Banc Statement December 2015

Workers in the new shed at Tir Eithin 
“One of the biggest improvements in the last three months has been to move into our new packing shed.”
James, Nicola and Andy, hard at work, packing veg on a Monday morning.

GROWER’S ACCOUNT – Martin Samphire

Those of you who read the last Grower’s account will be aware of the difficulties there have been this year, mainly because of the poor weather and lack of labour.  September and October were far better and, whilst it was too late to make up for the lost growth during the summer,  it was certainly nice and allowed some of the summer crops to keep on producing longer.

In the last report, (available on the website),  I described some of the advances we had made in our growing operation.  Now, I’d like to bring you up to date with developments.

One of the biggest improvements in the last three months has been to move into our new packing shed.  We had been using a small, partitioned- off section of my old corrugated-iron hay barn.  This was small, cold and damp, without power or lights and without a solid level floor.  It was totally inadequate for the size that Banc Organics had grown to.

The new facility is the old cowshed/dairy at  Tir Eithin, which had been disused since the farm had stopped milking. After clearing out ten years-worth of accumulated farm junk and giving it a thorough clean, we now have a space that is suitable and will allow us to expand.

And now for some of the plans we have for the future:

Having sorted out our box management system with Buckybox, upgraded our packing facilities and increased our membership, we now need to expand and make our growing operation more efficient.  We are likely to have a new field at the top meadow to grow on next year.

This will let us grow more vegetables and allow us to give the soil a break.  It’s good organic practice to use a long-term green manure to build up fertility  - a mixture of grasses and nitrogen-fixing legumes, like clover, grown for a couple of years to build up fertility and organic matter in the soil.

We are also looking into increasing the range of what we do. This could include keeping hens and growing apples.

Unfortunately, we are not yet able to pay for any more grower’s hours.  This means I have two days a week to grow the vegetables for fifty or more households - and on two acres.  This is a struggle and we are heavily reliant on volunteers.  We have a great team of volunteers, but we don’t have an army of fit young people to do the hard work of cultivating, spreading compost, hoeing and lugging things about.  And we don’t have a suitable tractor and implements.

Our big campaign this year is to get funds to buy a a little tractor and implements suitable for use in the garden.  We plan to do this using crowd-funding, which involves asking lots of people to pledge money on a crowd-funding website and we only get money if the full amount is pledged by everybody.  It will rely on us getting the message out to as many people as possible, so we hope our members and customers will support us in this.  Social media are key to this,  so our Facebook, which has been gradually growing, will be important and so will yours.  

You will hear more about this in the New Year.  Please let us know if you would like to be involved, particularly if you have any skills in fundraising/marketing, in social media or video making.

Duck shaped marrow


We welcome volunteer gardeners on Tuesday mornings. 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.

Martin says: Have a look at Buckybox, through the site for Christmassy things.
We are not able to make deliveries for the week between Christmas and New Year. Sorry, but we can’t get deliveries from the wholesalers and most of our volunteers are away. You are welcome to order extra for delivery on Monday 21st December. The deadline for orders for the 21st will be 6pm on Friday 18th December. So order all your Christmas fruit and veg through us and remember, most extra items are about 10% off until Christmas. 
I’m currently looking into what organic goodies we can offer in Buckybox for you to order in your Christmas bags.  We’ve already have most of the things you’ll need for a traditional Christmas dinner and a few seasonal extras like clementines and chestnuts.

You can order, from our Web Shop, organic wholefoods from Suma, such as lentils, sultanas, porridge oats, sunflower seeds, rice, bread flour, 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. Members get a 5% discount.

embracing carrots


We love to hear your thoughts on how your experience with us is going.
We strive to give you the best food delivery service around, so your insights are vital to us improving.
Email us or call 01269 870101 and we'll get back to you.
On Tuesday mornings Suzy, our Admin person will be there to answer you.


There are ways of having veg which give you more choice. You can have a “You Choose” bag, minimum value of £10, or a “Grower’s Choice” bag , large or small, which includes staples like potatoes, onions and carrots but then we fill it with what there’s plenty of that week. To exclude more than two items from a standard bag, you’ll can 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.

Please, remember to return your empty bags. Thanks.

