Unsave the date!

The  COCA Tapas Feast Night has had to be cancelled for now, unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances. We will let you know when it will be planned again … sorry  for the disappointment for now.

Gill

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Save the date for Tapas Night…. July 8th

COCA is holding another great foodie event at Solva Memorial Hall, for the fun of it and the raise a little more funds for the COCA project. This one will be

A MIDSUMMER TAPAS FEAST ……  with Shakespearean Undertones.

Saturday July 8th, about 6.30 for 7pm start til late

Tickets will be £10 each (children under 10 are free) BYO as before.

Scorching array of tapas is promised from the kitchen of an expert chef, plus Spanish guitar, other musicians and original entertainment on a Shakespearean theme from “members of the cast” and others….. it promises to be a jovial and exotic evening!

Posters out soon

Tickets on sale from usual local shops and outlets by end next week.

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Lovely salad!

Hey chaps … thanks for the big fresh lettuce in this week’s share.  And it is good to have local organic new potatoes and fresh carrots again along with it. Not to mention the beautiful French Beans from the COCA polly tunnel. Still the “Hungry Gap” in Pembrokeshire seasonal veggies, as we all know, but it will not be many weeks til the whole box-full of goodies is from the farm once more. Keep up the good work!

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COCA Herb Garden making this Saturday

Quick reminder of Members Day this Saturday at Caerhys, from 10am.  To help make the herb garden in front of Cartref ….. be creative! Some physical work of clearing and digging soil, some creative carpentry possible (planters? seats? signs?) and then planting small herb plants, flowers and edibles.

Contact gill@coca-csa.org or just turn up when you can. Children welcome!

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Members’ herb garden-making day

Saturday June 3rd is earmarked as the next COCA members’ help session , (instead of the last Sat in May which is the Bank Holiday weekend). We want to

make the area in front of Cartref attractive and productive with herbs and edibles that all can enjoy and pick for themselves when they come to collect their box of veg each week.  Come along and help! All tools and kit provided. Start about 10am  and carry on til finished, but come along when you can for an hour or two or longer.  Chance to tour the field and the polly-tunnels as well to see the veggies growing.  Contact gill@coca-csa.org toif you are interested

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5 reasons to come to COCA’s AGM

At 7pm on Saturday 13th May we will be holding our Annual General Meeting at Cartref COCA, Caerhys Farm. We warmly invite all of our members to come along and here are five reasons why you might want to join us:

1. We have lots to tell you about – how the last year has been, how things are going at the moment and where we hope to go in the future.
2. A number of motions are being proposed and some of them will influence the future direction of COCA. Everyone at the meeting will get an opportunity to express their opinion, and vote on the outcome, but if you’re not there your voice will not be heard. The motions can be found below with the agenda.
3. Tony Little, the Community Supported Agriculture Coordinator for Wales, will be coming along to tell us about the state of play of CSA across the country.
4. COCA survey and the prize draw! We will be giving feedback on our members’ survey and we will announce the winner of the Forager’s Gin made by Snowdonia Distillery.
5. Perfect opportunity to meet / catch up with other members over a drink and some nibbles from the buffet.

At 7pm there will be refreshments and light buffet for all and official business will start at 7.30pm with the following agenda:

• Apologies for absence
• Minutes of the last AGM
• Chair’s Report
• Grower’s Report
• Membership Secretary’s Report
• Treasurer’s Report
• Guest Speaker: Tony Little
• Motions:
1. Members should weigh out their own veg shares.
2. The price of shares be increased in line with inflation.
3. The price of shares are adjusted to pay for 52 weeks a year, but paid monthly.
4. No extra veg buy-in at all (including ‘hungry gap’), only COCA veg shared out.
• Election of new committee members
• Any Other Business

Hope to see you on May 13th 🙂

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Come and help this Saturday!

We wouldn’t be asking for help if it wasn’t needed. From 10am onwards, up to about 3pm; come and go as you please. We hope as many of you as possible will turn out this Saturday for an hour or two to help planting in the field …. it really makes a difference.

Prepare to get a bit dirty. Planting will involve kneeling down (but there will be other tasks that don’t require kneeling.)  If you can, bring a trowel, but no worries if you cannot … we have a range of tools here.  And it may be chillier  out in the open field than you expect, so bring a coat. With a pile of people the task is much more fun, and so much can get done. Great morale boost for all!

And the COCA field is a beautiful place to be as well…..

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Onion heroes!

Phil plants the last onion in the row (left) and Anthony stands with the completed row (right) …. 3 kg of Onion sets planted by 3 people in just over 2 hours. So only 7 people needed for 2 hours each to plant the rest! easy! Any offers?

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Late notice! Volunteer planting day Tomorrow!

Saturday April 22nd, at the farm any time from 10am… all members, friends and kids are welcome to come and assist with planting the summer crops. Onion sets (little onions… not the fiddly baby plants of last year) to be pushed into the soil, baby cabbage plants to be set out and watered, lots of fetching and running about.  Bring a lunch to share if you can stay all day … we can do hot drinks in Cartref.  Meet at Cartref at 10am to start, or later out on the field across the road.  See you!

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What to do with all that lovely Chard!

A Jamie Oliver recipe for a Greek style Chard and feta cheese pie is worth looking up … I just made a version tonight: onions and fennel sliced and cooked in a little oil til soft, add garlic and sliced stems of about 300gr of Chard (or more) … cook a few minutes more.  Add the sliced up leaves of the chard and let wilt with the main veggie mix. Add a little chopped parsley, chopped Dill (very important!) and  1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (also important). Leave aside in a bowl, season well.  Then slice and fry 2 courgettes til cooked. Assemble the pie in quite  a large deep dish… put in the chard mix first and level it, crumble over half a block of Feta cheese and half a small round of Goats cheese then cover with the courgettes slices.  Beat together 3 eggs and pour over it all. Top with a pastry lid (he used filo pastry, I prefer rough puff pastry)  decorated if you wish and brushed with milk and scattered with poppy or sesame seeds. Bake about 35 minutes til pastry cooked.  Leave to cool a little … best warm or cold, not hot. Serves 6

Another “best” with Chard of course is Sag Aloo … and I am not good enough to quote any asian recipes …. but lots of variations on that from hot spicy to creamy Korma style…. a main meal by itself!  Happy days.

