Sustainable Farming

The Site

Sutton Community Farm is on a seven-acre site located in the Woodcote Smallholdings, in the Borough of Sutton, south London. We have a mixture of open fields and polytunnels.

Surrey County Council own the smallholdings and we rent the land on a long-term lease. The farm is in the greenbelt on the outskirts of London, and is surrounded by other land-based businesses.

We grow mostly annual vegetable crops, all of which go into our seasonal VegBoxes. Recently we’ve planted a variety of fruit trees and bushes, and in the summer we grow flowers for sale. We don’t keep any livestock.

Our Farming Principles

Sutton Community Farm is an agroecological farm. Agroecology brings together ecology – the branch of biology that deals with relationships between people, plants, animals and the environment – and agriculture – the practice of cultivating crops or keeping livestock.

Agroecology is a method of farming that promotes beneficial relationships between plants, soil, people, and wider economic, political and societal systems.

Our core guiding principles are:

  • Grow food in harmony with nature: we don’t use any artificial fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides
  • Prioritise the health of our soil: we add organic matter, practice crop rotation, and grow green manures, which bolster soil fertility and soil structure
  • Encourage biodiversity and wildlife: we plant trees, encourage wildlife areas, grow wildflowers and create habitats for insect populations
  • Try to minimise our negative environmental impact: we use local supply chains and minimise the use of plastic packaging
  • Take care of people: our staff and suppliers are paid fairly and treated well; the local community benefit by being involved

Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables

We grow over 30 types of vegetables throughout the year and everything is grown from seeds that we sow. Everything we harvest is sold via our online shop. We practice crop rotation, grouping together families of vegetables and moving them around the farm from one year to the next.

Our farm isn’t large enough to supply our VegBoxes all year round, so we supplement what we grow with food from other organic farmers. All the food we purchase is seasonal to Europe (with the exception of bananas and ginger).

Wildlife and Biodiversity

It’s important to promote a holistic ecosystem in any sustainable farming system. On our farm we have created hedgerows, ponds, wildlife areas, wildflower strips, and insect-friendly green manure fields.

Since creating our ponds, we have noticed a proliferation of frogs and dragonflies. These types of predators help keep pests populations in check. Encouraging biodiversity means that we don’t have to use chemical pesticides, instead we encourage nature to do the work for us.