Summer Community Harvest Whetstone Newsletter

Welcome to the Summer CHW Newsletter! 

In this edition:

CHW Journal : Activity since the last newsletter

CHW is now a Cooperative!;

Cropping update;

CHW Membership scheme;

Food shares for next year;

Financial share offer

New Email Address;

Dates for your Diary.

CHW Journal : Activity since the last newsletter

Back in April CHW held a scarecrow making event, with the aim of putting to use the finished scarecrows in our field, as a traditional way of keeping not just crows, but pigeons and other birds from feasting on our newly planted crops.  Many supporters turned up for the afternoon, using a range of materials such as wood, plastic pipe, old clothes and CDs to knock together an army of highly individual figures.  If you are a crop-sharer, you’ll doubtless have seen the one we’ve situated staring out of the Polytunnel, and most others have been set up in the field as planned, watching guard over the vegetables!

 

May’s Plant Fest was an important day for the farm, with lots of people coming for a morning or afternoon browse around the plant stalls that had been set up.  CHW had its own stall to promote our project to potential new members and crop sharers, and a few of the core group were out in the sun, planting out garlic, and putting the first of our brassica plants in rows, cutting though the cardboard and straw mulch that we’d put on late last year.  A ‘Blitz’ day followed the week after, to get the majority of the brassicas (Cabbages, Cauliflower, Brussels, Broccoli and the like), having been grown from seed in pots in the Polytunnel, into their final growing place.

In June’s Community day, the event started with a productive morning of planting field courgettes, summer and winter squashes, and pumpkins for eating (and hopefully carving for Halloween if we get a good enough crop!).   Also  the last of the brassica planting, was done, putting in ‘January King’ cabbages and the second planting of the field lettuce crops.  Lastly bean trenches were dug through the straw mulch and planted up with numerous varieties of climbing French beans and runner beans.  With the week ahead due to be warm and dry, all of the new plantings were given a nice watering to see them through.   After lunch, participants painted glass bottles in bright, but transparent colours.  When finished, they were set on short canes to act as props to hold mesh and netting above the crops – the bottles acting as cane caps to stop the canes ripping, going through or getting caught on the fabric.  When not in use, these bottles look very attractive, bringing colour and interest to the field.

On Wednesday the 9th of June, two of our committee members, Elspeth and Sarah, set up a Community Harvest Whetstone information stall at British Gas, Grove Park, as part of an event for their 1400 staff to mark World Environment Day.  They generated a lot of interest in CHW, publicising the Open Meeting that was to take place at the end of the month, and got a good number of people signed up for the mailing list.  So welcome to all those who are getting their first newsletter through this event!

Lastly, the CHW open meeting was held at the Strawberry tea rooms on Wednesday the 30th of June, to show just how far we had come since last years meeting, to explain our financial share offer (see below) and where we hope to go in the next year.  After an introduction and short listening exercise, the group walked down to the veg field to see and hear from our growers just what was growing within the rabbit-fenced plot.  Back at the tearooms, the meeting was held in a ‘World Cafe’ style, with tables for each subject – finance, social and membership, general information, produce sampling, publicity and even a table with pens and crayons for those who felt in a creative mood. That ensured that each person could get the information they needed.  At the end, the group got back together to sum up before dispersing.  The meeting had been a good opportunity for members to become more aware of the current phase of the project and to get further involved. It was also a chance for new people to come and here about what we’re doing.
CHW is now a Cooperative! 

We chose to be a cooperative (Industrial and provident society) rather than a company limited by guarantee, as it entails giving each member one vote regardless of value of investment – this means that nobody can buy a bigger ‘voice’ than anybody else.  Cooperative IPS’s are inherently democratic, and as the name suggests, cooperative –  It also gives us the ability to issue shares to raise capital, and the accounting needs are more appropriate to our project than other forms.  Since April we’ve been a legally constituted cooperative – which is a milestone and worth celebrating, as we will now be taking over charge of our own finances from Transition Leicester.

Cropping update.

Our growers have recently started harvesting the first protected crops of new potatoes, broad beans, carrots, beetroot, radishes, coriander and spring onions from the Polytunnel.  The winter protected salads and spinach have come to an end, and already the tunnel is planted up with summer crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, sweetcorn and beans, which are all growing big and strong with help from plenty of water and the protected climate.    In the next few weeks, we should see courgettes, summer cabbages, and lots of different varieties of new potatoes (including red ones) appearing in the vegetable shares.

We are also working on a vegetable harvest planner, in order to give a rough idea of what produce you can expect through the year, season by season.  Watch this space!

CHW Membership scheme

There are different ways of becoming involved in CHW:-

The first one is Crop sharer, buying vegetables from us in the manner of Community Supported Agriculture, paying ahead of receiving your locally grown produce, to share in the risks and rewards of Agriculture.  Next year we will have more Crop shares available, as detailed below in ‘Food shares for next year’.

Another one is becoming a member.
Whether you want any vegetables or not you may still like to support and be involved in the life of the project. You can then become a member of the CHW co-operative by taking out a yearly subscription of £24 (£12 if on low income). If this is for you,
pleaseprint and fill the attached form and send with a cheque (payable to Community Harvest Whetstone) to our treasurer, Keith Campbell, 123 Station Road, Wigston, Leics, LE18 2DN.

You can also become an Investor. Once an investor you’ll be a member of the co-op for as long as you keep your investment in there, and there will be no need to pay yearly subscriptions.  Crop sharers are more than welcome to become investors, too.   Find out more by checking out ‘Capital share offer’, below.

As Community Harvest Whetstone is registered as an Industrial and Provident Society, all members have one vote and an equal say in the organisation, as well as the opportunity to become involved in the day-to-day running of the business, irrespective of the form of membership chosen or the amount of money invested.

 

Food shares for next year

The 10 half-shares of harvest for the 2010 season have all been subscribed to but we are starting a waiting list for those wanting to join as crop-sharers for 2011. Since we hope to take on a whopping 2 acre field, from the end of this summer, we will be able to offer 20 full vegetable shares at £650 per year (£12.50/wk), per share, as well as the current 10 half shares of vegetables at £340 per year (£6.50/wk) each. This vegetable shares will be available for collection from the farm every week from April 2011 onwards.  If you are interested in a full or half share (crop-sharers who joined us at the end of 2009 are welcome to upgrade to a full share), then no money needs to be paid for these, yet – that will happen in 2011 – but it’s essential for future planning that you start telling us now.  If you’re considering becoming a crop-sharer please print and fill the attached form and send to Keith Campbell, 123 Station Road, Wigston, Leics, LE18 2DN. Later in the year or at the beginning of 2011 we’ll get in touch to update information and arrange payments.

Capital share offer.

To achieve the growth to an extra 20 full shares (rising to 40 a year later when we come into full production), we will need to install a perimeter rabbit-proof fence and put in a large amount of work to improve the soil from arable standard up to vegetable growing quality – this means many extra hours of paid work, materials and professional tools, including a rotovator.   To help us raise the necessary funds we have launched a capital share offer.   Shares valued at £1.00 each are offered in blocks of 100 (i.e. 1 block of shares will cost £ 100).

Just a couple of weeks after launching, a total of £2,500 had been invested, which is a good step towards our target of £10,000 that we hope to raise by the end of August.   If you are seriously thinking of investing capital in Community Harvest Whetstone now is the best time!

 

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