Glebelands City Growers - co-operative vegetable growing in Sale

PUBLISHED: 12:35 10 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:51 20 February 2013

Glebelands City Growers

Glebelands City Growers

When it comes to the crunch, you don't need acres of countryside to grow great vegetables. We meet a group of urban growers who are part of a city co-operative. Words by EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

There was a time when market gardening thrived in Manchester. As recently as the 1960s, huge swathes of land were taken up with rows of salad and vegetables that were then sold on at a fair price for the customer and grower. But over the past few decades, as the urban sprawl has expanded and conditions for workers in this industry have become more difficult, these lush green pockets have declined.

But there is a dedicated group in Sale who want to get more people growing. Glebelands City Growers are located just off busy Glebelands Road in Sale, which was for a long time a popular area for market gardening. It was in 2001 that the site was reclaimed as an organic growing site by Lesley Bryson and Adam York, from Chorltons Unicorn Grocery. They decided to move on in 2009 and since then it has been run by Adam Rayne, Charlotte Mason, Ed Sweetman and Sally Westaway.

Adam, who along with Sally had been working on the site before they took it over, said: We loved doing the work but it was also important for a place like this to carry on. We couldnt let it go and it seemed like the right opportunity.

Together, the group run the almost three-acre organic site growing a
variety of salad leaves, courgettes, herbs, tomatoes, French beans and beetroot. They supply several outlets including local box scheme, Dig, and Unicorn Grocery and raise plants for other growers.

Over the past couple of years Glebelands have worked with The Kindling Trust to help establish Manchester Veg People, a co-operative of growers. It was formed to sell organic fruit and vegetables across Greater Manchester, to minimise the difference between farm gate prices and those in big retailers as well as to support business and to educate customers in more sustainable, seasonal eating.

There are five members in the group: Dunham Massey Organics, Abbey Leys Farm in High Legh, Johnsons Farm in Warrington and Moss Brook Growers in Glazebury.

Being part of this co-operative has helped Glebelands and the other growers co-ordinate their production with local demand. The co-operative then supplies cafes, restaurants and big business with produce they even supply Manchester University and catering company Green Plate. They also encourage more people to use their model to form more co-operatives.

Adam said: We want to demonstrate what is possible if you work together. Its also about educating consumers too. We can show them how sustainable they can be if they eat with the seasons in mind. People have become used to getting things all year round but that means they always have the same stuff on their plates.

By being part of Manchester Veg People we are promoting ourselves and other growers. Working together makes us strong. Whats really great about it is that it puts the producer out there. We are dealing with people as passionate as us and its fantastic.

Now all the growers and the Manchester Veg people co-ordinators Katie Brandon and Alan Creedon are focussed on developing the co-operative.
Katie said: There used to be much more growing around the city, theres no reason why that cant still work. Theres plenty of land around thats not being used.

Its going really well and were all proud of what we have achieved together. All the buyers we supply have been really keen. We keep prices down and the quality up and it is working.

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