Meet Mel Harvey of School Farm CSA
Mel watering the salad shoots in the glasshouses at School Farm CSA
School Farm, where Mel is a Teacher and Director, is a community-supported agriculture project based on the Dartington estate just behind Broadlears agroforestry field halfway between the Dartington Hall and courtyard and Schumacher College. It aims to provide Dartington, Totnes and the wider community access to high-quality, organic, local food, and an understanding of growing food ecologically. They encourage members and the public to meet and work alongside those producing the food, so you can experience the beautiful and varied ecological site that has been created here.
Mel helped found the farm over 10 years ago and we’re really excited that she is bringing the wealth of experience she has build up here back to Schumacher College as she teaches our MSc students. In this interview she tells us how her background wasn’t originally in horticulture, but after an inspiring growing course she took at the College, she then really got into nature-friendly food growing in a big way.
“So when when I first came down here, I came down to study a course which wasn’t really available anywhere else in the country. And when I went with a small group of people to set up the CSA here, there was Riverford and a couple of small market gardens in the area, but there wasn’t that much else going on and there was no CSA. In the last ten years, that’s completely shifted. There are a lot of people producing veg on a small scale, and the demand for that kind of training has increased.”
“Regenerative is an interesting term because it’s not set, it’s not sort of defined in the same way as organic. So it’s a bit more open to interpretation. And I guess for us here it’s kind of we are what I said, save leaving the land, so improving the biodiversity, improving the soil and, you know, building community so it’s kind of constantly adding and creating a more abundant, diverse space for everyone.”
About Melissa Harvey
Melissa has worked with growing food and environmental education for over 10 years, much inspired by her mums garden, a feral child hood in a walled garden and holidays spent volunteering on organic farms. She started off at the research and information end of the organic movement with her first job at Garden Organic (then HDRA) in the International Programme. Looking for more direct experience of the soil she started to get her hands dirty working as a Forest School leader and environmental playworker at the Centre for Alternative Technology, as well as free-lance gardening. Another shift brought her to the Level 3 Horticulture course at Schumacher College, which she finished in July 2012 and since then has been working with the team at School Farm, helping to set up the Community Supported Agriculture scheme, where productivity is measured by how muddy her face is at the end of the day.
Melissa currently runs herb and edible nursery business at the farm, as well as teaching on the MSc programme in Regenerative Food, Farming and Enterprise at Schumacher College.
Find out more about our learning programmes