WOOF Banner

For some, it’s “Working Weekends On Organic Farms” but to many people, all over the world, it’s a chance to stay and work with organic growers for a little longer.  Andy Bowes helps with your veg at Tir Eithin and this is his story:

Before I came to Wales, I was a “normal” guy - working in boring normal jobs - in Burger King, newsagents, kitchens, cleaning jobs, you know...

My home life consisted of computer games-  Xbox, Play Stations, whatever the fad was. The game that really got me though, was World of Warcraft. It's an incredible game; you can fight, fly  - and farm. I played this game for a full year.  

When I say ‘played’, I really mean ‘lived’!  

I sat in the corner of my friend's bedroom, not moving except to go to the toilet, with my laptop on me, next to a window where I would get take-aways delivered. I had to move occasionally- to stretch my legs, or pick up my laptop after dozing off for ten minutes.  I was truly addicted.

Eventually, while doing some “farming” game, I thought to myself, “Why am I doing this? I am sat here, pretending to be a farmer.  There must be some other way of living!”  So I Googled “alternative living” . That was to change my life in ways I couldn't even start to imagine.

The search came back with “Brithdir Mawr”. I decided, there and then, to go and have a look. I asked if I could see what they did there. “Yes, come down. We’d love to have you.”

So I went. Two weeks in Wales. Why not?  My friend and I took our bikes and cycled from the station.  Little did we realize it was 18 miles - and over mountains! It didn’t help that my bike chain broke, two miles in, but we eventually arrived and the place was beautiful.  A nice farmhouse and beautiful gardens filled with all sorts of veg that I didn’t even know. We spent two weeks learning about vegetables, ducks, chickens, milking goats, coppicing woods and compost toilets.

Leeds by night
When I got back to Leeds, the smell hit me; horrible pollution clogging my eyes, ears and nose. Everyone looked like they were walking around in bubbles of fear. I instantly missed the fresh sea air, the forests and happy people.






Wooding at Brithdir
After a bit, I packed what I could fit in a bag, sold all my un-needed stuff and got a one-way ticket back to Wales. I lived for four months back at Brithdir, two weeks in another community at Fachongle, three weeks in an amazing roundhouse, three months in Llansawel, learning to make organic soap, face-masks, essential oil perfumes... 






A View from Fachongle
Then eight months of tree planting, in the Llandrindod mountains, two months on a biodynamic organic farm with horned welsh black cows, then to Newport to be a chef.....    Now I’m back here again at Tir Eithin, Wwoofing. It has been the best experience of my life. I am so glad I took the plunge, expanding my knowledge and opening my mind.  I strongly urge any person out there to get out of the mundane synthesised lifestyle - if you're stuck in one - and Wwoof!








Organic Centre Wales says: “Organic” food uses ingredients produced on farms which are registered and inspected every year to make sure that natural and sustainable methods are being used, keeping the soil healthy and fertile and protecting our environment. Genetically modified ingredients, artificial pesticides and additives, such as aspartame, tartrazine and monosodium glutamate, aren't allowed in organic products. Locally produced organic food is better for the environment as it reduces air-miles.

Organic farming, working in harmony with nature, supports biodiversity by limiting pesticide use and providing a variety of habitats for wildlife. Wildlife thrives on organic farms, with up to 50% more butterflies, bees, bird species and insects found on organic farms than on ‘conventional’ ones.

Welfare standards, set out in the European Legislation for Organic Farming ensure that animals are given plenty of space and a good natural diet so that they live healthy lives, behaving naturally by scratching, grazing and rooting around.
Organic farming mainly uses crop rotations and animal manures to maintain soil fertility, avoiding synthetic fertilisers which are a large source of carbon dioxide emissions.

The organic sector in Wales contributes to food education for farmers and communities through school programmes and visits to farms, by providing information on the benefits of organic farming, through research into how animal feeds can be grown on farms, by testing new crop varieties, through CSA schemes and by helping businesses develop more ethical trading models and practical on-farm advice.

