In this pre-Christmas podcast, Patrick speaks to a very special guest – his daughter, Alice Holden. Currently working as head grower at Dagenham farm, Alice is considered one of the UK’s pioneering female growers.
Throughout their conversation, the two discuss the formative years of Alice’s life, and her main influences growing up. They start by going back to where it all began – the family farm in West Wales, where Alice lived until the age of 7. She then goes on to explain how throughout a series of disruptions leading her to Bristol and further afield, her connection to the farm as a place, and nature more broadly, remained a welcome constant in her life.
This connection eventually developed into a passion for growing, leading Alice to work on a wide range of farms. Although she is now in London, working with the Growing Communities initiative at Dagenham farm, she insists that every farm she has worked at holds a special place in her heart: ‘Farming is so intimate and immersive in a place,’ Alice explains, ‘that I’ve really formed relationships with each place that I’ve worked, there have been at least 10 now, and I can honestly say I feel like part of me is from each of those places… And I love them.’
Alice has worked on organic farms of various types and scales over the past 15 years. In 2012, she became Head Grower at Growing Communities’ Dagenham farm and led the transformation of a disused ex-council nursery site into a productive peri-urban, organic farm. Alice continues to work with Growing Communities, an organisation that works with local farmers to feed urban populations in a fair and sustainable way. Her work demonstrates that organic farming can successfully combine benefits to the environment and community and offers solutions to urgent climate problems. Alice is the author of Do Grow, a book to encourage and enable more people to grow their own food.