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Meet the growers

Ever wondered who are the faces behind the fennel, the hands behind the herbs? Here's a little bit of background info about the two who keep the garden in check...

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Name: Stephen Atkinson

Age: 25

Favourite veg: 'Sweet Dumpling' squash - small, delicious variety - roasted one hour in the oven and it's perfect!

Background: "I spent a year working for a food-waste charity in London. Everyone knows how bad it is that so much food gets wasted while many people suffer from food poverty, so our work attempted to counter-balance this injustice across the city. It was good important work, but increasingly I felt overwhelmed by the scale of food waste, by the inefficiency of the food system, by its failure to adequately supply people with affordable healthy food.

"I decided to take a step back in the food chain, to see how food can be produced in a way that is more accessible to the local neighbourhood, and less dependent on huge supply chains that foster profligacy. This journey led me to where I am now - standing in a sunny field harvesting my own home-grown veg for consumption by people in the local area. We still incur some waste here of course, but since we can harvest exactly what we need for our customers each day, we have been able to cut it down to a minimum. I am confident that a food system built on small-scale production and local marketing can and will prove to be a more robust and affordable system for all."

Favourite fermented food/drink: Rhubarb Wine (see 'Food preservation' blogpost series!)

Desert Island Disc: 'Hotter Than July', Stevie Wonder

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Name: Hélène Maerschalck

Age: 25

Favourite veg: Mange-tout peas (sweet and crunchy, straight from the plant or boiled a few seconds).

Background: "Having grown up among the hustle-and-bustle of my family bakery, I have always been interested in food. During my bio-engineering studies in Belgium, I witnessed the detrimental consequences of industrial food production as it occurs today (e.g. spread of pesticides on fields, use of chemicals in highly transformed food or enormous monoculture fields). I then went on to work for a food security company in Brussels. I realised that investing my energy in writing food hygiene procedures for the whole day wouldn't solve the problem of bad food production practice.

"With a desire to discover the practical application of my studies and learn more sustainable practice, I spent one year visiting various small-scale organic farms across Europe. This adventure has given me a new goal; to prove that small-scale ecologically sustainable food production is possible!"

Favourite fermented food/drink: Red cabbage sauerkraut (see 'Food preservation' blogpost series!)

Desert Island Disc: 'Random Access Memories', Daft Punk

Battery Hill, Fairlight, Hastings, East Sussex, TN35 4EA

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