Local Grower Profile: Matt Swan ‘New Leaf’

Matt Swan – Vegetable Grower with Green Isle Growers Co-operative – Tells his story of transformation through healthy organic vegetables
I haven’t always been a veg grower, in fact I stumbled into it only a few years ago. Right up until my mid-thirties I had thought I wasn’t green-fingered at all, having managed to kill a small cactus through lack of watering as a child. My job as a software professional in central London, where I also lived, did not lend itself to horticultural exploration through lack of access to a garden or any kind of green space.

When the time came for me to leave London I went to the other extreme. I found myself becoming a residential volunteer at a rural community called Pilsdon in West Dorset. Here I was thrown in at the deep end with the large organic vegetable garden with its two polytunnels and three greenhouses, not to mention lots of soft fruit bushes and an apple orchard, all of which was destined for the community’s dinner table. I was growing things I’d never heard of before – chard? Jerusalem artichoke? – let alone knew what they looked like in the ground. It was a far cry from the shelves of Waterloo’s Tesco Metro.

I discovered a passion for growing veg I never knew I had. The wonder of watching one miniscule seed becoming a large plant bearing delicious edible fruit within a matter of months has still not worn off.

After a year at Pilsdon Community I bought a piece of land in Wales and moved up. The plan was to turn it into a small market garden and try growing veg commercially but keeping the same ethos – no chemicals and as fresh as possible. Within a year my solo venture New Leaf was born and I became part of Mach’s Green Isle Growers cooperative. And here I still am in spring 2017 at the beginning of my fourth growing season, looking forward to supplying people again with top-notch local veg!

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