Full Episode Transcript, by Github:
0:00:00-0:00:17: Hello and welcome to Farmerama. This month we’re hopping all over the world. Firstly, we hear about how community gardens have spread across a whole region in Portugal.
0:00:17-0:00:30: Then we learn how kids are connecting with their ecosystem in South Africa by becoming plastic pirates. We’re in Bulgaria where we hear about an interesting membership model for a farm shop.
0:00:30-0:00:49: And finally back to the UK to dig into a farming approach that layers and connects many businesses on one farm. Andre Miguel works for the Council in Cascais, Portugal and is the project manager of Hortas
0:00:49-0:00:58: de Cascais. The Council have really embraced the power of community gardens as a way to improve the lives of people living there.
0:00:58-0:01:11: What started as a few allotments has grown into a district-wide program where many people are managing plots of land together. They even now have a community vineyard.
0:01:11-0:01:23: My name is Andre Miguel. I’m a Portuguese and I work for Cascais municipality. It’s a municipality near Lisboa, near 20 kilometres away.
0:01:23-0:01:36: So 10 years ago we started a project, a urban garden project, our first garden with six plots. We didn’t know how to do it.
0:01:36-0:01:48: We started from scratch. It was only six plots, a hose for watering and a shelter. And that’s the way we started.
0:01:48-0:02:03: But since the beginning, the designers that design landscape projects inside the municipality thought that it was very good to include in those designing projects gardens. We called them hortas.
0:02:03-0:02:21: So they easily start to include them. And after one year we have already three gardens installed. But afterwards it starts to grow, growing because we could fulfil the needs of all the
0:02:21-0:02:32: important players in this thing. Because we could fulfil the needs for the gardeners, they have all the conditions they need to have a good garden.
0:02:32-0:02:50: But at the same time, these gardens are really inside the neighbourhoods. So they are really near the buildings and the home of the people. So they’re starting to be a meeting point for people with their grandmothers and grandfathers
0:02:50-0:03:09: take the children and go there to show the lettuce, the tomato plant. And they start to be a place for the gardeners to chat with neighbours. So the gardeners start to be a meeting point in the important place of the neighbourhood.
0:03:09-0:03:32: So the neighbours started to want to have gardens in their neighbours. At the same time, we have been lucky because we have made the lucky choice of selecting the way of assigning for the gardens like a non-line form.
0:03:32-0:03:50: So I don’t know if you know that normally you apply for a specific garden, you make an assigning list, a closed one, you have the people who had plots, you have the people that are waiting, are substitutes, it’s closed.
0:03:50-0:04:07: But when you make an online form, it’s always open. And that makes a thing that the waiting list started to grow always. And that for the politician, it’s a pressure because they want to fulfil the needs for
0:04:07-0:04:25: the people waiting for a plot. So we have all the three players, the three stakeholders that are influenced by this, but the gardeners, the neighbours and the politicians are all in need of more gardens
0:04:25-0:04:35: and hortas. So the project has grown very, very much. For now, we are with 700 plots assigned.
0:04:35-0:04:53: We don’t have only hortas now, we have vineyards, community vineyards, where the people don’t have 30 square metres, that’s the area that each plot has. But they have some plants, normally in vineyards we’re talking about 40, 50 plants.
0:04:53-0:05:11: We give them training, we give them advice and they do the labour, they do the treatments, they work the soil, they do the pruning. And afterwards there’s an harvest and we already have made four harvest and we have already
0:05:11-0:05:37: wine that is waiting to be ageing in wood barrels and we will have a Carcavel’s wine made by the population, then we start to make Orchard too, it’s the same systems. With this assigning list, we get the confidence from the politicians from us to innovate and
0:05:37-0:05:57: to start to think about the farming in Cascais. So we start to managing a garden, one hectare garden inside a farm, it’s a pick your own garden, it’s very well known in Cascais, the people go there to have the experience to
0:05:57-0:06:15: collect the lettuce, the tomato, etc. And we’re starting to work with professionals of food systems, with restaurants, with small supermarkets and trying to open new ways, to open the fields for other people to come
0:06:15-0:06:30: and sell because they’re starting to feel the need for these kinds of products. Products that are local, that are organic, that are regenerative for now, so there’s a big need for these kinds of products.