 

 

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Support your local health stores as well!

Hi again …. it was remiss of me to advertise C and M organics over and above our own local health food stores in Fishguard and Haverfordwest. Please do of course use these local businesses. They provide a much wider range of organic products as well as advice om health issues, which is so valuable.  Using C and M for additional organic fruit and veg orders is only likely to be convenient for members who collect their shares from the farm rather than the hubs at The Ark or Texaco. I apologise for any misinformation and slight that may have been read into the previous post. Entirely unintended.  Gill

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Other organic produce for COCA members

Hi … everything from fresh organic Turmeric to Ecover Toilet rolls, Grapefruit to Grumpy Mule ground Coffee, and all the cheese, peanut butter and goodies in between …… just to remind you that COCA has an arrangement with C and M Organics of Whitland so members can make an order from their on-line catalogue and have it delivered to COCA, to pick up with your veg share on Friday.  You order on-line from C and M before Tuesday night and then pay the invoice that comes with the goods.  It is a fantastic service, there is no delivery charge to pay, their products (like ours) are guaranteed organic, and the prices are often better than in local shops.  We use them for our bought-in organic veg and they are then able to offer this service to members on the back of that.  We do urge you to use it if you wish.  A current price list of C and M goods will be posted in Cartref , or you can contact me  on gill@coca-csa.org and I will email one over.

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Annual General Meeting: change of date

The AGM will now be held on Saturday May 13th, not April 29th.  It will be held in Cartref (the straw bale building) at Caerhys Farm , starting at 7pm.  There will be a buffet meal to share and we hope we will all make it a convivial as well as interesting evening.

All members are welcome, plus any other interested people.

Agenda items will be notified to you 2 weeks before the AGM and if any one has agenda items they wish to include, please send them to Gill Lewis (minute sec) at gill@coca-csa.org as soon as possible.

If anyone wishes to stand for the Core Group, again please contact Gill, with the name of a proposer and seconder.

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Small items for Volunteer vans

Our first 2 volunteers of the year arrive this weekend, and the caravan for them has been cleaned but we need a few more items, if you should have something spare. We need
1 an indoor sweeping brush

2. a squeegee mop and bucket

3. a couple of tough door mats.

Everything else is fine , enough bedding, kitchenware and all that.

If you can donate these items, please leave in Cartref when you collect the veg this weekend. Thanks!

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Veg pick up now from Cartref!

 

 

As of this week the veg pick up will now be from Cartref COCA, our community straw building!

 

Cartref boxes

This marks the start of full time use of the building, which was built thanks to a huge amount of volunteer effort. As well as serving as the weekly harvest and pick up point, the building also provides storage for all of COCA’s veg, and space for our members and volunteers to work on COCA projects. It will also be the site for this year’s AGM.

For those that have not yet been to the builing, it is located immediately on the right just as you enter the Caerhys driveway, and there is a small parking area off the driveway. (Please take care not to block the gates to the stables.)

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Helping with Friday Harvests

Hi all … Friday harvest starts at around 11am in these dark winter days and we really would appreciate more help, if possible, especially as one of the “regulars” is away at the moment.

Lack of help is limiting the harvest and what you find in your box. For example this week we didnt pick Brussel Sprouts because we didn’t have time/ manpower (they are picked individually) and we were already thoroughly soaked pulling Leeks and picking Kale.  And we didn’t bag the Oriental leaves because we didn’t have the time to weigh out 50 bags this afternoon. Instead we are asking you to weigh out your own Oriental leaves  from a big bag in the Share Shed (scales and bags are there) … don’t forget!! And weigh carefully … if you take too much there won’t be enough to go round.

Good news though is that the winter crops are doing well out in the field, and we see Cauliflowers coming, Sprouting Broccoli getting ready to sprout, Cabbages swelling and Chard recovering well after the last storm.

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Best thing since sliced bread

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Say hello to Pembrokeshire’s freshest social enterprise…Torth Y Tir…a new bakery based out of St Davids. They bake the tastiest and most honest bread around. What’s more it’s a community supported bakery which means anyone can become a member of Torth Y Tir; see for themselves how the bread is made and if they want can get involved in how the bakery is run. In fact now is a very good time to get involved. Torth Y Tir has been chosen by the A-Team Foundation to receive £6,000 funding towards fitting out their new bakery but on one BIG condition…that they raise £6,000 themselves first! Once they do this the A-Team will match it and then they will have £12,000! Please help them to be successful by donating what you can at this weblink:

https://www.buzzbnk.org/ProjectDetails.aspx?projectId=280

They have until 10th November to raise the money.

At COCA we wish Torth Y Tir much success on their journey and hope that members and friends of COCA can support them too.

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Passionate about food?

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Everyone should have access to locally grown, healthy food and know who grew it and how. Agree? Then maybe you’d fancy getting involved in running Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture (COCA)…

COCA is a community supported agriculture project and one of the most dynamic in Wales. It’s hosted at Caerhys Farm by the Miles family and is organised by the Core Group including Gerald and Caz Miles (who do most of the work to grow the food) and eight others from the area (Stuart, Gill, Gabrielle, Nathan, Anthony, Rosie, Dave L and Dave T) who carry out different roles on a voluntary basis. We feed household members from across North Pembrokeshire including St Davids, Fishguard and Haverfordwest.

Unfortunately Dave L,  Stuart and Anthony have decided to give up their  roles and they are sincerely thanked by the remainder of the Core Group for all their hard work – they will be missed.

So…we have a number of roles to fill: Chairperson, Membership Secretary and Treasurer and a brief description of each is found below. Each role can be shared if necessary. If you are interested in getting involved (in these roles or something different) then come along to COCA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday April 25th at 7.30pm at the Royal George in Solva – everyone is welcome. Or you can get in touch with Dave Thomas davet@coca-csa.org and he will get back to you. You can also come along to COCA’s Inaugural Annual Onion Day on Saturday 30th April from 10am at Caerhys Farm (Berea, St Davids, SA626DX) and see the farm and meet the people involved.

