We are delighted to introduce Chelsea Dow, Dan Peel and Jack Farmer, who have supported our work through LettUs Grow.

Can you tell us who you are, a little bit about you, and your professional background?

I’m Chelsea, the People and Culture Manager at LettUs Grow. I have nine years’ experience working in the urban agricultural sector doing everything from educating children on rooftop farms, to managing farmers markets in vulnerable neighbourhoods, to installing hydroponic farms in local businesses. I now manage all things people at LettUs Grow from recruitment to our company culture and all the wonderful bits in between!
– Chelsea Dow, People and Culture Manager

When did you first get involved with Babbasa, and what inspired you to do so?

We’ve been working with Babbasa for over two years. The mission of Babbasa really speaks
to us at LettUs Grow. We are passionate about providing job training and employment
opportunities to a diverse group of people. Accessibility and inclusion are important to us, and
these are main drivers for Babbasa as well. We are also proud to be from Bristol and want to
support other local Bristol businesses doing great work.

– Chelsea Dow, People and Culture Manager

What problems do you think young people are facing while trying to start their first career role right now?

With many companies putting employees on furlough schemes or making their staff
redundant, it’s been difficult for many to find employment. This is especially true for
individuals just embarking on their professional careers. The job market is competitive now
more than ever, with what seems like fewer opportunities.

For those that have found employment there is still the difficulty of beginning a new career
remotely. Whilst remote working has its benefits it’s certainly poses its challenges as well.
Mimicking that authentic and friendly office feel is difficult to do online and young people will
face this challenge when starting new careers amongst the Coronavirus.

– Chelsea Dow, People and Culture Manager 

Do you think professionals can support young people to overcome those challenges during this time? 

There are so many ways employers can support young people in this time, just look at the
great work Babbasa is doing! Offering placements, internships and volunteering opportunities
is a tangible way to make a difference in a young person’s life right now. It provides valuable
work experience to a young person and also helps the company achieve their goals!
In regards to working remotely there are many tools available to ensure young people feel
supported in the workplace. Examples include virtual coffee chats, monthly (or even weekly)
check ins and online training to ensure they feel confident in completing their work.
– Chelsea Dow, People and Culture Manager

Can you tell us a bit about the opportunity you offered to young people?

We offered two-week placements to young people who were looking at studying STEM subjects at university. The time was spent predominately around the farm aiming for this to be at least half of the young person’s time with us. This included participating in every day farm tasks such as sowing and harvesting as well as the data collection and analysis side.

All of this work was accompanied by the farm manager, either directly assisting them or running some of their own trials. The rest of the time was spent getting to know the different people that work at LettUs Grow and the wide variety of roles within the company. This was made up of sessions where the placement would spend an hour or so with these different teams learning about their day to day work and also how they found their way into that role.
– Product Manager, Dan Peel

How was the experience for you? Do you feel your organisation benefitted?

Access was an important consideration, specifically looking at wheelchair access, unfortunately this is not something we could meet at the time. In our new facility we now have disabled access.
In regards to health and safety we made sure that there was no lone working and that everything was reasonable to ask of someone doing this for the first time. All staff undertook a morning session of training with Babbasa focused on safe guarding, behaviors and inclusion, these are very valuable skills anyway and should be considered when doing this again.

– Product Manager, Dan Peel

As a young start-up at the time, we were keen to ensure we all had enough time to support
the placement students throughout the course of their time here at LettUs Grow. Budgets and
team resource were tight at the time so we agreed to two, two-week long paid internships. We
made sure to work closely with Babbasa to ensure that we had all relevant support and
documentation in place, and to hopefully ensure that both placements felt safe and

Primarily the two-weeks were spent with our biological R&D teams within our vertical farm,
but they also engaged with both engineering and commercial teams to get a better
understanding of life at LettUs Grow. The team loved the whole experience, as it is always
really refreshing to explain your job to someone young, and to see how exciting it all looks to

We really all believe in the work Babbasa is doing, so were happy to help in the small way
that we could. This engagement was useful in the longer term as it’s paved the way for
working closer together in the future, hopefully on some longer term placements and
– CSO, Head of commercial and co-founder Jack Farmer

How did you decide to structure your opportunity? Why did you choose to do it this way?

The opportunity was focused around joining the grow team and taking part in farm operations, assisting with growing trials and data capture. This was the focus of about 75% of the young person’s time. The focus was fully integrating them into part of the team and taking on regular tasks initially through shadowing the farm manager and research team and later on running their own growing trials.

The other 25% was based around getting to know the LettUs Grow team and the different roles.
Informal sessions were run with different team members where the young person had the opportunity to quiz them on everything from their day to day job to how and why they got into this. We tried to pair the interests of the young person up with staff members working on similar projects.
– Product Manager, Dan Peel

Did you encounter any obstacles in the planning or completion of your opportunity? If so, how did you overcome them?

Personally, it was a steep learning curve for me. Planning and executing on a fortnight worth of work and activities whilst also getting my own work done, was demanding. However, it was a hugely enjoyable and inspirational experience.

From the perspective of the organisation, with the time being so short we did not fully reap the rewards of having an extra team member. Unfortunately, as soon as the young person was up to speed on a task or set of tasks and really adding value the placement was finished. I am fully confident that with a longer placement the company would certainly see the benefit in the extra productivity.
– Product Manager, Dan Peel

What would you say to other professionals who are considering getting involved with Babbasa?

We fully support and encourage other companies wanting to get involved with Babbasa. We
had a really enjoyable experience bringing a young person onto our team and training them
in all things vertical farming!
– Chelsea Dow, People and Culture Manager