Nutrient Dense Trials at The Matara Centre

Grffn is creating a demonstration and trial garden at The Matara Centre, Kingscote, Gloucestershire to learn more about growing and measuring nutrient dense food. 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 and structures at Matara’s 25 acre site. The trial garden is enclosed by a living hedge and Grffn have divided this into four plots, so we can test three different methods alongside a control.

Two commercial agronomy and independent laboratory serices that advocate regenerative practicies will be followed in two of the plots (of interest for large scale growers) and the third, called ‘homemade’, will be suitabe for the home gardener, allotmenteer, small to medium sized market gardens. This is more of a do-it-yourself approach which invovles making our own biological fertilisers and ammendments.

To establish a soil baseline for each of the plots, soil samples have been taken and sent for analysis by our partners, Soil Fertility Services, Norfolk and Soil Biolab, Andover to identify soil chemistry and soil microbiology. Soil health tests have been assessed by Grffn using the Soilmentor app, kindly donated by our partners Vidacycle. To complete the baseline tests, round filter paper chromatograms will be 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, which are:

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 ike a carrot!)

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

In addition to observation, taste testing and measuring yields, samples of the vegetables will be measured for nutrient density using Brix values in conjunction with the Brix tables. In collaboration with our partners, The Bionutrient Food Association (USA), food samples and the soils they were grown in, will be sent to one of their Real Food Campaign laboratories in europe for nutrient testing where results will be shared on an open-source platform and be used to help calibrate a Bionutreint Meter.

Grffn trial gardens at The Matara Centre with volunteers helping assess soil health using the Soilmentor app. Picture credit Marcus Falla (taken on a foggy day!)