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I have often written and spoken about how biodiversity is the bedrock of keeping Helen’s Bay Organic farm a viable sustainable farm business. Along with biodiversity in our soils and hedgerows, we cultivate economic diversity running a box scheme, a farm shop and a market stall in St. Georges market. Putting our eggs in a lot of baskets reduces the risks.

Recently I have been looking at the other diverse activities on our farm.

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Our community garden, now 12 years old, comprising of thirty 15 meters raised beds, a small polytunnel, numerous fruit trees and bushes, a garden shed and seating area and lots of communal tools, is carefully managed by a diverse group of families and retired persons. They come and go as they please but have regular times where they all come together to share cutting grass and tidying the borders. Much laughing can be heard alongside the work. New friendships are forged. Sadnesses are shared. Some great food is grown.

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Ben and Eva run a model allotment opposite our car park with their friend Michael.

Ben, now a pastor and formally a trained biodynamic gardener, really knows his onions so to speak. Eva tends the fruit and chickens and is ever so generous to me at Christmas with her incredible jams. Michael looks after the flowers and assists with the heavy digging and weeding. They have a beautiful orchard now nine years planted giving boxes of apples, plums and damsons. Ben, some years ago, hauled the empty beehives out of my tool shed and now has 12 hives active and well. Visitors always stop to look .

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John and Sarah Jane, newcomers and both recently retired, are moving from their previous allotment onto a site beside the community garden. It is really interesting watching this take shape and I have no doubt the energy and enthusiasm they bring will be a real asset to everyone else.

Michael and Sacha have put up a polytunnel in partnership with us to grow more tomatoes for bottling. Sacha is studying horticulture in Greenmount and can use the project as part of her practical. We share the work which is win-win for all. They both constantly help out around the farm.

Amongst all this are our regular volunteers who love to spend time with us and who we really appreciate. Mostly young people wanting to make a connection to nature and see how food is grown.  Every year we host young Steiner teenagers who come to do their agricultural practical as part of the Steiner School curriculum and improve their english.

Helen's Bay Organic

Some summer days there can be as many as twenty or more people busy around the place.

As for the future. The next development is to build a mobile kitchen area beside the cob oven we built last Spring so we can have celebrations and food events on the farm.

John

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