It's a fit!

April again!  Middle of autumn and still summer weather galore. Great to warm up our soul and our soil as long as we keep both hydrated enough – which is getting a bit problematic for the latter as we can bring on the water only so fast!  (picture: funny shaped tomato).

This year our carrots have been amazing; wasn’t it nice seeing them grow every week in your harvest share. We started with the really small baby carrots; so small I sometimes wondered if they were not too small to put in. Now we reached the other end, where we have so many good sized carrots, that Frank is just harvesting and harvesting, afraid they will get too woody if they stay too much longer in the soil!  The harvest bounty of carrots has been good and please enjoy for as long as it takes; it will stop at some stage.  I finally managed to put myself on the customer list for a weekly harvest share (I used to be content with the leftovers and seconds) and although we are already out of veggies by the end of the weekend we have been making some great fresh juices with the carrots (tops and all), apples, kale and some bought ginger or cinnamon. Delicious and a good way to keep colds at bay.  One of our CSA members emailed me the following link for a delicious carrot cake. She writes:

Hi Frank and Josje, Every week I'm more amazed with the beautiful produce you supply me with, thank you! I've just made a raw carrot cake with this week's organic carrots; amazing! Recipe here :
Cheers, Natasha.

 Savings Pool seminar Coming Up next Sunday

At the moment we are gearing up for our savings pool seminar next Sunday. Some people have asked us why?  Savings pools and CSA’s (our CSA) have lots in common.  Although one is all about growing food and the other is all about money, the philosophies behind both systems are very alike.

Savings pools are groups of people pooling together their individual contributions to combine their purchasing power and avoid interest they would otherwise pay to banks and other lending institutions.  

Money and especially banking plays an important part in our own life since we have a mortgage, and it has not gone unnoticed that it is costing us dearly.  While researching money and banking I came across the next text of the Living Economies website. While reading the text, I realised how easy it is to change the term “banking” into “conventional farming” and “money” into “artificial fertiliser”.  

 "Banking today: a flawed model

The charging of interest on unbacked loans remains the foundation of today’s banking system. Notes and coins created interest-free by the New Zealand government amount to a mere 1.6% of our money supply; the rest is created as interest-bearing bank debt, a system harbouring the seeds of its own destruction. Deregulation of banking 30 years ago compounded the problem, leading to a range of riskier and riskier “financial products” and a credit bubble. The resulting Global Financial Crisis that began in 2007 is nowhere near fully unwound.

The fatal flaw with the current money system is that money is always in short supply. Banks providing loans create the principal only, leaving borrowers to find extra money to repay the interest, either by increasing their production, competing with others facing the same problem or by further borrowing. So the money supply must keep increasing, and with it, the total debt.

The never-ending need to increase production causes intolerable demand on natural resources. The competition for an inadequate supply of money is a bit like musical chairs; someone misses out; bankruptcy is inevitable for some of the losers. Further borrowing compounds borrowers’ problems, consigning them to long-term and often inescapable debt.

We’re shaped by the money we design

Currency is the lifeblood of an economic system. Most people think that there’s only one type of money, because that’s all they’ve ever known. Cheques and credit cards represent special-purpose options, but money is money, they think, regardless of the form it takes. Few realise that there are, potentially at least, many different forms of money, and each type can affect the economy, the way people behave and the natural environment. The design of money creates the world we live in and affects our behaviour.

Money and sustainability

Increasing attention is finally being paid to the role of money in the sustainability debate. The Club of Rome has just published Money and Sustainability, the Missing Link<. The authors say our money system has five effects that make it incompatible with sustainability:

  • Amplification of the boom and bust cycles;
  • Short-term thinking;
  • Compulsory growth;
  • Concentration of wealth;
  • Devaluation of social capital.

Little wonder that regionally, nationally and globally, we are now faced with escalating debt, environmental damage, economic strain and social dislocation. The money system leaves a trail of destruction in its wake.

The gigantic credit bubble may take decades to unwind. In Greece, wages have fallen by up to 50% – much more than prices. New Zealand is vulnerable because our household debt is high and we are a trading country with long supply lines, importing 97% of our oil. With our banking system exposed to the Euro and to the Australian banking system, it may be prudent to consider changing to locally-owned banks."

One of our aims at the farm is to first create inputs internally (eg fertiliser) and then source locally and to then sell our produce locally.  By keeping it all local, we have much better changes to know where the food is coming from and how it was grown, making the eating for you and the growing for us much for fun and valuable.  It becomes personal the quality goes up and the environmental burden goes down!  And increases social capital.

 Click here to read the whole article.

