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Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t know anything about growing veg, can I still join?

Yes! Most of us started as novices in veg growing and have learned as we go along.  Most of the jobs are very straightforward and there will always be someone to show you what to do and probably work alongside you, especially at our Saturday Work Parties.

What sort of work jobs are there at the Farm?

A real mix, and a variety over the year, from planting of seedlings in the spring and summer, weeding (spring to autumn), barrowing woodchip to mulch our paths and hedgerows through the winter, working in our flower and soft fruit gardens, pulling up spent crops, cutting up material for our compost heaps, harvesting and packing the veg boxes on Mondays and Fridays, clearing brambles, planting trees and hedge plants, and even hedge-laying! There is always a choice of jobs you can do at the Farm.

When can I come to the Farm to work?

We encourage new members to at least initially come to some Saturday Work Parties. There is no need to book, just turn up any time between 10am and 4pm (2pm in December and January). Once you have got the hang of how things work at the Farm, you are welcome to come up during the week. Our grower Ryan is at the Farm most weekdays and can always find a job for you.

What clothes should I wear?

Wear the sort of clothes you would wear for gardening – comfortable ones you don’t mind getting a bit dirty – and bring layers. It’s often a bit cooler at the Farm than in town as we are on the ridge between two valleys – the Orwell and the Fynn. A warm hat in winter and a sun hat in summer is a good idea. Sturdy (old) trainers or work boots are fine. Wellies are seldom needed unless you want to work in the rain.  We have work gloves you can borrow while at the Farm but we encourage members to bring their own.

How does the Work Hours system operate?

We divide the year into 2 periods (March – August and September – February) and ask you to do the allocated number of hours for your type of Membership (12 or 24) at any time within those periods. They are ‘person hours’ so e.g. if 2 of you come and do 2 hours work that counts as 4 work-hours. To support families we count kids hours as well. You mark your own hours on the Work Log at the Farm. We operate on an honesty system.  You can of course do more than your required hours (many members do), but if you haven’t managed to complete your hours by the end of the Work Log period we ask for a payment of £5 per hour in lieu.

Can I bring friends and family to the Farm?

Yes, once you are a member you are welcome to bring along your friends and family, either to look around or do some work with you (their hours will count too!) or come to one of our regular social events.  We love having children at the Farm but you are responsible for your children and other guests at all times: the Farm is not a play-park and uncontrolled children can cause a lot of damage to young crops!

Can I bring my dog to the Farm?

Sorry, no. We have a no-dog rule, though they can be left for short periods in your car.

I’m not sure which type of membership to go for?

Many members start off by doing a Trial Month (getting a box every week for 4 weeks to see how they get on) and then they decide what type of membership to go for. But if you sign up for one of our longer-term options and find that doesn’t suit you, you can switch to another one, with a month’s notice.

I’m thinking of joining as a Half-share Member but don’t have anyone to share with.

Don’t worry, we often have ‘Spare Half-share members’ awaiting a partner and will team you up.  Or you can start as ‘Spare Half Share’ and await a partner.

Do I get a choice of what veg I get in my weekly veg box or size of box?

No. We just do a single size of box, all with the same veg in, which are the full range of ‘ready veg’ for that week. This may mean you get some veg you don’t like (but give it a try, we reckon all our veg tastes much better than anything you can buy in a supermarket) or you can offload stuff you really can’t stand into our Swaps Box.  Someone else might think it delicious and want extra!

Do members get any choice about what is grown?

There are various parameters that determine what we can grow in Suffolk. The climate, seasons, outdoor space, and polytunnel space all have to be taken into account in planning our growing year, and the weather of course can be unpredictable! Every year we survey our members about what veg they would like more of, what they would like less of, and what else they would like us to grow, and we feed this into our planning too. Of course not everyone’s likes and dislikes are the same, even within many households! But we do our best to match what we grow to overall preferences.

What happens if I don’t know what to do with a vegetable in my box?

We have a page of tried and tasted recipes sorted by vegetable to help you use the farm produce in the yummiest way possible! Click here for our recipes page.

What packaging do you use?

We aim to minimise the packaging (especially plastic) for our veg and encourage its re-use. The ‘veg boxes’ are pre-used plastic mushroom trays, and they get re-used many times. As much veg as possible is put loose into these or tied in bunches with string. Small things like beans or tomatoes or sprouts, or muddy things like potatoes or carrots, are put into paper bags. We only use (unsealed) plastic bags for leafy things like salad or spinach to keep them fresh. We have tried non-plastic alternatives for these and they spoil the veg.

