Fri 17 Aug 2018

Our Field Weston updates

CL Christine Lewis Public Seen by 49

This is where we will put regular updates and news about Our Field Weston.


Christine Lewis Fri 17 Aug 2018

Here’s a quick update about what the #OurFieldWeston coordinating group have been doing.

We set up just over a month ago to help take forward #OurFieldWeston as we move into the next growing year. The coordinating group is made up of five people, Darren, Christine, Oliver, Tony and Wahome with help from Abby as we get ourselves working together who was part of the 2017 coordinating group - we are a diverse group spread around the country and have been setting up how we work and what we will do - there is more about us below.

Wahome has introduced us to Trello but we will be keeping you updated on Loomio for the time being. Using Trello has rapidly sorted out our workflows, accountabilities, timelines and injected a super-charged element (and pressure!) to getting things done - this update is one of the things that may have taken longer without this. This is how we have set ourselves up although we all help each other as needed and welcome your input:

  • Membership (participation, accountability) Wahome, Christine
  • Farmers (production, insights) Darren, Oliver, Tony
  • Buyers (marketing, selling) Oliver, Christine
  • Public (outreach, education) Christine, Tony
  • Organisers (workflow, alignment) Wahome, Darren

Our current urgent (i.e. just for this week) activity includes:
* Clarify comms and engagement plan
* Send brief update to membership(= this update
* Ask John for his preferred planting options
* Create a voting decision
* Confirm best day/ options for visiting the farm
* Moderate decision on planting - realising this is going to be result on Loomio but encouraging debate in the short term before the poll closes
* Clarify questions for John on planting decision
* Draft templates for monthly reporting
* Send a monthly report to the membership by 22 August - a bigger report than this is
* Clarify how we use tools - Loomio v Trello v other social media options
* 'Organisers' vs 'facilitators' vs 'coordinators'

Oliver: I'm currently a sustainability consultant with ADAS in Cambridge (although doing this in a personal capacity), mainly working with food & drink companies on their agricultural supply-chains. Was previously at the Organic Research Centre, Daylesford and NFU. At the ORC I did some work on marketing bread from the ORC Wakelyns wheat population which is a unique mixture of heritage and modern grain varieties. This got me interested in all things grain.

Christine: I am a 2017 member and know we need to engage better. I have a bread-making - sustainability - biological sciences that moved to e-Justice career background. I am retiring end of Sept so from Oct onward I will have much more time to support group dynamics and the Ourfield project.

Darren: I get involved in projects where people get together to manage food, tech and land. Currently I'm spending most of my time in between Somerset and Surrey.

Tony: Tony Allan is a water scientist who has strayed into farming and the food system because farmers manage about 92% of the water consumed by society. This water, embedded in food, is known as food-water. Farmers also account for about 66% of society's impact on biodiversity and for between 15% and 20% of emissions. They manage the environment on behalf of society. But society does not get it. The adoption of Conservation Agriculture [CA] mitigates these environmental health impacts hence his interest in the OurField project.

Wahome: works within a tiny social innovation studio building tools to shift creative power to the grassroots economy – hence active interest in Ourfield.

As you can see we are all busy on top of normal day to day activity but we really want to re-energise #OurFieldWeston and find a better way to engage with everyone. Really grateful for your feedback on this. Thanks for reading and expect another update very soon.


Wendy Alcock Sat 18 Aug 2018

This all sounds very exciting, thanks for the update Christine and to you all for taking on the task of coordinating the project and the collective in the future.


Abby Rose Mon 20 Aug 2018

Yes thanks @christinelewis1 and to the whole leadership team for getting momentum going - really brilliant work!! Excited for a farm visit/event in September and to decide what to plant!


Averil Glencross Mon 20 Aug 2018

Hi Christine,

Thank you for the email. Look forward to being kept up to date.

kind regards

Averil Glencross


Christine Lewis Sat 25 Aug 2018

Hold the date - 30 September - farm visit

We are planning a visit to the farm at Weston on Sunday 30th September arriving 11.30 am for a 12.00 pm start departing at 3.00 pm. We will get back with more information and logistics as soon as we can.


Steven Jacobs Sun 26 Aug 2018

Damn. So far every time the group have met I couldn’t attend and it’s happening again. Arrrggghh!!!! VERY FRUSTRATING 😤


Christine Lewis Sun 26 Aug 2018

Sorry Steven - we hoped to get a choice of dates and find the one that most people could attend but ran out of options - but we are planning for many more meetings to get people together over the coming months - probably in London as easier to get to. Good to know if there is a date, time, day of the week that we can work to for you.


