By Ellen Pearce, The Plot Coordinator
One year ago, we were the proud tenants of two paddocks at Old Holly Farm, frantically trying to convert permanent pasture to veg beds while grappling with an unusually cold May. A year on, the Plot is already looking settled and productive, with neat rows of salads, kale, broad beans and radishes (to name but a few!).
We want to grow local food for local people. We want to grow food naturally, in a way that enhances nature, and we want to minimise transport and packing costs. It’s our hope and intention that over the next few years we’ll scale up, and more and more of our food here in North Lancashire will be produced locally.
Five weeks ago, we started our crop-share scheme. Twenty five people have committed to support our farm in return for a weekly share of the produce we grow. Their boxes so far have already seen a seasonal shift – from the last of the winter crops such as leeks, beetroot, carrots at the end of April to the more recent kale, green garlic and radishes. As the weather warms, there’ll be summer crops, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, herbs, and then later in the Autumn squash and chillies for winter stews.
The crop-share model is a form of Community Support Agriculture (CSA), which, according to the UK organisation CSA Network UK, is ‘a partnership between farmers and consumers in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared.
CSA helps to address increasing concerns about the lack of transparency, sustainability and resilience of our food system. It is one of the most radical ways that we can retake control and ownership of our food system.’
It’s a way for small-scale farmers to connect directly and be supported by those they feed in a more mutual and committed relationship. And of course this kind of collaborative effort to feed a community is rooted in the (not so distant) past.
Back at the Plot, May has been a busy month. At our polytunnel site we have taken out the winter salads and replaced them with the summer hot crops, including sweet corn and courgettes, as well as tomatoes and cucumbers. On our field site, we are creating new beds, waiting for the broad beans and peas to swell, and planting salads, radish, greens (and much more!) and squash for the Autumn.
Every season is different – but that’s where the joy lies!
To support the Plot, you can join the waiting list for a crop-share place: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe7hpZgfX25oY2sqhl_g9nPCkA8E0-xn5E8M6aXXkkyvegSBw/viewform
Order veg via our online shop: https://openfoodnetwork.org.uk/the-plot-less-lancaster-district-cic/shop#/home
Become a FoodFriends: http://foodfutures.org.uk/foodfriends/