Well, as Kieran mentioned in our last post, we actually signed our first lease before Covid-19 started! Imagine the massive uncertainty, disappointment, and fear that took over our lives when it all struck. Not only a dark and violent Covid storm was about to close down upon us, but we also had contractual obligations to pay rent monthly, and as you might imagine we weren’t balling back then… (Not that we are now) 😉 Anyway, I’m going to take you on a small journey of what it was like to start building and growing under these conditions.
As you saw, thanks to Farm Urban, we got started on a solid foot with some epic kit to work with. I happened to have some tools from my building endeavors. And a bit of spare material from a personal project I might share with you eventually… One thing we weren’t short of was energy and ideas, every day our plan took on a different shape! We did, mostly, stick to a simple layout and simple systems based on Andrew’s experience during his time working down south. After we cleaned and painted the place, the first thing we put up was the germination tent and the carts:
Then we started trialing the seeds we had. It was very rudimentary as we had absolutely nothing set up, no defined workspace, no tables, no cabinets… Bear in mind we weren’t selling anything at that point, but this is how it looked:
Here Andrew is checking the water parameters soaking the mats and preparing the seeds to be sown. It was some very exciting times, and we were still oblivious to the chaos that approached us, it was like our honeymoon with the business! Soon we had a bunch of seeds turning into food, and we kept building, trialing, and growing happily.
Andrew and Kieran had already mentioned NFT to me (for those who were in my position when I first heard of it, NFT stands for ” Nutrient Film Technique”). It’s basically one of the many hydroponic set-ups that can be used to grow crops. It works by letting a small amount of water flow through an inclined channel, which hosts the roots and keeps them soaked in nutrients.
Well, they kept going on about it, and as I was new to hydroponics, I was not convinced about spending a few grand on a new kit, I wanted to learn more about Ebb & Flow (We will make another post explaining how all the techniques we use work!). And as we were debating this new acquisition, whether it was a good idea or not, if it was a good use of our limited cash, the news struck!
COVID 19 NATIONAL LOCKDOWN! Not a soul can leave their home!
And so our honeymoon was halted to a complete stop… We thought, debated, talked, called, and discussed for days and nights. What was the best idea? Was it all lost? We couldn’t sell to restaurants as planned, and we still had no infrastructure, social media presence, or anything by that matter… to start selling to individuals. Did we just make the biggest mistake of our lives!?
I must give credit here to Andrew and Kieran, they were the ones, they were the two sole people who actually had the courage to charge forward. Not a single spec of fear – only ambition, resolution, and hard work. They actually decided to go all in! They bought about £2000 worth of NFT kit. I was honestly so scared… Thinking “OH MY GOD, I’ve lost all my money…” I was obviously not saying that, but I think they noticed I was scared and it just fired them up, even more, to see the business through!
And then, after a week or two into lockdown, with the new equipment purchased, and rent payments looming we got some of the best news I think we’ve received in our lives! We got told by Network Rail that we were going to get a rent relief! We wouldn’t have to pay rent as long as there was a lockdown and we couldn’t trade. Now everything had turned around, we had a free shot at developing our systems, learning about them, and keep growing!
And just like that we are back on a honeymoon, it’s warm and sunny (*for Scotland* I was born in Mallorca), the systems are working, the veggies are growing and the business is moving! And the best was yet to come…
Keep an eye out for our next post, I will be explaining how we started building our NFT rig, and more!