We look after our soil to ensure we can come back year after year and grow good quality crops.  Savings pools are set up by people for people to help each other reach their goals for wellbeing without it costing their livelihood.  Our wealth is in the soil!

We are not about being the biggest, or ‘making a kill’.  Although some degree of volume is needed to feed the population nationwide and to farm efficiently and effectively, we are a small holding;  this requires a different management style where we can focus on quality over quantity.  Producing for others allows us to provide good genuine food for ourselves too.   Optimisation instead of the need for compulsory growth.

Our ecological farming system (see also Frank’s little video clips that we have been adding to our website recently) is based upon the fact that in Nature everything is connected.  Plants, animals, soil creatures and the farmer work together and sometimes compete to create this cycle of life that when in balance generates an interdependence that binds and grows the garden.  Long term thinking, instead of short term thinking.

Our CSA is about taking charge of our food supply and share it with you.  We could sell our oversupply of carrots or apples to a shop or wholesaler and make an extra buck. We rather share it with you and give you extra in your weekly share. This way we know we support you, like you support us, and we give you the opportunity to gift it someone else who appreciates it, or to preserve it and save it up as a little nest egg for when the garden is not as abundant.  Wealth sharing.

Our CSA and a savings pool are tools to build community resilience;  either in our garden, in our family or in our community. 

Hope to see you next Sunday, even if it is just part of the day. Also a good way to come and get to know your growers.  

This weeks CSA Harvest Shares:

Fruit share:  2kg Pacific Rose apples and 1kg pears

Large veggie share:
1.5kg potatoes or 1 pumpkin
750gms carrots
1 cabbage
500gms tomatoes
250gms peas
400-500gms beetroot
500gms courgettes OR 200gms beans OR 120gms salad mix
120gms spinach
200gms curly kale
500gms radish OR 250gms endive OR 400-500gms onion

Small veggie share:
1.5kg potatoes or 1 pumpkin
750gms carrots
1 cabbage
500gms tomatoes
250gms peas


Green Dollar harvest share 

This week we put together a special box of fruit and veggies that were ordered for a struggling family in Wainuiomata by extended family in Tasmania. The bag was ordered through our local Green Dollar exchange, which we became members of a few months ago – some of our harvesting and packing team are now G$ members paid in green dollars each week and we have a growing number of CSA members who pay part of their share in Green Dollars.

Have a look at our Facebook page for a picture of Frank and Green Dollar Membership Support person Catie-Lou Manson holding the box of produce that went out. Catie-Lou and other G$ members added preserves and veggies from their own gardens to the generous box that will be reaching its destination this morning. It’s a really wonderful way to help out family and friends.

If you’re part of an alternative currency system in your area, we’d welcome part of your CSA share being paid in G$. We’re part of the CES Exchange, which includes Upper Hutt Green Dollars, Wellington Independent Trading System and Wellington North (visit the CES website for more information:


Getting to know bitter veggies

This week some of you will find endive in your veggie share. Those of you not yet familiar with our range of crops will get to know endive and some other bitter greens a bit more over time. On our website check out the crops and recipes page.  I love them and can't wait to see if they are in my parcel tonight! I come from a society where bitter greens are part of the normal daily diet and we have found ways to enhance the flavours. At the farmers market, we would be inundated with European families looking just for these type of veggies (kale, endives and chicory, to name a few). Our Italian friend Maria Pia, who used to own an Italian Trattoria (restaurant) enthused us with some great recipes. My mouth starts watering when I think back to these wonderful and colourful conversations we shared.

Adding dashes of olive oil, salt and pepper as well as some other intense flavours like blue cheese, lemon juice, anchovies and/or capers blunts the bitterness of the greens and enhances the total taste experience. And it does work. Another idea is to add the bitter greens (washed and cut into smaller pieces) last minute to a warm dish – or the other way around, add something warm, like smoked bacon, last minute to a bitter green salad.

Unless you live in a society where bitter greens are commonly accepted as part of a daily diet (which is not the case in New Zealand) you will have difficulty finding them in your ordinary shop and supermarket. The food industry all over the world has done its best to breed the bitterness out of produce and almost everything has become sweeter than its original heirloom counterpart. It is said that even the courgette and broccoli were once bitter plants! Bitter veggies have an important role to play in human health, as the bitterness comes from the small amounts of dietary phytonutrients that are widely believed to help with the prevention of cancer, as well as having other health benefits.

The good thing is that they are not just good for you, but also for a balanced soil – variety is the key!

Have a balanced week and hopefully see you next weekend at our seminar;

 Josje and the farm team