On Saturday February 14, an intrepid group of people interested and engaged in community supported agriculture all over Wales, converged at Canalside Community Food to learn from one of the most successful CSA’s in the UK. Canalside have 120 member households receiving vegetables, all produced on the farm for 52 weeks of the year. Matt their head grower took us around the site, showcasing their impressive 10 year rotation from 8 acres and 6 pollytunnels.
Gareth Davies of Canalside gave some excellent advice on CSA governance, some top tips included:
· Having a clear vision and strategy for what you want to achieve and how to achieve it
· Face to face communication with members is fundamentally important
· Reaching the magic 50-60 member households is key, after that point momentum is created
· Locate your CSA as close to a town as possible!
· Never take your eye off the ball with marketing, preferably at local events.
· Insist on a fair wage for the grower and plan finances accordingly (Canalside grower receives minimum £10 per hour plus paid holidays)
· Growing veg well is at the heart of the business, this is the most important thing to do well.
One big achievement we made on the day was to sign the Wales CSA network constitution! This is a clear sign of the intent for CSA’s in Wales to work together to build the future of the movement. (See the pic with us and the constitution and the Wales CSA mascot ‘Moron’! (moron is carrot in Welsh)
The founding CSA Wales network members are:
Cae Tan CSA
Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture
Cae Rug Farm
Organic Centre Wales
The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens
We also heard an update from Jane Clough, who, in partnership with Flintshare CSA have taken on the CSA scoping study, aiming to find where new CSA’s in Wales might thrive. It was very god to hear that there was much interest in CSA across Wales and a number of places are seriously thinking about getting one off the ground. The study will be concluded in May.
It was a pleasure to see everyone again. The next Wales CSA event is the Wales wide gathering which will be taking place at Banc Organics, Carmarthen on the 10-13th September.