THIS YEAR, RESURGENCE celebrates its fortieth birthday. Resurgence has broadcast a steadfast message over the last forty years: respect for the trinity of Soil, Soul and Society. In the same way that a farmer broadcasts seeds, this message has fallen on both stony and fertile ground; nonetheless, many of those seeds have germinated and taken root.

One such seed is the Oakcroft Organic Garden in Cheshire, which germinated and grew thanks to the nurture of long-time Resurgence reader, Mehr Fardoonji. Mehr has dedicated her life to the service of community and nature by growing organic, seasonal vegetables and fruit, and teaching people the art of horticulture.

Recently, after reading an article in Resurgence by Vandana Shiva entitled ‘Work is Worship’, Mehr realised that “Work is Worship” has been the credo of her life. Vandana’s article has sown a new seed: in order to continue the work at Malpas, Mehr decided to bequeath her gardens to Resurgence, “in order to offer a practical dimension to your work”.

By April of this year, we plan to be in a position to take on six students who will learn the art of organic gardening, marketing and cooking, for four seasons. At Malpas, there are two and a half acres of productive, south-facing gardens, with polytunnels for summer crops of tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and basil, and ingenious greenhouses on runners (which can be moved after harvest, for efficient crop rotation and pest management) providing shelter and warmth for early crops of salad vegetables, courgettes and cucumbers. Cold frames and cloches outside protect the seedlings of root vegetables, sweetcorn and beans from the cold and the birds, and all is nourished by vast compost heaps which themselves are replenished by copious amounts of comfrey.

Students will learn how to effectively market and distribute the produce via the existing vegetable-box scheme and local farmers’ markets – but also to research and develop other co-operative systems such as Community Supported Agriculture, which gives local people a stake in the gardens and allows them to visit to see the production processes and to volunteer labour.

Students will also learn how to cook the seasonal fruits and vegetables that they produce. The holistic nature of the systems they are working in ensures that, just as the students have nourished the gardens, the gardens should nourish the students – so learning about the nutritional and healing qualities of the seasonal vegetables and how to cook delicious, healthy meals will be an integral part of the curriculum. In conjunction with Resurgence recipe columnist Daphne Lambert – who runs the Penrhos School of Green Cuisine – students will eschew the fashion dictates of celebrity chefs who make no connection with seasons, nonviolent production methods and air miles. Instead, they will learn how slowness, simplicity, seasonality and compassion create the most delicious fare.

We are so excited about the new Resurgence School of Organic Gardening and Cooking and hope that you, our readers, will be too! We will bring you news and articles about the development of the project, and hope that one day you may like to pay a visit to this small oasis of diversity, hope and beauty. •

If you would like to study horticulture, or support the School financially, please contact Resurgence, Ford House, Hartland, Bideford, Devon, EX39 6EE,UK.Tel:+44(0)1237 441293. Email: [email protected].

News Flash: Paul Jennings has been appointed Project Manager and Ruth Hepworth as Assistant Manager at the school.