In 2016, we ran a new coaching programme, Making a Living from Local Food, offering free mentoring and peer-to-peer-support to aspiring and recently established local food entrepreneurs from across Scotland. Coming to the end of the programme, we’re sharing waht some of the participants have been up to on our blog. Fifth in the series is Joshua Msika, who started Joshua’s Greens in his own back garden in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. His mentor was Antonia Ineson from Myreside Organics.
What do you do?
I grow salad and cooking greens for my personal consumption as well as for sale within my community.
When did you start?
Unfolding since 2010
What’s your dream? Where do you want your business to be in 5 years?
I dream of “co-sufficiency”: being self-sufficient in my food needs by producing enough surplus to trade for the things I can’t grow. If I’m successful, then I would like to see my techniques replicated in urban gardens across Scotland.
What motivated you to set up this business?
I am motivated by the desire to take responsibility for my own existence. That is, I want to become an active producer rather than a passive consumer of food.
How have you developed your business this year?
This year was the first year in which I sold greens from my garden. I sold £100 worth of vegetables, out of a total harvest worth just over £500. I also took careful records of my results and I anticipate being able to double my harvest next year on the basis of what I have learned.
How has the coaching programme helped you with this (if at all)?
The coaching programme encouraged me to challenge myself and do something about my dreams. Without the coaching programme, I may not have dared to start selling. Now that I have taken the initial step, it will be much easier in the future.
What have you enjoyed?
I enjoyed “getting it right” with particular crops: Sowing them at the right time, at the right spacings and using the correct varieties to get abundant harvests.
What have you learned?
I have come to appreciate that timing is everything in vegetable growing. You need to learn to think like a plant. I have also learned about the pleasure of selling a product that people want to eat.
What are your next steps going forward?
Do it all again next year, but better!
Making a Living from Local Food is kindly funded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund.