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Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Big news for 2020

This is a LONG post!

Are you interested in healthy, locally grown food that you can trust?
Would you like to be part of something new, at the heart of your community?

We're restarting the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project this year!

The aims of our CSA are:

  • To provide fresh, healthy organic (possibly biodynamic) vegetables at affordable prices for anyone who wants to be a part of the project.
  • To involve members in understanding the process of growing their food, and inform and educate both the members and the wider community.
  • Ultimately to provide training opportunities and part time jobs, specifically designed to be accessible to those with children at the local school and who lack access to childcare.
  • To provide those jobs under a constitution which guarantees fair pay ratios.
  • To provide education and demonstration of permaculture practices and promote regenerative agriculture.
  • To work with the school and preschool as and when they are ready, to provide farming and growing projects for the children.
  • To be available to other local agencies who offer social prescribing, or help those with mental and emotional issues where time spent outside in the garden might be useful.

This time we're launching via a pilot scheme, so that while still working off the farm, we can get a really good model of how this works ready for a big launch next year.

For this reason we need to select JUST SIX pilot members to take part this year, and help us launch next.

To become a pilot member:

  • You'll need to commit to the whole six month period we're aiming for this year.  In future years, we will attempt to go year round, but for the pilot year, we're just aiming for June - November. CSAs sometimes ask people to pay upfront, but because we want ours to be accessible, we are going to try to operate with monthly payments. But we do need people, especially in our pilot year, who've committed in their hearts to see it through.
  • You'll need to understand how CSA works. You're not buying a set amount of veg. You're sharing the risk with the grower. So what you get is a SHARE of the harvest. That means if there's a glut of something, you'll get a lot. If a crop falters or fails, you'll get very little of that item, or possibly none. The point of CSA is to give the grower a steady predictable income, so that they are able to concentrate on producing food.
  • You'll need to understand that as we set sail, we won't actually be certified organic (that's part of the year one plan) or registered as a Community Interest Company (so is that) but you will be part of our getting established.
  • We need ONE small shareholder, ONE large shareholder, and FOUR medium shareholders, because we need to practice getting the balance right.
  • Our test price points  for the pilot year will be £7.50 per week for small, £10 per week for medium and £12.50 for large.  We will aim to make an average box suitable for a couple of adults with one or two small children. The small would be for a couple, or a single person who is perhaps vegetarian, and the large for a family with more than two children, or with two older children/young adults. (having said that, no CSA on earth will pretend to produce enough to entirely feed one teenager, let alone two!) 
  • You will be helping us establish whether the prices and box sizes are right, or need adjusting.
  • The monthly (in advance) charge will be your weekly price x the number of collections/deliveries that month (usually 4 but occasionally 5)
  • On that subject, we would ideally like our pilot members to be able to collect from Bishops Cannings - but don't rule yourself out if you can't. We can deliver but prefer to have drop off points rather than deliver to individual addresses - you may be near another member and we may be able to work something out.
  • There will NOT be an obligation to volunteer on the plot, and in the current uncertain times, we wouldn't even begin to suggest it. But, if and when we all get back to normal, volunteering will be welcomed and encouraged at specific times.
  • Likewise, when we can, we'll hold some social gatherings on the plot.
  • There WILL be an undertaking to help promote the project, and an agreement that if there are problems, you will come to us first and discuss, rather than let off steam on social medial  For this to work, we need it to grow exponentially in launch year, so we only want pilot members who are enthusiastic about the CSA model and willing to help us through our pilot year, even if it means some hard conversations.
  • To this end, we'll probably ask you for feedback A LOT!
If you are interested, please email us at chestnutsfarm@gmail.com or PM us from  Facebook
We will set up an application process soon.

***Covid-19*** provided we remain well, there is no reason why the virus should stop this project launching, and I think it's showed us how much we need stuff like this.
We will be able to work on the plot in isolation, and if the situation remains the same in June when our first boxes become available (there may be bits and bobs before then) we will be able to arrange a time for people to pick up their share from the gate, without needing to come into contact. We all hope and pray that things will improve by then, but if they don't,  a regular supply of good fresh veg can only help matters. 


2 comments:

  1. Well, I'd love to volunteer, obvs....once I sort out the daily commute across the ocean I'll be back in touch. :)

    Bloody brilliant!!! SO excited for you and YES, this is exactly what's needed in exactly the way it's needed. Honestly, I could bang on for pages and pages about the inaccessibility of most CSAs which only widen the gap of who gets healthy food and who has to eat pesticide-sprayed garbage.....but I won't. Because you already know.

    Best of luck with this!! xo

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    1. So the system where I find out when people comment has failed dismally and I've just seen this. Mel, dearest, if only you could be our very first member ... but hey, you can be an honorary member from afar.
      I am just not comfortable with the whole notion of healthy food as a luxury.I really want to find a way to make it a choice. x

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