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Transition Town Kinsale leads the way in community supported projects with local farmers

Wednesday, 13th November, 2013 8:56am
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Transition Town Kinsale leads the way in community supported projects with local farmers


TRANSITION Town Kinsale (TTK) is leading the way in Ireland in actively promoting community-supported agriculture (CSA).

CSA is a system of food production whereby members of the community agree to share the costs and risks of growing produce with a local farmer at an affordable price. In doing so, members help create a sense of community, reduce food miles and CO2 emissions and help ensure food security.

It has proved very successful in Kinsale with several allotments on land kindly provided by farmers Derry and Mairead Desmond alongside Kinsale Green Growers’ plot of 2.5 acres run by Aimi Pinder, which also has a fresh 100% organic vegetables stall just off the R600 Kinsale to Ballinspittle road.

‘At present, Kinsale CSA has around 20 active members. In addition to vegetable growing, members have farmed supply eggs, chickens, have experimented in growing quinoa and have set up an edible herb and plant garden’ said Klaus Harvey of Kinsale CSA.

‘A weekly supply of eggs comes from Brian and Siobhan O’Regan, Beechwood Farm, Ballyregan, Kinsale, and a monthly delivery of free-range chickens from Robbie and Yvonne Fitzsimmons, East Ferry. The cost to members is favourable compared to supermarket prices. The group has previously grown its own oats, supplying members with homegrown porridge, and has collaborated with organic farmer Colm O’Regan for a seasonal supply of potatoes.

Klaus thanked Kinsale Town Council for its ongoing support, in particular the provision of a strip of ground below the former convent which TTK and CSA members recently mulched in order to grow edible herbs and plants which can be distributed to local households for planting in window boxes or tubs.

Overall, the many benefits of CSA, he said, are:

• Economic – the farmer gets a good price for his or her produce and the consumer gets good value food. It also strengthens the local economy by keeping money in it.

• Social – it creates a strong sense of community and can also be a lot of fun.

• Food security – by building a local food economy, TTK is helping prepare for a lean energy future not dependent on food transported from far away.

• Environment – by consuming locally grown food, food miles and CO2 emissions are reduced.

• Health – most of the food is organic, free from chemicals, pesticides and artificial fertilisers.

TTK also runs a spring fair, organises seed swaps, talks and workshops on how to grow your own etc, and during Mad Hatter’s Day at Kinsale Gourmet Food Festival organises the prestigious 50-mile meal award based on dishes sourcing produce from the local region. It recently held an autumn food and seed swap day in Acton’s Hotel.

The voluntary group is working with Sáile Community Sports and Leisure project to create a community orchard and garden on its site at Ballinacubby. Over 40 fruit and nut trees have been planted with help from Kinsale Community School’s Green Team and Foróige. Planting has also taken place in local schools, at the allotment site and in three housing developments.

‘Kinsale CSA,’ said Klaus, ‘always welcomes new members to ensure a sustainable supply of fresh produce. It’s great fun, sociable, healthy, ensures a fair price, is good for the environment and productive’.

To find out more, contact Mairead Desmond at 087-6316625 or Klaus at 087 6763516.

Transition Town Kinsale is a voluntary community initiative working to help make the transition from a dependency on fossil fuel to a low-carbon future with the vision of ‘a resilient and sustainable town.’ Apart from CSA it is involved in many other projects in the local community concerning energy, transport, education and health.

Community-supported agriculture is particularly strong in North America having been introduced to the USA in the 1980s by farmers Jan Vander Tuin from Switzerland and Trauger Goth from Germany but the idea was influenced by European bio-dynamic farming ideas formulated long before that by Rudolf Steiner.