Trainee Grower Vacancies - Ragmans Lane Market Garden

 

Ragmans Lane Market Garden is seeking two trainee growers for the 2018 season. This is a fantastic opportunity for two motivated people to gain practical experience and knowledge of the practicalities of small-scale commercial veg-growing, nurturing crops from seed to harvest over a full growing season.

About the Market Garden

Ragmans Lane Market Garden is a thriving organic vegetable-growing business, now about to enter its fifth season. Originally set up as a partnership, Jon has run it as his own business (with help from seasonal trainees) for the last year. The garden is based at Ragmans Farm, a renowned teaching centre in an idyllic location by the river Wye in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean. The garden has been steadily developing into a viable business based on a growing area of just half an acre of outdoor veg beds and three polytunnels. This has been achieved partly through an emphasis on growing high-value crops, particularly salads, and through the use of harvesting methods and crop successions designed to make the most of the available space. A minimal cultivation approach has also been adopted, using compost and other mulches to enhance soil and crop health while reducing the weed burden and need for tillage. Produce from the market garden is sold to local shops, restaurants and directly to local residents through the innovative Dean Forest Food Hub website.

About the Traineeship

This informal but comprehensive traineeship will run from early March until the end of October (some flexibility with dates). The trainees will work closely with the grower on a daily basis, and receive thorough practical training in the various aspects of running a small-scale market garden, including crop planning, cultivation, plant propagation, harvesting, weed management, fertility building, produce packing and marketing. The wide range of crops grown means that the work is varied – trainees can expect to be performing several different types of task over the course of each working day. There will be occasional sit-down tutorials discussing particular topics, but most training will take place on the job. Each trainee will be provided with a simply-furnished private room in a comfortable shared house on the farm, as well as all (mostly vegetarian) food and an £80/week stipend. In return, trainees are asked to work from 8-4:30 Monday-Friday, with a 30-minute tea break and an hour for lunch. There are some earlier starts (and earlier finishes) on harvest days, as well as occasional weekend watering cover.

2016 trainee Esme Shea:

“My traineeship at Ragmans was an absolutely wonderful experience! During the eight month season I learnt so much from Jon and thoroughly enjoyed both living and working at the Market Garden. My time at Ragmans has left me with a real passion for horticulture and equipped me with skills that I will use for the rest of my life. Since finishing the traineeship I have pursued a variety of horticultural work, including using horticulture therapeutically to support disadvantaged children. For anyone interested in learning about organic growing and market gardening, I cannot recommend this traineeship enough - a truly inspiring and informative experience."

The traineeship is conceived as a stepping stone for people to build a livelihood in veg-growing or a related field, so candidates will be expected to have a serious interest in developing the skills needed to pursue this line of work. Despite being rurally based, the market garden’s small scale and low level of mechanisation mean that the traineeship could equally suit someone interested in developing urban or community growing projects.

In addition to general enthusiasm, the following personal attributes are required:

Some practical experience of veg-growing on a commercial scale (eg. WWOOFing).
Commitment to and/or interest in organic/agroecological principles
A decent level of fitness and a willingness to perform physical work in all weathers.
Ability to follow complex instructions and work efficiently, with a high level of attention to detail.
Ability to work well as part of a team (including some supervising of WWOOFers in the summer months)
Full driving licence and willingness to make regular deliveries (no more than a few hours a week on average)
Enthusiasm for shared living and willingness to be involved in preparing shared meals at least some of the time

It should be noted that Jon is very much still learning the art of growing, so the traineeship is as much an opportunity to learn alongside him as it is to learn from him.

To apply for one of the roles, please send an email to ragmanslanemarketgarden@gmail.com explaining why you would like to undertake the traineeship here and why you think you would be right for the role, including details of any relevant experience that you have.

The deadline for applications is the 8th of January 2018, and interviews will take place during the week starting the 15th of January.

Please share this ad with anyone who you think might be interested.

For further info, please use the above e-mail address or call Jon on 07503217680


Lecture at Oxford ORFC

The room was more than full. People sitting on the floor, standing everywhere, filling all gaps. There were more than 65 souls on the room and at least other 20 people could not get in the lecture room. Inside, waiting for us to start, we could see a lot of expectation in the faces of the participants. They all wanted to see what bio-fertilizers are, how are they made and what they can do for the soil, the plant and the farmer. Our goal was simple: to inspire, inform and entertain the participants with new fresh and useful information about a new way to look at organic agriculture.

Matt Dunwell chaired the lecture and introduced us and kept track on the time and questions. We divided the presentation in three parts:

JuanFran brilliantly explained the working principles of the bio-fertilizers and presented the current research he is carrying at Ragman’s Farm.
In a top-speed workshop, JuanFran explained the receipt of a basic bio-fertilizer while I was mixing ingredients into a small jar.
I explained the practical applications of the bio-fertilizer and the many experiences we are having with farmers around the globe.

The session was planned for 1 hour but questions kept coming. After the lecture, doors went open and some people went out but many other people got in as we were still answering questions.

Thanks to Juanfran, Matt and the rest of the Ragman’s Farm team and the volunteers and participants for the interesting questions.