0:06:30-0:06:51: Afterwards, we start a garden inside a prison with the work labour by the inmates, with our management, but they do the work for the nation’s proposals to people in need, so it’s more a movement, it’s not only a project, it’s a movement of starting and promoting
0:06:51-0:07:06: urban agriculture in Cascais. About vineyards, we have two projects running at the same time. At the same time, we have the community vineyards and since 2018, we started, the municipality
0:07:06-0:07:25: bought a land in Cascais, it’s one of the parish of Cascais, it’s Carcavelos, and in Carcavelos you can find the smallest wine region in Portugal. It’s a wine region with a lot of history, it’s used to rivalise with Oporto wine, to
0:07:25-0:07:46: bring exports to UK, and it’s a wine with a long history, but with urban pressure it went almost extinct. So the municipality is trying to make a work, I don’t know how to say it, but to make it
0:07:46-0:08:05: start to grow from scratch. In that work, we work with the community vineyards and at the same time we have a land that the municipality bought, it’s more or less five hectares, but we installed 2.7 hectares of
0:08:05-0:08:34: vineyards with the right varieties, white varieties, because it’s mostly white variety zone because it’s near the sea, so it’s very good for white wine. And we take it on in 2019, we planted it in 2020, it’s one year before, so we planted
0:08:34-0:09:01: in 2019, we graft it in 2020, in early March of 2020, in the beginning of the pandemic crisis and in 2021, we made the first harvest and last September we made our second harvest and it’s really working with regenerative techniques, with mulching, with cover crops,
0:09:01-0:09:22: with knowing exactly what kinds of nutrients the plant needs at a 15-day basis. Within 15 days I make an analysis and I know really what the plant needs, so I help the plant to get those nutrients to the soil or to fold their applications, so with regenerative
0:09:22-0:09:42: practices, and yes, the people from Cascais are starting to be involved with this kind of agriculture and even the mayor already knows what regenerative agriculture is and is one of the supporters of this thing.
0:09:42-0:10:15: I think it’s important for this kind of projects that they would not be a stop, like only projects, but being movements of citizenships because our gardens, they are not a project of lettuce growing or tomato plants, they are a project of people, always about people, and we know
0:10:15-0:10:35: all the names of all our gardeners or the population that gardens those plots, so it’s very important that this is a thing that goes bottom up, that people will really feel that it’s their own project and they nourish to grow.
0:10:35-0:10:55: The other lucky choice that we have, that we decided not to have high fences, so we have fences like one meter and that makes the neighborhoods and the people around, even if they don’t have a plot to garden, they can look, they can, at some time, they can
0:10:55-0:11:18: use sightseeing, go there and see the work of the others, so they feel inside the plot, so it was another lucky choice that we had, but it made the difference. All of us have to be much more, or consider much more the work with the customers directly
0:11:18-0:11:33: with the customers. Me, as a customer, I think we need more contact with the farmers and that the farming must not be excluded from the city, far away, where nobody sees what they are doing, but it must
0:11:33-0:11:48: be joined with the city and it’s very important that the cities produce part of the food that they need. I think market gardening techniques and the market gardening movement will be the answer
0:11:48-0:12:09: that we all were hoping for and it’s the answer because I came from a farmer’s school, so I was taught that we need big lands, we need to be competitive, we need smaller plots don’t matter because you cannot sell, you cannot, and that’s not the truth.
0:12:09-0:12:33: There’s a right scale that you can be yourself, contact directly with clients, produce food inside the city, and help climate change.
Philippi Village, in the township of Philippi, Cape Town, is housed in an old cement factory.
0:12:33-0:12:47: I visited a few weeks ago and was humbled by the place. It’s a place of extremes. We walked past armed guards through a mammoth ex-industrial building and then into an eight
0:12:47-0:13:03: acre open area that houses a football pitch swarmed by children and then nestled in the corner you’ll find Amaquanda Learning Garden, where local people from the township together with the team at Philippi Village produce food and are doing great work to improve the
0:13:03-0:13:17: health of the soil. There are chickens to produce eggs and a lot of chard. We spoke with one of their collaborators, Yanga Gceya of Captain Fan Plastic.
0:13:17-0:13:36: I saw firsthand how he kept multitudes of kids entertained and thinking about their role in our ecosystem as they explored their relationship to plastic.
