Claire Hobbs – funded by Vodafone World of Difference project
My project involves assisting the farm shop in developing sales of plants and seeds suited to growing in an urban environment. As part of this I will be using my commercial horticultural experience to produce a range of 20 crops, writing basic growing guides and designing seed packet labels. Alongside this I will also be working with existing gardening volunteers to extend their knowledge of how to grow the plants cultivated on the farm, both for the shop and our garden. Having worked on large scale nurseries in the past with state of the art facilities it’s challenging but fun adapting my knowledge to the farm’s limited facilities and budget – it’s amazing what you can achieve with very little!
I’m already six weeks into my project at Hackney City Farm but fortunately I still have ten weeks left. I’ve been working really hard but I’m waiting for the plants to do their bit too! However, I haven’t just been sowing seeds – as well as planning the growing schedule for the rest of the summer I’ve also nearly finished creating labels for our own seed packets which we are now selling in the Farm Shop. I’m now continuing with the growing guides that will accompany the plants that will be on sale during the summer.
One of the biggest challenges for me has been adapting my commercial horticultural knowledge to an organic growing regime and growing in a facility with very limited resources. Germination rates of some plants have proved somewhat frustrating as we have limited control over the temperatures within our polytunnel. We don’t have any heating, irrigation systems or propagation facilities. It’s quite remarkable what we’re able to achieve with limited resources but it does mean my schedule is a little off! It’s a great learning experience for me though and I’m finally realising why I spent five years studying horticulture!