We're growing our own food!
Home icon RSS icon
  • Veg growing jobs this Sunday

    Posted on April 30th, 2010 charlotte No comments

    There’s plenty to do on our community veg growing plot at St Kew Highway this Mayday weekend. 

    We’ll be on the site on Sunday morning between 10am and 1pm as usual. Do come and join us.

    We must sow more salad spinach leaves, weed the onions, garlic and beetroot, and prick out the celery seedlings.  The boysenberry plants also need tidying.

    Please bring hoes, rakes and small forks.  Don’t forget waterproof jackets and boots as rain is forecast.  

    See you there!

  • First signs of spring in North Cornwall

    Posted on January 24th, 2010 charlotte No comments

    snowdrops-Dinham's-Bridge-camel-csa 24-01-10What a relief to see snowdrops emerging in the woods between St Mabyn and St Kew Highway.

    The ground is far too cold and saturated with melted ice and snow for us to start work yet on Camel Community Supported Agriculture’s vegetable plot.

    Once the earth warms up in late February / early March our volunteer growing team can begin preparing the ground, spreading compost and planting seed into cells to go in the polytunnel. 

    In the meantime we’re continuing to harvest our own parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes and carrots as well as the remaining onions and shallots in store.  The rest of the weekly veg box contents are being sourced locally from growers in the immediate area.

  • Meet the veg pickers and packers

    Posted on November 30th, 2009 charlotte No comments

    carrot-harvest-camel-csa 27-11-09They slave away in all weathers on our behalf, battling against the Cornish elements.  Wind, rain or sun, they ensure Camel CSA’s weekly veg boxes are ready by midday every Friday.

    I’m referring of course to our intrepid picking and packing team of volunteers.   

    The digging squad has had to endure strong winds, driving rain and ferociously muddy conditions in the last month while harvesting parsnips and carrots at St Kew Highway.

    The packing squad has also had to overcome some challenges, as their temporary shelter blew away in a gale.  Sorting and weighing is now being done in the shelter of a borrowed polytunnel generously provided by Jeremy Brown, one of our expert growers.

    In spite of these setbacks, the team seems to have remained remarkably cheerful.  And it’s not always noses to the grindstone. 

    veg-packing-camel-csa 27-11-09Trish says:

    “One week we were finished at 11!   At least an hour earlier than ever before.   And the sun shone…”

    We owe a grateful thanks to all of them over the past few weeks –  picking and packing supremo Trish  and to Carla, Cathy, Henrietta, Jennie, Mike H, Mike S, Penny, Robert and Steve.

    Hands on

    Last Friday we were glad for additional help from Rosa, the latest in a series of WWOOFers “lent” to us by Camel CSA members Dominic and Cathy at South Penquite Farm on Bodmin Moor.

    parsnip-harvest-camel-csa 27-11-09World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is an exchange network. It encourages farmers and horticulturalists to offer food, accommodation and opportunities in return for volunteer help from people wanting hands-on experience of organic lifestyles.

    Rosa’s come from Sweden. She’s here to learn English and wants to stay in England as long as possible.

    She was a nurse for many years and has a bit of a reputation as a horse whisperer. She’s helping out at South Penquite for a couple of weeks and will assist us again this Friday.

    In September two WWOOFers from London helped Camel CSA’s volunteer growing team plant onion sets at one of our regular Sunday sessions.

  • More and bigger helpings

    Posted on November 7th, 2009 charlotte 1 comment

    The extra potatoes in our shares are put there in direct response to a plea from Camel CSA members.  Standard boxes contain 2.5 kg of Wilja spuds this week and there are 1.5 kg in the small boxes.

    weighing-potatoes-camel-csa 25-09-09 Our picking and packing volunteers had to dodge some sharp, heavy showers as they picked, dug, sorted and weighed the veg on Friday.  The team’s now rigged up some rudimentary shelter to help them escape the worst of Cornwall’s wild autumn equinoxal weather.

    Picking and packing supremo Trish explains:

    “We’ve been loaned a gazebo which we put up over the sorting area.  We’re hoping it’ll stay put and not take off once we put a couple of ties into the wall.