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND ON FACEBOOK Thank you

Chairperson’s role:

The COCA chairperson is responsible for:

1. The smooth running of monthly meetings.
2. Guiding the Core Group’s work towards the aims and objectives of COCA.

Membership secretary role:

The COCA membership secretary is responsible for:

1. Maintaining the COCA membership register with joiners and leavers.
2. Welcoming new members and facilitating their first veg pick up.
3. Keeping the COCA grower abreast of the veg share numbers for each harvest.
4. Reporting to the core group on membership numbers, trends and any issues.

Treasurer role:

1. Check each month the income received from members by bank transfer.
2. Pay in cheques and cash to the account via the Post Office.
3. Make payments as necessary to suppliers and contract workers.
4. Check bank statements as they are received.
5. Record all transactions on a monthly spreadsheet.
6. Provide a breakdown each month of income and expenditure by various categories.
7. Liaise with Membership Secretary to keep track of new and departing members.
8. Consult with the finance group regarding budgets.
9.Consult with the finance group on fundraising.
10.Draw up a yearly report on Corporation Tax liability in consultation with accountant.

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Cartref COCA Update

On Tuesday we took a step closer to finishing our new community building Cartref COCA. We spent the day laying the floor which was compacted limestone aggregate – fortunately we were indoors as the weather was typically unpredictable for March – sunshine, driving rain, hailstones and back to sunshine again!

 

It was hard work as we had to barrow all of the stone into the building but this didn’t stop us! We got most of the floor done in the time we had and we can now get a really good feel for the space. The stone floor is a really effective solution as it is low cost and relatively quick to lay and will keep our produce close to the soil they have come from when they are awaiting weekly collection by members.

We will get the rest of the floor finished in the coming weeks and will then move on to get lights and electric sockets put in. We also need to put another coat of lime on when weather is right.

Anyone who wants to help out and be kept informed of volunteer work sessions then get in touch with Dave Thomas davet@coca-csa.org

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February’s Winning Photo

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‘Red mustard leaves in the polytunnel’ was the winning photo for February. It was taken by one of our new EVS volunteers Agnes Pautrel. Our oriental salads are growing well at the moment and the photo captures the colours and patterns of the leaves and they really do taste as good as they look!

If you go down to the Farm at some point before the end of March then why not take a photo and enter our monthly competition. It is just a bit of fun and at the end of the year we will make a calendar with all the winning photos! Send entries to davet@coca-csa.org

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January’s Photo of the Month

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‘The field of dreams’ was January’s photo of the month. In between the wind and rain, the sun shone for a moment over COCA’s growing field. Although there may not be much growing at the moment, come the summer it will be teeming with delicious produce.

If you’d like to take part in February’s ‘photo of the month’ then send a photo that you have taken during the month to davet@coca-csa.org

You don’t have to be a member to take part. All you have to do is to go down to the farm on the Friday afternoon harvest and take some snaps. If Friday’s are no good for you then there is always the last Saturday of the month for our monthly volunteer day or you can arrange another time by contacting Gerald by email gm@caerhys.co.uk

February’s a short month so get your photo in to us quickly!

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New Year brings big news for COCA

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On 6th January we had fantastic news from our friends at UNA Exchange…thanks to their support we will be welcoming two new arrivals to the COCA team on the 5th February. Agnes and Hugo – both from France – will be joining us as EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteers on a full time basis to work with Caz, Gerald and the rest of the COCA core group to grow the seasonal food for our community project and at the same time learn about low impact organic farming and community supported agriculture.

Agnes is passionate about farming and local organic food. She is a member of a French association called Terre de Liens which raises funds to buy land for organic farmers that cannot afford it. She is musical and very active. Since finding out that she would be joining us she has been doing a course on farming at her local agricultural college. Agnes will be part of the COCA team for ten months.

Hugo is very motivated by environmental issues. During his time in university he was involved in a number of projects including a community garden, cycle repair workshops and events to promote organic food. Towards the end of last year he helped organise an event in Paris with the citizens movement Alternatiba to raise awareness of environmental issues such as factory farming and global warming through an eco-festival. He was also part of a community supported agriculture project when he was a student. Hugo will be with us until the end of August.

The EVS scheme is funded via the Erasmus Plus programme through the European Union. Last Autumn COCA became accredited as an EVS host by the British Council until 2020 which means we will be able to host EVS volunteers at the farm for the next five years! EVS is a very popular scheme across Europe. We advertised our two roles, via UNA, back in the summer and were inundated with applications (we are still regularly getting applications even now). We then shortlisted the applicants, did Skype interviews and finally Agnes and Hugo accepted our offer to spend their EVS experience with COCA.

We’re delighted that Agnes and Hugo will be joining us and look forward to welcoming them both in February. We’re sure that they’ll get well involved in the local community and if you would like to help them settle in by showing them some sites or taking them out on an evening please get in touch (davet@coca-csa.org) or speak to Caz or Gerald on the farm.

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December’s Winning Photo

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‘Flying dog with wind blown sprouts’ was the winner of COCA’s photo competition for December. The photo was taken during some of the worst of the winds that we had during the month and in the distance you can see the white horses in the rough sea. But none of this would put off Billy the farm’s Springer Spaniel from getting in the photo.

The photo was taken by Dave Thomas and it was chosen as the winner following a vote from the Core Group.

If you’d like to take part in January’s competition then send a photo that you have taken during the month to davet@coca-csa.org

Good luck!

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COCA PHOTO COMPETITION

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From tomorrow (1st December) we will be launching COCA’s new monthly photo competition.

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned photographer, it will be open to all (members and non-members).

It will run from this December to November 2016 and the winning photo each month will go into a 2017 COCA Calendar!

To take part all you have to do is take a photo of something to do with COCA – which can be summed up by three simple words – food, farm and fun. Whether it is capturing a moment of comedy on a Friday afternoon harvest or the beauty of the sun setting over the growing field or simply a tomato ready to be picked from the polytunnel. Caerhys Farm is a fantastic place; perched overlooking the vast Atlantic Ocean. It experiences glorious sunshine, driving rain and battering winds – often in the same day – not to mention the light which makes Pembrokeshire a Mecca for painters and photographers alike.

The best times to come down to the farm are Friday afternoons or for the members’ day on the last Saturday of the month. If you want to visit at other times then contact Gerald (gm@caerhys.co.uk).

