Ep 108. Matthew Hayes on Operating a Self-Sustaining, Lean Farm
What do you get when you combine solutions for both environmental and social issues?
Organic farming, of course! Joining us today is Matthew Hayes of Zsamboki Biokert located in Zsámbok, Hungary. The mission at Zsamboki is to involve as many people as possible in the mysteries of organic farming. Matthew and the Zsamboki team pride themselves in growing quality goods with the least possible damage to the environment, keeping CO2 emissions low. They also focus on the diverse members of their environment, striving to operate a self-sustaining farm using their own nutrients. Check out this fascinating episode and learn all about organic farming in Hungary!
In This Episode:
An overview of Zsamboki Biokert 2:03
About the availability of horse-drawn equipment in Hungary 5:26
What sheep are used for on Zsamboki 8:47
How Matthew set up the CSA 9:51
Matthew’s background with farming in Europe 12:55
How Matthew keeps everything organized on the farm 17:45
About the soil fertility on Zsamboki Biokert 24:30
What’s unusual about the tunnel design on the farm 31:30
The hardest thing Matthew has done on his farming journey 35:39
What systems Matthew would put in place sooner given the opportunity to go back in time 40:10
How Matthew set up his team on Zsamboki Biokert 45:09
What advice Matthew would give to new farmers 53:14
What advice Matthew would give to himself as a new farmer 56:31
Matthew’s favorite farming tool 59:17
Where you can find out more about Matthew and Zsamboki Biokert 1.02:15
About the Guest
Matthew grew up in a large, wild garden and developed a deep love of the outdoors. As he started to see more of the world, Matthew was always interested in both environmental and social issues and eventually put 2+2 together to realize that a life in organic farming combined outdoor physical work with a positive contribution to the planet. That led him to become an apprentice on Tablehurst Farm, UK in 1987. After working on many farms in many countries in many positions, Matthew ended up in Hungary in 1995. With colleagues, they set up the Open Garden Foundation (Matthew is the director) which was an organic training farm for Szent István University, Gödöllő, Hungary.
The Open Garden (Nyitott Kert) became the first CSA in Hungary, starting in 1998, and continued through various transformations for many years. Matthew has worked as a grower and practical educator in Hungary for over 25 years and in 2010 together with friends set up Zsámboki Biokert. This is a small, commercial market garden running a webshop-based box scheme with a weekly stand also at the Budapest Organic Market. The bustling small farm also works to run programs which link the countryside with the city, and works in close cooperation with Cargonomia, the Budapest-based cargo-bike degrowth movement.
Between 2016-2018 Matthew returned to England to work for Ruskin Mill Trust and set up a rooftop bio-intensive garden in the middle of Birmingham – providing food and education to young people with learning challenges. Social farming, composting, and soil health are enduring interests which offer endless opportunities to learn!
Resources and mentions
Website – https://en.zsambokibiokert.hu/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/zsamboki.biokert
And if you want to keep the conversation going, join us in our Facebook Group to connect with us and other farmers looking to grow their business!
We also have six free eguides to help you be more effective on your farm (Winter Growing, Pastured Poultry, Washing Shed Efficiency, Profitable Farmers Toolkit, what to look for in a farm property, etc), which you can download here.