I’ve just got back from visiting Woodhouse Farm and Garden, and chatting with the amazing Andrew and his daughter about the farm and its history. I felt so uplifted by my visit, their story and the CSA scheme that I had to come straight back and write about them, whilst munching on their amazing raspberries.
The walled garden at Woodhouse Farm is set up to support 40 family veg boxes. That’s 40 local families getting organic, nutritious locally grown, seasonal fruit and veg. I tentatively asked Andrew what I needed to do to join the scheme expecting there to be a massive waiting list and he sadly informed me that they only currently have 20 people signed up to the scheme and have never managed to get more than 25.
Why? I have no idea, but I can explain how the scheme works.
The CSA ask that you sign up and pay for a regular veg box, which is available in varying sizes, on the understanding that some weeks you will get more and some weeks a little less, dependant on what is in harvest at the time. A little bit of a gamble, maybe? How CSA describe it is that you take on some of the risk and benefits of food production, whilst giving the farmer a more regular and guaranteed income. They also ask that you give a bit of time to help the farm, an hour or two a week – that seems a low commitment to me, and I sense it’s an ‘as and when you can’ kind of help not a strictly monitored clock in and out kind of job.
Today I bought a small veg box. For £7.80 I got new potatoes, peas literally picked whilst I was there, broccoli, an artichoke, cucumber, a huge cabbage, and a massive bag of salad leaves. Agreed, it’s a good time of year, but I’ve just tried to tally up my box contents at Tesco online for comparison and it came over £10, so you will certainly win some as well as lose some. I also bought a large punnet of raspberries for £2.00, which were £2.50 for half the amount in the farm shop I visited later to buy my milk. And four bags of their sausages.
I can’t wait to cook the sausages tomorrow morning, we’ve got some window fitters here as well so they are in for a treat! And it was just brilliant to see the pigs that are almost ready for the butcher to make the next batches of sausages, and the tiny piglets that have only just been born and will be ready around Christmas.
Woodhouse Farm and Garden is a community farm, it was left by the owner Francis Paget Howard in 1936 to Birmingham Council to be used for the healthful recreation of the people of Birmingham, after the terrible atrocities he witnessed in WWI he wanted to give back to the community. It was nearly sold off by the council, but after much hard work, petitioning and relentless determination by the current tenants Andrew and Annamarie Stone they finally ploughed the old walled garden in 2010 and created the start of the community farm. They are continually working to improve the facilities and thankfully are getting more support from local businesses and groups. I’ve already signed up for a weekly small box and messaged Annamarie to offer my help, I’m really excited to think that I might be able to help in some small way, and can’t wait to go back and see the little piglets grow.
If anyone readying my blog is local to Lichfield, please visit Woodhouse Farm & Garden and give them a little bit of your support and love.