January 25, 2014

From Vision into Action

Minus 12 this morning, the windows frosted with beautiful jewels and the snow vivid and blinding. Doing the round for the animals felt more like tucking them up for a cosy hibernation as opposed to the usual squawking, bleating, begging to be let out at all costs. The old bread that we get from a local bakery for the ducks was so hard I had to use a hatchet to break it up and the kitchen waste that we collect from an organic catering company in Görlitz was frozen solid into a layer-cake of peelings, pasta and apple cores.

I have a week with the girls whilst Flo is in England. It feels like a good opportunity to consolidate loose ends, catch up on emails and focus on our written work.

In the middle of December we had our first open meeting in Görlitz to introduce our idea of setting up a Community Supported Agriculture scheme here at the Heckenhof. Many new projects are brewing in Germany (and further afield) and it feels like the time is ripe for a radical rethink of how we do business, how we create livelihood and how we support one another.

The nearest initiatives to the west are in Dresden and to the north around Berlin, so for the Oberlausitz we are certainly breaking new ground. It is challenging, but the risk is small as we have little to lose:

Our handful of veg boxes last year attracted a solid core of supporters and showed us that even with existing schemes in the area, there is a hunger for more. We will plan for forty shares (each calculated to cover the needs of one adult and one child) and however many members we attract, the rest will be taken to market or sold to caterers with the funds going back into the project.

A challenge facing many growers is the raising of seedlings. The quantity is often too high for most project's greenhouse capacity. One Dresden project has them delivered from Baden-Württemberg as nothing of scale exists nearby that commits to organic principles.

Flo had the idea to approach a local garden centre in Reichenbach (4kms away). They have struck a deal that he buys the seed and comes over occasionally to help whilst they oversee the healthy progress of the plants in their greenhouses. Amazingly, it turns out that, although not certified, they are committed to organic methods! We have struck gold on this one, and it has reaffirmed once again how a bit of lateral thinking and a good dose of gumption, along with a firm belief in the vision, can make anything possible!

Here out in the sticks it is crucial that we nurture a social and cultural community of like-minded folk. This project carries the potential to establish both a cultural and economic livelihood for ourselves. We trust that over time more skills and ideas will emerge from our member community to enrich and grow this into something we can all be proud of.

This space is for that outer layer of community, you folk who have been following our progress over time and whose input and ideas are just as valuable. Please use this space freely to bring out your thoughts and share your insights and experiences.

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