We have attempted to answer as many questions as possible based on questions we’ve had so far. If you cannot find an answer to your question below please feel free to contact us here.
What’s in a weekly bag?
Each Saturday, members will receive their organic vegetables in a paper bag (sometimes two!) containing a variety of produce for nine months covering summer, autumn and winter, while spring is reserved for sowing crops for the year ahead and preparing for crop rotation.
In summer we plan to produce…
Salad leaf, scallions, chard, radishes, beans, cucumbers, coriander, tomatoes, kohlrabi, courgettes, summer squash, basil, chillies, and baby potatoes.
In autumn we plan to produce…
Kale, potatoes, beetroot, celeriac, pumpkin, fennel, butternut squash, swede, turnip, cabbage, and cauliflower.
In winter we plan to produce…
Winter squash, parsnips, carrots, parsley, onions, leeks, broccoli, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, mustard leaf, and Brussels sprouts.
Please note that some of this harvest may not be available as all crops are weather dependant. For crops that we are unable to grow, we buy them in from another local Irish organic farm, for example potatoes and carrots.
Membership of the farm involves sharing the risk of a poor harvest with the farmer and the other members. With the CSA model it is understood by all that we share equally in the risk and the reward!
How does the steering group stay in touch with the members?
Members receive emails regarding any upcoming events at the farm in addition to notifications via WhatsApp/text from the farmer during the 9-month season. We will also endeavour to update the website regularly, we have a facebook page and twitter too. Important notices about members’ meeting will be emailed to all current members. Communication is a two-way thing and we need to hear from you if you are not receiving our emails.
I can’t afford the share cost. What is possible for me?
If the fees are more than you can afford, please contact our membership coordinator at email@example.com to discuss further. We have a bursary scheme to assist members on a low income. It may also be possible to arrange some partial work-share memberships if you have skills that are of value to the farm or can give a set period of time per week to general farm tasks. We would need to discuss this in detail with you as these ideas are in their infancy.
Is the farm receiving EU subsidies or other grants?
No, the farm doesn’t receive EU subsidies. Any grants we receive are due to applications made by members.
What kind of experience do the farmers have?
Ash has worked with founding farmer Nathan since 2018 and has since taken over the role full-time. We are part of a CSA network and draw upon the knowledge and experience of other CSA farms currently operating in Ireland. We are connect with the international agency URGENCI.
I’m interested in supporting the farm but don’t need to buy food from it. What options exist for me?
You can also become a social member, at a cost of €30 per household per year. You will be invited to all the farm events and will have an opportunity to participate in the running of the farm and become part of the farm community, you may also be able to buy excess produce from time to time when it comes available. You can donate money to the farm to help with set-up costs. You can also take part in volunteering in any way that suits you.
Can I try if for a while and then opt out?
If you find that the scheme is not suitable for you, then you are free not to renew your membership. However, the nature of community-supported farming means that members need to commit for a year. At any rate, it probably would be best to give it a full year, with all the different types of vegetables in each season, before deciding finally if it is for you or not.
What happens when members are on holidays?
Since the farm needs support throughout the year, payments need to continue even if you are on holiday. You can arrange for a friend to collect and use your vegetables when you are away. If nobody can collect them, please let the farmer know, so that the excess can be distributed among the other members.
How will I collect /receive my share of food?
You can collect produce direct from the farm at Mooretown (opposite Salesians College) on Saturdays, between 11am and 1pm. Produce will be harvested throughout the day on Friday and Saturday morning and will be divided into boxes by 11am on Saturday. You should collect your share on Saturday during the pick up window as salads etc will begin to wilt if not refrigerated. We encourage members to collect vegetables for each other in order to minimise travel. To make this easier to organise and to help build a community around the farm we encourage members to share their contact details.
How can I get involved in working on the farm?
Volunteers are always needed and appreciated at Derrybeg! For anyone wishing to help with farm work, they may contact the Farmer or Volunteer Coordinator directly – firstname.lastname@example.org. After a brief chat and completing a volunteer form you can begin. After a two week trial period it is then possible to volunteer long-term if you wish. All volunteers must be over 18 and we can also accept vulnerable adults with additional needs if accompanied by a support person, as well as third-level work-experience students.