     

    “It was good to stay reasonably dry while doing the packing and it meant we could leave the boxes under cover at the end.”

    Friday’s band of helpers alongside Trish were Penny and Robert, Mike H, Henrietta and Jennie M.

    The growing team still have broad beans to sow and garlic sets to plant which we hope (weather permitting!) to get finished this Sunday.  See you then.

  • Another media mention

    Posted on November 4th, 2009 charlotte No comments

    We’ve had another mention in the Western Morning News – this time in its Woman section.

    WMN Woman’s editor Gillian Molesworth, herself an active Camel CSA member, reveals how she tried to grow vegetables on her own and lost heart.  So she fully appreciates what we do:

    bunching-carrots-camel-csa 02-10-09“I highly recommend it.  You get the gardener’s satisfaction of digging and weeding and picking … and you get to take home a weekly vegetable box that you didn’t have to grow all yourself.

    You get to eat seasonally and locally, and even if there’s a permanent cloud sitting overhead waiting to rain on you when you start digging up carrots, at least you can complain about it to some fellow volunteers, instead of suffering in lonesome silence.

    Finding the fun in vegetables – Western Morning News – WMN2 – Woman 30-10-09

  • Fresh and seasonal

    Posted on October 29th, 2009 Trish No comments

    More of our own sweet carrots in this week’s veg boxes, plus onions, parsnips and chard, all grown at St Kew Highway.

    In the small boxes:parsnips-camel csa 29-1-2009
    * onions (Camel CSA)
    * carrots (Camel CSA)
    * parsnips (Camel CSA)
    * chard (Camel CSA
    potatoes (Burlerrow, St Mabyn)
    cauliflower (Rest Harrow Farm, Trebetherick)
    red cabbage (Rest Harrow Farm)

    Medium boxes also have
    * beetroot (Camel CSA)
    * borlotti beans – these need a good 20 minutes’ cooking (Jeremy Brown)
    leeks (Rest Harrow Farm)

    * = grown to organic principles

  • Enjoy these unusual Cornish apples

    Posted on October 23rd, 2009 charlotte No comments

    The dessert apples in Camel CSA’s vegetable boxes this week are a delicious old English variety called Lord Hindlip.  They were planted in our garden at St Mabyn some 40 or more years ago by Percy Dunstan, a smallholder.  His daughter, who still lives in the village, says they were his favourite.

    lord-hindlip-apples-camel csa 10-09-09Pomona Publications, which specialises in fine botanical art prints, describes this attractive-looking apple:

    “A seedling from the Worcester estate of Lord Hindlip, introduced by the Watkins nurseries of Hereford in 1896. Lord Hindlip has beautifully coloured skin and a fine physique, broad shoulders tapering to a narrow base, with juicy flesh and a refreshing, tangy aromatic flavour.” 

    Rosanne Sanders, in her classic book The English Apple, admires its particular taste:

    “The fruit is a very late dessert type, with rich and distinctive vinous flavour.  Picking time is early to mid October and its season is December to March.”

    Storage

    Lord Hindlip is a late variety that benefits from being kept for a couple of weeks before eating.  (But I suggest you try one and decide for yourself.)

    apple-harvest-camel-csa 18-10-09From my own experience, I recommend Rosanne Sanders’ method of storing apples in a clear plastic bag: 

    “The material maintains high humidity and so prevents the fruits from shrivelling too quickly.  However, the apple must be allowed to breathe. 

    The skin of the bag should be perforated with a hole the diameter of a pencil for every pound of fruit, and the top of the bag folded over rather than sealed.  Use clear polythene so that the apples can be seen and any rots removed if necessary.

    The required conditions of coolness, darkness and ventilation still apply.”

    We’ll be including the remainder of the Lord Hindlip harvest in the apple juice we’re going to produce on Camel CSA’s site at St Kew Highway on Sunday.  But we could do with some more.  So please –  if you know about any surplus apples going begging, do let us know.

  • 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.

     

  • Start buttering those parsnips!

