Meet some of the collective: Ash Wheeler

Ashley Wheeler runs Trill Farm Garden with his partner Kate. They have been growing veg there for over 10 years. They run courses for those in market gardening: an Introduction to Market Gardening in partnership with other local farms including Pitney Farm Market Garden (Somerset) and Fresh and Green (Ottery Saint Mary) and Salad Growing courses

TALC asked Ash a few questions about the agroecological training sector:

Why to you teach market gardening courses?
“I studied Horticulture at Reading University and although I enjoyed the degree, it taught me very little about how to grow veg. I see very little appropriate training for market gardeners in the UK, and so being able to teach the way we have gone about things here, sharing our mistakes and giving people an insight into what it is like to run a market gardening business feels like we are providing a realistic view of market gardening for people coming into it. It is also great to be able to share the garden, and step back from it for a day or two to appreciate the work we do.”

Is there many opportunities for growers like yourself to learn skills to become a market gardener?
“I would say there are very few opportunities for really appropriate training for small scale market gardeners. Training is often either for larger scale growers, home gardeners, or it is very dated and focused on more conventional methods.”

Any other thoughts on training and learning opportunities in the agroecological farming sector?
“We need to provide a realistic view of what is involved in market gardening. Our courses try to show different approaches to running a market garden, rather than a one size fits all approach. The way a market garden is run can depend on so many different factors such as soil type, scale, proximity to market and personal preferences, so seeing a variety of techniques gives people a more rounded view on what they should be thinking about when setting up a market garden, and hopefully helps them make decisions on how to run their business.”

Photo credit: Richard Hyde