Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Challenging times for Llangybi Organics

Where have all our customers gone? Maybe it's the recession; maybe other things. But several of our customers have vanished this year and we are wondering what to do about it. So far as we can tell, our veg quality is as good as ever and value for money -- in this era of 'cheap' food -- is also good. At this time of year, we'd normally expect to have 25-30 people collecting boxes and bags every week. Since we started at the end of July, we've been averaging about 20. This is worrying for us as well as wasteful. Jill, in particular, is having to feed good veg to the pigs. Trouble is, we have to plan months in advance what we grow and how much, making assumptions about customer numbers. We always lose a few and gain a few at startup but we had planned and grown veg to feed 30 or so, not 20. Our viability is in doubt unless we can increase the numbers.

Could you help us? If you're part of our wonderful, loyal and supportive customer base, could you do a couple of things to help us? One is to pass on the message that we are looking for more regular customers to anyone you know who might be interested in fresh, genuinely local, organically-grown food. Please do show them what you get or tell them why you choose to buy from us rather than supermarkets. Another thing you could do is let us know if you think there's something we're not doing quite right or could do better. All the feedback we get is very positive; nice for us, but with people deserting us, we do wonder why.

Veg news: The photo (click for large version) depicts veg as picked by Val a couple of weeks back for a typical box. It looks good, doesn't it? At last, tomatoes are coming on stream. Peppers are doing well too although that seems to be down to varieties rather than warm summer sunshine (!). Pests and diseases are taking their toll of certain crops: the aubergines which looked so good are suffering and so are the cucumbers. The potatoes have been smitten, as usual, by blight. Jill at Ty'n Lon polytunnel No. 2 has a worrying new disease problem affecting some summer veg. She hopes it is not the dreaded verticilium wilt. Rabbits are on the increase and we had a man with a gun round last night, shooting the blighters. They were digging small holes in the leeks (which are looking good, I'm happy to say) and other parts of the veg plots at Mur Crusto. I'm having to set mole traps because these creatures burrow away underneath veg and fruit like the raspberries and damage the roots as they search for the humble earthworms which are their food. We at Mur Crusto have hundreds of tiny seedlings and little plants approaching readiness for planting out for winter polytunnel crops: half a dozen varieties of oriental brassicas and lettuces of various types. Anyone like to come and help with weeding and planting?

It's nearly Potato Day, all you CSA Group helpers: Over the summer, several members of our trusty group came to help out with weeding and planting out, mostly at Ty'n Lon. Thank you! We're going to be asking for help again with potato and onion-harvesting at Ty'n Lon sometime in the next few weeks when it dries out enough to get them in. I expect Jill will provide a lunch with, I hope, unlimited quantities of cava and cider (or else I'm not coming!).

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