Sky Cullen - Results Coach

I offer coaching on; healthy food, compulsive over-eating, self-worth losing weight, gaining energy, relationships. I offer a FREE FIRST CONSULTATION (1½ hrs) to women who would like some new Results in their life, but either don’t know where to start or are exhausted with all the things they’ve already tried!! Would you like some new results? Would you like to see if we can work together?
Contact email – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone – 07532 106241


Sue Mathews, one of the growers is also studying natural medicine. Homoeopathic remedies are prepared from natural substances, in the process being diluted and shaken until there is none of the original substance present. Critics say they cannot therefore work. Those who have experienced them understand that it is energy medicine that works on all levels, mental , emotional and physical, capable of bringing a safe and lasting cure.
I am currently looking for cases to complete my studying, As a student I work closely with qualified homoeopaths, I do not charge for my time, but ask patients to make a donation to cover my supervision costs.  My contact number is 07792 381168.


A Happy Christmas from Martin, Sue M and all the garden team: Andy, Nicola, James, Sky, Sage, Tony, Kelly, Marie, Sue B. and Pete


Make a note in your new diary for the first Banc Ceilidh of the year! Bancffosfelin Hall. January 23rd Music from Rattlin’ Bog, Kids very welcome, too.


 We think you might be interested to look at these websites:

positive newsMembership costs £30 a year and you’ll get the print edition 4 times a year, “which brings together our most inspiring news all in one place. In an age of information overload, it’s the best way to get an overview of positive developments in the world.”
In addition, there are:
“special offers from ethical and innovative organisations,
reduced advertising rates for your business,
and you’ll receive a 10% discount when advertising your products and services in Positive News and on the website.”

incredible edible

“We are passionate people working together for a world where all share responsibility for the future wellbeing of our planet and ourselves. We aim to provide access to good local food for all, through working together, learning – from field to classroom to kitchen and supporting local business.”



WWOOF UK holds a list of organic farms, gardens and smallholdings, all offering food and accommodation in exchange for practical help on their land. These hosts range from a low impact woodland settlement to a 600 hectare mixed holding with on-site farm shop, cafe and education centre.  Hosts do not expect you to know a lot about farming when you arrive, but they do expect you to be willing to learn and be able to fit in with their lifestyle.”

sumaSuma says it “is a fully democratic workers’ cooperative. Cooperative members and employees all receive the same net hourly rate of pay, no matter what their job or responsibilities.”
“The Cooperative’s policy and direction is decided by general meeting of the members. We have a 25-year history of working to be an equal opportunities employer. We encourage our members and employees to learn new skills, take on new responsibilities and make improvements to the Cooperative’s working practices. We appreciate the benefits of diversity in the workplace and strive to encourage it.

We aim to promote ‘green’ and healthy eating. All our products are GM free and carefully sourced as Vegetarian. Where eggs are an ingredient they are free-range. Preferences are given to organic, fair trade and cooperative production. Independent manufacturers are preferred. Bodycare, cosmetic and household products are all cruelty-free. Our products are sourced as locally as practicable to limit food miles with minimal environmental impact in terms of production, transportation and packaging.
We aim to promote a market for new and innovative green products and we aim to avoid buying from countries or companies with proven poor human rights records. We aim to operate in a way which balances running a successful business with the environmental impact of our actions.
We will explore the viability of ‘green’ innovations and new ways of operating e.g. energy use, delivery vehicles etc. We will recycle as many assets as possible. Where re-use and repair is no longer a practical or efficient option, we will pass on, sell or recycle as appropriate.”


Sky’s Raw Pumpkin Pie was an unusual treat and a great hit at the Banc Harvest Meal earlier this year. Here’s the recipe:


1 cup Goldenberries
(dried physalis)
1 cup pecans
1 cup soft dates


"2 cups pumpkin/squash puree
2 cups soft dates
1/3 cup avocado
1/4 cup almond milk
2tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground ginger

For the crust:

Using a 10 inch cake tin or flan case, press the mixture evenly around the bottom and up the sides. (no need to grease it first)


Cut up the pumpkin into chunks and process until it forms a semi puree, measure out 2 cups. Put all the rest of the ingredients in with the pumpkin into the processor and whiz until a thick paste is formed. Spread over the base, level it and then chill for an hour in the freezer before serving. Enjoy!!

Thanks to all our contributors. Items for the next issue of “Banc Statement” are welcome. Please send them in good time for the next issue in the Spring. This one was put together by John and Sue Bilsborough and printed on chlorine-free 100% recycled paper. 10/12//2015.