Banc Organics

Banc Statement - September 2015

Banc Organics Annual Dinner 2015

Photographs: Sue Matthews

Some of the crowd of Banc members, customers, workers and friends who filled Pontyates Memorial Hall on July 15th for our Banc Organics Community feast. We were treated to a variety of dishes, featuring plenty of Banc veg, Ty’r Eithin beef, fish from Towy Fishmonger and an array of tasty sweets. Special thanks are due to our chef, Chris Gadbury, for rising to the challenge as the numbers grew. Many thanks, too, to members of the Carmarthen Ukulele Players and to accordianist, Fanny Cattran,  for entertaining us and to all the helpers, up-front and behind-the-scenes, who made the evening such a great success.

GROWERS’ ACCOUNT – Martin Samphire

2015 has been a challenging  year for us at Banc Organics. We are now supplying more people than ever before. We plan to do bags the whole year round and the new Buckybox box management system and web shop have all made more work for us at a time when our two- year funding ran out.
This has left us very stretched and has required lots and lots of hard and  mostly voluntary work. This has not been helped by the weather. Things have been late and slow to grow and the wet weather has led to pest and disease problems. 
Some things have also been planted later than we would have liked, as we have been too stretched to manage it. So, for example. our runner beans have only just begun, while our French beans seem to be on their last legs in the wind and rain.
However, we’ve managed to complete most of our planting programme so far this year, albeit a bit late. We’ve planted about 4,200 leeks, over 1,500 brassica, (cabbage family) and at least 700m (2,100 ft) rows of carrots. This is in largely due to the fantastic team that we often have working - local volunteers and “WOOF”-ers staying at Ty’r Eithin. We’ve learnt a lot over the last six years, gradually changing the way we do things so we’re more efficient, growing more and better crops.
We’ve tried out tens of varieties of crops to find the ones that work for us. For example tomatoes were something we struggled with for the first few years but after rigorous trials last year, we’ve identified a number of great varieties that give us the taste, yield, earliness and reliability we want, as well as a range of colours, shapes etc. to add interest.
Given the difficult local conditions we have for growing many crops, we encounter many pest and disease problems and have had to find organic solutions. One of the key things is often vigilance and spotting problems early. We can then often control them with biological controls, such as parasitic wasps, ladybirds and hoverfly larvae for aphid problems in the polytunnels. I have taken to carrying a pot around with me in the garden to capture these insects in the spring and early summer to put in the polytunnel. I’m sorry to say I haven’t found a fool-proof method to deal with slugs yet.
Extending the season, getting crops as early and late as possible is something we put great emphasis on, raising seedlings inside as early as possible and giving plants protection.
Wet weather and heavy soil at Ty’r Eithin make timely cultivation a challenge and weeds can get out of control.
Dealing with these issues is critical to successful growing.
If you visit our growing site now, you will see that many of our crops are grown through what appears to be black plastic. It’s a polymer made from organic maize starch, incredibly light and thin but it seems to work and after a few months it starts to biodegrade. It has revolutionised weed control and seems to be very beneficial in protecting the soil structure from the weather. Sometimes, now, we are able to sow our crop directly into the bed of the previous crop without weeding and cultivation.
Hopefully you’ll all be trying our extended range of leafy salads soon and the asparagus that we started a couple of years ago is looking great, although it takes a long time before you can have much of a crop from it.
Looking forward, we need to address the labour issue. We‘ve only two days a week of paid growers’ time, which includes picking and packing. As we grow, we’ll be able to get more paid help but we need to invest more in infrastructure and machinery to make things easier. We don’t have a suitable tractor or implements, so most of the hard work is done by hand, a daunting prospect on the scale we’re now doing things.
It’s the people that I work with, in the field and the packing shed that make the job really interesting - such a wide range of different people, local and from all over the world. There are really interesting stories, ideas and discussions while planting and weeding or during tea breaks and I think the volunteers benefit from doing healthy, worthwhile productive work in the open air and lovely surroundings.

Martin


 

All Credit to: Sue Matthews and Martin Samphire and staff: Marc Roberts, Suzy Erskine and Andy Hennessy. And to all the volunteers: Andy Bowes, Aya Matsushita, Pete, Fanny Cattran,  Gabriel Cadahia, Helen Williams, Maud Simoni, Jasper von Bernstorff, Jean de Andrade, John Bilsborough, Jonas Henken, Stev Ilic, Jono Denyer, Marie Turke, Michelle Pomeroy, Owain, Patrick Myall, Sam, Sian Barlow, Su Thornton, Tina, Tony Evans, Fraggle, Sue Bilsborough and Tony Matthews,
Debit: Cold, wet, windy weather, slugs.
Balance: Lots of tasty healthy veg and fruit with very little negative environmental impact and a positive contribution to our local community and economy.


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Ty’r Eithin will be hosting a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) weekend Gathering, when visitors from other CSAs in Wales will come together to celebrate, learn and support each other.

 

 

On Saturday, 19th September, there will be two Farm Walks – at 9-00am and 4-15pm and a meal at 1-00pm – so bring along something home-made to share. There will be an evening Twmpath, a barbecue, entertainments, talks and discussions and activities for children. If you’d like to help, especially with organising kids’ activities, please get in touch.


Many thanks to Marc Roberts, our Development Worker, who is leaving us as the funding for his post has run out.
Marc has done great work setting up Buckybox and engaging with Facebook. We wish you all the best for the future, Marc, and we hope that you’ll stay a member, too!

Don’t  forget, you can buy charcoal for your barbecue from Banc. It’s local, sustainably produced and £5 for a 2.5 Kg bag.

Banc customers are a lively and creative bunch, so if any of you would like to put a small advert in a future newsletter, to reach our small but select readership, let us know. A modest donation towards the cost of this newsletter will help.

We’re looking for volunteers to help our team on Mondays, with veg picking and packing. The reward for a commitment of four hours work a week is a free bag of veg. The work involves some training and, if you’re willing, you could have a trial run with us. Get in touch with Sue B on 01554 810894
gardeners
We welcome volunteer gardeners on Tuesday mornings, too, If you want to learn more about gardening, this is a helpful and social way to do it. If you can commit to four hours work a week, you’ll get a free bag.

What’s in your bag this week?

We grow seasonal produce in the heart of the Gwendraeth valley and source other items, locally whenever possible, to give you as much choice as possible throughout the season. Newly in season are sweetcorn, melons  and chillis, all grown by us. We’re now almost entirely using our own produce in the bags and we’ll also be offering an increased range of ‘bought in’ produce, including fruit.
In addition, you can also order, from our Web Shop, organic wholefoods from suma, such as lentils, sultanas, sunflower seeds, rice, bread flour, porridge oats, peanut butter, spaghetti, tinned tomatoes, chick peas and kidney beans, coffee and chocolate, fruit, such as grapes, bananas, oranges, peaches and lemons and other ‘bought-in’ items such as cauliflowers, celery mushrooms and salads.
We’re looking to expand this range so if there’s anything you’d like us to stock, let us know. It’s all organic and reasonably priced and members get a 5% discount on all purchases.
If you’ve been with us a few years and have  a large, medium or small standard bag delivered to a hub, you may not know that there are ways of having veg which give you more choice. 
You can have a “You Choose” bag of minimum value of £10, or a “Grower’s Choice” bag , large or small, which includes the staples like potatoes and onions and carrots but then we fill it with what we have got plenty of that week. If you want to exclude more than two items from a standard bag, you’ll need to have a “You Choose” bag instead. Order by 6pm on Friday.
For new orders, select "customise my bag". To amend an existing order, click to edit your order and add extra items or select your exclusions The produce/or prices may change due to availability. Again, the order deadline is 6pm on Friday.


We’re running out of bags. Are there any at your house? Please leave them at your door or your “hub” on a Monday.


We love to hear your thoughts, good or bad, about how your experience with us is going. We stricarrotve to give you the best food delivery service around, so your insights are vital to us improving.  Drop us an email, or call on 01269 870101  and we'll get back to you.

On Monday mornings Suzy, our Admin person will be there to answer you. Thank you for your loyal custom and for supporting a better food system.
Sue and Martin Growers, Tel: 07530 786838

“It’s one small step for a carrot...”

 

 

Curry Millet and Banc Organic Greens: 

“We love this meal because it’s quick and easy.  It tastes great and is super healthy. It’s a fab way of using greens and tomatoes – our fav. combo is kale, sweetheart cabbage and swiss chard, including the stems. The colours are beautiful!
It is vegan friendly, gluten free and oil free, if you sauté the onions in water. My measurements are a bit loose, I tend to go with the flow and choose not to measure everything within an inch of its life. You may want to add more chillies for more of a kick, or swap in your favourite curry flavours.
Millet is naturally gluten free, and one of the more easily digested grains, high in B Vitamins and magnesium. 
Nutritional yeast is not like baking yeast, which is active. It is has a flaky texture and adds a mild cheesy flavour to dishes.It’s full of B Vitamins, including B12, and a complete protein.
You could serve this up with some rice if you wanted to, but we prefer to pile the plate high with the greens.”
Ingredients

  • 1 cup Millet
  • Water  - 3+ cups
  • 2 tspn Vegetable stock
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Oil
  • 1 cup Tomatoes
  • Chilli flakes
  • One tin of coconut milk Mixed greens, (for example cabbage, swiss chard, beetroot greens).
  • Curry powder – (we use ground roasted geera and a Madras blend)
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Seasoning to taste

Method
   Place the millet in a saucepan of boiling water with vegetable stock. Simmer until the millet is cooked to your taste – its fine on the crunchy side but we prefer it softer, and more stodgy!
   While this is cooking, sauté the onions and garlic in some oil (or water). Add in the tomatoes until they are starting to soften.
   Add in the chilli flakes, curry powder, yeast and seasoning. Stir it into a thick paste. Add water and let it simmer until the onions are soft.
   Pour the cooked millet into the curry pan and mix thoroughly, adding additional curry powder and seasoning to your taste. Let it relax in the pan while you toss your chosen greens into a pan with a little hot water. Cover with a lid and allow them to wilt.
   Add seasoning if you wish followed by the coconut milk. Leave to simmer until they are cooked to your liking – ours take about five minutes. Dish up! We like the greens on one side of the bowl and the curry millet on the other.
   Enjoy, and give thanks.

Becky Chunisingh


 

Items for “Banc Statement” – ideas, suggestions, words of wisdom, pictures, recipes, especially for pumpkins & squashes are welcome. Please send them in good time for the next issue in December. This one was put together by John Bilsborough and printed on chlorine-free 100% recycled paper.  5/9/2015.