Thursday 3 March 2011

News from Norwich FarmShare

Another month round, where does the time go? There’s nothing physical to report on this month- not like January’s hedge planting. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy!

The marketing group has been meeting regularly, trying to get our message and the way we put it across exactly right- to help us get the members we need to keep the farm going. We’ve put our heads together for hours and devised a marketing plan, so we know which things we have to do first and which come later- and who is responsible for each piece. The first thing we realised we had to do was find the right name. We were lucky enough to get some free ‘branding’ consultation from Thomas Cowper Johnson to help us navigate these difficult waters, and eventually we all agreed on a name we like:
Norwich FarmShare

This is the new name for our co-operative, which runs both the CSA and the Market Garden at the Hewitt School. Our next jobs are devising a logo, organising a phone number and starting to write our publicity pieces.

William, our Growing Consultant from EAFL has been working hard to buy all the equipment we needed. Rather wonderfully, he has found us such good deals on that we are able to afford 2 extra polytunnels.

Now, polytunnels have never interested me much. There was a storyline in the Archers a while back about them, and that was pretty much the limit of my understanding. They’re not very attractive, but they seem to spring up everywhere, so they must have some use. I'm sure I heard something about British strawberry growers... extending the season... something like that.

Then a few of us had the opportunity to visit another CSA, Canalside Food near Warwick. And while I was there, on a cold grey February day, I went inside a polytunnel. I barely noticed the lushness underfoot. What I noticed was the air. Sweet, warm, mild air. I could feel myself uncurling in the warmth. Then, of course, I looked more closely near my feet and saw towering (well, relatively!) salads. The sort I've been mourning the lack of all winter. They've got them in great heaping piles.

Tom, the manager, told us what they are able to grow through the winter and then through the hungry gap. Winter salads and brassicas: around 20 different types. Tender young veg for the hungry gap: radishes, spring onions, baby carrots. Early peas. So I will welcome our extra polytunnels with open arms.

But our work doesn't stop yet. The marketing group will continue hard at work to design our publicity. The board meets each month. The school group who will lead on our educational links meet for the first time next week. Another team is concentrating on mapping out where and how we will distribute our veg.

And we need you: after we all had so much fun planting a hedge, we're meeting again to put up a rabbit fence, a shed, a composting loo and a compost heap. If you'd like to join us there's a doodle here to indicate your availability. We're looking forward to seeing you there!

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