Members' Information

Cambridge CropShare

Background

CropShare is a Transition Cambridge project which experiments with community-supported agriculture (CSA) as part of the broader effort in Cambridge to make local food systems more sustainable and resilient.

Paul and Doreen Robinson of Waterland Organics, based at Willow Farm, Lode, run a long-established fruit and vegetable box scheme and are keen to open their farm gates to their local community.

In 2011, CropShare and Waterland Organics collaborated on an exciting experiment to bring dozens of volunteers to the farm to participate in organic farming. Through a barter that essentially traded volunteer labour for a portion of the crop, Cambridge’s first CropShare project saw some real successes. In addition to significantly increasing the farm’s onion yield, Cambridge CropShare experimented with distributing the produce among participants, selling the onions, jarring the produce, and sharing the yields with local charities. This year we’re back and ready to grow more!


The 2012 concept

We will develop a CSA project that:

Continues to offer volunteers the experience of local farming and organic food production -- this time with access to more crops (a dozen or more!) Uses our collective time/effort as efficiently as possible

Is environmentally sustainable – we will grow low input organic crops, replace tractor input with hand labour, which saves fuel, and organise car pooling and bike riding groups in order to minimise the carbon footprint of volunteers heading to the farm Ensures that Waterland’s engagement with CropShare is sustainable (that is, in terms of exertion and finances)


How can I get involved?

There are two ways to join in the fun on the farm:

Cambridge CropShare Core Members

Core members agree to volunteer on the farm for 7 out of the 13 workdays (see tentative work dates listed below*). In return, the group receives a share of the farm’s yield on selected crops at two harvest points, currently slotted for June and September.

The success of the growing season will directly impact the diversity and size of the yield (e.g. if lettuce doesn’t flourish, there’s no lettuce for CropShare, but there may be courgettes). Core members will decide together and organise in advance how the CropShare harvest will be used. For example, the core group may decide to arrange for drop off of food to local charities and/or running a Making the Most of Food course in October. The possibilities are endless! The core group may also decide to distribute some of the yield among its members, depending on our yield.

Core group members are the core ‘community’ in this ‘community- supported agriculture’ project. Benefits of joining this group are:

  • Involvement in a fun, community-oriented project that is meaningful – and tasty
  • A voice in how this ground-breaking project evolves – most notably having a voice in how CropShare’s share of the summer (June) and autumn (September) harvests are used.
  • Direct involvement in a real organic farm -- learning from an experienced farmer how to grow a diverse range of crops throughout the growing season
  • First dibs on workday dates – there are limited spaces for all workdays and core group members are able to choose the dates that fit best with other commitments
  • Opportunities to purchase farm products during each onsite workday from a stall run by CropShare members
  • Free seasonal newsletter
  • A fun Annual Harvest Party to celebrate the end of the growing season

Cambridge CropShare Volunteers – Excited about local, organic farming but do not have the time to commit as a core group member? We always welcome non-committed volunteers to our workdays. Spaces will be available on a first come first served basis and are advertised in advance via our mailing list.

  • Direct involvement in a real organic farm, learning how to grow a diverse range of crops
  • Involvement in a fun, community-oriented project that is meaningful – and tasty
  • Opportunities to purchase farm products during each onsite workday from a stall run by CropShare members

FAQs about Cambridge Cropshare 2012

What days are we planning to head to the farm together?

Because farming is weather-dependent, exact dates are difficult to lock-in on for the entire growing season. So some flexibility is requested of core group members. These are the proposed 2012 dates – subject to weather and growing conditions:

  • 21st April
  • 19th May
  • 26th May
  • 9th June
  • 23rd June
  • 7th July
  • 21st July
  • 11th August
  • 25th August
  • 1st September
  • 15th September
  • 29th September
  • and 13th October

If I am not able to commit to all seven workdays, can my partner and I share a single membership in the core group?

Membership in the core group is usually held by individuals. If needed, however, a single membership can also be split between members of a household. For example, two flatmates may decide to share a membership, meaning that one or both attend workdays on at least 7 of the 13 days on the farm. They also share a single vote in any core group decision-making processes. For practical reasons (those who share a membership need to be in close communication), we request that sharing only take place between members of a common household.

I don’t have a car and do not feel comfortable cycling to Lode. Can I still participate?

Yes. We arrange carpools every workday. All that’s needed is advance warning if you need a lift so we can make sure there are enough seats to fit everyone. We arrange a pick-up point (usually the Gwydir Street parking lot off of Mill Road – just across from Al Amin market), where folks meet up and head out to Lode together.