Mid Devon’s Veg Box sceme
PUBLISHED: 15:15 19 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:15 19 January 2016
An organic plot in the heart of Devon has been supplying fresh produce to locals for 10 years, writes Ian Parsons
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the creation of Blueberry Hill Market Garden, a two acre site set in the wonderful rolling hills of the county’s heart.
It is from here that every week Jacqui Bourne loads up baskets of fresh, organically grown produce and heads off around the town of North Tawton and the villages of Bow and Zeal Monachorum, delivering locally grown vegetables and fruit to the members of the Blueberry Hill Veg Scheme.
Jacqui had always been a keen gardener and had long kept an allotment, but, following the death of her father from cancer, she decided to extend her passion into a mission. Jacqui wants Blueberry Hill to provide a healthy variety of produce for the local community, who in turn will know exactly where the food they are buying comes from.
After doing a course in organic market gardening she started searching for a piece of land where she could bring her idea to reality. Before long she had entered into an agreement to rent a small field off a local farmer and then the hard work began. Converting a sloping grass field into a productive market garden took an enormous amount of effort and many problems were encountered on the way, not least in the shape of hungry rabbits! But after lots of hard work (and many metres of rabbit fencing!) Jacqui now has a thriving site that annually produces nearly 50 types of fruit and vegetables for the local communities situated around it.
Being organic of course, she has to take particular care of the fertile Mid Devon soil to ensure that the nutrients and the goodness remain within it. Jacqui only works about a quarter of the site at any one time, rotating her planting around it on a yearly basis, always planning at least three months ahead, making sure that each week new produce is ready for harvesting. The parts of the site that are fallow (left unplanted) are managed by two Devon specialities - Dartmoor Ponies. Amethyst and Rhea not only keep the vegetation down, but they also provide a ready supply of organic fertilizer; they are also a couple of very friendly characters that take particular interest when the carrots are being harvested!
Looking out from the market garden you gaze upon undulating green fields crisscrossed by snaking hedgerows, framed in the distance by the high ground of North Dartmoor.
It is a beautiful place to work. Jacqui loves it here, she has always felt connected to the outdoors and after working this particular parcel of land for 10 years, she feels especially connected to the site.
For her, being able to produce food with good nutritional value that can then be enjoyed by the local community is the key reason why she does what she does. She particularly enjoys the seasonality of it, every month brings with it new colours, new smells and new flavours.
When she is not working at the market garden or out delivering its produce, Jacqui can be found doing something in complete contrast to the peace and quiet of Blueberry Hill - performing and recording with psychedelic rock band The Honey Pot.
If you wish to find out more about Blueberry Hill Market Garden you can contact Jacqui via email at firstname.lastname@example.org