When we moved to Fenland and jumped in at the deep end with our smallholding, we could not have survived without some support. This came in great measure from our neighbours, Don and Maureen, and from a couple of Sue's work colleagues with many years' farming experience.
Another source of support, information and contacts was the FGSC, The Fenland Smallholders Club. Since then we've become more and more involved with this and are now on the committee.
Through the Smallholders Club, we came upon Roger's cider-making club. This has given us some of the best social occasions we have enjoyed since we moved here, a small group of people joined together by a common interest, spending time together doing some good old-fashioned hard work and ending up with quite a lot of cider to drink! What could be better.
I realised that, with these activity days, Roger had really hit upon something. So I decided to start up my own group. Now the Smallholders Club has been excellent for us, but it tends to concentrate on the animals side of smallholding. It occurred to me that there was scope for something which catered more to the growers amongst us. Surprisingly few of the smallholders seriously engage in growing their own food, but to me this separates the self-sufficiency brigade from the mini-zoo brigade (although it's OK to eat the zoo animals!) No offence meant to anyone.
To cut a fairly short story even shorter, Sunday was the first meeting of the Veg Growers Group. A healthy group of nine people met at my house. Some of us were already acquainted, some were new faces. We chatted, shared lunch, shared experiences, planned the way forward and chatted some more.
Before we knew it four hours had passed and a plan, of sorts, had been hatched.
The lid has been lifted and the spirit of the Veg Growers Group is out!