Five Acre Community Farm is a seven-acre organic vegetable farm based at Ryton Gardens, between Coventry and Warwick. It is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm that was founded in 2012 and now supplies 110 families every week, all year round, with fresh seasonal organic and local veg.
Head Grower at Five Acre is Becca Stevenson. Becca completed a two-year apprenticeship at Abbey Home Farm in 2007 and, after helping establish and run a CSA scheme in Ireland among other roles, has now been at Five Acre for the last seven years.
Five Acre grows all year round to fill their CSA boxes, growing at least 42 types of vegetables and typically many varieties of each type. Every plant is grown from seed, often hand sown by an ever-helpful group of volunteers, and are either grown as transplants, sown into a seed bed, or sown direct.
A lot of the vegetables are grown at field-scale on the site, but they are fortunate to have access to five polytunnels, which really help them to grow and fill boxes for their members for the full 12 months of the year. Last year they even grew melons in spare polytunnel space, sharing out the resulting fruits evenly to members.
Becca admits some of the crops have proven trickier to grow over the years, such as peas as the pigeons kept eating them, which led to them being abandoned as a crop altogether. After several years of struggles, it was also decided that rhubarb was not going to prosper on their soil conditions.
“Of the crops I continue to grow fennel I find a bit tricky as I want to grow a few succession crops of it throughout the season and usually at least one sowing bolts,” she explained.
“I have tried a few different varieties and sowing times but it is a bit of a gamble. If you had more time to pamper them and make sure they are watered in dry spells that would help.”
Weeds are of course a constant menace in all gardens and farms and Becca recommends that gardeners try to keep on top of them when they are small, to avoid the weed pressures building up.
She also encourages more people to consider the benefits of growing oriental vegetables such as Chinese cabbage and Pak choi on their plots, saying: “they are quick to grow, really tasty and I think overlooked”.
When it comes to the best bit of advice they’ve received about a particular crop, Becca says: “Sowing celeriac on Valentine’s day, I always thought that would be too early but they are tough little plants and can cope with the cold when planted out earlier, and the longer they are in the ground the bigger they get.”
Finally, Becca, like so many others up and down the country, regards tomatoes as her favourite vegetable to grow as, even early in the year, they evoke the spirit of better times ahead.
“I enjoy the process of training them and, as they are one of the first things I sow, they are a reminder that summer is on the way.”
Find out more about Five Acre Community Farm by visiting their website here. You can also follow them on various social media, where they post regular updates to showcase the farm, the work they undertake, and also their great vegetables which make their way to the dinner tables of families across the Coventry and Warwick area.