My name is Yanga and I turn ordinary children into positive pirates for the environment.
0:13:36-0:13:52: By that I mean Captain Fanplastic is an environmental literacy program that teaches children a no trash but treasure mindset in a way that we want to change the way they interact with plastic over their lifetime by making sure that they kind of like embody a different
0:13:52-0:14:07: relationship than the previous generation has had with plastic where we look at the value and the impact of plastic overall over their lifetime. The concept of a pirate is something that’s world renowned, funny enough, and every child
0:14:07-0:14:18: everywhere loves adventure. So take that into account, the love for pirates, the love for adventure, as well as a tradition that’s lived on many generations, oral storytelling.
0:14:18-0:14:37: All of us has grown up with some kind of stories told to us, or we heard or told to other people. So harnessing the power of storytelling, we kind of like take this program and bring it to children with the power of our voices where we tell them stories of how the ocean and
0:14:37-0:14:52: us are kind of like interacting or connected in a way along with the plastic consumption that we have. So if you look at like how all of those things come together, you kind of then have a way
0:14:52-0:15:04: that you can sort of change someone’s mindset because you immerse them through the power of storytelling. I do actually have a beautiful analogy of really how this impact of this program has
0:15:04-0:15:18: been since its inception five years ago in 2018. So we were doing a school in a township in Cape Town called Gugulethu. And one of the school visits was to the grade four classes.
0:15:18-0:15:30: And through that, we teach them obviously how to ARRRRR like a proper pirate. And with that, that stands for the pirates five Rs. So they’re refuse, reuse, repurpose, reuse, recycle.
0:15:30-0:15:43: Oh my gosh, I’ve just butchered the order now. So we told the children how to do this R. And so I’d come back to the school to sort of like do another session or organize another session with the grade five classes.
0:15:43-0:15:51: And this little girl, as I’m walking in the squad, in my peripheral, I see this little girl walking. And at the time, I don’t have my eye patch on.
0:15:51-0:15:56: I don’t have my captain’s hat on. I’m just in my casual clothes. And then she tugs my blazer.
0:15:56-0:16:06: Hoodie, hoodie, pulling my blazer. I look at her and she goes ARRRRR with her eye on her face. And my heart melted.
0:16:06-0:16:19: Right there and there, I truly believed in this program that these five Rs are really going to change a generation of people. So yeah, that’s really the impact of this program so far.
0:16:19-0:16:34: Phillipi Village and Captain Fanplastic meet at a very beautiful place. I call it a tryst that’s made to happen because if you look at our program, it has been predominantly existed as a school program or as a primary school program for grade fours and grade fives
0:16:34-0:16:49: because it aligns with their curriculum so well. But then an aspect of it that we’ve explored through the years is having a community intervention where children kind of like take care of their natural environment or their immediate environment
0:16:49-0:17:00: and trying to create a connection with places that are very far away from them. Like if you talk about the great garbage patch to a child, that is something that’s so far removed.
0:17:00-0:17:11: But if you talk about picking up litter and immediate action and empowering them for today, then that kind of like triggers them to do action for today or it empowers them or inspires them to do that.
0:17:11-0:17:26: And I think Phillipi Village really embodies an opportunity to empower children to see themselves as heroes in their communities and through like the community garden or learning garden, they’re able to create those connections of picking up litter and then also putting
0:17:26-0:17:41: stuff in the ground so that you may eat, so that you may benefit. So you’re creating this human that’s kind of like an environmental custodian, but also really embodies what it means to be interconnected with the environment or being in harmony with
0:17:41-0:17:52: nature. And that’s how I see it. For me, in my little corner, I find so much joy in really planting the seed in young children
0:17:52-0:18:04: to be able to be empowered because at the end, I’m 30 years old and I’m sure like the next 30 years old, I’ll be at the end of my life because that’s the life expectancy of someone these days.
0:18:04-0:18:13: So what are we doing to make sure that the future is really secure and that they have a fair chance of survival? At this rate, I feel like we’re not doing enough.
