MARK BICKNELL recently returned to the Los Montesinos area after living in the mountains for the last five years.
“During that time, I had an allotment and learned how to grow fruit and vegetables,” Mark told the Euro Weekly News,
About two months ago he met a lady called Ines Perkins who has been helping vulnerable families with kids who simply cannot afford to feed themselves, he explained.
“Many people, including myself, have been donating food to help out,” Mark said. “However, what I noticed is that people were buying non-perishable items because that kind of food is survival food.”
This set him thinking and he decided to ask a friend if he could use her land, which is far too big for her to maintain and is overgrown with weeds.
She agreed immediately and with his knowledge of gardening, Mark knew that he could provide a huge amount of fresh, healthy food to complement what people were already donating.
“This week I will be pegging out four 450-square metre plots to grow seasonal vegetables and fruit, mostly melons,” he said.
“My aim is to donate 80 per cent of this produce for Ines to distribute. The other 20 per cent is for the landowner to sell locally and for her own consumption, to offset the cost of additional water.”
Mark also explained that he did not intend to set up a fundraiser because he does not want people to stop donating food.
“This project will not be producing for a couple of months and I need people to keep focusing on what they are currently doing to provide immediate food relief.”
He is currently financing the project himself, but it is worth the sacrifice, he declared.
“I will likely look at fundraising in the early autumn because by then, people will have seen this working and may wish to help me get ready for the winter crop planting.”
Mark wants this to be a year-round operation because people are going to need help for some time in the future.
“I’m not sure what we will do when we aren’t needed so much, but there may be an opportunity for some kind of education where people can come and visit and learn how to garden. Maybe schools could show an interest later on, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The priority is right now.”
He added that if anyone does want to help out while continuing to help Ines, that would be extremely helpful.
“The biggest cost that I face right now is the 500 metres of drip-feed irrigation and 300 metres of chicken wire fencing and posts because we have discovered rabbits,” Mark revealed.
“Rabbits have plagued me and cost me so much in new plants over the years, so they need to be kept out. If a company is interested in sponsorship, that would be great, but if not, it’s not a huge concern.”
When Mark spoke to the Euro Weekly News, he was having a weekend off from work as in China, it is Qing Ming or “tomb sweeping’ festival.
“As I know that the land has been ploughed, socially-distanced teams of six volunteers will be descending on the property, rotating shifts every two hours, to put in ridges and furrows, installing the drip-irrigation tubes and then laying the mulch on top.”
Although the four plots will be prepared over this weekend, only two will go into production as the remaining two will be planted up to two or four weeks later, to extend the growing season.
The land will be ready but not planted as he wants to let the soil settle before planting time, Mark said.
“At the end of May, we should be able to provide some of the faster-growing crops such as lettuce, but June is when we will really see things happening and we can really start helping a lot of people.”
Learn more about Mark’s project on Facebook
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