Send your entry at any time during the month by email to Dave Thomas at davet@coca-csa.org The winner each month will be announced on the COCA website.

Good luck and happy snapping!

 

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COCA Newsletter for St Davids that they didn’t have room to publish

 November 20152012-11-02 14.38.01

A busy growing season!      Increased membership : COCA , based at Caerhys Farm near Berea, overlooking Abereiddy,  is coming to the end of its sixth growing season., and looking back over a very,  very busy year.  The number of members sharing the vegetable harvest has increased to 55, spread now from all over the Peninsula, but most  around St Davids.  The pick-up points at Fishguard and Haverfordwest are becoming better known and used as well

More than just organic veggies : many members now take the opportunity to get their organic fruit, dry goods and household stuff directly delivered every week to Caerhys, ordered through C and M Organics, making more of a saving.  COCA buys in extra organic produce from them as well (for example the replacement for the carrots and parsnips eaten by the badgers)

Happy slugs and “Waste not, Want not”! : The weather has been a challenge, from exceptionally dry, through the cold wet late August, followed by a fabulous autumn, and now soggy and wet, though unusually warm. The wet warm November is creating a population boom in slugs out in the field … and of course we don’t use any slug pellets. The exceptionally dry autumn broIMG_2747ught hungry badgers who found our carrots and parsnips irresistible, and half-eaten roots are not accepted for the veg share boxes.  We had to put out fencing to deter them … but you cannot fence out slugs.  We harvest the best of our veg, trying not to waste otherwise good food just because it has a few slug holes.  The supermarkets would not be so thrifty.  Our really inedible outer leaves and spoiled veg goes to feed the Caerhys pigs …. no waste!

 A summer of young volunteers :  nearly 60 mostly young people have stayed and worked at COCA this year, helping with the growing and weeding, as well as preparing f20150717_164254or the harvest party, picking crops and keeping themselves entertained. Most stayed for only 2 weeks at a time, but a few stay on for longer, loving the area, the happy atmosphere and the rewarding work in a community enterprise.

And finally … Cartref COCA :   the straw bale building which will become COCA’s new home on the farm is taking shape, thanks to the Big Lottery Fund and the dedication of very hard-working volunteers over the miraculously dry autuIMG_5572mn.  It now has a turf roof and the walls are being rendered so it looks less like  a haystack.  This will soon be our centre and powerhouse… helping us to grow more and better into the next years.

To Join COCAvisit the website   www.coca-csa.org  or call the  Membership Secretary  on 07740 582830.

COCA is a “csa” growing seasonal organic vegetables on Caerhys Farm at Berea. Veg shares are provided weekly, all year round. Other organic produce can be bought.   Members pay the same amount every month by Standing Order; minimum membership period 3 months after first trial month.

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Final piece of the jigsaw; lime render

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This Saturday 7th November from 10am we will be working on the last big thing which will make our new community building Cartref COCA watertight – the lime rendering. We will be going at it from 10am and hoping to get lots of people so we can get as much done as possible. If you can come then bring good waterproof gloves, old clothes and a bucket (if possible). Plus if you know anyone who has a spare cement mixer then can you let Dave Thomas know (davet@coca-csa.org or 07968 568076). Hope to see you on Saturday!

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Still spaces on October 24th Willow basket workshop

On Saturday 24th October COCA will be hosting Cassandra again and this time with a Staked Shopping Basket Workshop (photo below).

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Make a medium sized round basket with a handle suitable for a big load! Using willow grown at the Tir-y-Gafel Ecovillage, this workshop is suitable for crafty beginners or those with some experience and costs £25 (10am-5pm). Bring a packed lunch and suitable clothing. Venue – the Stable at Caerhys Farm.

Contact Cassandra to reserve your place by emailing: cassandra@livelightly.co.uk

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Straw bale building while the sun shines!

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From this Thursday (1st October) through to the middle of next week we will be building the straw bale walls for Cartref COCA and putting the roof on.

On Thursday, Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday we will be working on the bale walls and then on next Tuesday and Wednesday (6th & 7th October) we will put the roof trusses in position and fit timber sheets in readiness for the green roof.

Any volunteers who can come down and help will be greatly appreciated.

Mainly the work will involve – cutting and fixing noggins, cutting and sharpening the bale stakes, carefully placing the bales (to make sure the walls are straight and true), resizing bales (where necessary), compressing the walls with straps and banding, fix the trusses in place, fix the bracing and gable ladders and cutting and fixing the roof sheets. There is a lot to do!

Regardless of ability everyone is welcome – all we ask is that you contact Dave Thomas beforehand to let him know that you want to help and which day as we want to make sure that we plan the work according to the number of volunteers we have. Contact Dave by email on davet@coca-csa.org or mobile 07968568076.

Finally, if anyone has any ratchet straps we can borrow then please drop them off at the farm or let Dave Thomas know. You will be able to have them back at the middle of next week once the roof is on. Thanks.

Cartref COCA is part funded via the Awards for All grant from the the Big Lottery Fund and the Little Green Grant from Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services (PAVS).

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A perfect day for straw

image imageBathed in September sunshine the straw bales for our low impact community building were baled today down the road in St Davids. They are all now safely tucked up in the barn at Caerhys ready to be made into the walls for Cartref COCA later this month.

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Cartref COCA keeps making progress

After the success of the car tyre foundation volunteer day in June, this past weekend saw the construction of the carpentry elements for the straw bale walls. On Saturday and Sunday our talented members Andy Gill and Ben Hughes transformed a pile of timber into the bale tray and top plate for the walls.

The bale tray is basically a sheet of timber cut to the width of the straw bale wall with 4×2 timber rails fixed along either side, creating the tray, and perpendicular noggins fixed from one side of the tray to the other. The tray is then laid out on top of the car tyre foundation along the full perimeter of the building. The purpose of the noggins is to give strength to the tray and to locate the hazel stakes with two noggins per bale. When the walls are built the bottom layer of bales are placed on top of the tray with the hazel going through the bale to prevent movement in the wall.

The top plate is very similar to the bale tray, in fact we used the tray as a template, with the exception that it is more of a box than a tray with the 4×2 timber rails sandwiched between the bale-wide sheets.