Steven Jacobs Sun 26 Aug 2018

Thanks Christine, I appreciate the difficulty coordinating dates for a group. The reason that Sunday is no good for me is because I’ve another appointment booked a while ago.


Christine Lewis Sun 2 Sep 2018

OurField members visit to Weston Farm

John Cherry will welcome OurField members and their families at his Lannock Manor Farm on Sunday 30th September from 11.30am for 12.00pm start to around 3.00pm.


Address: Lannock Manor Farm, Weston, Hertfordshire, SG4 7EE. Satellite images are attached which show the location of the field on the farm and the location of the farm, Stevenage and other surrounding towns

For those travelling by train this is from Kings Cross to Stevenage. Stevenage is on the fast LNER line, and I think on the stopping Thameslink service, from King's Cross. Tony will be at Stevenage station from before 11.30 am to coordinate filling taxis. We may be able to cover the cost of the taxis to and from the farm from OurField funds.

You may want to organise yourselves locally for discounted group rail fares for parties of more than 4 or to share cars/ vans etc. If anyone is travelling by car and could provide rides to others can you let Tony know on seat availability and your starting points. You can email Tony on: ta1@soas.ac.uk

Please provide your own refreshments and picnic.

Children - will be welcome

Toilet facilities
There will be a basic toilet facility and John Cherry does not mind if we "fertilise his fields".

We will hold a members meeting in the barn while having our lunch. The agenda will be finalised and circulated before the day but will cover an introduction, a report on the 2017/2018 crop and more information about Weston and other important farm and beyond the farm gate things.

Please let us know of any other topics you would like to have discussed - you can post on Loomio and/ or email to Christine Lewis at christine_lewis28@hotmail.com and Tony at ta1@soas.ac.uk

We look forward to seeing you there!


Christine Lewis Thu 6 Sep 2018

Farm visit 30 Sept: If anyone needs a list from the north I am travelling Rugby to Weston on 30 Sept - just let me know. I have 3 seats available. I am on holiday tomorrow until 25 Sept but just make contact and we can take it from there.


Tony Allan Sun 9 Sep 2018

Message to all Ourfield members
30 September Farm Visit - 11.30/12.00 pm to about 3.00 pm

Dear Ourfield members
The material is provided in two messages as Loomio will not deliver big attachments. I hope the second message will be delivered. It has maps and images
This message provides information on the time and date of the visit and a draft agenda for the meeting at the farm. It also provides information on how to get to Lannock Manor Farm at SG4 7EE. There is also information on how to arrange a seat in a car.

The second message has an attachment with maps which should help those driving to the farm. There are also satellite google map images of the Weston area and of the farm. The attachment is a big file and I have not discovered how to send it.

1 CONFIRM THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED THIS MESSAGE - the OurField Organising Team need to know that members are receiving messages via Loomio.
2 GET BACK TO TONY ON ta1@soas.ac.uk WITH A COPY TO christine.lewis@hotmail.com IF YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL AGENDA TOPICS.

Looking forward to a full and stimulating afternoon.
Thank you John for making the event possible.
Best regards Tony (Allan)


Niki Reynolds Thu 13 Sep 2018

Thanks, have seen the message.. will not be able to come as sadly the date does not work for me.. hope to come to a London meet up because I live in London and an evening will be easier to attend..


Tony Allan Sun 9 Sep 2018

Dear OurField members
This second message provides a map and some google images which would help those driving to the farm on 30 September 2018.

With very best regards, Tony (Allan)

With very best regards
Tony (Allan)


Keesje Sun 9 Sep 2018

Hi, I won't make the meeting but wanted to let you know that I did receive the message. Hope everyone has a productive and enjoyable day.


Tony Allan Mon 10 Sep 2018

Hello Keesje
Very many thanks for letting us know. We are very sorry you will not be with us.

Christine's email is christine.lewis28@hotmail.com. I advised the wrong number in the notice of the Farm Visit.
Best Tony


Christine Lewis Wed 19 Sep 2018


Helen Wright Mon 10 Sep 2018

I am coming on the 30th and did receive the message on Loomio. I also received the email and tried to email Christine on theaddress given but it was returned as undeliverable.


Tony Allan Mon 10 Sep 2018

Hello Helen
I am sorry I posted the wrong email for Christine.
Please send me a message on my email - ta1@soas.ac.uk - and I'll send her correct email.



Wendy Alcock Tue 11 Sep 2018

I have seen the loomio and email, thanks Tony.


Tony Allan Wed 12 Sep 2018

Thank you for confirming that you received the email. Let me take this opportunity to ask all members to confirm receipt of the notice of the Farm Visit. The almost total silence out there is disconcerting.


