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Hélène and Stephen weeding at Stonelynk Organic Farm, Fairlight.

Weeding is a daily ritual

Could small, organic farms be the answer to our food security?

Small-scale farms, that are less affected by adverse weather conditions, could soon become an important part of our food security.  Here in Hastings we are fortunate to have local producers such as Stonelynk Organics in Fairlight run by Hélène Maerschalck and her partner Stephen Atkinson who live in Hastings. Dee Williams reports.  

Now that the sun has broken through the unending cloud we quickly forget just how much rain has fallen since October 2023.  With some alarm, the Guardian reported in April that:

Fields are completely underwater: UK farmers navigate record rainfall

According to the Met Office, 1,695.9mm of rain fell from October 2022 to March 2024, the highest amount recorded for any 18-month period in England.  

The report confirms that many farmers are struggling to get the crops in the ground and there is the threat of food shortages later in the season, as explained by farmer and agricultural journalist, Tom Allen-Stevens:

Our farm is mainly arable so it’s crops that we grow. The constraints that we are facing this year means we are going to have an appalling harvest. We’ve hardly got any crops in the ground at all, I’ve only managed to get 30 hectares [74 acres] of my 170 hectares planted and we have 110 hectares of “croppable” land. That’s less than a third.

Fortunately, we have some excellent local organic farms that have not been so badly affected by the inclement weather.  On a visit to Stonelynk Organics, I spoke to Hélène and asked her how they had managed with all the rain.  “Oh,” she said with a shrug, “there have been a lot more slugs and snails but we don’t use big plant machinery here so we have been able to access our whole site using wheelbarrows.” 

Stonelynk Organics is a two-acre market garden where vegetables, fruit and herbs are grown in 140 permanent beds and four cropping polytunnels.  It is located on Battery Hill, Fairlight, and if you fancy a look around yourself, why not book a ticket for their next garden tour, which is Saturday 8 June from 11:00 to 12:30.  

Click and collect

View of mixed fruit and veg from Stonelynk click and collect box.Small, sustainable farms such as this, could help fill the gap this season, and once people get a taste for freshly harvested crops there could be no turning back. At Stonelynk they grow a mixture of seasonal salads, vegetables, fruit and fresh herbs with other items brought in via an organic wholesaler. If you want to choose exactly what goes in your box then you can sign up to their ‘click and collect’ scheme.

It may cost a little more than the supermarket but small-scale farms could be vital in a rapidly changing world.

Check out their website for more information including recipes. 

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Posted 12:27 Friday, May 24, 2024 In: Environment,Food & Drink

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