Andy and Ben worked tirelessly over the weekend and we really appreciate their efforts.

Now that these two timber elements have been built our next stage is to build the walls. The process is to lay out the bale tray on top of the car tyre foundation, build up the walls with the straw bales (with hazel stakes inserted into each bale to make sure everything stays straight) and then after the seventh and final layer of bales the top plate is placed on top. Straps and ratchets are then used, going under the tray and over the top plate, to compress the bales and create a stiff wall.

In September we will be building the straw bale walls once this year’s bales have been harvested. Once the walls are complete we will be looking to build the roof and lime render the outside as soon as possible to protect the bales from wet weather. September is shaping up to be a very busy month and we will need lots of willing helpers!  Please let us know if you are interested in getting involved with the build in the comments section below or by email to davet@coca-csa.org Everyone welcome

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Willow Basket Weaving Workshops

We’re delighted to be welcoming back Cassandra Lishman to COCA this autumn to lead two Willow Basket Weaving Workshops.

Saturday 26th September:Large Frame Basket Workshop (photo below)

 

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In one day make a large basket suitable for carrying all your veg! Using willow grown at the Tir-y-gafel Ecovillage in Pembrokeshire, this workshop is suitable for beginners & costs £25 (10am-5pm).  Bring a packed lunch.  Venue – the Stable at Caerhys Farm.

Saturday 24th October: Staked Shopping Basket Workshop (photo below)

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Make a medium sized round shopping basket with a handle suitable for trips to Torth y Tir’s bakery! Again using willow grown at the Tir-y-Gafel Ecovillage, his workshop is suitable for crafty beginners or those with some experience and costs £25 (10am-5pm). Bring a packed lunch. Venue – the Stable at Caerhys Farm.

There is a maximum of ten places per workshop and we need at least six people to hold the workshop so please email Dave Thomas at davet@coca-csa.org to reserve a place or if you have any questions.

 

 

 

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Harvest Party Saturday Aug 29th

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After last year’s epic event we will once again be hosting our Harvest Party on Saturday August 29th at Caerhys Farm, Berea.

This year we will be kicking things off much earlier with the farm gates opening at midday and festivities running on until late into the evening. We have got a host of talented Pembrokeshire musicians playing including Little Arrow, daisyb, Pembrokeshire Ukelele Pirates, Easy Street and Cariad. We will also have a DJ to round off the night.

At the start of the afternoon Gerald will be giving a guided tour of the farm and show people the ins and outs of ‘community supported agriculture.’ Caz will be doing the same but specifically for families and will give children (and grown ups!) the opportunity to meet the cheeky rear breed Oxford Sandy & Black pigs and beautiful Welsh Black cattle. During the afternoon we will also have Cooking Demonstration from Pembrokeshire Cook and a talk by renowned scientist Dr Claire Robinson on a subject close to our hearts which is the use of Genetically Modified ingredients in non-organic food.

There will be lots of other brilliant folk there to entertain the kids (and grown ups!) including Magic from Tom Luddington, Face Painting from Lucy Rees, Pizza Making Workshop from Torth y Tir’s Rupert Dunn and twig pencil making by Ben Hughes.

There will be local ales from Gethin’s Cider, Bluestone Brewing Co and the Hand Made Beer Co. There will also be a range of wine and organic soft drinks.

There will be a range of food there to suit everyone’s taste including a warm and cold selection made from COCA grown veggies and salads, organic burgers and sausages from the best pork and beef reared at Caerhys, pizza made in COCA’s cob oven by our talented peasant baker member Rupert Dunn and delicious cakes by Lou Luddington.

Tickets will be £10 for adults, £5 for ages 12 to 15 and free for under 12s. There will be free camping on the Friday and Saturday nights for those who want to make a weekend of it (but please reserve your pitch in advance by emailing Gerald on gm@caerhys.co.uk).

We are all really excited about August 29th but it will take a big effort by all involved to make it a success again. If anyone is able to help out on the day with the entrance gate, working the bar, helping with the kids area or just keeping the place clean and tidy it would be really appreciated…and in return for a two hour volunteer slot you can have a free entry ticket and free drink.

Get tickets in advance from Gerald at the Farm or from TYF Adventure on High Street, St Davids.

We hope you can make it 🙂

 

 

 

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Scarecrow appeal!

Urgent appeal from the Growers group: we need scarecrows to defeat pigeons! Are you (and your children) free to help with a morning of scarecrow making this Saturday, from 10am? Straw and poles provided, but bring any old clothes to help make the bodies.

Any spare grown-up help also needed for urgent weeding and cabbage planting jobs. We have no WWOOFers or UNA work camp volunteers from Friday, so it’s a big job for Caz to do everything single-handed. Every little helps…

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June Update

COCA got a big helping hand at the start of June, when we were joined by six volunteers who came to take part in one of the summer’s UNA exchanges. Along with the regular growing team, the volunteers helped with planting and transferring of hundreds of plants: 500 brassicas including cabbage, kale and broccoli, as well as pumpkins, bean sprouts and 200 sweetcorn. Not to mention getting up to date with the weeding, always a challenge at Caerhys! And they obviously enjoyed it, as two of the volunteers, Tom and Antonia, decided to stay on as wwoofers for a little longer after, with Tom then leading the next UNA exchange toward the end of the month.

And in case you haven’t seen it already, recently a COCA member came across this fab video made on the farm last summer, set to the tune of Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’. I think it’s fair to say last year’s UNA Exchange volunteers had a good time too.

After each UNA visit the core group discuss how to make the experience better for everyone involved next time, and a smart suggestion that came out of this visit was for there to be multi-lingual picture guides of the tools used on the farm for all of the volunteers to reference, and those are being developed at the moment.

Outside of the UNA Exchange, there were also a lot of helping hands present for this month’s volunteer work day, which was a little different to usual, as it saw the foundations going down for our new sustainably built store shed and community building. You can read all about that here.

Finally, just one last reminder that as of July 1st the price for all shares has risen, as voted for by COCA members. Large shares are now £47 and small shares £25. If you forgot to adjust your standing order on time, please top up the difference. Full details can be found here.

