Local Food Economy

Rocket Man: salads and herbs available soon!

By Hilary Green

Volunteer Hilary Green writes about Ali, who runs a business called Rocket Man and grows and sells his produce in Bristol from his plot in Grow Wilder. Ali is being supported by ACH, refugee and migrant support services. Find out more about Rocket Man and how you can support this work.

Some of you may remember the excellent Bristol 24/7 piece on Ali Al Hlayel, who has been living here in the UK with his wife and three daughters since escaping the war in Syria years ago. Ali was a grower in Syria, and provided for his family by growing traditional vegetables, wheat and barley. Once settled in the UK, Ali longed to be back on the land providing for his family again, making use of his existing knowledge and skills.

Ali spent two years volunteering for the social enterprise Sims Hill Shared Harvest to build his knowledge of the UK land and climate. With the support of Sims Hill and the team at ACH (Migrant Business Support Service), Ali produced his first harvest for sale in 2022. His star-performer was organic rocket, which he sold to local restaurants and shops, earning him the name of Rocket Man! Customers were delighted with the quality and taste of his produce – a real tribute to his dedication and care for his crops.

Ali has raised most of the money he needs to buy a large polytunnel – and in record time it is almost set up. He has welcomed support in particular from Tim Lawrence as Project Manager, whose experience in setting up polytunnels has been invaluable.

Ali’s crops of salads and herbs are already growing well and Ali will have some produce available at the end of May. He already has some customers lined up!

His Just Giving Fundraiser has done phenomenally well – he is reached 96% of his target. However, Ali is still short of some essential items and it would be fantastic if we could get him over the line on this, so if you can, please give generously!

To find out more about how you can order from Ali or how you can support him and other ACH vendors, please contact jah.caballero@ach.org.uk.

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