Tamsyn Forsyth Fri 14 Sep 2018

I have seen the Loomio message and received the email about the farm visit Tony, thank you. Unfortunately I can't make the visit on the 30th, I have a new baby boy and my husband is away that weekend. I hope it's a productive gathering!


Tony Allan Wed 19 Sep 2018

Dear Tamsyn
Very many thanks for sharing your wonderful news. Many congratulations.
Thank you for finding the time to confirm that you are reading the Loomio correspondence. Best Tony (Allan)


Wendy Alcock Tue 25 Sep 2018

Hi all. Just a quick reminder that I have two car spaces available for Sunday's farm visit. It sounds like it's going to be an interesting day and hopefully as lovely weather as today! If you want picking up from Cockfosters station on Sunday at around 11am please let me know.


Helen Wright Fri 28 Sep 2018

Hi Wendy, do you still have a space in your car for Sunday?


Steven Jacobs Thu 27 Sep 2018

I have sent apologies already but to be clear I am sorry that I will not be able to come to the farm on Sunday. I'll be at the Essential Trading Open Day in Bristol all day.
Hope all those who do get along to Weston Farm this weekend have a great day.
Cheers, Steven


Tony Allan Sat 29 Sep 2018

1 Final Agenda and advice on getting to Lannock Manor Gram, SG4 7EE- is attached in case your filing is flaky like mine.
2 I shall arrive at Stevenage on the 10.41 am from King's Cross arriving AT 11.06 AM - to organise taxis. I shall stay until 11.40 am
3 I shall be wearing a dark brown jacket.
4 Don't forget to bring a snack and a drink.
5 Amir Kassam has just published a very usefu review of the global adoption of CA. It is attached.
I am looking forward to a very stimulating day. Thank you John and the Weston Team for devoting your precious time to the OurField project.
Thank you Steven [Jacobs] for your comments on glyphosate. The topic will be discussed. We should note that CA reduces the application of glyphosate from 4 or 5 applications to one per year. The exposure of groundsmen - as in the California case - is a particular version of the Round-up problem. CA farmers are very angry with the chemical farming fraternity.
Be assured we are aware that the system needs to be regulated.
Best Tony (Allan)


Wendy Alcock Sun 30 Sep 2018

@johnanthonyallan @christinelewis1 @oliverrubinstein @wahome @darren4 Thanks to all who organised the farm visit today, it was a great day wandering around the farm and chatting all things grain. And glyphosate of course, there was lots of chatting about that!

Although those of us there voted on the type of grains we would like John to sow for us within the next few weeks I don’t think the consensus on ‘to spray or not to spray’ was as clear cut as both may still be options available to us. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong though and forgive me for only relaying part of today’s discussion but I realise time is short at the moment and wanted to make a proposal.

I also realise the last vote included the following step “Use the least amount of glyphosate which John and Richard Harding believe is necessary to terminate the remaining crop” but following discussion today I would like to suggest we hold another vote on whether this step should be included or not. @grahamehunter is this something you can maybe set up for us to vote on quite quickly?


Tony Allan Mon 1 Oct 2018

The farm visit was very enjoyable and it was good to meet those members who could make it to Lannock Manor Farm. I shall be circulating a short DRAFT report/minutes for those who attended for editing.

Meeting the cows grazing OurField was the big moment. As cows do they greeted us loudly and stood close as we discussed the future of the field. They looked in very good shape. John has devoted a lot of time, energy and investment on fencing and electric fencing. As a consequence our venture has a number of important options in our project to regenerate the health of the soil.

I have been becoming more and more dissatisfied by the voting process. Its outcomes are in my opinion as dangerous as the Brexit referendum. Think - our first decision to sow spelt.

As a group we do not have a level of experience to understand the risks with which we engage. We cannot even frame the options effectively. I shall abstain on all future votes if we continue with this approach.

We need to prioritise our understanding of the food production system and the constraints and accounting systems faced by farmers in the sector in which the Weston farm operates.

We also need to be aware of the special role played by the Cherry family and their staff in UK cereal and livestock farming. If we want to have an impact it should be on the food choices of irresponsible fellow food consumers who are manipulated by the corporates.

Thank you John - and everyone at Weston - for having us visit especially in the circumstances of the past week when you lost your mother and have been so busy with getting the other fields prepared and drilled.

Tony (Allan)


Christine Lewis Mon 1 Oct 2018

And here are a couple of photos - inspecting the soil with the cows and the pile of our Spelt in storage.


Tony Allan Mon 1 Oct 2018

Dear Christine

Many thanks for the photos.




Christine Lewis Tue 2 Oct 2018

Ourfield gathering at E5 Bakehouse - dates

As mentioned at the farm visit we are planning another gathering this time at the E5 Bakehouse in London - to make sure the date is suitable to as many as possible I have set up a Doodle poll in the link below. Please indicate which dates you are available to attend and we will go with the most suitable date. Don't worry if you can't make any of these - we are going to increase our communications and options for meeting up.

