We started January with a bit of a bang, holding a winter feast for all 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.