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What we grow

Growing Well is one of the biggest organic vegetable producers in Cumbria, growing tonnes of produce a year from its base near Kendal, its kitchen garden at Tebay Services and our new site in West Cumbria.

Growing Well Kendal is set on a six-acre organic horticulture enterprise at Low Sizergh Farm in South Cumbria. The farm is part of the National Trust’s Sizergh estate, and we have been tenants of the Park family’s Low Sizergh Farm for nearly 20 years.

Growing Well at Tebay Services is a 1.4-acre site at Tebay Services Northbound on the M6 near Shap. The site is a partnership project with services owner Westmorland Family, who have funded us to set up the project and who purchase the produce we grow here for their Farm Shops and Kitchens.

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Growing Well Kendal

at Low Sizergh Farm

Our land, which is Soil Association certified, has a lovely southern aspect nestled within the Park family’s larger organic dairy farm pastures and borders mature woodland to the north.

We are strong proponents of organic practise and try to apply it to our horticulture and therapeutic approach at Growing Well. We are one of just a few dedicated vegetable farms in Cumbria – and for good reason! We receive approximately 1,500mm of rainfall (60 inches) per annum at Low Sizergh, and being a coastal farm, we are prone to Atlantic storms and high winds.

Our soils are predominantly heavy clay loam and quite acidic, but reasonably high in fertility for horticultural production. Over the years we have been able to increase the organic matter percentage in our fields from 2% to 5% through a combination of compost applications and crop rotations. Even though we are located at 54 degrees north, we do produce year-round with over 1,500 square metres of protected growing space in our six large polytunnels on the farm.

What we grow

We grow a range of over 50 types of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Some are British staples (carrots, onions, turnips) and others are more unique and harder to find in supermarkets (chard, speciality herbs, heirloom squash). We also produce our own bespoke salad mix, typically including more than five types of leaves.

We grow classic British soft fruits such as blackcurrants, raspberries and gooseberries and have more than 100 varieties of heirloom apple trees espaliered around the site. We propagate all of our seedlings on site from seed using soil blocks. In peak season that’s more than 10,000 seedlings per week!

At Low Sizergh, we have an annual spring Growing Well seedling sale so our local community can join us in growing along at home. We have grown organic potted herbs, and this year and last, dahlias, and we are looking to expand to more cut and edible flowers in the future.

The Farm in numbers

15-20

tonnes a year of produce

150+

varieties

120,000

seedlings per year

4,000

Crop Shares per year

1,800

Volunteer days worked

100,000

litres of recycled water used

How we grow

At Low Sizergh, we are a Soil Association certified organic farm using an array of traditional and innovative market gardening techniques.
A guiding principle on the farm is designing for the human-scale. This means the layout of the beds, the tools, systems and methods are all based on the scale of the people working it.

All of our seedlings are sown by hand, planted by hand, weeded by hand and harvested/packed by hand. Our beneficiaries, who volunteer on the farm one day a week for up to a year, are involved in all aspects of our farm from crop planning to seed sowing to planting to weeding to harvesting, packing and cooking. At Low Sizergh, we have an integrated 8-year crop rotation with the neighbouring organic dairy herd. This allows us to build fertility into our cropping cycles and reduces incidents of pest and disease within our crops.

We also incorporate a range of green manure crops within our system, either underplanting with our brassicas and squash, or overwintering after a main season harvest. In addition, we do manage a small on-farm composting operation and are experimenting with the newest techniques and methods for making our own batch.
We use a two-wheel tractor for bed prep and occasionally a four-wheel tractor for heavy-duty tasks like moving compost, but for the most part you will see people in our fields.

A major aspect of our growing is providing practical skill-building opportunities and we can offer both a market garden (at Low Sizergh Farm) and kitchen garden (at Tebay Services) experience for our beneficiaries. We have six large polytunnels in production year-round with main Summer crops like tomatoes, chilies and aubergines followed by overwintered leafy greens and early spring catch crops such as radishes, early beetroot and spring cabbage. Our Volunteers take great pride in producing all of our own seedlings on site (well over 100,000 soil blocks per annum)!

Kendal Crop Share

Our Crop Share veg box scheme is more than just our produce. We like to think of it as an extension of our on-farm activity and a significant part of our larger Growing Well family. Our 100+ Crop enjoy year-round seasonal local vegetables and support our charity’s mental health work.

We typically supply 35-40 weeks of Crop Shares per year, reflecting the seasonality of the growing year in South Cumbria. Over 95% of our produce is grown on the farm ensuring the produce is at its freshest and has been directly grown by our beneficiaries.

We aim to include eight items in each Crop Share and we have found this suitable for 2-3 people. Crop Shares are ready for collection each Thursday at 4pm from Low Sizergh Farm (we do not deliver at the moment, but there are group collection points).

The Crop Share is setup as an annual membership commitment (paid by monthly direct debit), which reflects both the nature of our charitable work and the growing calendar.

