12 June, 2020

Practical application of PhD research to local sustainable food production

Hear from STARS student Marta Cattin, about her role with Lancaster EcoHub and how it has kept her going during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

I became the president of the EcoHub society in February 2020. This is a society run by students and here they grow vegetables and fruit organically. I like going there because I can share what I am studying for my PhD with others.

As well as the president, I became their official soil scientist and agronomist. I am teaching people how to apply compost correctly in order to reduce the green house gases emission, retain nutrients and increase soil organic matter, plus I am explaining to them why a no-deep-dig policy is so important for soil carbon stocks and microorganisms and why a crop ration should be followed. Capturing the interest of people and noticing that they learnt from you and are applying what you taught them is priceless.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the society had to reduce the number of volunteers and now it is kept alive by only 6 of us. We have to follow a very strict rota in order to work alone and not to meet other people but  we don’t despair.  During this hard time the EcoHub provided us with fresh food and a little piece of heaven during the lockdown, which is good for your mental health and soul.

We have produced so much food that we have started to sell it and we are very excited about it. We deliver the produce to the supermarket “Central” at the Lancaster University campus. We believe that eating local and organic should be the new normal and we are thinking to turn the society into an enterprise.

Marta Cattin, June 2020