Why am I doing this?

Ben Raskin - 01 December 2010

I have been a vegetable grower for 16 years in various parts of the country but have always worked for other people. Hotels, charities, colleges and wealthy landowners all bring both joys and challenges. However as soon as I had a basic grasp of growing and business something constantly nagged away at the back of my head that I wanted to be doing this for myself. I am grateful to have been able to make so many mistakes at the expense of my numberous employers but really wanted to be making them for myself.

When I moved to work for the Soil Association in 2006 I was nervous about how I would cope being an office all day and all week, and took some comfort from the fact that my contract was only for 2 years and that if I couldn't stand it (or indeed they couldn't stand me) I'd be able to escape with pride intact. As things turned out I love the work at the Soil Association, am lucky not to spend every working day in the office and although I missed being outside and working with plants I was able to maintain my sanity with weekend and evening allotmenteering.Despite this I kept an eye and ear open for opportunities to rent or buy land in the hope that my dreams could be realised.

Thus at the end of 2010 I signed a lease at Wheatfields in Churchill, just south of Bristol. This blog will be the story of just over 2 acres managed on a day a week. (plus I suspect the odd weekend - if I can drag myself away from my wife and baby boy.)

After discovering the outdoor life on an organic vineyard in Northern Italy, and a one year professional gardening course at Lackham College, Ben has worked in horticulture for 16 years. Previous incarnations include running a walled garden in Sussex, working for the HDRA (now Garden Organic) at their gardens in Kent, setting up and running the horticultural production at Daylesford Organic Farm, before moving to the Welsh College of Horticulture as commercial manager. Ben is passionate both about the commercial production of high quality organic vegetables and teaching practical skills through on farm learning. He currently works as horticultural advisor and learning manager for the Soil Association, as horticultural advisor for The Community Farm at Chew Magna, and has just signed the lease on a piece of land near Bristol to plant an experimental and educational fruit and agroforestry system.

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