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Cartref COCA taking shape

 

Last Saturday 27th June we had a great turnout to build the car tyre foundation for our new community building. Almost thirty people turned up during the course of the day and the help of everyone was greatly appreciated.

We spent a couple of hours initially setting out the level for which the tyres would need to go to and then we positioned all the tyres into place – posed a bit of an arithmetic challenge as we had lots of different tyre widths! We had 16 tonnes of clean granite chippings delivered earlier in the week and it proved relatively easy to work with to fill the tyres, although some brute force was required to make sure the tyres were well packed. We had a much needed break at around 12.30 and after our shared lunch went at it again. Fortunately lots of hands made light work and we were finished by around 3pm. Was a very successful day and could not have been done without the help of everyone who came.

In July we hope to get all of the carpentary prep work done ahead of building the straw bale walls with this year’s harvest in August.

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July 1st Price Rise

At this years AGM, members voted to increase the monthly minimum cost of a share. Following on from that vote, as of the 1st July, large shares will be £47 a month (up from £42), and small shares will be £25 a month (up from £22).

How does this affect me?

Since we have a pay what you can afford system at COCA, many members are already paying above this rate voluntarily, and those members do not need to increase their subscription. However, if you can raise your contribution in line with the price rise that would be very welcome.

Similarly, if these price increases are going to pose a problem for you, please contact a member of the core group or email secretary@coca-csa.org to talk about it. We would much rather work something out and come to a compromise than lose a member.

For everyone else, please increase your monthly standing order by the 1st July so that you are, at the least, paying the new minimum rates (£47 large, £25 small).

How does the new price compare?

One of our members, David Hunter, has been keeping track of how the cost of COCA veg compares to organic veg sold by that Goliath of British supermarkets, Tesco. At the new rates, members on a small share will be paying £6.25 a week. Obviously prices fluctuate through the year, but the Tesco average for the equivalent produce works out at around £7. Yep, we’re actually cheaper than Tesco.

It may be only a small saving, but there’s a big difference in ethos. Your money goes straight to COCA, all put back in to growing more organic veg right here in Pembrokeshire. By comparison, Tesco import their veg from around the world, each week’s worth of veg racking up hundreds, if not thousands, of food miles. Plus, very little of the money spent in supermarkets actually makes it back to the producers, causing many farmers to struggle to stay afloat. Not to mention of course, that most of the money spent in Tesco’s goes out of the local economy, whereas the money spent at COCA largely goes back into it.

Of course Tesco isn’t an ideal comparison for those reasons, but even compared to a big organic veg box scheme, like that of Riverford Organic Farms, COCA stills comes out as excellent value for money. Their small share, which is similar to our small share during the hungry gap, is £10.35 a week, quite a big leap up in price, and they are a much much larger operation than ours.

So why did members vote for a price rise?

The ultimate objective of COCA is provide food for its members, and a living for its growers, in a sustainable way. Due to greater general costs, increased production, and a move toward making COCA more self-sustaining and less reliant on the generosity of its members, a small rise in the monthly minimum is a necessary step. Hopefully, this price rise is understandable and seems proportionate to all our members, as well as reflecting our aim as a community to support sustainable local food production.

What about offering a work share?

Great idea! We’re planning to introduce a limited number of work shares soon, where members commit to give some of their time each week helping out with COCA in exchange for a veg share. This time may be spent working on the farm, but likewise also delivering veg to one of our drop off points, or helping out with publicity, or contributing in other ways to the running of COCA. There will be more details on that in the following weeks.

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Car tyre foundation volunteer day!

Next Saturday 27th June we will be making a start on the car tyre foundation for our exciting new building – Cartref COCA.
It will be a straight forward task – putting the car tyres into position on the ground and then filling them with gravel; it is important that the gravel is well packed. We will need to do two courses of the tyres. It will require a bit of effort but everyone is welcome – big and small – provided you can lift a trowel or spade then you’re in!
We will start at 9am, have a shared lunch and work through to mid-afternoon (depending on how long it takes) but anyone can come for as long as they want.
Sensible footwear and clothing are essential and gloves are also good to wear. If you have your own trowel, shovel and mallet / sledge hammer then please bring with you.car tyres straw bale
The stone filled car tyre foundation is a rather unconventional solution but is perfectly suitable for this kind of building. Basically it has two functions – [1] acts as a ‘capillary break’ which will lets water pass down through it but wont let moisture from the ground to travel upwards and [2] it raises the straw bales off the ground to avoid splashback from the rain. There is no need to excavate trenches and fill with concrete as the underlying ground is able to bear the weight of the building and our solution ensures that Cartref COCA’s foundation has a low environmental impact.
We will be having a JCB on site tomorrow morning at nine o clock to scrape away the top soil and level out and lumps and bumps in the underlying firmer soi. We will be having a ‘sod breaking’ ceremony before the JCB starts work to mark the start of the project and to set a successful trajectory and engender feelings of good will towards our exciting new building; Gerald will be saying a few words. If anyone would like to come along then please be there for 9am.
Otherwise we look forward to seeing you at the car tyre foundation volunteer day next Saturday 27th June from nine o clock at Caerhys!

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May Round Up

It’s been the height of the ‘hungry gap’ this month at COCA, as we turn over to the summer crops, and the greens in the polytunnels make way for this year’s tomato crop. It leaves us with slightly less veg in the weekly shares for now, but paves the way for the summer glut! And of course, it’s still been all go on the farm!

Never one to turn down a chance to tell people all about community supported agriculture and sustainable farming, this month Caerhys and the Miles family got a visit from the welsh television show Gwyl Y Gwanwyn, explaining how COCA works and the relationship between the growers and the members. It’s still available on iPlayer – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p02r51j1/gwyl-y-gwanwyn-2015 – Caerhys is featured from 7.30 minutes in (click S for english subtitles).

COCA were spreading the word of what we do and encouraging new members to join at the Really Wild Festival this month, conveniently located this year over at Pwll Caerog, the farm next door. As a small fundraiser, we held a raffle for people to win a hamper of COCA veg and local produce, and as usual gave some of Caerhys’ piglets a day out, which is always popular!

