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Camel Community Supported Agriculture: Using organic growing methods to supply fresh produce

Sat nestled in the countryside just a stone’s throw from Wadebridge, you’ll find Treraven Farm, the home of Camel Community Supported Agriculture (Camel CSA).

Led by a team of volunteers and people passionate about quality produce, Camel CSA provides weekly veg boxes distributed to the local area. All the produce is grown on-site, using organic principles and ‘no dig’ methods, and any other produce that cannot be grown there is sourced from local producers to limit food miles.


Treraven Farm has been owned by the Gaia Trust for 25 years, who lease the land to Camel CSA. The remaining farmland is mostly woodland,offering local dog walkers a beautiful spot to explore. Amongst those leading the way are Jane Mellowship, picking and packing coordinator; lead grower Nat Spollin and former lead grower Mark Norman, Camel CSA’s lead professional growers, all of whom Wadebridge Life had the pleasure of meeting on a bright and sunny, but mighty cold afternoon in January.


Overlooking the few acres of land belonging to Camel CSA is the bustling packing room, where the veg boxes are packed each week ready for distribution on Friday mornings. Picking and packing coordinator Jane, and volunteer Kevin steered around us, squashes and carrots in-hand, as Charlotte showed Wadebridge Life the ropes.


Subscribers to Camel CSA can choose a small or standard box each week, which are packed in FairTrade jute bags from Go Jute in Par. With a limited area and using ‘no dig’ methods to grow their 70 varieties of produce, they aren’t always able to achieve the quantities of veg that are needed for the boxes throughout the seasons, including field-grown main crop stored potatoes, onions, some root crops and various brassicas. Instead,they turn to local growers within a ten-mile radius of Wadebridge and buy their items to include in the boxes. This particular week, they had cauliflowers and potatoes from Trerair at St Eval, and kalettes at Restharrow near Polzeath.


‘Keeping it local’ is one of the organisation’s priorities, but so is reducing the amount of food waste in the community. To receive a veg box each week is simple: subscribers will start on a four-week trial, before setting up their regular standing order.

But this isn't a typical veg box - it contains a selection of whatever happens to be in season at the time. And if you don't like the items you receive that week, Camel CSA encourages you to share it amongst friends instead. If you're on holiday, you could always donate your box to a local family in need, which can be sent on via a social prescriber.


While Kevin was busy dealing with some ‘gnarly carrots’, which had been plucked from the ground a mere half-an-hour before being popped into the boxes, Jane told Wadebridge Life how Camel CSA has progressed in the 15 years since it first came to fruition.


The project came about following a Town Transition meeting at Wadebridge Town Hall in 2008. After a group of keen people came together to discuss starting something - Jane and Mark included - the Soil Association showed their support and it wasn’t long before the very first broad beans were planted in the ground at their former site in St Kew, ready for the first 16 veg boxes to be sent out later that summer.


Jane said: “The idea is to support the local network; it builds community and is such a positive project for the area.

“Most weeks, we turn up and we all take a moment to look at where we are. We’re totally connected to the environment and the ground we’regrowing on, feeding the life in the soil.”


Camel CSA welcomes new volunteers to the team. To enquire about a taster session, email Debbie Clarke on secretary@camel-csa.org.uk

For more information, go to http://camel-csa.org.uk/

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