Our new CSA group has blasted off with great success in the last week. Today, no fewer than five adults and six children showed up for work on a bright and pleasant spring day at Mur Crusto.
Things really began to get moving when Mayumi came to help the day after we'd had to cancel the planned day of action because of bad weather. She and Carwyn helped us begin the long process of clearing the ground and digging the holes for hundreds of fruit plants. And we even got all the strawberries planted out. Later in the week, Rosemary (pictured left) arrived for a fairly tough day of digging and planting. Despite the heavy rain towards the end, we managed to complete the plantings of the entire menage of fruit bushes.
Today (Saturday) was a much pleasanter day for weather and Val and I were almost overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of the support we had. Mike Daly with his children Elin ("I wish I could come here every day!" she really said), Rory and Connan, worked patiently for hours as did Christine, Annie and Mayumi, cutting out old raspberry canes and battling with tough perennial weeds which had invaded the existing fruit beds. This is a horrible job which requires dedication but it's needed if you want a crop of fruit in the summer. (We all do!)
Myrddyn set to clearing the weeds around the blackcurrant bushes whilst Christine's son George and I dug, barrowed and sprinkled manure on the tidied up raspberries and blackcurrants. George explained to me his passion for astronomy and we discussed the relegation of Pluto to a mere planetoid and which was the hottest planet. We reckoned it was probably Venus on account of its runaway greenhouse effect. George pioneered a new difficult route crossing a fence via a tree rather than the boring way through the gate.
At lunch time, we all had a well deserved feed of soup, bread - all made by Val - and cheeses followed by (fair trade and organic) coffee, chocolate and an impromptu meeting. How, Val wondered, should we organise our group? Three points came out from this brief discussion:
- each group member should pay some money up front to help cover our costs for seeds, plants, composts and so on. This then provides an incentive for the members to make sure that everything necessary - like helping out - is done to ensure good crops of fruit and veg: a vested interest. We suggest £50
- each group member should come and help out as and when needed or when they can. The time each member spends working would be recorded in a time bank kept by Val. The cost of the produce we supply to members of the group would then be adjusted according to the amount of time put in. How all this will work in practice we don't yet know and we're open to suggestions. Neither Val nor I wish to make vast profits (!) from this enterprise but neither do we want to be a charitable foundation. The fundamental basis for such a group to work is mutual trust. We are very fortunate to have that with all our group members.
- members who come to help whilst Val and I are away from 10th June - 10th July could take what produce they needed that happened to be available. I pointed out that I was continuing to sow and plant veg for a continuous supply of at least some items even though we'd not be there when some of it is ready. Work which needs doing during our absence will be grass mowing and weeding
We ended the day with a very noisy, splashy trip round the lake, scaring off a heron, several ducks and the pair of geese that always nest on the island every year. No children actually fell in but several got water in their wellies and rather damp clothes. And George observed to me that the day was more fun than he thought it was going to be. Let's hope that sets the general tone for all future family helping visits. It's a great place for climbing trees, playing football, and picnics as well as pulling out weeds!