Pete’s motivating piece could inspire progress within you!
And despite difficulties, I’ve found all of these tasks, and more, to be definitely, entirely possible.” Pete Buchanon
Since moving back to Somerset because of the lockdown (I was living in South America until March 2020), farming vegetables was the only option I had back in my home village to earn money. What’s more, it got me out of the house. In the past I have avoided pursuing tasks that are overly manual. Then suddenly I found myself spreading manure, digging up potatoes, winding tomato plants up strings, and driving the world’s smallest (real) tractor. My days have involved weeding thousands of leeks, pushing wheelbarrows, and battling against my new arch nemesis – the French bean.
Despite growing up in the countryside and helping out with the odd bit of farm work in my summers as a student, it was never something I considered doing for a living. Vegetable farming is physically tough work; despite some people viewing it as a romantic past-time, it is still a business, and therefore things need to be done quickly and efficiently to make money. All this means greater challenges for someone with one hand.
And despite difficulties, I’ve found all of these tasks, and more, to be definitely, entirely possible. I have been lucky to have two great bosses and colleagues, Adam and Rita, who have always supported me. Their attitude has been perfect – first they show me how they do a task, then they tell me to go and find the way that works best for me.
This is something I think a lot of Reach members can relate to. My method for planting lettuces or harvesting kale – the same as so many other tasks in life – is different to the method taught to me. At times I have been frustrated, and I confess that although I’m getting better with practice, I’ll never be the fastest bean picker in the world. However, vegetable farming isn’t all about speed; preparation, the knowledge of how to grow each variety, how to look after them, and being perceptive with your observations – that’s what makes the difference between a good crop and a bad crop.
For me, farming has been a rewarding experience. When Adam and Rita took a nine day holiday in October, I was able to run the veg farm by myself; do the harvests, pack all the veg, and keep the farm shop supplied, which in turn feeds a lot of people in my village. For someone with one hand to be growing the food of a couple hundred people – I thought it was pretty cool!
“Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realised” Allan Armitage
Read the entire Reach 2021 Magazine here: https://reach.org.uk/within-reach-download/
If you ever wanted to learn any gardening (or anything), workaway is a wonderful way to acquire and improve new skills. It’s also a wonderful way to travel, meet people and support your local community!
The famous Adam and Rita- take a look at their organic produce from Pitney Farm.