    Posted on September 17th, 2009 charlotte No comments

    We’ve got more of those delicious parsnips in our share of the vegetables.  They were sown and lovingly cultivated by Camel Community Supported Agriculture’s volunteer growing team.  Also available from our own plot at St Kew Highway this week are curly parsley, onions, Swiss chard and beetroot.

    The small veg boxes contain:
    weeding-camel csa 09-08-09*parsnips (Camel CSA)
    *onions (Camel CSA)
    *potatoes (Jeremy Brown)
    *curly parsley (Camel CSA)
    *pumpkin (Mark Norman)
    *tomatoes (Jeremy)
    swede (Rest Harrow Farm)
    kale (Rest Harrow Farm, Trebetherick)
    broccoli (St Merryn)

    The standard boxes contain all the above, plus:
    *Swiss chard (Camel CSA)
    *beetroot (Camel CSA)
    *courgettes (Mark)

    * = grown to organic principles

    Uncomplaining

    We extend our best wishes to Trish, Camel CSA’s picking and packing supremo, who has recently had an operation.  We hope she enjoys a speedy recovery and look forward to working again with her soon.

    Robert, who’s responsible for the Friday rota, is standing in for her at the moment.  Over the last fortnight he’s been leading a team that’s included Charlotte, Gillian, Henrietta, Marianne, Mike H and Penny. 

    Mike H and Penny have spent long hours uncomplainingly digging up row after row of potatoes.  It was a disappointingly small yield so they’ve had to put a disproportionate amount of effort into this back-breaking task.  This area is now being sown with a crop of green manure to boost soil fertility.

    If anyone else is willing to volunteer to pick and pack on Friday mornings, please get in touch.  We could do with a couple more people on the rota.  You won’t be expected to turn up every week. 

    Oh – and don’t worry, no more potatoes need to be dug until next season!

    See Recipe No 12 – Carrot and parsnip soup

  • Camel CSA hosts Soil Association mentoring event

    Posted on September 11th, 2009 charlotte No comments

    Camel Community Supported Agriculture has been chosen to host a new type of training event being organised by the Soil Association. 

    Volunteers  - cropped 12-07-09A total of 23 grow-your-own-food enthusiasts in the south-west, from Land’s End to Totnes, are taking part.  It’s proved so popular that more than 10 would-be participants have had to be turned away.

    The horticultural mentoring event for existing and prospective CSA groups and growers in the south west is on Monday 14 September at our site at St Kew Highway behind St Kew Harvest Farm Shop.

    It will give us an opportunity to consider soil fertility, crop planning and other important aspects of community supported agriculture.  It’ll also help us build all-important networks with other growing groups.

    Advice

    onion harvest-Camel-CSA 09-08-09The event’s being organised by Ben Raskin, the Soil Association’s learning manager and horticultural advisor, with the financial backing of the Making Local Food Work project.  Ben says:

    “The idea is to put growing groups with similar aims into mentoring groups where they can get help and advice.

     

    “There’s been a massive response to these mentoring events from Cornwall and Gloucestershire in particular, which is fantastic. We’ve had to turn people away from next week’s session at St Kew Highway and there is a waiting list of 10.

    Cornwall is already playing a leading role in the Making Local Food Work programme led by the Plunkett Foundation.  As Jan Trefusis of the foundation says in a recent magazine article:

    “Cornwall really is the star of this programme, with a high proportion of our uptake for the project coming from across the region.”

    Tim Deane from Northwood Farm near Exeter in Devon, who founded the UK’s first organised vegetable box scheme, will share 30 years’ experience of crop planning, labour and machinery needs at the event.  

    Dedicated

    Weeding-brassicas-camel csa 08-09-09Camel Community Supported Agriculture’s own team of expert growers – Jeremy Brown, Jane Mellowship and Mark Norman – will describe the ups and down of the initial six months of our own local food project.

    The initiative to grow our own food and to share the risks and rewards would never have got off the ground without their combined skills and dedication.  They’ve willingly devoted many hours of unpaid work to what’s often been an uphill task.

    Jeremy, Jane and Mark have been brilliant; there’s no other way of putting it.  Camel CSA members owe them a big debt.  We cannot thank them enough.

    • See and hear what our expert growers have to say on Camel CSA’s latest video – Our first harvest