Greenhouse Pioneer: Alice Holden, Growing Communities
Alice is an organic farmer with a difference. She manages a four-acre 'starter farm' in Dagenham for Growing Communities, a community-led organisation which produces food in a sustainable way and sells it through an organic box scheme and farmer's markets. Alice is an organic farmer with a difference. She manages a four-acre 'starter farm' in Dagenham for Growing Communities, a community-led organisation which produces food in a sustainable way and sells it through an organic box scheme and farmer's markets. Alice is passionate about sustainable farming and selling direct to consumers. She is also the author of Do Grow - Start With 10 Simple Vegetables, which aims to inspire new growers by starting simple. Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Growing Communities - what's your mission? Growing Communities is a not-for-profit social enterprise providing community-led alternatives to the current damaging food system. What motivates you? Feeding people at the same time as nurturing the farm. Farming is hard work but there are beautiful moments every day. What is your greatest achievement to date? Getting the job to be the Grower for Growing Communities farm in Dagenham. What are the challenges you face? Creating a farm that can be accessible to local people while at the same time being financially viable. What are you working on that's getting you fired up and excited? Recording the transformation of a rubbish-strewn piece of land. Working with nature and witnessing its potential to rejuvenate a place make me feel hopeful. Where do you want to go next? I want to earn enough from our veg to employ a few local people. We have a volunteer who comes every day and I hope we get to the point where we can give him a paid job. What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference? Buy food as directly as we can from the people who produce it and compost our organic waste. If you were Prime Minister for a day, what would be the first thing you'd do? Have farms like ours all around the cities and have regular primary school visits to them. What's the coolest project or product you've come across, and inspired you? The 'Greenhorns', based in the states are a network of young(ish), sustainable farmers who are changing the image of farming from the ground up. Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers? Michael Ableman's Fields of Plenty- about his journey across the states through the eyes of small scale sustainable farmers. It helped me find my course. What do you listen to when you're cooking dinner? My favourite current band are the Black Keys but I always return to Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and John Martyn. I did not manage to rebel against my parent's tastes! What's the best advice you've ever been given? Listen to advice and then ignore it if you want to. The best things I have done have definitely not been sensible or financially rewarding. They would not have happened if I had taken too much advice. Can you leave us with who'd be your Eco Hero? Julie Brown and Kerry Rankine of Growing Communities. They have successfully created a trade model that supports sustainable farmers and provides people in cities with access to good food.