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Post People: A farmer’s life – in Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 13:00 19 August 2015 | UPDATED: 14:34 19 August 2015

Alice Holden with a basket of fresh Dagenham produce

Alice Holden with a basket of fresh Dagenham produce

Archant

Alice Holden, 34, tells Iain Burns about Grown in Dagenham, a 1.77-acre plot she manages at Central Park Nursery, Rainham Rd North that produces crops, supports wildlife and offers city folk a taste of the country.

“Grown in Dagenham is a not-for-profit urban farming project, part of Growing Communities.

“Our intent is to grow food in cities and sell it to people nearby.

“Around 17 per cent of our food could be grown on the fringes of cities like London, in places like Barking and Dagenham.

“Before I became farm manager, I studied social anthropology at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies). But I just loved nature too much to leave it out of my life – my parents own a dairy farm in Wales – so I became a farmhand all over the country.

“At one point I was living in a yurt in the Cotswolds.

“Moving to London again was odd after my time in the countryside – but when I got to Dagenham it soon became the best farm I’ve ever worked on.

“It’s a place that needed nature so much, so to see it built up from nothing, to see a wildlife oasis emerge with butterflies and toads and birds, was very beautiful.

“We are usually inundated with volunteers – people can come on the first Wednesday of every month to register – so I’m never lonely, unlike in the country.

“It’s especially good to see kids from the city, kids who’ve never had access to nature, get a chance with our farm.

“We also hope to take on some apprentices next year – as well as to start producing our own Dagenham ketchup and chilli sauce.”


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