Community supported agriculture in Vestfold, I

by admin on 06/09/2014

Holt farm

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Since there is no community supported agriculture in the vicinity of the city of Drammen, Oikos Sande, and the local Friends of the Earth, arranged a day trip to two farms having community gardens in the county of Vestfold.

We first went to Holt farm and were given a guided tour by Roar Lefsaker, the farmer who is managing both the farm and the community supported agriculture. In fact, it was the Friends of the Earth in Vestfold who wanted to start this and contacted Roar. The community garden has expanded to about 0.4 hectares, about 25 types of vegetable are cultivated organically, and 62 share owners participate this season. A group of 5 dedicated share owners hold regular meetings with the farmer and update the others about the activities on the farm. They also help share owners with harvesting since it isn’t obvious which part of of e.g., a chard, is edible for someone who has never harvested one before.

At the beginning of each year all the share owners are invited to one or more meetings in order to discuss what and how much to cultivate and how much vegetables a share owner can harvest weekly. A budget is set up and the accounting is wholly transparent, including expenses for seeds, tools, salary for the farmer, etc. Based on this, the share price is decided.

The share owners know that the vegetables mature at different times of the year, and because of weather, plants which aren’t growing well or harm caused by insects, one type of vegetable may be abundant, while another one may be scarce, but these variations will even out over time. In any case, this type of cultivation ensures that the risk is divided evenly between the farmer and the share owners who have to pay in advance such that the farmer can have a predictable income. Besides, in order to lighten his workload, each share owner is obliged to work for at least 6 hours a season. In return, they get locally grown, clean, fresh, and varied food which is produced in accordance with the principles of Slow Food: good, clean, and fair.

In spring, all the vegetables have to be planted, weeding has to be done continuously, while harvesting occurs from early summer to late autumn. The share owners participate in all these activities and living in our restless times, working the land is good for both mind and body.

Every Sunday from spring to autumn, there is an open day where everyone is welcome to the farm where they can meet cows, calves, sheep, lambs, and horses. A group of children were celebrating a birthday during our visit.

There is also a guesthouse at the farm where we were served a delicious lunch consisting of produce from the farm.

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