Food Smiles: Local food for st albans
Food smiles is a local project set up to try and establish a Community Supported Agriculture project in St Albans – around twenty people are currently involved on the steering group
Update January 2014
Visit to Church Farm, Alderley
The Food Smiles group has now organised two groups of people from the steering group to visit Church Farm in Alderley, a community interest company, as a way of beginning to see what’s possible, and thinking in detail about what is needed to get going.
To find out more about the fabulous Church Farm, and see what food you can get from there, please click on this link.
Tim, who set up Church Farm, provided us with a tour and explanation of the 175 acre site.
It has taken Tim many years to create the farm, together with opportunities for people to work on the land, as volunteers, apprentices, as well as paid work. As well as having free range meat for people to buy alongside the veg box scheme they also manage to run the Rural Care programme for people with learning disabilities.
The site comprises livestock including cows, sheep and lambs, sows and boars, geese and chickens, as well as a growing walnut orchard, bee hives, ancient woodland and 130 varieties of fruit, alongside vegetable growing for the veg box scheme!
We toured the land in style, jumping aboard Tim’s van for an open-air ride!
Although the land is much bigger than anything we can start with, the tour of the farm gave everyone a chance to get a sense of what can be done with land, and to get out in the fresh air!
Of special interest was the kitchen garden, a site of several acres, making us think about the scale of what we could do in St Albans.
Chris was already starting to work out how we needed to stagger our growing seasons for the different vegetables we could grow!
Mathilde was clear that we could start all the seedlings off well in a poly tunnel, getting them strong for growing on outside.
When the pub across the road went up for sale the farm decided to buy it! It has now been turned into a great pub The Jolly Waggoner serving fresh food from the farm, and this tour group couldn’t resist. After lunch relaxing by the fire was the way to finish off the day!
‘an invitation to residents, producers and farmers to explore the business of working together to source local food’
Food Smiles Steering Group meeting
The first meeting of the newly formed Food Smiles Steering Group is to take place on Tuesday 29th October at 7pm. If you are interested in coming along please contact the group at: foodsmiles.info @ gmail. com
The Food Smiles: Local Food for St Albans event in September 2013 brought people together to discuss whether there is enough interest locally to develop a community-led food supply scheme.
It was a great success. Around 60 people attended, including keen residents, councillors, local businesses, farmers and food producers all bringing energy and enthusiasm to the concept of redesigning a more sustainable, community-orientated and healthy approach to obtaining our food.
FOOD SMILES MAILING LIST
To join the mailing list to find out about future events, and to contribute knowledge, skills or time: Please email foodsmiles.info @ gmail.com
We were inspired by other projects and learned that the most crucial element to the success of a local scheme is not the land but the people. This includes committed members who want to establish the project from the ground up, and others who can put in smaller amounts of time or specific skills in the projects development (i.e. from digging to financial business planning).
As a result of the event we now have a list of over 30 people who would like to be involved in some shape or form. This is a fantastic start. A first meeting date will be set for October/November.
The event is to inspire, discuss and explore options for a project unique to St Albans. The afternoon will bring farmers, producers and residents together to discuss and share ideas for a project which brings the food supply closer to the consumers.
There will be the opportunity at the end of the meeting to get involved in a steering group to take the project further.
For more information look on the Soil Association website where they have ‘What is a CSA’ page. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and there are many different kinds of projects.
Also see ‘Examples around the UK‘ to read about different kinds of ‘short supply chain’ food projects that have been set up around the UK.