The high life of TV production crews and festivals aside, this month also saw the first volunteer day specifically for Cartref COCA, a new project for this year that will see us building a new ecologically minded building to use as our share store and meeting space. The day saw the gang clearing the site, a big job in and of itself, so that we can get started of the first stages of the building.

Finally, toward the very end of the month we were joined by the first UNA Exchange group of the year, who have been busy helping out with all aspects of COCA. It’s our second year hosting the UNA Exchange groups, and it’s brilliant to have people from all over the world visiting the farm, seeing how we operate, and getting stuck in.

UNA Exchange settling in!

UNA Exchange settling in!

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S4C filming at harvest this Friday!

A film crew, for Welsh program on S4C – Boomerang, will be at COCA’s harvest this Friday 15 May filming for harvest action and interviews, it would be great to have as many members and families as possible on the farm. Harvest starts from 2pm. Exciting stuff 🙂

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April Round Up

It’s fair to say that summer’s on the way now, after some beautiful sunny weather over the past few weeks (though with some high winds thrown in at times too). The month got off to a great start with a special Good Friday activity, planting up some raised beds with wild flowers, to help improve biodiversity on the farm. With no woofers to help this month, Caz and the growing team volunteers have been flat out trying to get everything done. Missions have included clearing out the polytunnels, planting tomatoes, cabbage and other seedlings, the row crops and potatoes, as well as 3,000 onions. Other jobs have included laying out the black plastic sheeting around the crops, and getting to grips with the plans for our new irrigation system. After last year’s incredibly dry summer, there’s a determination to reduce the amount of time that has to be spent manually watering the crops in the peak of the season.

This month also saw COCA hold its Annual General Meeting, where the members came together to share some food, watch some short films on the subject of community agriculture, and of course discuss the general management of COCA over the coming year. We have some exciting developments ahead: Cartref COCA, the project to construct a new store shed and indoor space for COCA members; a new paid part-time role to look after membership, admin and marketing; our second summer of UNA Exchange volunteer working fortnights; our annual Harvest Party get-together and fundraiser; and of course lots and lots of growing!

And on the subject of growing, April’s volunteer work day was attended by one of our younger members, who shared their experience of the day with us in this fantastic blog post, which is well worth a read.

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Cartref COCA Site Clearance this Saturday 16th May

Work to build our eagerly anticipated new home – Cartref COCA – will start this Saturday 16th May in advance of building the car tyre foundation in June. The site is currently being used for storage and it all needs to be cleared.

We’re going to have a session clearing the site from 9am till 12 noon (or longer if its going well). You don’t have to stay the full three hours, if you can only come for a while that would be great. Many hands make light work!

If anyone has access to big car, van and/or trailer that would be great as there may be some rubbish that needs to go to the to the tip.

Don’t forget to bring work gloves as there may some rusty metal, glass, etc.

Hope to see you on Saturday morning!

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AGM postponed (again!)

The AGM is postponed (again!) to Thursday April 23rd 2015, still at 7pm for 7.30pm start, at Llanrhian Village Hall.  Having postponed before to avoid clashing with the campaign to save Ysgol Dewi Sant, they then changed their meeting date and we clashed again!


There will be a bring-and-share buffet before the meeting and a short film  afterwards. Agenda remains the same:

  • Chairman’s report
  • Financial report
  • Election of officers
  • Proposals from members*
  • AOB

* Proposals from Members : please forward proposals to secretary@coca-csa.org  with your name and that of a seconder, at least one week before the meeting (ie April 16th 2015) so it can be circulated to others.

Any one wishing to stand for election to the Core group should send their name and a seconder to secretary@coca-csa.org  as soon as possible.

Directions : From Croesgoch , on the main St Davids/ Fishguard road, turn at the Artramont Arms and follow signs towards Porthgain and The Sloop Inn. Llanrhian Village Hall is at the crossroads in Llanrhian, opposite the church. Parking on roadside and in small tarmac yard.

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March Round Up

We had a great turn out for the volunteer work day this month, and despite blustery conditions and the odd bit of rain the gang were able to turn over the whole seed bed in just a few hours. In fact, had the weather been a bit warmer it would probably have taken a lot longer! The onion sets have now gone out to the seed bed to root, manure has been spread onto the area to next be ploughed and planted, and several plants are ready to transplant into the field.

Now it’s a question of waiting for the right weather conditions to cultivate the beds, for what will hopefully be a bumper summer crop. Speaking of the summer, following on from last year’s exceptionally dry July and August, the growing team at COCA have been looking into options for creating a better irrigation system on the field, so that should we have similarly hot weather this year we’ll be better placed to cope.

Outside of the day to day activities of COCA, this month also saw the first meeting of the events team, who are already planning ahead to our summer Harvest Party at the end of August. After its great success last summer, this event has become an important fundraiser for COCA, as well as giving us an opportunity to get more involved with the community as a whole and meet potential new members.

Last but by no means least, after two months of excellent hard work, our wwoofer Flemming has headed back out on to the road. He’s been a tremendous help on the farm and we owe him a lot of thanks.

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Good Friday Activity: Wild Flower Planting

Grow Wild Seed Kit

This Good Friday we’re holding a special activity morning for members – wild flower seed planting! From 10am until 1pm, we’ll be preparing some raised beds (COCA style) and planting seeds to encourage more biodiversity on the farm.

We’ve been given the seeds as part of the ‘Grow Wild‘ project, supported by the Big Lottery Fund and Kew Gardens, and we’ve enough to cover a lot of ground, so the more people that can come along the merrier! There’ll also be some ‘bee homes’ to construct. Suitable for all ages, and a great activity to do with the kids at the start of the easter weekend, we’ll be meeting at the store shed at 10am.

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February Round-Up

February has been both “fill dyke” and also dry so a variety of tasks have been achieved at COCA this month. Caz has been helped latterly by Flemming, from Germany, here as Wwoofer until mid March. Bit by bit, old crops are being cleared from the field, the ancient woody stems of cabbages and cauli’s shredded for compost, and black plastic mulches are being lifted and stored for another season. In the polytunnels, new salads have been planted out and are growing away strongly, while the greens planted in November are cropping well so that members have enjoyed big bags of wonderful tasty mustards, mizuna, parsley, rocket and lettuce leaves. We have been let down with the over-winter carrot crop, since a rat or rabbit got in, and chewed off half the plants in just two days, as well as damaging our indoor spinach and broccoli plants. Grrr!