0:18:13-0:18:24: I feel like our politicians are not doing enough. I feel like corporates are not doing enough. There’s so much money and profit and what it is, is just the capitalist greed that’s
0:18:24-0:18:44: having us by the chokehold and creating this culture of consumption, consumption, consumption. So I think we need to break the chain of consumption with plastic and material possessions in general, and really talk about things that matter for the rest of our lives, the rest of humanity.
0:18:44-0:19:03: Yeah, and ultimately, I think our main goal that we set for ourselves, our audacious goal, is to reach 175,000 learners worldwide by 2025. And we are well on our way because in the next six months, in the next six to 12 months,
0:19:03-0:19:20: we’ll be rolling out this program in eight Indian Ocean Islands. So from Madagascar to Cape Verde to Maldives to Seychelles and many other ones in between. And that’s through the partnerships that we’ve been able to make.
0:19:20-0:19:31: And we are also open. That’s why I’m saying that because I want it to be an open call to anyone to reach out to us and we create impact because the power of storytelling and empowering children to
0:19:31-0:19:53: be their guardians of their own future, is the way to go.
Filip Harmandzhiev is the owner of Livadi Farm, a polycultural farm in Bulgaria where animals are raised on pastures.
0:19:53-0:20:06: He shared with us a membership model he’s been using for a number of years for his online farm shop. It enables a more equitable model for access to the nourishing food that he is producing.
0:20:06-0:20:22: My name is Filip Harmandzhiev. My farm is in Bulgaria, in southwest Bulgaria between the very close to the Greek border. And I raise pastured animals, chicken, cattle and pigs.
0:20:22-0:20:36: And we produce products out of them. Basically, my concept is when you open the fridge to see only me. I have a limited number of pastured chickens that I can produce according to the law.
0:20:36-0:20:49: Every beginning of the year, I enlist dates and numbers of chickens that my client can reserve. And once those chickens are subscribed, I close the doors of the club.
0:20:49-0:21:11: And I call the people that reserve the chickens club members. They pay a voluntarily set fee for the membership. And they have the dates and the reserved chickens to come to the shop and buy it.
0:21:11-0:21:24: And this is going for 12 years. Because it’s a permission marketing, it’s a marketing at the end of the day, although I hate this word.
0:21:24-0:21:39: The word of mouth is that someone has to die in order to be able to join the club, which is totally untrue because we run the lottery every year. So every year, the club opens the doors and people can subscribe.
0:21:39-0:21:56: But just the image is such that everyone wants to be in. And so it’s a nice, viral permission marketing. I explain this membership fee also as a regulator of my prices.
0:21:56-0:22:15: So if people consider my prices high, then they would pay a low fee. And the prices are always relative to your income. So if you’re on the bridge of your income abilities, then you’re not supposed to pay
0:22:15-0:22:29: a high fee. But if you think that my prices are low compared to your abilities to pay, then you please pay more so that to reflect your abilities.
0:22:29-0:22:50: And then people really look at this lens, and the richer people pay more than the normal. And I hate, you know, I don’t think the food should not be accessible in terms of prices. So I don’t want to be very aggressive in prices.
0:22:50-0:23:05: And this is a tool to have a little bit bigger premium from the people that can afford to it. So it’s, yeah.
0:23:05-0:23:22: Tim May of Kingsclere Estates has been working to build and run multiple businesses with a series of collaborators all on the same land. And in doing so, he’s sharing the risks and rewards of being part of the estate.
0:23:22-0:23:37: They are currently running their Pitch Up competition for the second year in a row, which invites people to pitch business ideas to make further use of the resources available to them on this estate.
0:23:37-0:23:54: I’d done a scholarship program, an affiliate scholarship, and I’d looked at what the future of farming was going to be and realised it needed to be much more nature based, much more sort of that productivity was going to come from more diversity, from having more
0:23:54-0:24:05: enterprises stacked on top of each other. And I started off by trying to do it all on my own. Fairly quickly ended up in counselling and going through a bit of a, yeah, I suppose
0:24:05-0:24:21: an emotional sort of almost like a mini breakdown, not a complete breakdown, but yeah. And that really spurred me on to start this, the share farming sort of model that I’d seen on my travels, but I was in the back of my head, I must get that working, but I really
0:24:21-0:24:31: made that happen. That was the true catalyst for that. So essentially what we wanted to do is have a system of enterprise stacking where one
0:24:31-0:24:41: enterprise goes through the landscape and is followed by another enterprise and another enterprise and another enterprise. So everything’s, instead of using the land for one use, it’s being used for multi uses.