PS Do let us know if you are in a position to host a gathering in the future.


Christine Lewis Mon 22 Oct 2018

Members meeting - Friday, 26 October 2018 - E5 Bakehouse in Hackney - Let us know if you can come

Hi all - just posting a reminder of the details of the meeting we are holding on Friday 26 Oct which Tony sent out by email a few days ago. We are expecting around 15 members plus John Cherry at the meeting. The meeting will be 6.30 pm for a 7.00 pm start and ending at 9.00 pm. There will be vegetable stew and bread available for a small donation (thanks Rosy). As with all OurField meetings we will be quite flexible on the day about the agenda but we hope to cover as much as we can from the following:
* Update from the farm visit
* Update from John on the 2019 crop, the status of the field and what has been happening since the farm visit in September 2018
* Discussion of immediate cropping and soil health improving options
* Discussion of longer term options and preferences including thoughts on the development of the relationship of the OurField community with the transition of the Weston Farm to conservation agriculture practices
* Marketing of 2019 crop(s)
* OurField communication and reporting - members views on what you would like

How to get to the E5 Bakehouse

The E5 Bakehouse premises are immediately beneath the London Fields rail station. Travelling by train is by far the easiest way to get there by public transport. E5 occupies two railway arches immediately beneath the station. No walking. No searching.
London Fields station is on the line from London Liverpool Street. It is a two stop 7 minute journey. It is on the services to these destinations:
1 To Enfield Town or Cheshunt - London Fields is the second stop. The first is Bethnal Green
2 To Chingford London Fields is the second stop. The first is Bethnal Green
London Fields Station can also be reached from the north on the above rail services. Hackney Downs is the station before London Fields coming from the north.
Hackney Downs Station is on the Liverpool Street services to the above destinations. Hackney Downs station just one stop to the north of London Fields Station. It is a short very dark walk from Hackney Central Station which is on the North London Line.
There should be parking after 6.30 pm near the E5 Bakehouse.
E5 Bakehouse, Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, London E8 3PH
MAP at http://e5bakehouse.com/contact/

Look forward to seeing you there!


Niki Reynolds Mon 22 Oct 2018

A shame I will miss this.. am away for 4 days..
Will there be another meeting or will I have to wait one more year?


Christine Lewis Mon 22 Oct 2018

Hi Niki - we are hoping to have more regular meetings in the future so you shouldn't have to wait a year - especially as we want to plan out a longer term planting schedule and need to work out our views on the field, lack of organic status and Conservation Agriculture etc. Thanks for making contact


Niki Reynolds Tue 23 Oct 2018



Oliver Rubinstein Thu 17 Jan 2019

I've got a few days off next week, between jobs and would be really keen to see how the field is getting on. If it's ok with you John, can I come and take some photos of the field to share with the members? I only live 30 mins away from you.


Abby Rose Fri 18 Jan 2019

That would be ace if you visit @johncherry and share an update on the field with us all!! Thanks @oliverrubinstein


Oliver Rubinstein Fri 18 Jan 2019

Yep, I've spoken to John and will pop over next week some time.


Oliver Rubinstein Mon 21 Jan 2019

I went to have a look at the field today and John kindly came and spent some time with me, to explain what's been happening. I took some video and a few photos, which will hopefully help people get a better idea of what's been going on.

To recap: the bottom section of the field is planted with Crusoe (modern wheat), the middle with Millers' Choice (a heritage mixture) and the top section with Wakelyns population (a mixture of new and heritage varieties). John sprayed the field with glyphosate before Christmas, to kill off the cover crop and allow for drilling - apart from in a small section of Millers' Choice, to act as an experiment.

You can clearly see the difference between the different wheat varieties. The section with no glyphosate in particular, is basically grass with some wheat plants hidden in it. However, as John explained, the grassweeds tend to like lots of nitrogen, so if we avoid putting nitrogen fertiliser on, this might help the wheat outcompete the weeds. either way, it will be interesting to see what happens where he hasn't sprayed. There are also some broadleaved weeds knocking around too, so we'll need to keep an eye on them.

I live fairly close to the farm, so am happy to drop by every so often, to take some photos etc. for the collective.

Here's the video : https://youtu.be/7rTRaulnZM4


Christine Lewis Mon 21 Jan 2019

Brilliant to see how the field is coming along - thanks for visiting.


Wendy Alcock Tue 22 Jan 2019

Thanks @oliverrubinstein. It's really great to have a view of the field from afar. There are lots of interesting decisions ahead of us!