Whilst some jobs will need to be done under the direction of the farmers, for many tasks individuals or groups will be free to act of their own accord. The work might involve a big job over a weekend, such as erecting a polytunnel or fencing, or it might be something regular like weeding or keeping down the grass around the perimeter. There’s a plethora of things to accomplish on this project from essential jobs and infrastructure to fun projects.
Do members have to work on the farm?
No. Members are required to do nothing more than pay their fee and collect their produce. That said, there will be opportunities for members to work on the farm if they wish.
Is getting a share of seasonal vegetables every week going to suit me?
Receiving a share of local vegetables, in season, every week for nine months, is different from shopping in a supermarket or even at an organic market. You don’t choose the food but take whatever is available that week. So you need to be able to plan your meals around the produce you get. There are lots of recipes on the internet and on our social media. Preparing the vegetables is also more time-consuming than when you buy them ready-washed. However, with a little forward planning, it is possible to simplify the food preparation and to eat very well at the same time. The quality of the food will be very good. Its price compares very well with supermarket prices. And you will know that its carbon footprint is lower than food transported many miles.
What are the advantages of local, organically grown food?
Local food is picked very close to the time you consume it. It has less handling and transport than food that comes from further away. This means it is fresher, more flavoursome and healthier when you eat it. It also has a lower carbon footprint. Local food also gives you a connection to the growers, the land and the other members of the farm community.
Will the food be organic?
The food will be organically grown but will not have official organic certification. We will abide by virtually all the rules applied to certified farms including no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or artificial fertilizers. Some certification rules run contrary to sustainability principles; if we need to break these rules for such a reason it will be done in consultation with the members. Probably the only rule we might need to break relates to phosphorus, see question on “Why might we need to break organic standards on phosphorus?” for more information.
In what way do the members manage the farm?
Derrybeg farm is a not-for-profit enterprise run on cooperative principles, which are:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member management
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training, and information
- Co-operation with other co-operatives
- Concern for community.
The farm is also a commons; in other words, it is a resource that no one person or group owns, but which is managed by a steering group for the benefit of all its members. The steering group takes care of finances and legal matters. The farmers make the decisions about the day-to-day farming tasks. The steering group also consults members about other matters relating to the farm. For example, members will help decide how money remaining from membership fees at the end of each accounting period should be used: re-invested in the farm, possibly a bonus for the farmers, to purchase special ‘luxury’ food as a dividend for members, or to fund activites for members and donors, or for other purposes. We use a consensus process to make decisions in the steering group and among members. Initially the farm steering group will be made up of the current planning group. From an early stage, also, other members will be encouraged to participate in the steering group. The planning group will plan for its succession so that its membership will change over time, with some experienced people continuing to serve on it, and some new members joining it. In the event of the farm dissolving, once any debts are paid, all of its assets will be donated to another similar enterprise. The current planning group is preparing a memorandum of association to reflect these principles. Overall responsibility for the running of the farm will be in the hands of the farmers but they will work closely with the steering group to ensure the farm is running in whatever way the members want. Meetings will be held twice a year – as well as regular social events – with all the membership to discuss progress and big decisions which need taking. In this way the long term progress of the farm can be decided upon by the whole membership. Finally all members will be free to visit the farm and talk with the farmers if they want to know more about how the farm is being run. All subscriptions will be used to pay inputs and wages. Any money left over will belong to the whole group and can be used to expand the farm or buy in excess or novel produce for the members. Decisions on what to do with any profit will be made at a meeting of all the membership. We are currently in the process of documenting these details in Our Constitution.
Do I have to subscribe for everything on the farm?
You can opt to subscribe as a social member or a food member. Food members receive a weekly share of the produce; we are aiming to separate shares into categories, and you will be able to subscribe to one, a few or all of the categories.
Do I need to pay membership as a lump sum?
We need as many people as possible to pay their membership as a lump sum. That said, this is often not feasible for people so we are also able to take payment as monthly instalments. Contact the Membership Coordinator at email@example.com if you would like to pay your membership in this way.
When and how do I pay the membership fee?
The due date for signing up for each season is March. Subscriptions for the year must be received before then. The easiest method of payment is by direct bank transfer into our credit union account but we can also accept cash and check, and we have a paypal account. Some members pay their subscription by monthly instalments. Late joiners will be considered so be sure to talk to the Membership Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much is a season’s subscription and what quantity of produce does it contain?
Please see the membership page