Q. What is a veg share?
A veg share is quite literally a share of the harvest. When you join the farm as a veg share member you are committing to a regular payment which goes towards the costs for running a farm, buying seeds, paying our grower and so on. In return you get a share of whatever is ready to harvest that week. Unlike a veg box scheme where you get veg to the value of your weekly payment each week here you get a share of what grows so if things grow really well you get more, if we have problems you get a little less but overall we believe you will find it is good value for money and has lots of other benefits too such as extremely fresh veg, being able to see and even join in the growing as well as social events and activities.
Q. How much does it cost?
A large share is £12 a week. We ask that you pay monthly so this works out as £52 per month for the veg including £2 a month membership fee. This is aimed at families.
A small share is £7 a week which works out as £31.16 per month. This is more suited to one or two people.
Q. What sort of veg do I get?
That depends on the time of year because all the veg we supply is grown here on the farm we don’t bring in anything from other farms and certainly not from other counties. This means you get very fresh, local seasonal veg. It does mean for those not used to eating seasonally you may find you need to change the meals you eat as the seasons change but that can be a very interesting and possitive thing to do.
Since we started growing veg we have had a very positive response and many people have told us how fabulous it tastes.
We are trying to grow a good range of things that thrive in this country as well as some things in the polytunnel which are more tender. We also use the polytunnels to extend the season for some plants. In the middle of summer the share is probably at its most diverse and should include a wide range of things such as courgettes, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, salad leaves, garlic, beans, herbs and so on. As autumn comes in this gradually changes, things like pumpkins with come in and the hotter weather veg will trail off. Once we get into winter it will become more root veg, winter greens and things which store well, as well as some salads, which we can generally keep going in the polytunnels.
Here are some of the veg shares we had in our first year. There are more pictures on the this weeks share pages from other years.
Q. Do I get veg every week of the year?
We plan for 50 out of 52 weeks this is so we have a two week break over Christmas and New Year when there is little growing. This way everyone can have a well earned break at a time when the veg can do without constant supervision.
This normally means we plan the last veg share of the year to be collected shortly before Christmas and then we restart early in January. The exact dates depend on when Christmas falls each year.
The smallest shares of the year are generally late April into May as this is what is called the Hungry gap. There is an article explain this here.
Q. Who decides what is grown?
It is a joint decision between the members and the grower. The grower’s input is important because they are knowledgeable to know what range of veg we need to grow to give us veg across the whole year as well as what is suitable to grow here. The member’s input is important as it is us that will be eating the veg and it is OUR farm so we want to grow the veg we like ! Ideally we want to grow a range of common well loved veg and some more unusual ones which perhaps are better suited to local growing because they are too delicate to travel far and indeed many of us are keen to try something new and different.
We also try to grow more than one variety of most veg this allows for longer seasons as well as more protection from bad weather or pests. Our first growing year (2012) with its dreadful weather showed how important this is as in several incidences we lost all of one variety of a veg but a different variety survived the same conditions.
We are however limited to what we can get as organic seeds because to grow anything else gets complicated due to being organically certified.
Q. Will the vegetables be grown organically? Or perhaps just with a sensitive eye to the environment?
All our veg will be grown organically as we rent the land from Garden Organic so it is already certified and we are required to make sure we continue that.
Q. What if I don’t want a particular vegetable ?
If you don’t like something or just can’t deal with yet more courgettes you can put your share in the spares box. If there is something already in the box you would like more of it you can take some.
Q. What happens to any surplus?
Each person or family who buys a share is entitled to a proportion of the harvest based on the share they have bought. We are growing for a set amount of shares so if we have not got people buying all those shares we will have surplus shares. Also we may have times where we have a glut and end up with more of something than most people want. In such situations we will endeavour to sell the extra veg to local shops or similar outlets to recoup the costs we have from growing them in the first place.
The veg share members will always come first and it is only if there is truly surplus that we will sell it to others. However if you know a local shop, pub, restaurant or other local business you think would appreciate locally grown, seasonal, organic veg please to suggest them to us.
Q. Is my box packed for me?
No it isn’t. We harvest the veg for each collection day and put them all together in the collection area. When you come to collect there will be clear instructions on how much of each veg you can have depending on if you have a full or small share. You collect the right amount of each veg and put it in your bag or box.
Q. I worry there will be veg I don’t know what to do with.
We understand not everyone is used to a wide variety of veg and so we have some fact/recipe sheets on each veg which you can pick up in the collection area if you aren’t sure what to do with it or just because you are looking for new ways to eat it. We also have a food blog run by one of our members which you can find by clicking the 5ACREFOOD button in the top menu bar. Members also post suggestions on our facebook page.