Members of the Lancaster community are getting together to sow the fields the old way – by hand.
Claver Hill community field was recently set up by Lancaster residents Joy Ahmad and Caroline Jackson.
Situated off Ridge Lane behind Central Lancaster High School, the five-acre field will be opened to the public at a special launch event on Sunday, August 11.
Joy and Caroline bought the field as part of a 35-acre package from Irish landholding company Seymour Properties.
It had previously been part of the Lancaster Farms Young Offenders’ Institute farmland and before that was owned by Nightingale Hall Farm.
Caroline said: “We have been trying to buy the land for a long time. We have invested in it bwteen us, and set aside one field as community land.
“We are now in the process of setting up a charitable organisation to run that land so that it will be held by and for the community of Lancaster, so that it can’t be built on.”
The pair hope to work with the community to use the field – which they have named Claver Hill – for growing activities.
“We are both members of Transition City Lancaster and one of the ideas of that is the create greater food security for local areas so that local areas can feed themselves better than they do now,” Caroline said.
“This is about encouraging people to look at providing their food from their surroundings.
“We are trying to get people to be more skilled at sowing and growing and to enjoy it.
“We hope that what’s grown here will be sold as close as possible in the surrounding area.”
The community group’s first project is called Spud Club, and people will be able to join for a small fee and then grow and tend to potatoes, carrots and onions.
As part of this they will be entitled to an amount of their produce for free.
“It’s for people to get together as groups and work together on and maybe create their own business,” Caroline said.
Caroline and Joy are in the process of applying for planning permission for four polytunnels to extend the range of crops and time of year for growing on the land.
They also plan to include some forest gardening, fruit trees and bushes and are hoping to put in an orchard as well as restoring a former wood on part of the land.
There is also the possibility that local schools will be able to get involved.
This Sunday’s event, between 2pm and 4pm, marks the official handing over of the field to public ownership.
“It’s a symbolic way of saying that the land belongs to us,” Caroline added.
Visitors will be able to speak to Joy and Caroline about the venture and how they can get involved.
There will also be the chance to take part in the sowing of clover and rye grass seeds and try out a vintage fiddle drill.
A scarecrow competition will be judged by Debra Schofield from Growing with Nature in Pilling, and Alan Schofield will be demonstrating broadcast sowing.
Refreshments will be on offer. Please note there is very little parking in the area so visitors need to go along on foot as far as possible.