In 1997, Adrian Halstead, always a keen allotment gardener, took a leap of faith and bought the nursery in rural Barcombe, four miles west of Lewes and twelve miles north of Brighton. He began the conversion to organic status under the auspices of the Soil Association with the idea of starting a local vegetable box scheme.
And here we are, still going strong! A crew of ten permanent employees, living in the area, from all walks of life, sharing the varied, relentless tasks that producing a veg box offers.
We grow a rotation of a wide range of alliums, brassicas, curcubits, legumes and graminae (the families of leeks, cabbage, squash, beans and sweetcorn) as well as a fallow crop of green manure to build fertility, in a beautiful, peaceful field, surrounded by traditional hedgerows, cedar trees and oaks, looking towards the South Downs.
The remaining acreage is cultivated mainly in polytunnels and glasshouses in which we grow chard, brassica greens, spring onions, herbs and salad throughout the year. In the summer we produce unusual varieties of tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes and beans as well as speciality crops including peas, green garlic, shallots and beetroot.
It is from these crops that we begin the menu for the contents of each week's vegetables boxes, supplementing them with produce from other organic growers, local and further afield, as we need.
Our aim is to produce a veg box that is as local as possible, filled with fresh varied seasonal produce at good value the year through.