Despite that, Caz and Anne have planted up trays and trays of onion seed, various cabbages and all the tomatoes and peppers for the summer, and the propagation area is full with green shoots shooting. The outdoor cropping season begins next month as the field is cultivated bit by bit when the weather suits. Meanwhile, the Core Group has agreed that we can set up a hub for share collections in Goodwick (at the Seafront Garage), and design work for the new Cartref COCA share shed has begun in earnest. It’s going to be a busy year!

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Bee keeping course

Bee workshop this Saturday 28/02/2015 10am sharp till 4pm.

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This is the first beekeeper workshop run especially for COCA members with intention to share knowledge and mentor us throughout the year.
Our mentor is Robert Jones his honey is sold in the veg shop, a master beekeeper, has 120 beehives all over south Wales, breeds Welsh black queen bees and designs and builds his own beehives. Bring a lunch to share and BEE prepared for a BUZZY day.

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January Round-Up

Throughout the coming year, at the end of each month, we’ll be posting a round up of what’s been going on at COCA over the past few weeks. Here’s what’s been happening so far in 2015.

We started January with a bit of a bang, holding a winter feast for our members, and their friends and family. Everyone bought along homemade dishes, much of it using veg from the farm, and gathered together to share a meal. There was a fantastic turnout and it was a great opportunity for everyone to see each other outside of the farm, and in the warm and dry!

On the farm itself, the short dark days and cold wet weather means that relatively little outdoor veg work is going on, apart from moving the pigs’ enclosure round the field, so that they root up and clear and fertilize different areas.  Indoors, the two polytunnels are kept snug with fleece over the winter crops, and weeding of the small carrots and between the salad plants goes on on a weekly basis. The seed order is worked out, as are the budgets for new equipment. The new season starts with the first sowings of onion seed in plugtrays, kept warm while they germinate in the heated sand bed. This is a new departure for us, as we have always used sets for onions before, but we are confident we can grow our onion supply more cheaply and just as successfully from seed this year. Weekly harvests are still providing Cabbages, Brussel Sprouts, the occasional huge Cauliflower, Kale, and Parsnips from the field, and Oriental greens and Lettuce from the polytunnels, as well as Potatoes from store.

Earlier this month we released the results of the members survey on our website, compiled by our Core Group chair Stuart. The survey allows us to reflect on how well COCA is working for its members, how happy people are with their weekly veg box, whether people feel like they would like more opportunities to get more involved, and how we can generally improve things. On the subject of reflection, this time last year the farm was being devastated by the weather! The high winds damaged many of the crops, and the plastic on one of the polytunnel’s was so shredded up it had to be completely replaced. We’ve had a few stormy days so far, but nothing on the same scale, so here’s hoping to a much calmer winter at the start of 2015.

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Easy fundraising

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Do you buy anything online? If you do – anything from shopping for books to booking trips away – did you know you could be raising a free donation for COCA?

One of our members – thanks Adam! – tipped us off to Easyfundraising.co.uk. It’s a site that lists nearly 3,000 retailers who will donate a percentage of anything you spend to COCA to say thank you for shopping with them.

We’ve looked into it: it’s really simple, and doesn’t cost you anything. There are no catches or hidden charges and COCA will be really grateful for your donation.

All you have to do is:

  1. Go to http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/coca
  2. Sign up for free
  3. Get shopping – your donations will be collected by Easyfundraising and automatically sent to COCA. It couldn’t be easier!

For more details, and answers to some frequently asked questions, check out their page on how it works.

Making it easy

If you do decide to support COCA through Easyfundraising, one top tip to makes it easy: install the ‘Donation Reminder’ when suggested during the signup process. This is an automatically alerts you if you go to a website that is signed up with Easyfundraising, and if you click to ‘activate donation’, any purchase then automatically triggers a donation to COCA. You can also browse Easyfundraising’s list of retailers, but the Donation Reminder means you don’t need to go anywhere special, and still get prompted for the chance to raise a free donation!

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Cauliflower Treasure

20141219_142518  A belated Xmas pic of heroic Caz, Gerald and Lesley at the end of the pre-Xmas harvest with some glorious surprise cauliflower heads they found.  Not enough to share with everyone, unfortunately (…. caulis always seem to keep us guessing as to when they are going to be ready to cut!)

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2014 membership survey results

Happy New Year on behalf of the COCA core group! The start of the year is traditionally a time for reflection and new resolve, so it seems appropriate to share a summary of our 2014 survey of members that was completed last month. Thanks to all who responded – nearly 70% of COCA members, in some form or another.

Of course, not all members responded – and there are others too who left COCA during 2014 – but one thing that came through in the responses was people’s positive appreciation and support for what COCA stands for and is trying to achieve. Many members already pay more than the standard cost of a share as a financial contribution. Others expressed interest in being able to donate occasionally when their financial situation made it possible. Many members also said they were willing to get involved with one or more of the working groups to help run different aspects of COCA. Quite a few more said they have some skills or experience to share, even if they can’t get involved as a regular commitment. If you responded like this, expect some contact in the near future to follow up from the people who’ve volunteered to coordinate the working groups!

We’re not perfect yet though…

Some comments asked for more transparency – on what is going on with the core group, and what are COCA’s goals for next year. I’m glad to say we now share the minutes of the core group meetings on the website, if you want to stay informed about the details. By our next AGM in April, we hopefully will have the ‘big picture’ in sharper focus too, with input from every working group.

Other comments called for us to push ourselves to produce more and better veg – to make COCA vegetables demonstrably good value on their own terms, aside from ‘supporting a CSA’. We’re looking at different ways to do this: more professional training for the growers; joining networks of other growers for support and advice; and trialling the effect of soil amendments to improve the health and quality of our vegetables.

One other pattern that came through were comments or suggestions about how to build our community of members: more sharing (whether picking up vegetables, or recipes on what to do with them!). and more events, that are also and especially welcoming to new members. Specific suggestions have been forwarded to different relevant working groups. We’re also looking into ways to make it easier to give more feedback and suggestions on an ongoing basis. Your opinion counts and your support makes a difference!

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