The self taught, fast learning urban farmer Jack Hodgson knew he was made for the gardening life when he won a bean growing competition at school. His interest in organic farming grew after he did some work experience in Australia and was blown away by how good organically grown food could taste. On returning to the UK, at age 25 he got himself an allotment and embarked on teaching himself how to grow through the principles of no-dig and permaculture. Jack spent time in Costa Rica on the Finca Tierra farm and also on a Charles Dowding course in Somerset where he learnt about no-dig gardening. He now puts all he has learnt into running his farm, where he provides organically grown food for local chefs and families.
When did you start gardening?
It was after spending time on a permaculture farm in Australia, it really ignited a passion in me. Being an electrician I always felt I was part of the problem and not the solution and aligning myself with nature and the outdoors helped me to be planet positive.
How much knowledge of gardening did you have when you started?
No knowledge really. Only thing I did at school was grow a sunflower and a runner bean but I won the competition for the biggest so I know it was in me to have a green thumb.
Was gardening a thing in your household when you were growing up?
We had a garden but my family never grew vegetables and I was too busy collecting newts!
Who else gets involved with your plot? Is it a family affair?
My dad took over my allotment when I got the farm during the last lockdown, which he loved, and I have definitely inspired more of my extended family to take up growing!
Where do you get inspiration and gardening advice from?
Charles Dowding is a big inspiration. After doing his course, Homeacres was a great blueprint to set up my farm.
Also Finca Tierra in Costa Rica, where I did my permaculture design course, excelled my knowledge greatly! Solum farm is where I started and the birth of my interest, and going forwards I’m continuing to learn as I am currently on JM FORTIER’s market garden masterclass.
What are you planning to grow this season?
Plenty of staples along with some weird varieties to set my veg boxes apart from others.
How does gardening have an affect on your lifestyle?
It now is my lifestyle as it’s my job,
What do you find most challenging in your plot?
This year it’s been a mixture of the weather, leatherjackets and slugs
What has been your greatest success?
Turning my hobby into my job!
Any big growing challenges you plan to take on in the future?
I plan to get a bigger space so I can flex my permaculture knowledge a lot more, and focus on perennial crops, orchard and wildflower areas to make the farm more of an eco-system.
Three top tips you would give someone starting out?
Patience, it teaches you patience but believe me each year I think things are growing slow and then all of a sudden it gets going.
Simplify it. Gardening only becomes complicated when you make it that way.
Practice no dig and permaculture for amazing results.