Unforgettable.

By Ruben Borge, Rocking Soils.

Ragmans at the Oxford Real Farming Conference!

Juanfran and Matt were joined by Ruben Borge from the Netherlands to deliver a session on biofertilisers at the Oxford Real Farming Conference on the 4/ 5th of January 2017.

We arrived to a packed conference (over 800 people) and headed off to our session at 4.00pm in the St Algates room.  By 3.45 the room was standing room only, and the poor ORFC steward had to hold the door closed to stop another 50 people joining the 70 people inside.

After an hour of talking we offered the audience the chance to escape to the pub - 20 people left and another 15 came in!   So it is safe to say that biofertilisers have really caught the imagination at the conference. 

This builds on the teaching from Jairo Restrepo and the work that Juanfran Lopez has been doing over the last two years at Ragmans developing our understanding of anaerobic ferments to revitalize our soils.

We also hoped to tweak the whiskers of people at the conference and get them interested in the courses that we are running in 2017 (see flyer)

We were also selling the first translation into English of Jairo Restrepo’s seminal work The ABC of Organic Agriculture through the Blackwells stall at the conference. They told us it was the third best selling book on their stall - not bad for a book with no publicity and only two days out of the printers. It’s a fantastic reference book with loads of biofertiliser recipes, cultivation techniques and a passionate philosophy that argues for the small farmer and for food sovereignty for all. It is for sale through our website click here

The ABC of Organic Agriculture introduces the work of Columbian scientist and farmer Jairo Restrepo. Although well known in South America, his message is new on this side of the Atlantic, and this book adds a strong new voice to the English literature for those who fight for diverse cropping systems and affordable healthy diets.

In this compendium of practical ideas and political discourse Jairo Restrepo lays down a challenge for us - to re think our approach to the natural world. We have become complicit in a food system that is fundamentally antibiotic. We are at war with nature, deploying a wide range of poison against pests and plant disease, resulting in food of poor nutritional quality. As the land empties of small farmers, our hospitals fill with diabetics and oncology patients.

This book is a manual that explains that high quality food can be grown affordably on small farms using minimal inputs. Starting with the basic chemistry of the soil it leads the reader on a journey from the science of soil nutrition through mineral ferments mimicking the stomach of a cow, and onto the application of microbial brews to fortify the living systems all around us. We can build natural fertility back into our soils without having to resort to the drugs of the agricultural supply industry – we have the ingredients for health and productivity under our noses.

Our companion on this journey, Jairo Restrepo, speaks with authority having been a government scientist studying pesticides in Brazil in the 1970’s. Appalled by what he learnt in this role, he decided to dedicate his life to understanding how we can work with the natural world rather than against it. Few advocates of natural farming have his scientific depth of knowledge of the true effects of industrial agriculture. Fewer still have put together a practical manual for farmers and growers to learn a new system that will help build long term fertility into their soil.

This is the sort of book that gets a bit tatty. Used again and again, it picks up the sweet scent of the soil and grows well thumbed pages over the course of time. It is for those who don’t mind a bit of dirt under their nails.

This is more than a recipe book however. A recurring theme throughout the book is that we need to reclaim our enquiry into the natural world. We need regain our sense of wonder and at the same time to understand the scientific fundamentals behind our actions. Otherwise we substitute one set of blind recipes for another. Our industrial farms have filled with ‘operatives’ waiting for the next spray instruction (product/dose/timing) received by text from the agronomist. Farmers have become deskilled. In contrast, Jairo Restrepo requires us to take back control of the health of our land from the agricultural supply industry. It has not served farmers or consumers well. In his teaching he passionately challenges the mass production of poor quality food describing it as ‘dishonest food’. His vision of Organic Agriculture is not that of certification and supermarkets, but instead he calls for a new food sovereignty that delivers equity as well the right to an affordable and nutritious diet.

The process of beneficial inoculation is subtle. An infinitesimally small colony of microbes starts to multiply and in the process slowly but surely changes the nature of the medium itself. Once a preparation is applied to the land its true potential opens up before us. This is what Jairo Restrepo intends with the ABC of Organic Agriculture – to inoculate our minds and the nature of farming itself; to help us realise what we can achieve when we work with nature.

Matt Dunwell Ragmans Farm November 2016

Regenerative Agriculture 29th June - 4th July 2017

One Day Practical Bio Fertilisers & Fermenting 19th May and 10th November 2017

Rockin Soils

Jairo Restrepo  - Inspirational Courses and 2017 dates

In June & July 2016 we hosted Jairo for his second UK teaching visit  - a 6 day Intro to Regenerative Agriculture with Chromatography. Jairo also gave a talk in Bristol to a packed audience.

Again, it was amazing, Jairo gave so much to the course. His commitment was immense, and he wove tales of his experience alongside practical tools and advice for creating fertile soils and approaches to farming for the future in a time of climate change.

Regenerative Agriculture 29th June - 4th July 2017

What people said:

"motivating, inspirational, humble, wonderful"

" Great - need more!"

"Just want to try everything now!"

For more pics see our facebook page.