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Community supported agriculture newsletter no10

Soil Association

Community supported agriculture & organic buying groups project

Newsletter, Issue 10, March 2010


Birmingham: An exciting new bakery CSA has been established in Birmingham by Tom Baker. Loaf Community Bakery is producing delicious sourdough and other artisan bread for subscribers who pay £11 per month, and collect their freshly baked bread on Fridays from the bakery at Cotteridge. More information...

Devon: In early March Chagford Community Agriculture were delighted to hear they'd got planning permission from the National Park Authority for three polytunnels and two sheds for their CSA scheme. This now means they are eligible for £38,600 of funding from the Local Food Grant programme.More information.....

Cambridgeshire: A new CSA is being established at Wimpole Home Farm, a National Trust farm in Cambridgeshire. An acre of land is being set aside for growing vegetables for 50 local families. Start up funds have been secured through Defra’s Greener Living Fund and they are looking to recruit a grower. Members will be able to get as involved in the growing as they like. Membership will cost about £8 a week for a plot. More information...

Sheffield: Two new CSAs are being set up on 12 acres of land. Hazelhurst Fruitery and Hazelhurst CSA, a community smallholding. A community finance initiative is being set up to raise the money to secure the land for the smallholding which is being held for the Hazelhurst Community Supported Agriculture Co-operative. More information ...


Community investment in CSA
We are now pleased to be able to provide an up dated version of 'Community investment in CSA', following our two successful Soil Association CSA events in Exeter and Sheffieldlast year, with community investment specialists Jim Brown and Paul Sander-Jackson. If you are now ready to take the next steps to raise community finance for your CSA, or other local food project, contact your regional coordinator who can refer you as part of the MLFW support provided by Plunkett Foundation. If there is continuing interest in this issue, we plan to hold a follow up event in the autumn. More information...

Organic horticulture mentoring for CSAs
A series of organic horticulture training events have been taking place across the country to help CSA growers and members get to grips with the complexities of crop planning and other growing considerations. Experienced organic grower Tim Deane led the recent organic horticulture events held on three CSA sites in the south west. Whilst focussing on the site in question, he covered a number of key issues to consider when planning crops and rotations. Many of the groups have now gone on to receive site specific mentoring from Tim. We are now working to develop CSA mentoring networks in other areas to enable on-going support. Please contact your regional coordinator for more information about organic horticulture mentoring in your area.
Click here for the Horticultural Cropping Tool.

Organic Buying Groups / Food Coops
As part of this project, we are providing support and information to people wanting to set up organic buying groups. Similar to CSAs, the focus of buying groups or food coops, as they can be called, provides groups with an opportunity of buying fresh organic produce in bulk direct from the producer. To help you, we have created new pages on the website, see Organic Buying Groups. Below are a couple of examples of buying groups to inspire you:

Dublin Food Coop, Ireland
This coop started in 1983. It began with a group of friends and now has about 1000 members. It takes the form of a twice weekly food market held in their own premises in the centre of town. The Dublin Food Co-op was set up to provide organic food and other products to its owner-members. About 300 volunteers do a two-hour shift every 8 weeks. There is also a small team of part-time and full-time staff.

Oklahoma Food Coop, USA
The coop has over 2000 members, buying over $60,000 each month. Over 125 producers belong to the coop supplying over 2,500 product lines each month (food and non-food). Produce is ordered via a website on which farmers post the produce they have available that month. Members have about a week to place their orders via the internet. Once the farmers have brought their produce to the city a crew of volunteers sort the orders which are then distributed to 32 pick up sites across the entire state and from where members collect their orders.


SW Networking and Marketing event on Saturday 17 April 2010
10.30am-3.30pm at Occombe Farm, nr Paignton, Devon TQ3 1RN
This will be a practical workshop on marketing, tailored to the needs of CSAs and other local food projects, and follows the very successful Marketing training event in Leeds in January. Rob Greenland from The Social Business will take you through a step-by-step marketing plan which will help you to think about do-able, affordable ways to build long-term relationships with your current and potential customers.
To book a place, contact Lisa Nunn E: More information...

Setting up a local food buying group on Wednesday 28 April 2010
6.00pm-8.00pm in Birmingham, venue tbc
This event is aimed at community groups, producers and interested individuals. It will explain what a buying groups is, how to set one up, and there will be time for case studies, discussion and networking. This event is being run in conjunction with Sustain. The event is free and includes a light supper.
Booking is essential. Email Lisa Nunn E: More information...

Local Food, Local People: A guide to community supported agriculture 17 May - 22 May 2010
Venue: Emerson College, East Sussex , with Nir Halfon and guest speakers
The course will explore Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as a new economic model for farms and communities. How can we secure a healthy local food supply? During the course we will explore existing and alternative economic models and discuss new solutions for small agricultural enterprises. This course is being organised by Emerson College. More information...

Skillshare Mentoring offers free mentoring support to those working in community owned enterprises that feature or wish to feature local food as part of their trading activity. Mentoring support is essentially a service which offers practical hands-on support and personal development which may include:
knowledge sharing, brainstorming, blue-sky thinking
working through professional and personal development issues,
visits to other social enterprises
other practical services which are more specific to each business, in particular technical knowledge e.g. suppliers of equipment, produce etc.
For more information see: Skillshare Mentoring at Making Local Food Work


Keep our produce fresh, local & personal PLUS Food with a face Inspired Times, March 2010
Residents join forces to feed themselves, The Guardian, 3 Feb 2010
The Food Programme - listen again - Future Farms and Dairy CSA
Community supported agriculture: A model for our times? - The Food Magazine, Feb 2010
Food, Inc. The Soil Association is proud to be charity partner for the Oscar nominated Food, Inc. The film lifts the veil on the food industry, exposing how our food supply is controlled by a handful of multinational corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health and the environment. Visit for more information on screenings and for ways you can help to spread the word and get involved.


Growing Collaboration, Health and Well-being Conference, Eden Project, 5 March
At the “Let’s Get Together” conference at Eden Project, the Soil Association's CSA project's SW regional coordinator Traci Lewis hosted three 'carousel' sessions on CSA for the 120 delegates. Organised by Growing Collaboration, a partnership of community food practitioners and projects spread across Cornwall including the Soil Association, the Eden Project, Volunteer Cornwall, Eatsome and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly NHS. Keynote speaker Kevin Morgan of Cardiff University gave an illuminating and inspiring talk about the 'local food revolution', highlighting the important role social enterprises will play in the future of this. Maresa Bossano from Sustain, another partner in the Making Local Food Work programme spoke about food coops and buying groups. CSAs in the SW were well represented by members from Camel, Trevalon and Exeter.