I started working at Cyrenians Farm in 2004 as a project worker for the Farm Enterprise. I supported Sean Jacques in the initial development of the enterprise. For a while that meant a lot of chasing sheep and playing football with the Farm Community residents but we gradually started to fill the farm with new polytunnels, crops and infrastructure. The first things we planted were the trees; a rule of thumb as far as gardens go because trees take the longest to grow. Something like 3,000 trees in 1.5km of hedge, 100 fruit trees and some other standards were planted as well as an acre of raspberries. After Sean left I became the manager and continued the development with the rest of the team. We added another 150 fruit trees and after the sheep had departed we started to form the fields into a crop rotation and began producing field scale veg. I thought I’d got things going nicely, decided to do do my own thing for a bit and left to work elsewhere. That adventure took me to to other farms, farm certification projects and I worked with Nourish Scotland and the Fife Diet on their schemes and programmes. At the end of 2014 after another manager departed I decided to come back and help look after the farm again. Having kids aged 1 and 4 meant it was a good idea to work close to home and enjoy a bit of stability. So I’ve been here ever since.
Since coming back we’ve added further infrastructure such as a packing shed, 2 keder houses, a walled garden, pumped irrigation and we’ve just seen the most productive year we’ve ever had with our largest ever delivery of 525kg of apples to our friends at locavore in Glasgow and the best sales ever via our veg bag scheme (look out for significant growth in that next year). We’re very happy about where the farm is and, indeed, where it is going. We have a sound development plan which will see us add layers of enterprise to our project in order to build even more resilience and sustainability in years to come.
With this progress and things quietening down for winter it seems like a time for me to once again, bid the farm farewell as I’m about to move to another role with a different charity. I’ll be working with a wonderful organisation called The Yard from 12th November. I feel I’ll always be part of the community here and I’ll certainly take opportunities to visit now and again but it is time to hand over stewardship of this biodiversity oasis and productive centre of excellence to someone else. Someone with the passion and drive to keep it moving forward and consolidate it’s place at the heart of a regenerative local food movement while adhering to the core values of the organisation. I’ll be staying close to the local food network through a couple of other charities I’m involved with so I’m changing how I make my living but not entirely changing what I do.
Anyone who’d like to take up the challenge of stewarding the farm can find the advert for Cyrenians Farm Manager here.
In the meantime I’ll be organising a wee fire at the farm with snacks for the team. I’ll be seeing you all soon.
Checking out for (probably) the last time.