Join our new Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Scheme!
Enjoy a weekly supply of local fresh vegetables, all grown without the
use of artificial fertilizers or pesticides in Rushmere-St-Andrew, East
We have ten new places available for veg boxes from beginning June 2012
- end May 2013 - sign up now to reserve your place! 36 CSA members will
enjoy an equal share of all the vegetables grown on one and a half
acres of the farm, at a weekly price of £7.50.
Members commit to work a minimum number of sessions on the
farm: at least two hours per week on average during the busy season
(March – August), and one hour per week on average during the rest of
the year (September – February). This work commitment is per share, ie
may be shared between members of your household. For example:
a couple with a single share might choose to work one 8-hour day together once every eight weeks during the busy season
a single shareholder might choose to work two one-hour evening sessions each week during the busy season season.
This commitment may include work to administer/publicise the CSA if you wish.
and their families are welcome at free social events at the farm to
celebrate changes in the seasons, including our annual harvest meal.
There are also opportunities to learn new skills together (wild food
walks, wood oven building, preserving the harvest, country wine
Minimum membership one year - cancellation by
agreement with the farm only. Payment annually in advance by cheque or
bank transfer, or monthly in advance by standing order.
Can you tell me exactly what vegetables I will receive each month?
No, except that it will be one thirty sixth of the vegetables grown on
one and a half acres by professional grower Joanne Brannan,
Horticultural Manager of The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm with the help of
CSA members. To see what previous shares have included see our regular photos and descriptions of the weekly shares on our blog.
Our original estimates, before we started to harvest the first crops were:
In August each week you might expect to receive:
A good sized bag of tomatoes
A good sized bag of Swiss Chard
A couple or three baby cucumbers
At least two little gem lettuces
A generous bag of courgettes (I like the yellow round ones)
A big bunch of carrots with tops on, bunch of red Spring onions
A good sized bag of French beans
In December each week you might expect:
Brussels sprout stalk
Bunch of leeks
Bunch of parsnips
Bunch of beetroot
Five onions (from store)
Squash (from store)
Winter salad greens
Winter salad onions
The really hard time is "the hungry gap" which is typically April/May
when the winter crops have all but finished, and the spring crops
haven't yet started. We'll work hard to keep the shares as generous and
varied as possible, possible crops include sprouting brocolli, Swiss
chard, winter salads including rocket and spring greens.
But I don’t know how to cook half of those! Don’t
worry, there will be cooking instructions included for unusual
vegetables the first time they are included in the weekly vegetable
When can I work on the farm? Any
time during daylight hours! For your first few sessions I suggest you
join one of our sociable Saturday working parties (every Saturday from
10am, except the first Saturday of the month), or arrange to join
Joanne in the week (by arrangement in advance). Once once you have
learnt the ropes you are welcome to visit the farm alone, or with other
CSA members, to complete jobs from the current task list blackboard.
Tools, seeds, fertilizers etc are all provided, as is water, tea and
coffee. Please bring a packed lunch if you plan to stay all day.
Hang on, you want me to pay and work? We're
competing with cheap, oil-powered, large scale industrial agriculture.
The Oak Tree recieves no EU subsidies whatsoever (we are too small for
it to be worth the paperwork and restrictions) and private grants of
only £1000 in total to date. We do our very best to offer good value,
excellent tasting, completely fresh, locally grown vegetables and a
very direct link with between members and the farm. In the long run,
our costs will stay moderate as the cost of oil, and as a result,
chemical fertilisers, grow, so the long term aim is to offer excellent
value. In the meantime we do the very best we can.
How does one CSA share compare to growing vegetables on an allotment? A
standard allotment, which is intended to feed a family when cultivated
by an experienced gardener, is one sixteenth of an acre. By comparison
one CSA share is grown on just over one twenty fifth of an acre. Joanne
was an allotment holder for many years, and her experiences were pretty
similar to these from a telegraph article
which suggests a minimum weekly workload of at least 12 hours per week,
compared with minimum 2 hours per week as a CSA member - with the added
benefit of flexibility in the CSA so you can take time off without
Many newcomers to allotment holding fail to achieve good yields due to
lack of experience and shortage of time or commitment. As a CSA member
your work commitment is far lighter than serious allotment holding, and
you don’t have to worry who will water your crops when you are on
holiday! All seeds, compost, machinery, tools, etc etc are included in
your CSA membership.
Can my children come along? Children under
18 are welcome at the farm, however they remain the responsibility of
their parents/guardians at all times. Please remember that this is a
working farm, so take care to follow any health and safety instructions
Can I bring my dog along?
No, sorry, we don't allow dogs on the farm.
Isn’t this just another vegetable box scheme? Well,
the weekly shares will come in returnable ex-mushroom boxes, but that
is where the similarity ends!
All the vegetables included in the weekly CSA share will be grown on
The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm, and while members share the risk of some
crops failing, your annual commitment to the farm and your work on the
farm ensures you get your vegetables at a better price than many
organic box schemes. You eat completely with the seasons, from fresh
sweetcorn in the late summer, to sprouting brocolli in the early
Is The Oak Tree certified organic? No, and
we’re not allowed to use the “O” word because we’re not certified. All
cultivation at The Oak Tree is done without artificial fertilisers,
pesticides or other chemicals, and we use only natural non-chemical
pest control and fertilisers.
Organic certification costs around £500 per year and imposes
considerable paperwork overhead, and might mean we couldn’t use the
horse manure from our friendly neighbouring stable yard, and other
similar constraints, which would in turn increase our carbon emissions.
Can I "share a share" with someone else? Yes,
no problem. All we ask is that we receive one single monthly standing
order, per one thirty-sixth share, and we will prepare each share in a
single box - you'll need to split the veg between you yourselves. This
is simply to keep the administration and packing work down for Joanne,
so she can spend more time growing the vegetables. Members who "share a
share" are welcome to share their from work commitment.
It sounds great! How do I join?
Please fill in our membership form
and post it to Joanne Brannan, 38 Lonsdale Close, IP4 4HD. You are
welcome to visit the farm or join a working party to find out more,
Please email or call her on 07954 289 490.
Any other questions?
Please email or call Joanne on 07954 289 490.