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