0:24:41-0:24:56: So an example that I often cite would be our dairy cows running through the pasture and then being followed by a chicken, a flock of egg laying chickens. So those two enterprises are following and they have this sort of symbiotic relationship
0:24:56-0:25:07: where the chickens scratch away at the dung and that exposes the dung to sunlight, but the chickens are scratching away to get the bugs that are in the dung and that’s their protein source.
0:25:07-0:25:17: So that works like that. And then we get, you know, the chickens also need extra food. So they have the grains that are brought in, which then is more dung into the pastures,
0:25:17-0:25:27: which creates more food. So that’s the sort of symbiotic relationship we’re trying to create. The challenge to that is obviously getting the right people involved.
0:25:27-0:25:41: And one of the things I was pretty aware was that these systems being so new and diverse, they weren’t really suited to your normal sort of manager-managee sort of employee-employer relationship.
0:25:41-0:25:57: It needed much more grey matter, much more sort of that entrepreneurial spirit and that sort of dynamism that you get from an entrepreneur. So we really needed to set up something that was going to attract that kind of a person.
0:25:57-0:26:07: That’s where this idea of share farming came in, where we kind of, we put two businesses together to sort of, to run in cohesion. So independent, interdependent of each other.
0:26:07-0:26:21: So what we do with the dairy, for example, is Ollie puts in his management time and I put in my land and then we share all the inputs and share the capital, like the cows and that sort of stuff.
0:26:21-0:26:33: And we both, at the end of the day, we look at that as a whole business and say, right, we’ve both put this stuff into the business, but we’ve put it in these shares. And then that is how we then share the output, the milk price at the end of it.
0:26:33-0:26:47: The challenges are, I suppose, you kind of got to be prepared to say enough’s enough. And you know, like, cause you’re so, well me anyway, I was so excited by working and by the idea working, but sometimes it doesn’t work.
0:26:47-0:27:00: And sometimes, you know, the relationship’s not right or the person isn’t as entrepreneurially minded as you’d hope or, you know, or just their life moves on and you know, people go different ways or the system doesn’t work.
0:27:00-0:27:14: So I think we’ve got to be prepared to say enough’s enough. And one of the things that I suppose I hark back to, there’s like a business cycle. It’s like one of those bell curves and you can start off with like the innovation and
0:27:14-0:27:24: development and then you go into this massive growth phase, get to maturity and then dwindle off at the end. And I think that every idea, every, you know, business, all these, they all go through that
0:27:24-0:27:33: curve. And even, you know, the most impressive businesses that we’ve got going on at the moment, they’re going to go through that curve and they’re going to end.
0:27:33-0:27:47: And I think it’s sort of being realistic about that scenario and realising that things are going to end and just, I suppose, putting in, making sure the exit strategy is there at the beginning so we can leave amicably.
0:27:47-0:27:59: We’re not used to thinking about death as a society really. Yeah, we don’t think about the end, but it’s kind of actually thinking more about death and being, you know, or the end of a cycle, the end of a period and being prepared to
0:27:59-0:28:05: move on. I think that’s a really important thing. The main businesses are raw material production really.
0:28:05-0:28:22: That’s what we’re into at the moment, which is what we’d like to expand away from. So we’ve got the dairy, which is a mobile milking parlour, 450 cows, and they move, they milk once a day, they move all the way around the estate so they can, they’ve got
0:28:22-0:28:30: access to all the land. And that means that we can have mixed land use, you know, across the whole farm, which is really beneficial.
0:28:30-0:28:45: And then we’ve got our egg laying chickens, which we run also rotationally moving them around and both of those have been a real eye opener into the power of mobile infrastructure, being able to have, you know, not being, not having enterprises fixed to a single piece
0:28:45-0:28:56: of land. And then you get like the, the radiation of benefit or negativity coming from that pool because it’s mobile, you can move it all around and it gives the owners much more autonomy
0:28:56-0:29:05: because if they, you know, the owners of those businesses, if they fall out with me, they can pick their farm up and go somewhere else. And so they’ve all got that, that thing, which is really, really sweet.
