Derrybeg Farm operates under the model of community-supported agriculture (CSA). In CSA there is a direct relationship between the farmers and those who consume the food produced. The farmers work the land and the consumers become members of the farm, committing to pay in advance a certain amount of money, for an agreed period of time. The members’ money provides a modest income for the farmers and covers the day-to-day running costs of the farm. In return, the members receive food, usually a box of vegetables per week, sometimes with eggs and meat, depending on the type of farming carried out.
The aim of Derrybeg Farm is to integrate community and agriculture in a mixed, biodiverse, sustainable and environmentally responsible farm, managed for the benefit of everyone involved. The farm can thrive by having direct commitment from local supporters. We hope to develop a rich diversity of livestock, crops and wildlife that will change and develop with the opportunities and interests of the support community and those who work the land.
The support community is made up of people living within ten miles of the farm, people who commit to the farm aims. The community organises activities to provide enjoyment and understanding of food and farming for its members, and to develop their connection to the life of the earth and their sense of responsibility to and involvement in the farm enterprise.
The steering group currently has 6 members. Nathan is responsible for most of the farming work. Other current roles are treasurer and membership co-ordinator. Whilst committee members all have their roles, they are not fixed and everyone helps out wherever input can be of benefit. Steering committee members have changed over time as people move on and new people get involved.
How we started
We started in September 2012 with the vision of creating a community supported agriculture scheme for the local community from the ground up using the resources of the members. We thought this would be a positive move toward creating a sustainable food system in Ireland as organic systems such as CSA find it difficult to start up in Ireland, often because of land access issues. We figured if we can find a way to do it, maybe others will too.
Pilot project at Aranbeag Farm
To begin getting our heads around the CSA system we started a pilot project at Nathan’s home, Aranbeag farm, for three members. From this we learned much about the logistics of running a CSA as well additional knowledge about how we should orchestrate the growing system on the farm.
Our ethos and values
We strive to:
- Support mixed, biodiverse, organic and sustainable agriculture that respects the earth and the people involved.
- Pioneer an economic model based on mutual benefit and shared risk and ensure that the farmers have a decent livelihood.
- Encourage practical involvement of the farm community members on all levels.
- Be transparent in all our affairs.
- Make decisions through deliberation and to reach genuine consensus wherever possible.
- Work towards social justice.
- Be participatory, collaborative and egalitarian and respect everybody who takes part
- Listen to all shades of opinion and all questions and doubts among our members.
- Discuss differences and work to accommodate them and benefit from them.
- Offer opportunities for learning about food and farming and for connection with the life of the earth.
- Network with others to promote community-supported agriculture in other communities and farms and to share our learning (social, economic and farming).
- Encourage members, in co-operation with the farmers, to use the farm for their individual and social activities and celebrations.
- Develop a sense of community around the farm.
- Achieve a financial situation where low income shall not exclude anyone.
- Work co-operatively with other enterprises that share our principles