Grffn’s trial and demonstration garden is based at The Matara Centre, Kingscote, Gloucestershire. Created with the help of volunteers we have followed the existing shape of a 21 metre circle to minimise disturbance and remain in keeping with the surrounding gardens. The trial garden is enclosed by a living hedge and is divided into four plots, so we can test three different growing methods plus a control. The garden was launched in Spring 2021.

Video showing the early days at Matara Demonstration Garden before the beds are created, taking soil samples to send to labs to test for chemistry and microbiology. Also shows random selection of the plots for different growing methods

We are being supported by two commercial agronomy and independent laboratory services that advocate regenerative practices, Soil Fertility Services (Norfolk), and Soil Biolab (Andover). Testing includes using the Soil Mentor App.

We are collecting data on chemical, biological and physical properties of the soil for each of the growing methods. We can track changes over time in response to different growing methods. Success is based on the quality of food produced. 

The methods

Plot A) Following the advice of Soil Fertility Services which involves chemical and biological amendments and leaf tissue analysis to monitor and improve quality (or nutrient density). 

Plot B) Following the advice of Soil Biolab which involves biological amendments, e.g. compost tea, to optimise microbial activity in the soil and create symbiosis with the plants 

Plot C) Control. No amendments added 

Plot D) Deep Ecology is inspired by the principles of how nature works (to consciously create symbiosis by taking the path of least resistance to produce nutrient dense food that sustains all life.) In this plot we are making our own biological and mineral amendments to inspire and empower the professional and non-professional, who may have an allotment, back garden or are growing in restricted areas with containers and pots.

To establish a soil baseline for each of the plots, soil samples were taken and sent for analysis by our partners, Soil Fertility Services and Soil Biolab to identify soil chemistry and soil microbiology. Soil health tests have been assessed by Grffn using the Soilmentor app, kindly donated by Vidacycle. 

To complete the baseline tests, round filter paper chromatograms were developed by Grffn to compliment a complete picture of soil health before we begin growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

Grffn have set their measure of success based on the four metrics associated with growing high value nutrient dense food. 

1) Complete resistance to pests and diseases (a vision of total-health)

2) Increased yield of more uniform growth

3) Increased taste (e.g. a carrot must taste like a carrot!)

4) Longer shelf life (well grown food should not rot, instead it dehydrates and slowly returns to the soil)

In addition to observation, taste testing and measuring yields, samples of the vegetables are measured for nutrient density using Brix values in conjunction with the Brix tables.

In collaboration with our partners, The Bionutrient Institute (USA), food samples and the soils they were grown will be sent to The James Hutton Institute in Scotland. Results will be shared on a global open-source platform and used to expose nutrient variation to calibrate the Bionutrient Meter. 

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