Black Grove Greens Community Volunteering

by Rosaleen Earley in Colliers End, England, United Kingdom

Total raised £10,175

raised so far

+ est. £918.75 Gift Aid



Building a sustainable, educational farm for the future, where healthy vegetables are grown for-and by-the community and vulnerable groups.

by Rosaleen Earley in Colliers End, England, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 10th February 2021 we'd raised £10,155 with 90 supporters in 74 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

 New stretch target

Build a rainwater collection pond to provide irrigation for the garden and another habitat for biodiversity.

Create a community orchard and plant more perennial food production trees and bushes for fruit and nuts.

Black Grove Greens is a market garden in Colliers End, near Ware, East Hertfordshire.

We produce vegetables on 1.5 acres of land with the work of employees and support of volunteers. We also host a flock of free-range hens who do their fair share of gardening. Everyone is welcome to volunteer or visit, to come and meet new friends or bring young children and experience being a 'little farmer'. Community connection starts here!

We need to raise £10,000 for essential skilled workers next year to support us in expanding our offering and work towards being a financially sustainable project.

We keep all the money we raise and the more people that pledge the more we can expand. Volunteering and food production are symbiotic for us. This garden is PEOPLE powered and the people are fuelled by great food and uplifting community experiences.

£1000 = 8 volunteer open days

£5000= 40 volunteer open days

£10,000= 80 volunteer open days plus free lunches, Vegetables and eggs to vulnerable volunteers such as the homeless. 


The last 8 months have been hard for everyone, but our first season as a CSA, supplying a small group of customers with Veg and eggs showed us that there is real demand for more locally grown food using organic techniques. People are looking for local food security with the recent experience of shortages. Local shops and gathering places have been closing at an alarming rate. They need a safe way to shop, we are outdoors and can deliver. The social distancing and lockdown measures have been so challenging for people who are already suffering from isolation, illness, addiction or anxiety. We provide a safe space to re-connect, heal and grow. 1606311699_img_20201010_090859-collage_(1).jpg

We're on a mission to feed local people and to help people to think about where their food has come from. Our vegetables taste fantastic - fresh and full of nutrients that haven't wasted away in a truck coughing down the A10. We also love to challenge people to eat seasonal food they wouldn't ordinarily try.1606495150_frankie_and_darren_(4).jpg

We’re looking for pioneers, change makers and food lovers. Because, well… the world's food system needs to change. It needs to change one small farm at a time. We need more mindful farming, farming which looks at ecology and food.

Black Grove Greens Market Garden


We are a no-dig market farm growing seasonal vegetables. We encourage wildlife into the garden with bee-friendly flowers and bird friendly shrubs and trees. We do not use harmful pesticides that would indiscriminately kill the targeted pests as well as the other micro-life in the soil. We leave seed heads on flowers to feed overwintering birds and 

We sell a CSA veg box scheme to members within a 7 mile radius. We’re looking to connect community and growers, so that you know what you’re getting. We want to build up trust and customers can communicate with the farm and give feedback. It’s a membership, a club and a team. Community involvement is critical to the functioning of the farm.

Directors (The people who have made th1606317950_20200128_094902-collage.jpgis happen )

  • Barney -One of our first customers (he cycled 4 miles from Ware), local food enthusiast, brander and food photographer, activist for the planet and saucy veg. lover. He advocates for the green credentials of the enterprise and keeps us laughing.
  • Dan-Wwoofer on the farm and market garden (willing worker on organic farms), bee keeper (Dan, Dan the honey man) and beer brewer, regenerative agriculture and self sufficiency enthusiast and proud vegetable grower. He provides very practical support and connects us to the local green scene. 
  • Lou- long time volunteer in the garden (4 years!), Activist for the planet including clean air and saving the amazon amongst many other passions, twitcher, allotmenteer, cooking enthusiastic, Egg dealer (to her neighbours). She is the best cheerleader you would want to have as well as being a great sounding board and advice giver. 
  • Rosie- Grower and teacher, permaculture advocate, social entrepreneur, writer, The lady waving radishes around wildly in the video. 
  • Advisory board

  • Derek-local farmer and supporter. He has been farming all his life and loves to work with other people outdoors, laugh at our inexperience, and operate his tractor and digger. He connects people and recycles materials such as horse manure, rubble, farming equipment so that they are put to the best use. He ask questions and advises. 


