Thursday 13 January 2011

Norwich Community Supported Agriculture

It's all go at the Norwich CSA. Since I last wrote we've done shedloads of work. Surely the most exciting piece of work was done by Tully, Erik and William, who have successfully recruited us a farm manager. They advertised widely and we got a huge pile of applications. Our recruitment panel whittled them down to a manageable short-list and then held the interviews. We are very happy that our preferred candidate, Laura, accepted the job and will be starting in post mid-February. I am sure she will want to introduce herself closer to the time, so I will say no more on that.

We've held a visioning session to get our values and dreams for our farms down on paper: you can see the results here. Everybody's ideas and passions counted and will guide us as we work to establish the CSA. Some people's passions led them to very concrete outcomes: keeping bees or learning to coppice; while others considered the whole nature of our food system and the way we treat our land. It's very inspiring to look forward and envisage what we can grow on this site- it won't just be vegetables!

One of the toughest meetings I've been to was on the 5th of January. The Environment and Growing group met to discuss our plans for the land. The meeting started on a low-note, as we discussed the fact that the land owner has asked us not to plant the hedge we'd planned across the field. We hadn't known, but after 5 years a hedge gets protection under planning laws. If we plant a hedge across Chris' field and then (perish the thought!) we fold as a business, he would be left with a hedge partitioning off one quarter of a field, and having to jump through planning-hoops to try to get it removed. Of course we don't like to think this way. None of us are here because we want to talk about our CSA failing, or how hard it might be to get planning permission to grub up a beautiful hedge- but we have to do it. We have to think through every possible angle, to give the CSA the best possible start.

So we put our heads together and we thought and we pondered and we plotted. Between us we came up with a list of possibilities that will benefit wildlife just as much as the hedge, help out our crops and hopefully cause the land-owner less of a headache. Then we had to change our plans for the fruit trees and coppice: we had planned to put them on the field margins to maximise the land we can crop. But we've found out that those field margins are an importation habitat protected under the higher level stewardship scheme. But though our positivity and team work, I really think we've managed to come up with a plan B (and C and possibly D) that is very nearly as good as plan A.

If you're interested in being involved in helping us shape the CSA we're meeting tonight (13th January) at 7.30 at the Baptist Church on Duke Street . We'll be looking at the vision we created in December and working out how to make it a reality. Please do come along!


  1. Just wanted to wish you all well for the meeting tonight. I think this is a really great project and look forward to seeing it progress.

    I'm pleased to report that the plan to increase the provision of allotments in Little Melton is progressing though we now have to ask for permission to grow veg over a military pipe line that apparently is under the ground there! These things are never simple.

  2. Hi John - what on earth is a "military pipeline"? I'm almost scared to ask?

  3. see

    apparently the landowner was preparing the ground for the allotments when a helicopter was checking the line - presumably he got a phone call saying 'don't dig there'! It is 1.7m down so should be out of fork reach - though I did once have a 1m parsnip root ....

  4. Hello there - have a look at what we're doing in north Cornwall at Camel Community Supported Agriculture

    Good luck! Charlotte