About Us

 

Introducing: Kim Brooks, Managing Director

Introducing: Kim Brooks, Managing Director

Dear Friends of the Farm:
Now over halfway through a tumultuous year, deep in the depths of our farming busy season, it’s the start of a new era here at The Community Farm as we wave goodbye to Ped, our previous Managing Director, and I have the opportunity to move into this fantastic role.

Hello! For some of you reading this, my name and voice will already be all too familiar. For others, this is perhaps the first you’ve heard of me, so I’ll take this opportunity to introduce myself.

Croydon - in South London or Surrey, depending on who you’re trying to impress - born, my education and early twenties forged the path to a very sensible graduate job and career path. In 2007 I walked out of Southampton University with a degree in Business Management and a job secured at PwC, the global accountancy firm, all set to become a Chartered Accountant.

If PwC had had their way, I’d be an Audit Director by now, possibly even still wearing heels.

Luckily for me, whilst living in Brisbane, I found a home in a shared house on stilts with a wonderful group of people who bought, shared and cooked their food as a household. From a freshly brewed pot of coffee and a shared one-pan omelette stuffed with garden grown greens in the morning, to big batches of simply roasted veg in the evening (and a fridge door covered in written messages about scrummy leftovers), we lived well. Very well. And the main food supply? A local veg box. An organic local veg box.

Growing up, my family’s food came from the supermarket. My Brisbane veg box opened my eyes: this food was local and came with stories from those who produced it; you picked it up once a week from a garden in your local neighbourhood; and they even lit a bonfire on chilly winter nights in case you wanted to hang around when you came to collect. Our veg box led the household’s food. It also introduced me to the world of “organic” and the idea that, in order to ensure your food wasn’t having a negative impact on the environment – wasn’t grown using chemical fertilisers or pesticides that damaged the land – you had to seek out things grown certifiably and in a certain way. You had to avoid the everyday food system.

I quit my job, bought a van and went and lived with organic farmers, helping them on their smallholdings to try and learn more about how food should be grown. They opened my eyes.

In 2015 I returned to the UK wanting to be part of this “alternative” food and farming scene. Bristol kept springing up in conversations. My first visit here I walked into Better Food on Whiteladies Road and immediately thought, “THIS is a city I could live in!”

I took another accountancy role to help with the move. While on the job, back at a desk, heels back on and hands uncalloused, I found myself reading online about a local farm that welcomed people onto the land to help them grow and harvest their crops – The Community Farm.

Soon after I found myself attending a Community Farmer Day for The Farm’s annual squash harvest (if you haven’t been to one, you’re missing out!). Ian Sumpter, our Community Farmer, welcomed me and the rest of us strangers onto the land and we spent a beautiful day collecting up hundreds of colourful and shapely squash from the field; at the end of the day we bundled back onto the bus, tired and happy, armed with as many damaged squash as we could hold in our arms. I remember distinctly the sunset on that day, and knowing I’d found somewhere special.

Quitting accountancy again, I started volunteering during the week at The Farm whilst studying for a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, indulging in many a conversation with Hatty (Volunteer Coordinator at the time, now Communities and Partnership Manager) about what I would do next. As it happened, Debbie, the then-bookkeeper at The Farm, left just as I finished my Masters; three days a week accountancy at The Farm (not wearing heels) seemed like a good match! Wind forward a couple of years (with a Big Thank You to Ped for taking the brave step to move on) and here I am!

So, what’s next for The Farm?

I love this place for all it stands for in our local food system, for the fact it was created by and will always be for the good of its community, and for the fact that it gives so many people the opportunity to share in this special place and all it can offer.

So, fear not, I’ve no plans to change any of our roots! But build on this we will.

We will grow our community, but become closer still.

We will grow more food, and help others do the same.

We will continue to improve our land - for local wildlife and for future farmers.

We will strive to always be learning as an organisation.

We will be part of a better food system.

We are currently writing our next multi-year strategic plan, in equal parts focusing on food, farm, community and wildlife, all elements connected by the land, and elements on which we’ve built strong foundations over the past 10 years. It will be a strategy firmly embedded in the Chew Valley and the communities of Bristol and Bath.

I’m hoping there’s a few of you reading this who will recognise your own thoughts – words, even – from conversations we’ve had, or from plans we’re currently making. While I hope to bring fresh eyes, ears and dreams to The Community Farm, I won’t be taking these next steps alone, and very much look forward to working with many of you as we find our way and forge onward.

And, for those of you I haven’t yet met, enjoy your veg boxes, and hopefully see you at The Farm very soon!

Kim

Do we deliver to you?

We deliver to Bristol, Bath, Chew Valley, Weston-Super-Mare, Frome and plenty of places in-between!