I haven’t got a car or a bike and would struggle to pick up my veg box every week.

That isn’t necessarily a problem. If there are members living near you we may be able to arrange for them to drop off your box, or you could pick it up from one of them.

What happens if I go on holiday or don’t want a box on a certain week?

You can either:

(a) cancel for the week(s) you are away by emailing the harvesting team, at least 2 days in advance on box@the-oak-tree.co.uk. If you do this you can mark off 2 hours on your Work-log in lieu for each cancelled box;

(b) arrange for a friend or neighbour to pick up or have your box while you are away;

(c) ask to switch your box collection day for the week before you go away or on your return.

Can I work on the farm if I have a disability?

The farm is open to anyone who wants to be a member and we will endeavour to find a role that suits you if you would like a membership that involves contributing work hours. We have members who have disabilities, chronic illnesses and/or who are neurodiverse, some of whom contribute physical work hours on the farm and some in other ways, such as helping with communications. However, roles that don’t require physical work at the farm are limited. While our site is navigable to a certain extent for those in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters we do not have paved paths, and some of our site can be overgrown and uneven. Our new compost toilet building is designed to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters. If you’re not sure whether a membership with work hours is for you, or you’d like to discuss how you might contribute to the farm community, please do contact us, we’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget that you can also have a reduced-hours membership, which may be more suitable for those with energy-limiting conditions, or a supporter membership which requires no work hours and your veg box will be delivered to you.

Are there toilet facilities on site?

Yes! We have a new compost toilet block, with cold water hand-washing and hand gel facilities.

Can I visit the farm?

Farm Tours can be offered on almost any Saturday afternoon for prospective members. A Farm Tour comes as part of the package if you sign up to any of our membership options including trial membership. We also have Open Days most years if you just want to drop in to look around. Group visits (for a charge) can also be arranged. We ask that non-members don’t visit the farm without arranging it with us first or on one of our public events like our open day. You can find out more about about visiting the farm on our visit us page.

Is there car parking at the farm?

We do have a small car parking area at the gate. We encourage people to walk, cycle or use public transport and provide cycle racks that are well used by members and visitors.

What approximate quantity of veg do members get in veg boxes?

Part of the way the farm works is that we all share the risks and rewards of farming, so the quantity of veg is not guaranteed. We try to ensure there are at least 5 or 6 different items every week, even through the winter, and there is likely to be more variety at other times of the year. You must bear in mind that our veg boxes are completely seasonal. For example there will not be tomatoes or beans in the middle of winter! For an idea of the veg box contents at different times of year see our veg boxes page.

What if I can’t eat a whole box of vegetables every week?

No problem, our half-share membership allows you to have a box every other week. You pay half the full membership cost and do half the work hours too.

Do you provide flowers for weddings or other events?

We can offer a limited number of pick-your-own flower opportunities for summer/early autumn weddings. These are great value compared to most suppliers! Find out more on our flowers page or to discuss an order or find out more contact us on flowers@the-oak-tree.co.uk

Do you grow all your own veg?

95% of the veg in our boxes is grown by us at the Farm.  In late winter and early spring, when our winter crops are coming to an end and the spring ones are not yet ready, we buy in locally grown organic veg such as potatoes, mushrooms and cabbages to top up the boxes.

Are you fully organic?

To call the farm or veg organic we would need to pay for a certification process which isn’t cheap, but our practices are in line with organic principles, and we do not use any chemical fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides. We haven’t gone through the certification process because all our members have a direct relationship to the farm, so they can simply ask us questions about how we grow or see it for themselves. We feel that this actually goes way beyond any certification system in terms of knowing how your food is produced. Our list of inputs is very small: seeds, compost, organic chicken manure, and natural plant foods like liquid seaweed. We are committed to growing food in the safest, most sustainable and healthiest way possible. 

Can I buy a one-off veg box?

We sometimes offer one-off boxes (at £18 to collect from the Farm), but only when we have sufficient surplus veg, principally in the summer and autumn. To enquire about availability contact our grower Ryan on ryan@the-oak-tree.co.uk 

Is there somewhere to make tea/coffee?

We are off grid so don’t have an electric kettle but we do have a gas burner that means we provide hot drinks at every work party and on some other occasions. We are well practiced at this so a cuppa can usually be relied upon at some point at a work party but at other times it’s advisable to bring a flask.

Is there always someone there?

Not always, no. No-one lives on site, and the only time we guarantee that there will be someone there is during the weekly Saturday work parties. In practice you will usually find at least someone on site Monday to Saturday.