Regenerative farming in Hampshire.
I hope that this blog will be the first of many in my new Local Discovery series. I would like to highlight some of the planet friendly activities, community groups, campaigns and businesses that are based in Hampshire. This first post was inspired by a lovely person in the shop who let me know they'd recently bought some of the Worthy Earth's produce at a REKO Ring.
I'd not heard of this kind of marketplace before but it is inspiring. Through the REKO Ring a community of producers and farmers come together in one place to commune with, and sell directly to local customers.
About Worthy Earth:
Worthy Earth is a market garden based in Dummer, Hampshire - just a little north of Winchester. It was started by three growers, Harrison, Cody and Lawrence whose wish was to create a regenerative, no-dig garden for seasonal vegetables. Their focus on small-scale farming means that they only deliver produce to the local area, up to 10 miles from the garden. This both reduces the impact they have on the environment and creates a closer link between the customer and the place where their food has been grown.
The produce is organic, using mulch sourced locally to enrich the soil. They also hand-cultivate, ensuring the best and most well-tended food reaches the customer.
What is a no-dig garden?
The no-dig method of farming and gardening means that the soil is disturbed as little as possible. To do this crops are not weeded by digging or turning over the soil. Instead organic matter, such as mulch, is spread over the top so that the weeds, plants and fungi are incorporated back into the soils ecosystem.
Soil is very much alive and typical farming practices that till and plough the soil regularly has the effect of gradually killing the organisms within and destroying the ecosystem. A regenerative no-dig process doesn't just protect the soil and it's micro-organisms, but helps to feed and restore the lost nutrients. This helps to ensure what is grown in the soil is as healthy and tasty as it can be.
Another environmental benefit of the no-dig method is to preserve the soil stores of carbon. I've mentioned before in my blog on organic farming that the soil is a huge store for carbon, it actually holds 3 times as much carbon as the atmosphere but intensive agriculture has led to soil carbon loss of between 40 and 60%. 1 The impact of this on the climate is immense, and so no-dig gardening has an important role in reducing carbon in our atmosphere.
How does a REKO Ring work?
This unique form of marketplace originated in Finland, and the word REKO is an abbreviation of the Finnish word for "fair consumption". It is a place for small-scale farmers and producers to sell their products directly to local customers. They come together in one place, at one time with pre-ordered produce for customers to pick up. In this way, customers are linked directly to locally grown food and are able to buy without the need for multiple deliveries, transportation of goods or excessive packaging.
It works through the REKO Ring (Hampshire, UK) facebook group, which you can join and use to find out what is on offer and when the next REKO Ring market is taking place. Use each producers site to order the goods that you'd like, but select REKO as your form of delivery. Customers then attend the next REKO Ring market to pick up all their orders at once.
The REKO Ring only started in early 2022 but already has 5 producers involved. At the time that this blog has been written you can source the following produce from the REKO Ring:
Spelt flour - https://www.wheatsheaffarming.com/shop
Smoked trout - https://butler-country-estates.co.uk/buy-trout-smoked-trout/
Salad and vegetables - https://worthy-earth.co.uk/reko-shop
Aberdeen Angus beef - https://www.burntwoodfarm.co.uk/order-online
If you know of anything sustainable and planet-friendly happening within Hampshire that you think I could highlight here on the blog and share with others, please do drop me a message or let me know when you're next in the shop.