News / News Archive

May 30, 2012

Learning for Growth

Interested in learning about starting a smallholding and becoming more self-reliant in food? Free courses are taking place this summer.

The “Learning for Growth” initiative, taking place at The Magdalen Project provides the opportunity to learn about starting and/or improving a smallholding and becoming self-sufficient in food. The training will cover all aspects of establishing a growing space and managing it sustainably using organic methods.

This initiative is being funded by the Dorset Adult Learning and is offering a FREE place to anyone aged 19 and over as a way to get started.

The courses will be held at The Magdalen Project in conjunction with Somerset Community Food. Somerset Community Food is a grassroots charity established in 2001 which aims to re-connect people with the social, health and environmental effects of growing, buying, preparing and eating local food.’ The Magdalen Project is an environmental education charity based on an organic farm who aims to encourage all to learn new skills and enjoy new experiences whilst developing a more sustainable approach to life.

Qualification: Individuals not in full-time education aged 19 and over. There are limited places for adults in full-time education by application. Minimum numbers apply to the course with a maximum of 16 learners welcome.

Location of the Course: Magdalen Farm, Winsham, Chard, Somerset, TA20 4PA.

“How to build a successful Smallholding or Allotment to grow fruit & vegetables incorporating bees and poultry.”

Dates:    22nd to 24th June 2012 or 27th to 29th July 2012. Arrival from 4pm Friday    Departure from 5pm Sunday

Accommodation in shared bunk style rooms with shared bathroom facilities. Food included with special dietary needs catered for with advance notice.

Course Content: Participants are welcome to bring any pictures, plans, or notes of their own growing space.


  • Expectations of the course
  • The Magdalen Project - what we are achieving with our smallholding
  • Housekeeping elements
  • Health & Safety aspects – animals, machinery, medicines, chemical
  • Fruit & Vegetable Growing

“The answer lies in the soil”

  • Soil structure: the underlying geology, soil testing, how to improve soil structure and methods of cultivation. Participants are welcome to bring samples of soil from their own growing space
  • Composting: compost bin design, making good compost, mulches and bought in additives. Green manures and liquid feed.
  • Planning: what where and when, garden buildings, paths, raised beds, permanent beds, crop rotation and water storage etc.
  • Planting plan: Suitable and year-round crops & growing from seed. planting and cropping plan, timing, choice of plants and seeds, seed sowing, propagation and successional planting.
  • Tools: hand tools and machinery.
  • Pest control: traps, barriers, companion planting etc.

The course will be based on organic principles of sustainable growing but will include discussion about other growing methods.

Small scale beekeeping & poultry raising will also be covered, read their overview here.

Booking procedure:
Please email Lisa Herbert at Magdalen Environmental Trust: or call 01460 30144.