How I Got Started: Paul Barney, owner, Edulis Nursery & Landscape Design

Paul Barney, owner, Edulis Nursery & Landscape Design. Image: Paul Barney
Paul Barney, owner, Edulis Nursery & Landscape Design. Image: Paul Barney

How did you break into the industry? While studying environmental biology at Oxford Polytechnic I started growing macrobiotic crops. Later on, I started supplying unusual lettuces to restaurants which, back hen, paid ridiculous prices for them. After an MSc in soil science at Reading university, I worked at the Centre for Alternative Technology where they were trying to be self-sufficient in food. I then got a government grant to start a landscape business, which kept me in Wales, while also working on planting native woodlands there.

As I got more into the design side, I retrained as a landscape architect and specialised in using reed beds for sewage treatment, of which I built a few. But wanted to grow again too, which is why in 1993 I set up Edulis.

Who was your inspiration? Bill Mollison, the founder of permaculture; Lawrence D Hills, who set up the Henry Doubleday Research Association (now Garden Organic); and Oehme and van Sweden, who created the "New American Garden" style.

What's the most difficult job you have done? Designing an edible roof garden for the Reading International Solidarity Centre, using plants from all over the world that had never been grown on a roof before.

What does the future hold? I will try to keep both the growing and the project management going. I wouldn't want to be stuck in an office the whole time, and now that edibles have become much more popular again, I can increase volumes. And interesting new plants come along all the time.

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