Many of us are passionate about sustainability and the environment but local couple Sasha and Jock took their passion to a whole new level when they set up The Soil Farm in 2016. It all started with a love of compost, but they quickly realised that a lack of diversity of food production on the island was an issue and they decided to do something about it - by becoming farmers themselves.
Whilst many of us might have a romantic notion of life as a farmer, immersed in nature with piglets and chickens running around free range, it’s undoubtedly hard work and there’s most definitely a serious side to running the farm. With biodiversity, animal welfare and food security at the heart of their business, they work tirelessly to provide locally produced chemical-free food and help other islanders enhance their green spaces on the island too.
Read their story here.
We are Sasha and Jock, a local couple with two children aged 8 and 12 between us. We are both very passionate about the environment, health and community, with a particular interest in food and its function to sustain, provide energy and health and bring community together.
We started The Soil Farm after several years of asking questions about where our food was coming from and the implications this had on our health and the environment. It became very apparent to us that we needed to focus on soil health and biological systems to answer the question, and this is where our love of compost began.
We studied the microbiology of soil and the composting process and started working with farmers and landowners as consultants. We were actively looking for a diverse local food producer to work with and, in short, we couldn't find one. We soon realised that our island's food security was an issue, in particular food free of chemicals, so we decided to become farmers too.
We started our vegetable pilot program in 2021 and have now scaled to a 0.6 acre market garden, with chickens and pigs all playing a crucial role in the ecosystem. We provide weekly veg boxes and egg subscriptions to our customers.
Once you know, you can’t unknow and we are passionate, hard working and committed to positive change within our local food production. We believe food production needs to support the welfare of animals, the environment and farmers, as well as the health of all who enjoy it.
We currently serve sixty families a week with fresh, chemical-free produce and we absolutely love hearing the amazing feedback we get from our customers and hearing how it is benefiting their health. We’re definitely seeing an increase in people wanting to choose fresh, local, chemical-free food, and knowing that every piece of veg we produce has received its nutrients from the millions of microbes in our very own compost is so satisfying.
We’ve experienced so many highlights over the past few years that it’s difficult to mention them all, but that feeling of connecting with nature and animals on a daily basis can’t be overstated. Welcoming piglets to the farm was a real highlight for us. We love our animals and building a connection with them, with absolute respect for the role they play on the farm.
Building the market garden was a challenge. We still can’t believe that we have grown from where we started to what we have now created. People are always so vocal about the energy in our market garden. Starting with a weed ridden blank space, we have built over 200 no-dig vegetable beds from scratch. We’ve lost count of the number of barrow loads of material that have been wheeled in, one at a time. It was a lot of hard work and felt overwhelming at times, but it has been more than worth it.
There’s much to celebrate about the quality of life here on the island; raising our children in safety, being surrounded by our friends and the strong network we’ve built and living so close to the coast and sea to name but a few of the things we love about island life. We also love that we can share our passion with the local community. But we must admit, we do wish it was easier spend some time off the island.
We worked with The Youth Commission this summer to show a group of children around the farm. Seeing their faces at the excitement of pulling up carrots for the first time was a joy. There are lots of wonderful charities in Guernsey working to support nature, and we sit alongside many of them as part of the Biodiversity Partnership group. We look forward to seeing this sector bolstered further in the future with the introduction of the Nature Commission.
And this is only the beginning for us. We have big plans for the future.
The farm keeps us pretty busy, but we also have a number of animals at home, including a few exotic pets that we look after as part of the family.
The sheer determination of Sasha and Jock to make our Island a better place is one thing. But turning such a niche interest in composting and local soil biodiversity into a thriving farm to table business serving locals with fresh, organic food is impressive. Combine that with their Farmer Gym sessions working with volunteers as well as their community education initiatives, The Soil Farm is what loving local is all about.
The Soil Farm believes that healthy soil supports a healthy environment, healthy food systems and healthy people. They educate, assist and inspire growers, gardeners, and conscious land owners to reconnect with nature so they can create bountiful, nutritious green spaces that enhance and protect our corner of the planet.
Get in touch with the team to find out how they can help with soil testing, foodscaping, composting solutions, waste streams and other recommendations, or to sign up to their waiting list for veg and egg subscriptions.