0:29:05-0:29:22: We then have a whole load of business units that we rent out to various other people. One of those units is, goes into an undertaker. So she, she has the bodies and then we’ve then set up a green burial site for her.
0:29:22-0:29:30: So that’s quite a cool one. But what I really like there, the idea is, so when people are buried, we plant a tree on their plot each year.
0:29:30-0:29:37: So that would be a hazel tree. And then what I’d love to get to in the future is those hazel trees then become coffins for the future.
0:29:37-0:29:50: So, you know, start to weave them into coffins and get that sort of cycle going. So I ran a competition last year looking for new people to come and join us. The people that kind of won that process were called Munch and they’re Daisy and Dan.
0:29:50-0:30:03: They are foragers. So they go around the farm and forage leaves and twigs and branches and all sorts of plants. And they dry them naturally and then they box them up and it’s for rabbit food.
0:30:03-0:30:18: So they’re foraging for the pet rabbit industry. So that’s really exciting seeing how that goes. We really realised that there’s an abundance of opportunity within our, on the estate.
0:30:18-0:30:34: We’ve gone, we’ve had this mindset shift from like this reductionist sort of linear, very sort of, you know, trying to cut the costs out of everything, trying to, you know, see less in our business to one where we can just, every time I’m wandering around the farm,
0:30:34-0:30:50: I just see another opportunity, another opportunity and this whole abundance. And I realised the only way I can really realise any of that abundance is to let other people come in and, you know, see their own abundance and work and try and work in a collaborative
0:30:50-0:31:04: way that helps to build the whole thing that is Kingsclere Estates together. So, so what we’ve done is we’ve run this, I suppose a call to action called Pitch Up. And we want people to pitch their ideas to us.
0:31:04-0:31:17: And those ideas would generally be ones that would fit, would sort of integrate within the business. So in the future, we’d like to see the raw materials that we produce on the farm converted
0:31:17-0:31:31: into something on the farm and those byproducts from that conversion process cycle back into the farm and then sold within, on the farm as well. And then the fact that that selling process, bringing more people into the farm to buy
0:31:31-0:31:42: more products and just sort of getting us on this huge up cycle of sort of regeneration. So that’s kind of what we’re trying to do. And that’s where Pitch Ups come from.
0:31:42-0:31:54: So the opportunities, I suppose we’ve got at the moment, we’ve got, you know, woodlands full of material that could be coppiced or could be turned into charcoal. We’ve got heritage grains and all sorts of other grains that could be turning milled
0:31:54-0:32:06: and turned to flour or baked. We’ve got obviously the foraging opportunities that could be used for salads instead, or could be used for botanicals or could be used for perfume making.
0:32:06-0:32:26: You know, basically anything land based is an opportunity. And anything that the ones that really, really attract or get us open our eyes are ones that sort of say, right, we’ve got this idea that’s going to use this process and it kind of mixes
0:32:26-0:32:31: into the farm already. It doesn’t, so sometimes I get people that want to come and do market gardening.
0:32:31-0:32:41: But the vision of a market garden is one that is sort of like a square of ground that is fixed on the land. And it doesn’t end up integrating into the whole business.
0:32:41-0:32:55: Whereas, you know, I can see opportunities where we can be like more gorilla in our nature, like gorilla gardening, going just and find the opportunities within the whole estate. And so like where we’re growing turnips, for example, you know, we’ve already got a really
0:32:55-0:33:03: good crop of turnips. So a gorilla gardener would just go out and pick the very best of those turnips out of the 100 acre field of turnips.
0:33:03-0:33:13: And they might only need to be growing, I don’t know, a tenth of an acre’s worth of turnips if they were in their market garden. But in this scenario, they can go and pick just the very best and sell those as turnips
0:33:13-0:33:28: and not really have to have a tenth of an acre set aside just for their turnips, for example.
This episode of Farmerama was made by me, Abby Rose, and Jo Barrett.
0:33:28-0:33:40: A big thanks to the rest of the Farmerama team, Olivia Oldham, Katie Revel, Dora Taylor, Fran Bailey, Annie Landless, and Eliza Jenkins. Our theme music is by Owen Barrett.
0:33:40-0:33:52: We’re very grateful to those of you that support us and allow us to bring you these stories every month. Even the smallest contribution makes a big difference to us.
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