Local market gardener Humphrey Lloyd is on the hunt for land to increase his production in direct response to the pandemic.
Humphrey currently grows on a 1-acre market garden called Edible Futures in Stapleton, selling salad and vegetables direct to households and businesses across the city. As a result of the outbreak, he has been forced to change his business model to adjust to the loss of restaurant trade, and increase his direct sales to customers. But he is looking to upscale production immediately in response to Covid-19 and is in need of land to make this happen.
The UK currently imports 53% of its vegetables, and over the coming months, it is anticipated that these imports will be significantly disrupted as spring planting windows are missed across Europe due to the outbreak, and the movement of seasonal workers from Eastern Europe is restricted. Demand for local produce has rocketed over the past few weeks, with many local veg box suppliers having to close their doors to new customers in order to be able to fulfil orders they already have.
Humphrey is looking for between three and five acres of agricultural land, as near as possible to his existing site on Frenchay Park Road. He is aiming to grow field scale vegetables to supply into local markets, potentially providing vegetables for 150 households per week. Local organisation Bristol Food Producers also has a list of people seeking land and is keen to match new entrant farmers up with any available pieces of land.
“International supply chains of vegetables are already being affected and this situation will get worse through the season resulting in sharply rising food prices, impacting the poorest and most vulnerable the most,” said Humphrey. “However, it is not too late to plough ground, and get crops in the ground to ease the seriousness of this situation. I am a grower with the energy and know-how to make this happen, all I need is access to a few acres of ground for a single year. If there is someone who can give us a short-term lease or land share arrangement for this season they will be part of project of outstanding significance in terms of positive responses to the global pandemic.”
Ped Asgarian, MD at The Community Farm, said; “We need to start planning for increased production that can, not only deal with the demand, but create stronger and more resilient local supply chains. Smaller scale farms have been shown to positively impact people, infrastructure and the economy, increasing literacy, employment rates and wellbeing. We know there is available land in the Bristol area that can be used to cultivate food for the city, and this is a great opportunity for Bristol to become the leading light in food production for people and the planet.”