Buy wholesale

In addition to Crop Shares, we also supply our produce wholesale to local shops, cafes and restaurants in the Kendal and South Lakes area. A weekly availability sheet is sent to all of our wholesale customers. Currently, purchases are for collection only but please chat with us about options if this is a constraint.
We are open to small to large quantity orders as availability could range from a few bags to kilos of tomatoes each week.

Depending on your produce supply needs we can facilitate grow to order contracts as well. If you are interested in purchasing produce from Growing Well, please get in touch by emailing the farm team at orders@growingwell.co.uk

Growing Well at Tebay Services

The kitchen garden

Our 1.5 acre Tebay site is a flourishing kitchen garden located within a lovely, secluded grove of mixed woodland just off the M6 at Tebay Services Northbound. This space was once home to a static caravan site, which may not sound like your typical horticultural setting, but we have transformed this space, providing fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers direct to the Tebay Services Farm Shop and Kitchen located just a few hundred metres from where they are grown.

The approach at Tebay is more kitchen garden than field-scale given our close relationship with the food team at Tebay Services and the compact growing site. The garden is comprised of a mix of raised bed areas, large polytunnels (each approx 250 square metres) and pockets of reflective space. We aim to get the most out of the space in terms of productivity, growing year-round with lots of succession planting.

With the Shap Fells to our west and the Howgill Fells to our east it can be a tricky environment to grow in as we must endure a number of Cumbrian storms and high rainfall. While not a traditional walled garden, it is fortunately located in a sunken protected hollow which buffers us from high winds predominantly from the southwest. Winters are also rather difficult with snowfall accumulation possible, but we do endeavour to grow year-round in our unheated protected growing spaces to keep Tebay Services supplied.

What we grow

We grow a range of over 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Most of our produce is destined for either the Tebay Services kitchen or farm shop. With that in mind, we grow a large amount of bespoke salad mix, which changes with the seasons and features daily at the services café.

We also grow a range of leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale), baby root veg (beetroot, carrot, radish) and summer speciality crops (heritage tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, French beans, etc) to complement our main salad growing. Both perennial and annual herbs are grown featuring the classics and more exotic types for the culinary curious. We have established a small soft fruits area of approximately 200 bushes which includes blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries and plan to introduce speciality strawberries in the near future.

We sell seedlings, potted plants and herbs at the Tebay Services Farm Shop so both our local community and visitors stopping in can join us in growing along at home. We also grow a range of cut flowers that we harvest and prepare ourselves into speciality Growing Well bouquets that feature in the farm shop.

How we grow

At Tebay, the guiding principle of the kitchen garden is designing both for production and people. We aim to provide both an abundance of fresh and seasonal produce and at the same time a supportive environment for our beneficiaries. Our production system blends traditional horticultural practice with a therapeutic sensibility, sustainable growing principles and innovative growing techniques. We grow using the ‘no dig’ method, piling mulch or compost on top of the soil annually, rather than digging it in. We use companion plants and cultural control instead of chemicals and do not use any synthetic fertilisers. Instead, we recycle all our green waste, and the piles of leaves collected by the Tebay Services grounds team, into our own compost and that, along with cow manure from the Westmorland Family farm, is returned each season to the beds.

Our produce is grown using people power. This means the layout of the beds, the tools, systems and methods are all based on the scale of the people working it, not a tractor or other piece of machinery. All of our seedlings are sown by hand, planted by hand, weeded by hand and harvested/packed by hand.

A major aspect of our growing is providing practical skill-building opportunities in the kitchen garden for our beneficiaries. This ranges from principles of propagation all the way through to harvest and processing. Beneficiaries are also involved in the continual planning and development of the kitchen garden space and setting. We propagate all of our seedlings on site from seed using peat-free compost supplied by our Shap neighbours, Dalefoot Compost. Our beneficiaries take great pride in producing all of our own seedlings on site (well over 40,000 soil blocks per annum and 3,000 per week at peak times)!

We harvest every morning, weighing and processing produce before wheeling it just a few minutes up to the Tebay Services Farm Shop and Kitchen, meaning both a hyper-reduction in food miles (more like food metres for us) and minimal to no use of packaging of our produce. We have four large polytunnels in production year-round with main Summer tender crops followed by overwintered leafy greens and early Spring catch crops such as radishes, early beetroot and spring cabbage. These are predominantly irrigated with harvested rainwater that is pumped around the site. Additionally, we have seven large outdoor growing plots each approximately the size of a standard allotment half-plot, which we crop in rotation to avoid build-up of pests and diseases and manage fertility.

With the kitchen garden set amongst the trees, it inspires an environmentally and wildlife friendly approach to growing. We plant a mix of pollinator friendly flowers, maintain native wildflowers and shrubs, build dead hedges and wildlife piles and have put a number of bird boxes around the site. Hopefully more of this is to come in the future creating a relaxed, wildlife-friendly space where the beneficiary’s imagination can run riot.

How to buy

All of our produce is available via our wonderful Tebay Services partner either in the Farm Shop or in the cafes.