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This week will be Marina’s last week at the farmers’ market – she’s been supplying the good people of Hackney with delicious soft fruits, preserves and eggs from her Essex farm since 2006. We’ll be very sad to see her go but very excited about her next move to Devon where she’s expanding from four acres to thirty-four, and increasing her flock from 6 chickens to 100!
Her new farm is part of an exciting Biodynamic Land Trust project in Devon at Huxhams Cross Farm, on the Dartington Hall Estate. (Listen to this podcast to find out more, including Marina's plans for developing biodynamic Babycham and the power of poo to spark children's interest in farming.)
Marina has been supplying plums and apples to the veg scheme for many years - as well as selling soft fruit, jams, compotes, cordials and eggs at our farmers' market. We'll miss her friendly presence on her stall (and that of her daughter Lily, who has been a stalwart helper for many years) as well as her phenomenal knowledge of permaculture.
As well as being such a fantastic producer she’s also enriched us with her profound knowledge of organic growing. Many of our patchwork growers have been to stay on her farm to learn from her 40 years of experience. We hope to continue the connection with her and her new venture down in Devon.
Marina and her partner, who’s a therapist, are also developing a wellbeing and training centre called the Apricot Centre, where farm trainees, school groups, children and families can gather for farm-to-fork activities, storytelling, therapeutic wellbeing sessions, and professional training.
We're delighted that she's going on to expand into a larger orchard. In the UK we have lost 60% of our orchards since the 1950's (in Devon it's even worse - over 90% of orchards have disappeared). Along with this habitat loss, we also risk losing rare varieties of native fruits including our rich heritage of quirky and unique apples, such as Slack-ma-Girdle and Ten Commandments.
As a result it can be a struggle to source fruit direct from small traditional orchards, which are a vital source of apples, pears and plums but also a unique habitat for many flora and fauna. We're very lucky that Rebecca and Ian of Peach and Pippin are taking over Maria’s Essex farm and will carry on coming to the market (and experimenting with new fruit-based goodies, such as crumble cakes and bakes) and supplying the veg scheme.