speaker in Austria, I speak German fluently and have access to what German speakers are doing (podcasts are starting lots of blogging, some YouTube, but that pays less in German). I believe in networking and I think there is a lot of valuable experience and resources, from Greece to Norway and Lithuania to Portugal, but if we're not accessing it now in English-language networks and groups, I don't think it would happen with a new group. The European Market Gardening group on Facebook is helpful for sourcing things and there is multi-lingual interaction, but it isn't gaining momentum. I'll provoke a bit: perhaps the Europeans aren't in need of this because, at the end of the day, today's market gardening is thanks to Coleman bringing knowledge and practices back from France and Italy.

Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:18:37 GMT

You are totally right about the fact that language is a barrier, but I would think that it is not the crucial one. In the UK, for instance, that argument does not apply, and yet apart from the Organic Growers Alliance forum there is very little about regenerative agriculture and nothing on Youtube (apart from the fantastic Tap O' North) or in the way of podcasts. I also agree on the fact that market gardening is not as trendy now as it is in the US, and the cultural belief that it is only another menial job does not attract many young people (the fact that making a living is challenging does not help to change that impression). This is both a disadvantage and an opportunity though, because momentum gets created also thanks to community/media engagement. I believe that Curtis Stone and JM are responsible for the American revival of market gardening, and if it were only for folks like Eliot Coleman we wouldn't see many young people interested in farming.

Tue, 21 Apr 2020 06:12:56 GMT

Hey. Touching base as I’m down the road in Cornwall. on insta

Wed, 22 Apr 2020 10:25:46 GMT

Hey all, we're totally down for more of a European presence. In the future it would be our hope to have someone reporting from Europe. The Covid stuff has slowed us down on some of these plans, but we're definitely game. Would be cool to have the same presence in the Southern Hemisphere and Asia as well. So many great things going on in the no-till realm all over! I also think that what Perkins is/was planning could be good for that. A podcast around it would be cool as well. Feel free to shoot me ideas or let me know about growers you'd like to see featured at notillgrowers @ gmail dot com

Liam Dolan
Sun, 26 Apr 2020 21:04:50 GMT

I agree that it would be great to see a stronger Southern hemisphere and Asian presence as well. Most of what I can find online is more relating to temperate climates, and people trying to cope with growing through the winter and dealing with subzero (Celcius) condtions. Living in the subtropics our issues run the opposite direction, dealing with 35°+ (95° farenheit) and having very wet then very dry seasons. I added a post a few weeks ago hoping to encourage discussion about hotter climates.

Mon, 04 May 2020 16:00:18 GMT

Here in France there's an informal group that is called Living Soils (Maraîchage Sol Vivant). They do a great job sharing ressources and information but I don't think a lot of them speak English. I've already seen a few French farmers mention Curtis Stone, Richard Perkins etc... in discussions online but mostly people seem to be very cautious and doubtful. JM Fortier is more respected now, but at first he wasn't very warmly welcomed to say the least. Typically farmers are having a hard time growing and selling and they tend to react somewhat negatively when you tell them about other production models from across the Atlantic. So, whilst it's true that market gardening is gathering momentum I still think the movement needs to mature further. Things are just starting to move. Another aspect of the problem is that most new market gardeners end up setting shop in rural areas where local folks aren't that eager to support them because they grow food at home themselves and/or they don't have a huge purchasing power so they just buy cheap stuff from Spain or Morocco at th e supermarket (and you can't really blame them). You also have to keep in mind that 20% of the country's population basically lives in Paris. That's also where ALL of the highest-paying jobs are. Parisians are willing to pay top money for farm fresh organic vegetables but there is barely enough supply to meet that demand. Land is prohibitively expensive in Ile-de-France and 99% of the existing farmland around Paris is the playground of huge, unionized grain growers that are supported by the government with subsidies and expansion opportunities. So most of the organic veg you can buy in Paris come from 'légumiers' farmers, ie large-scale, mechanized, organic farms which are in other regions where they grow monoculture cabbage, carrots and leeks etc on dozens of acres.

Thu, 07 May 2020 09:47:31 GMT

Great perspective on France, thank you!

Thu, 21 May 2020 20:11:09 GMT

Hi all, just saying hello from the Isles of Scilly - former Mossy Willow Farm (australia) intern, running a no-dig market garden on the islands. We're three farmers working together on five different enterprises (pastured duck and turkey, eggs, beef and veg). Would love to be part of any community sharing platform - although starting a podcast would be a bit beyond us. Plus, we love listening to Jesse -- maybe some more European content would be the way forward there. Happy to share tips/suppliers info etc for the South West if that is helpful. If we can get it to Scilly, you can get it anywhere! It's a challenging season to be starting out in -- like a lot of others, we made a mad-dash for the CSA model a couple of months ago. Give us a shout if you need a (virtual) hand.