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Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden
A view of our five acre market garden on the edge of Dartmoor National Park (in the background). We are 650ft above sea level which has a significant effect on our growing season. I was born & brought up in the countryside where I now farm – something that breeds a great sense of ‘pride of place’ and awareness of my local agriculture.

Chagfood Community Market Garden – Dartmoor, England

by Ed Hamer of Devonshire, UK

Chagfood Community Market Garden is a CSA supplying 80 shares a week from five acres, on the edge of a small town called Chagford on the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park, in Devonshire, England. Chagfood has been running since 2010 when it was set up by Ed Hamer and his wife Yssy. Having been born and brought up in the National Park, Ed was aware that many of the traditional farming skills and knowledge of the area have been lost as farming has become more intensive. As a result he was keen to use working horses on the market garden from the very beginning, in an effort to keep the skills of working horsemanship alive for the next generation. There are estimated to be fewer than 20 people making a living farming with horses in the whole of the United Kingdom.

Chagfood Community Market Garden

Ed uses native bred Dartmoor hill ponies, crossed with heavier Welsh Cob horses, to produce small but hardy working horses with a mellow temperament. As native horses, they are extremely hardy requiring very little in the way of grains or additional feed. Ed typically only feeds hay when snow is on the ground in the winter, which in the temperate maritime climate can sometimes be as little as two weeks a year.

Chagfood Community Market Garden

Despite the long history of working horses in the UK, the transition to tractorized farming in the 1930’s and 1940’s was dramatic, and as a result very few traditional horse drawn farm implements are still available in working order. Instead Ed has had to import a Kassine cultivator from France (identical to the Annie’s All-in-One) and he also imported the very first Pioneer Homesteader into Europe in 2012. As a result of limited access to land in the UK, it is traditional to grow several rows of crops on a bed system. Ed has therefore adapted his Homesteader to cultivate three rows on a 1.2 m bed. He uses the Kassine cultivator to grow all of his Brassicas and potatoes on 60 cm ridges.

Chagfood Community Market Garden

In February 2015 Ed managed to get funding for a five week trip to the U. S. to visit horse farmers and share knowledge and experiences. On this trip he visited more than 20 farms across 18 states, driving 6,500 miles from New York to California. One of the highlights was visiting the Pioneer factory in Dalton, OH and on returning to the UK he fabricated his own cultimulcher, based on the Pioneer design, which he has mounted onto his Homesteader. Ed is also co-editor of The Land magazine (thelandmagazine.org.uk), a bi-annual magazine about land rights and politics currently being syndicated by The Greenhorns in the U.S. He is planning to write a more detailed article about his farm and cultivation systems for SFJ over the winter.

Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Starting our first two work horses Samson & Tally in the Pioneer Homesteader September 2012. We imported the first Homesteader into Europe in 2012.
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Ed fabricated his own cultimulcher, based on the Pioneer design, which he has mounted onto his Homesteader.
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Using the Kassine cultivator early on to create ridges for our first year’s potato planting with someone at the head of a very young Samson.
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Planting potatoes during our second season. The Kassine forms a rough ridge after which seed potatoes are laid in the furrows. The Kassine is then adjusted so the front wheels are brought together to run in the centre line of draught behind the horse (who also walks on top of the potatoes), the discs then fold half of each ridge in on top of the seed potatoes.
Chagfood Community Market Garden
First time using our imported ‘Millcreek muckspreader’ in 2014 along with a forecart that I built based on the Pioneer design. We have access to around 40 tonnes of well rotted organic certified manure every spring from cattle housed over the winter on the farm.
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden
Chagfood Community Market Garden