In Your Field: Alice Dyer and Adam Lockwood - 'Now all we need is the sun to start shining'

And we are off: harvest 2023 has begun. Our first crop of babyleaf spinach left the farm last week and, given the weather, quality has been surprisingly good.

clock • 2 min read
In Your Field: Alice Dyer and Adam Lockwood - 'Now all we need is the sun to start shining'

And we are off: harvest 2023 has begun. Our first crop of babyleaf spinach left the farm last week and, given the weather, quality has been surprisingly good.

It is nice to be up and running again, although we are expecting challenges with supply due to the wet weather limiting our drillings in March and April. Now all we need is the sun to start shining.

 

Spring peas are still yet to go in the ground, and the rain has meant any weather windows are used to satisfy the salad operation, which will always take priority over arable crops.

 

We have introduced some new crops this year including fenugreek, coriander and bunched spinach for the wholesale market. We normally avoid growing crops that require hand harvesting or too much manual labour, but selling it as a standing crop means it is the responsibility of the buyer who will send in their own team of pickers.

 

The main babyleaf business relies heavily on mechanisation and harvest is all done via machine, which takes some of the pressure off sourcing labour.

 

Now the season is getting into full swing, our seasonal workers have arrived on the farm, primarily from Romania, and 80 per cent are returning workers this will be the third season some of them have been with us. Like many businesses, particularly horticulture, recruitment has always been a massive challenge for us.

For the first two seasons, we tried recruiting locally with some real horror stories. Being more attractive to employees is difficult when the job is so unglamorous, but we have introduced some perks and bonuses to try and keep them on.

 

As our farm comes alive with fresh produce, so do all the farms in the surrounding area of south Worcestershire.

 

One thing I have always loved since moving to this part of the world five years ago is the celebration of local food.

 

There is still a level of food sovereignty here, which much of the UK sadly lacks.

 

The Vale of Evesham still has many market gardens, smallholders, seasonal fruit and veg stalls on roadsides and there are farm shops on every corner.

 

We have blossom trails to explore, a plum festival and, most recently, the annual asparagus festival which kicked off last Sunday.

 

What better way to be reminded how lucky we are to have such a variety of produce on our doorsteps, than watching a grown man dressed as an asparagus dancing around.

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