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  • We’ve got plenty of Cornish community spirit

    Posted on November 21st, 2010 charlotte No comments

    Camel CSA is strong on community spirit according to the Cornish Guardian, our local weekly newspaper.

    It reports that our vegetable-growing co-operative is going from strength to strength now we’ve won Lottery and ECLAG  funding

    We’re seeking to increase our membership and welcome new members living within a 10-mile radius of St Kew Highway to join our weekly veg box scheme.

    Camel CSA secretary Mike Sadler told the paper: “Over the past two years we’ve learned a lot. The first growing season was a hard lesson; we had problems with the quality of the soil and predators such as birds and rabbits.

    “The second growing year has been much more successful and we’re looking forward to inviting local schools and organisations to come to the site and learn the importance of growing produce and introducing them to healthy living.”

  • How we intend to bridge the ‘hungry gap’

    Posted on April 25th, 2010 charlotte No comments

    We’re now entering the traditional “hungry gap”, which means that the normally wide variety of local, home-grown veg is becoming increasingly hard to come by in the UK.

    It’s the time of year when the root crops and brassicas of winter and early spring either run out or start to bolt in the increasingly warm weather. 

    At the same time, we’re waiting for the late spring and summer crops to grow.

    So what can we do to fill the weekly vegetable boxes short-term?

    Rather than go beyond Cornwall or even outside the UK, we’ll probably start to fill the boxes with more “high-value” vegetables such as Cornish mushrooms from Tregonning Farm, Stithians. 

    When the asparagus season begins, you may find that it’s one of only a few vegetables in the boxes.  But well worth it!  And extremely local – from Cornish Asparagus at Lower Croan, Sladesbridge.

    We’ll also have some vegetables cultivated in polytunnels by our own expert growers – salad leaves, radishes, spring onions, spinach and coriander.

    Growing fast

    The growing team have been busy preparing seed beds and sowing all kinds of veg – Swiss chard, rainbow chard, perpetual spinach, beetroot and carrot seeds. 

    They’ve planted out the first of the lettuces brought on in the polytunnel, and pricked out celery and celeriac seedlings.

    Over the last two Sundays our volunteers have also been erecting a much-needed fence to keep out the rabbits, which seem to be multiplying by the minute.

    Thanks to expert growers Jeremy and Mark N and to volunteers Cath, Charlotte, Danny, Fiona, Fred, Jerry, Kitty, Mark M, Mike S and Theresa.  And to our younger helpers Finn and Keira.

  • We’ve outsmarted them!

    Posted on November 10th, 2009 charlotte No comments

    It’s doing the trick.  The new protective mesh is keeping the voracious rabbits off our spring greens.

    Garlic planting 08-10-09 MMc - croppedThey’ve been hopping all over it and have left droppings everywhere, but they haven’t been able to find a way underneath.

    This expensive mesh is proving to be a worthwhile investment. The rabbits can’t chew holes in it, it doesn’t disintegrate and it lasts for years – unlike fleece.

    The growing team has managed at long last to plant several rows of garlic sets and sow some broad beans for overwintering. We’re hoping these will give us an early crop next year.

    All being well, the rabbits won’t touch the garlic (although earlier in the year they did have a gnaw at some of the onions).

    Thanks to expert growers Jane, Jeremy and Mark plus regular Sunday team members Kitty, Mark, Mike H and Mike S.

  • Sorting those rabbits

    Posted on October 23rd, 2009 charlotte No comments

    Sweden turning stray rabbits into biofuel  Could this be the solution to Camel CSA’s rabbit problem?

    (Thanks to Mike H for sharing this with us)

  • Keeping up the momentum

    Posted on October 3rd, 2009 charlotte No comments

    Our seasonal veg boxes will continue to be available to members throughout the winter months. 

    Camel Community Supported Agriculture’s core group has decided that continuity of supply should be a top priority.  This is despite the fact that we’ve harvested most of the vegetables we’ve grown this year.

    veg-boxes-camel csa  29-09-09

    By the start of next year, we’ll have eaten all our own remaining parsnips, carrots, onions, celeriac, parsley and beetroot.  By then we will have only cabbages, kale, Brussels sprouts and (hopefully) some sprouting broccoli to fall back on.  That’s provided the rabbits leave some for us.

    So the proportion of vegetables we buy in from other local growers will continue to increase significantly over the next few weeks.

    Expanding

    Our financial applications to the Lottery’s “Changing spaces” Local Food programme and the East Cornwall Local Action Group are about to be submitted.  Core group members have been furiously working out last-minute cash flow projections.  Then we face several nerve-racking weeks while we wait on tenterhooks to discover whether we’ve been successful. 

    p & p 3 25-09-09We need an injection of capital to realise our dream of expanding and consolidating our growing-our-own-food project. 

    It will fund the purchase of equipment, materials and resources to set up a self-sustaining growing operation on our existing site.  It’ll also support the start-up costs of providing a training and educational programme for volunteers and local groups.

    We want to employ an expert grower to manage cultivation, guide volunteers and oversee group visits to our St Kew Highway plot.

     

    After the three-year funding period elapses, we’re confident we can be totally self-sustaining.  But we need that initial boost to invest in equipment like a small tractor, packing shed, bore hole, poly tunnels, tools and the all-important predator-proof fencing. 

     

    However we’re well aware that there is only a 50% chance (at best) of getting Lottery money.  The competition is stiff: there have been so many applications for a share of the £50m pot of gold.  

     

    Committed

     

    We’ve proved as a group that we can get a community agriculture project off the ground and keep the momentum going, come what may.

     

    p & p 02-10-10None of this would have been possible without such committed volunteer input from a large proportion of our members.  Membership now stands at just under 50 households. 

     

    As well as the three expert growers, we reckon that we now have around 25 regular volunteers working at various administrative tasks during the week, tending the plot and cultivating the vegetables in all weathers on a Sunday, or picking and packing the boxes every Friday morning.

     

    Along with the land so generously made available by the Brown family, our dedicated and loyal volunteers are our most valuable asset.

     

  • Should we shoot them – or what?

    Posted on September 16th, 2009 charlotte No comments

    rabbitI’m talking about the rabbits.

    They’re devastating our brassicas – the 1,000+ donated by Fentongollan Farm that Camel CSA volunteers planted in monsoon conditions in July. 

    They’ve hopped along the protective fleece and created several neat lines of holes by boring down vertically into the centre of nearly every plant.  How do they do it?  Have they got sat nav or is it simply down to their whiffly noses?

    The rodents seem to like munching red and green cabbage, kale (both kinds) and purple sprouting broccoli the best.  But, just like humans, they don’t seem to be quite so keen on the Brussels sprouts.

     Slug attackslug-boot-camel csa 08-09-09

    Those famous Cornish slugs with the orange-frilled stomachs have also been having a go.  There’s been quite a bit of joking about the best way to deal with them.  Slug stir-fry, anyone?

    We’ve spent the last two Sundays hand-weeding what’s left of the brassica plants, in the hopes that they will recover from these predatory attacks.

    Many thanks to our stalwart volunteers – expert growing team members Jane, Jeremy and Mark N, aided by 10-year-old Callum, Cath, Charlotte, Danny, Jenny (14), Keira (3), Kitty, Mark M, Mike H and Mike S in week one.  And thanks last week to experts Jane and Jeremy as well as Charlotte, Dan, Kate, Kitty, Marianne, Mike S and seven-week-old baby Hollie, who slept through it all. 

    Provided we’re successful in our funding bids, we’ll be able to invest in some strong predator-proof fencing and netting in the near future.  But in the meantime, please do tell us.  Should we shoot those pesky rabbits – or what?