I joined the growers for a couple of hours last Friday to have a go on our newest and (currently) most exciting bit of farm kit, the lazy weeder. The lazy weeder is much like a trailer of beds that gets dragged behind a slow moving tractor, with people lying face down on the beds, close to the ground, weeding as the tractor moves forward. It’s intense, sometimes stressful and highly mindful. As I’m normally in the office, spending a couple of hours outside, connecting with the growing felt blissfully therapeutic.
We began with a brief lesson in weeding from Adam, explaining the different weeds and why they’re problematic for the young carrot plants. We’re normally pretty pro-weeds here, as we understand their value in creating a rich, biodiverse landscape, providing food and habitat for insects and small mammals, and for drawing carbon down into the soil. But when the carrot plants are young, they need space to thrive. Once they grow bigger, their heavy foliage enables them to fend for themselves.
So we begin. We lie the carrot tops down in one direction and prize the weeds out from the other, with the tractor keeping the pace. We quickly discard the weeds to the side of the row, where their exposed roots dry out and die in the sun. Just when I think I’ve cracked it, and I’m getting all the weeds out, I meet a dense patch that I have no hope of beating. Just one well established pearlwort can throw me, as I quickly try to dig it out before the tractor moves on, and I realise I’ve missed all the other weeds in that patch. We continue on, and I feel a heightened and steely sense of determination. There’s no time to deviate from the work in hand, and that feels great.
Moving down the lines together, as a team, connected to the land and the food that we sell and eat; pulling weeds from the rows of delicious, earthy carrots that we’re famed for, feels like a world which makes sense.