No dig is a technique he has used for many years, and it has become more and more popular, with now courses, books and podcasts. By using a great deal of compost I can create a growing medium that smothers weeds and increases worm life, and that vegetables love. The soil biology is left undisturbed, meaning the soil is living.  We're increasing fungal life, bacterial life and balancing the fertility.  This approach to farming is the at the core of regenerative agriculture and it is the future for our children. 

Our history so far.

In 2020, after an award from the national lottery, we started the box scheme with 15 customer and regular volunteer days twice a week for 20 weeks. We have been blessed with visits from ex-offenders, agricultural trainees, retired people, families, self employed, unemployed and single parent families amongst others.  

The benefits of volunteering in the CSA garden are: 

  • Improved mental and physical health.
  • Greater connection with nature, food and community.
  • A healthy distraction from daily cares and struggles.
  • More people who appreciate and will advocate for the environment and wildlife.
  • SHARING a united sense of purpose, working towards a common goal that people really believe in.
  • More resilient local food production systems and stimulating rural economies.

Without the volunteers, the garden would not be so productive. Over 200 people contributed over 1000 hours to this project last year. As farmers we feel valued and appreciated and connected to the community.

We were chosen by Projects that Matter Herts as a beneficiary for funding in 2021. We aim to increase our customer base to 40 boxes and facilitate open days  for 40 weeks and welcome more people to the garden. We would like to take visits from homeless shelters and the elderly, provide workplace training for the young unemployed, and continue supporting those in rehabilitation programmes.

Small scale farming is the future

There is a new movement towards small scale agriculture. But when farming has the average age of 60 you know it’s in big trouble. The need for a different approach to industrialised agriculture is vital, and we are only just at the start of the rise of micro/ regenerative and urban farms. We need millions more all around the world. 


The micro farm means that we don’t need motorisation. Increased diversity and soil biology means more fertility, healthier and tastier plants and no need for GMOs and pesticides. More humus in the soil means more water retention and robustness to unseasonal dry spells. These techniques can’t be achieved on industrial scales, that is why they are not practiced. The use of machinery demands that farms become bigger and bigger. Tractor wheels take up huge amounts of space. For efficiencies they need to grow fewer crops. The bigger the farm the wider their market needs to be and the greater the pressure this puts on the environment through transportation. There are techniques like no dig and no till which help build soil, increase fertility, and manage weed and insect pressures but they are rarely practiced on a large scale.


Your help, however large or small, is game changing

If you live in Ware and the surrounding areas this is actually for you!


We have some ace swag for you guys. We've got some organic flower seeds. We've worked with illustrator Barney Bryant to bring you some epic enamel mugs, caps, t-shirts and Vegetable tote bags with our logo on.


Could some rewards be Christmas gifts for a green-fingered loved one? 

(t-shirts, caps and mugs won't be delivered before Christmas however)

You can also plant trees to create important hedgerows with rosehips, blackthorn, hawthorn and hazel trees. Play your part in creating precious habitat and producing food for birds and other native wildlife.

Adopt a hen

We're also offering some great days on the farm. You can chose from a foraging walk, a little farmer experience for all the family and a 2 hour tour with the farmers and Q and A or a longer delux farming tour with lunch and structured support to make your dreams a reality!

Would you like to join the CSA? 

You can find out more or drop me your details so you'll be notified when the CSA membership opens at or you contact us direct if you have any questions at [email protected]


This project offered rewards

£25 or more

Fresh eggs from the farm for 3 months!

Egg security!!This reward gives you 16 free boxes of six eggs between now (Jan 2020) and April 30th 2020. You can pick them up at the farm gate at the honesty box or we can do drop offs fortnightly. Our flock of hens are mixed breeds and they give mixed size eggs with rainbow colours. When the avian flu restrictions are over they will be back out on the pasture. You will also receive a thankyou letter with organic flower seeds and a shout out!

£10 or more

£10 Bee-friendly flowers

Bee friendly flowers planted in the garden in your name, A Thank you letter posted to you with organic flowers seeds, social media shout out and our eternal gratitude.

£20 or more

£25-dawn chorus with enamel mug

Enjoy your morning coffee or tea from a unique Black Grove Greens enamel mug and consider all the bird habitats that you have helped to create on the farm! A Thank you letter posted to you with organic flowers seeds, social media shout out and our eternal gratitude.

