Photos by Ed Dingli, text in italics by Nina Rosner
It’s a true reflection of the hectic nature of modern life that a month spent living on a farm and getting your hands dirty sounds like a perfect getaway.
Ed Dingli and Nina Rosner experienced just this last autumn when they temporarily put Malta behind them to volunteer at Magdalen, an organic farm in the Somerset countryside.
In a beautiful photo story, the couple recounted their experience working the land and, in the process, learning about the importance of organic farming as an alternative to industrial farming, which is of course a well-documented contributor to climate change.
“Transforming our farming systems to work with, not against nature, is imperative whether we’re motivated by climate change or simply the health of our planet and our ability to grow food in the future,” they wrote. “Millions of smaller-scale farms across the globe are already doing this, and Magdalen Farm is one of them. This is what drew Ed and I to live and volunteer here for a month.”
Here’s Nina tending the chickens
“As residential volunteers, one of our routine tasks was to put the chickens to bed each night. In other words, we had to lock them up in their coop safe from foxes and other predators. The wise laying hens knew the drill; always tucked up in the coop by nightfall. Some of the younger meat chickens hadn’t quite caught on, and had a habit of nesting under their coop on rainy days, which made for a very muddy and unpleasant task of yanking them out against their will. “It’s for your own safety!” we repeated in response to their irritated squawks.”
Here’s Ed and Nina well and truly embracing the farming life
“The veg garden provides a great example of organic agriculture at work. Attracted by the variety of plants and flowers, bees, butterflies and other pollinators buzz everywhere. The soil, rich with earthworms, encourages birds who in turn provide some natural pest control. No chemical fertilisers or pesticides are to be found here.”
“Instead, the soil is enriched by crop rotation, homemade compost, manure and nitrogen-fixing plants. Pests are managed with nature-friendly methods like netting or natural deterrents. In a continual cycle of observation, adaptation and trial-and-error, this organic system always harnesses nature’s wisdom rather than trying to suppress it. The results are discernible in produce that tastes amazing, and that research has shown is actually nutritionally superior to chemically-grown veg.”
And here are some shots from the aptly-named Pigadilly Circus
“Organic pigs – only 4% in the UK – live outside enjoying a varied diet of natural grasses, weeds and wildflowers (and when they’re lucky, unwanted veg from the garden). Piglets stay with their mum for at least three months, by which time they’re happily snacking on whatever they can find and can more easily be weaned off. While we commended these living standards, Ed and I couldn’t condone the killing of these animals, let alone be persuaded to eat them.”
And in the end, Nina and Ed summed up their experience in one simple sentence
“Magdalen Farm is the ultimate classroom for children and adults alike. At a time when our planet is in crisis, and much of it owes itself to our faulty food system, there is no education more important than that of Earth-friendly farming.”