Grown with soul under Cornish sun
Grown in soil,
A 4-acre no-dig market farm growing seasonal vegetables in the Falmouth area of Cornwall
Soul Farm is a food justice-oriented, ecologically supportive, not-for-profit membership organisation run by volunteers and paid growers. We cultivate vegetables using no dig methods. At every step, we’re thinking about how we organise around making good food accessible to all and around restoring local people’s relationships with the land.
The name “Soul Farm” first came from thinking about Caribbean soul food: nourishing, comforting and evocative. Soul food carries memory.
As we work with the living planet, we see that soil – black, crumbly, humusy, complex and full of energy – has soul.
We wanted to name “soul” as a guiding principle – a reminder that we grow with life, feelings and action. The soul is linked to connection and interbeing. It’s the part of us that remembers that life requires that we respect all living beings. We’re growing a business that’s truly human.
Soil is the soul of our society
Our 4 acres are spread across two sites.
The first is a 2.5-acre Georgian walled garden we began to tend in November 2018. The garden hadn’t produced food on a large scale since the 1960s. During the Second World War, the greenhouse sustained bomb damage. While we began to turn the pasture into no-dig vegetable plots, the landowner repaired the greenhouse. After a storm wrecked the repairs (a hazard of farming so close to the coast), the greenhouse was eventually fully restored.
The second is a 1.5-acre juvenile cider orchard where we’re alley cropping between apple trees. We were invited to take on the field in early 2020 but only started to partner with this space in earnest in 2021.
Small scale regenerative
The environmental and social costs of using oil resources as well as their increasing scarcity are challenging tomorrow’s agriculture to reduce its dependency on fossil energies (Chow et al., 2003).
In industrialised countries, innovative market gardens inspired by permaculture principles (Ferguson and Lovell, 2013) address this challenge by promoting manual labor and regenerative thinking. The need for a different approach to industrialised agriculture is vital, and we are only just at the start of the rise of micro and urban farms here in the Global North. Many more of us need to join peasant farmers around the world.
Micro farms don’t need motorisation. Increased biodiversity and soil biology offer more fertility, healthier and tastier plants and no need for GMOs and pesticides. More humus in the soil means more water retention and robustness to unseasonal dry spells. These techniques can’t be achieved on industrial scales, that is why they are not practised by big businesses. They are also nothing new. This is the legacy of African, Asian and Indigenous growers both historically and in the present.
The use of machinery demands that farms become bigger and bigger. Tractor wheels take up huge amounts of space so, for efficiency, they need to grow less crops. The bigger the farm the wider their market needs to be and the greater the pressure put on the environment through transportation. Techniques like no dig and no till which help build soil, increase fertility and manage weed and insect pressures but they are rarely practised on a large scale. The future is small.
We’re growing real food that hasn’t travelled hundreds of miles. And we’re committed to making that food accessible to all, regardless of background or income. We’re also creating a community environment that is both welcoming and inviting to everyone by committing to social justice and celebrating diversity.
The way we farm supports local ecology. We’re regenerating soil minerals and building diverse habitats whilst producing very high quality food. No dig allows better water retention, builds the soil, increases yields and helps manages pests. This is about learning to work slowly in ways that respect all of life.
Healthy food grown with love
Food grown using ecological principles that hasn’t had to travel far is packed full of nutrients. We grow a wide variety of vegetables which is important for soil health but it’s also vital for human health. Since moving out of the supermarket habit of eating the same things over and over can be challenging, we offer opportunities to learn how to cook and eat the foods we grow.