£30 or more

£30 T-shirt/cap/Tote bag

A Black Grove Greens T-shirt, cap or vegetable tote bag with our unique logo printed on organic cottons. A Thank you letter posted to you with organic flowers seeds, social media shout out and our eternal gratitude. please see the project page for a picture.

£30 or more

£30 little farmers experience

Bring your family to the farm for a 45 minute vegetable picking and egg collecting experience. Take home £5 worth of seasonal produce including freshly laid, organic eggs. Meet and cuddle or stroke the hens if you are feeling brave! A Thank you letter posted to you with organic flowers seeds, social media shout out and our eternal gratitude.

£30 or more

£30 farming inspiration tour

A 2 hour tour of the farm and an opportunity to ask the farmers any questions you have about how they became new entrants to farming and ask advice with group of 20 others. A Thank you letter posted to you with organic flowers seeds, social media shout out and our eternal gratitude.

£40 or more

£40- Adopt a free-range hen, receive organic eggs.

Support one of these amazing girls to live outdoors all year round, foraging in the pasture and expressing their natural desires. If you visit the farm, meet the hens and take home a box of their delicious eggs. A Thank you letter posted to you with organic flowers seeds, social media shout out and our eternal gratitude.

£45 or more

£45 *Christmas present *Foraging experience.

Enjoy a group foraging walk, lead by a wild food enthusiast. Learn which berries are safe to eat and which are not! investigate and taste the seasonal wild abundance in our fields and forests and you will never look at a hedgerow the same way again! A Thank you letter posted to you with organic flowers seeds, social media shout out and our eternal gratitude.

£60 or more

£60 plant a Wild Harvest tree

To help us increase hedgerows and plant rosehips, blackthorn, hawthorn and Hazel trees to create habitat and produce food for birds and other wildlife. A Thank you letter posted to you with organic flowers seeds, social media shout out and our eternal gratitude.

£120 or more

£120 Plant a tree guild

Plant a trio of trees! To help us increase hedgerows and plant rosehips, blackthorn, hawthorn and Hazel trees to create habitat and produce food for birds and other wildlife. A thankyou letter posted to you with organic flower seeds, social media shout out as well as our eternal gratitude.

£120 or more

£120 Swag bag

Chose a selection of 4 t-shirts, caps and tote bags to give as ethical presents to your friends and family (or keep for yourself)! A thank you letter with organic flower seeds, a social media shout out and our eternal gratitude.

£150 or more

Farming inspiration tour for 2!

A 4 hour long farm tour with the farmers in an intimate group including a 3 course seasonal lunch with produce directly from the farm. There will be ample opportunity to ask Jon and Rosie questions about how they transitioned from the city life to live their dream of farming, having an off-grid sustainable lifestyle and starting two community social enterprises. They will describe the set up needed to start the enterprises on the f

£300 or more

A 'little famer day' out for the whole class!

Bring the whole class to the farm. They can pet the hens, collect eggs, plant seeds, harvest vegetables and see how compost is made. They can be inspired by seeing an Off-grid farm including solar panels, rainwater harvesting and compost loos. This covers Maths, Food technology, Science and social and pastoral skills. We can concentrate on activities you chose to fit your curriculum. It is suitable for all ages 3-18

£450 or more

Staff away day and team building (Tree planting)

Are looking for a safe,healthy and mood boosting team building exercise for your staff in 2021?? Here we facilitate bonding experiences to galvanize colleagues through positive shared activities that benefit people and planet. Come and have a laugh in the outdoors, change your perspectives, reconnect and remember your common ground. Options include tree planting or making habitats for wildlife. You chose the day and activity.

£450 or more

Vegetable boxes for 30 weeks

If you live within 7 miles of the farm, you love pesticide free healthy, nutritious vegetables for the whole 30 weeks in 2021...this reward may be for you. From May to November you will have 8 or more different portions of seasonal vegetables for you. A Thank you letter posted to you with organic flowers seeds, social media shout out and our eternal gratitude.

£500 or more

A garden is named after you

Each garden can feed 20 people in Vegetables. We aim to create 7 of these beautiful, no-dig, abundant and balanced growing spaces. Every crop plan we do, every activity we coordinate, we will be saying your name and sending you blessings for your part in supporting this project. Your name and a quote of your choice will be on a sign to let visitors know of your generosity. Additionally, your Thankyou letter, organic flower seeds, shout out.

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