Loomio
Sun 10 Dec 2017

The way forward for OurField Weston..

GH
Grahame Hunter Public Seen by 46

Abby Rose: I just updated the title of this group to be more general about the way forward for OurFieldWeston as I think we have moved into a more general discussion now. (Jan 24th 2018)

_Background _

We have 43 members in the OurField Weston co-operative: 42 members with one farming share, and John Cherry who has 18 farming shares, so a total of 60 farming shares altogether. For each farming share £150 was subscribed.

In addition, the external co-operative members but not John Cherry contributed £50 to theOurField organisers account from which various external costs and events have been paid.

The co-operative farming account has £3,952 in cash so each farming share is worth now £65.82 _ and also _ 250kg of unhulled spelt from the 2017 harvest.

The cooperative farmed a large part but not all of one field (20 acres out of 28 acres).

In the next year I would propose as follows

  • That John is bought out of his major stake in the farming shares (it is anomalous, as he is effectively “employed” by the cooperative to farm for them)

  • That the cooperative farms the entire field (so takes on a further 8 acres in addition to the present farmed area of 20 acres)

  • That the increased risks of the above are partly mitigated for the present cooperative members, by attracting 18 new members to replace John's large stake – so retaining the original total of farming shares at 60.

__ If these points can be agreed,__ the consequential matters going forward are:-

  • At what price do the new members acquire their farming shares?

  • Do new co-operative members also pay £50 away, for the organisers’ portion?

  • Is it reasonable that if the organising committee is allowed to fall away, that _ the administrative and event costs are taken up and apportioned by all the 60 farming cooperative members equally_ (some members may not attend events)?

  • Are the members of the co-operative willing to contribute to a continuing accounting / facilitating role which will have some costs: probably around £30 monthly, or 50p per member per month.

  • What will be the method of calculating the price at which any retiring members would be paid out?

  • Will present co-operative members be allowed to increase their farming stake - ie to acquire one or more new farming stakes from retiring members?

  • If yes to existing members increasing their stake, would they then be allowed more votes in polls?

TA

Tony Allan Sun 10 Dec 2017

_Background _
From Tony Allan
Thank you Grahame for summarsing the situation and the issues that need decisions.

In the next year YOU proposes as follows

That John is bought out of his major stake in the farming shares (it is anomalous, as he is effectively “employed” by the cooperative to farm for them) AGREED

That the cooperative farms the entire field (so takes on a further 8 acres in addition to the present farmed area of 20 acres) AGREED

That the increased risks of the above are partly mitigated for the present cooperative members, by attracting 18 new members to replace John’s large stake – so retaining the original total of farming shares at 60.

AGREED. I have a potential new member.

__ If these points can be agreed,__ the consequential matters going forward are:-

At what price do the new members acquire their farming shares? `I NEED MORE INFORMATION

Do new co-operative members also pay £50 away, for the organisers’ portion? YES

Is it reasonable that if the organising committee is allowed to fall away, IS THE ORGANISING COMMITTEE FALLING AWAY? that _ the administrative and event costs are taken up and apportioned [<< DO YOU MEAN THESE COSTS ARE LIABILITIES OF THE MEMBERS?] by all the 60 farming cooperative members equally_ (some members may not attend events)?

Are the members of the co-operative willing to contribute to a continuing accounting / facilitating role which will have some costs: probably around £30 monthly, or 50p per member per month. I AM WILLING

What will be the method of calculating the price at which any retiring members would be paid out? I NEED ADVICE ON WHAT NORNAL PRACTICE WOULD BE.>

Will present co-operative members be allowed to increase their farming stake - ie to acquire one or more new farming stakes from retiring members? YES

If yes to existing members increasing their stake, would they then be allowed more votes in polls?

NOT SURE. WITHOUT GIVING THE MATTER GREAT THOUGHT I JUDGE THAT A MEMBER COULD ONLY BE ABLE TO HAVE TWO VOTES NO MATTER HOW MANY SHARES THEY HAVE. HAS SOMEONE MORE EXPERIENCE? AGAIN THANK YOU

D

Darren Mon 15 Jan 2018

I've been thinking long and hard about all this and trying to figure out a way forward that I hope would be agreeable with everyone whos been involved in Ourfield.
Theres a lot of stuff to consider and I've been trying to imagine peoples motivations for involvement, whether that be someone just buying a share and doing nothing else, the organising team, Grahame or John, as a way to inform the draft of a proposal I'm going to share.

I'm making the assumption that most people are involved because of one or more of these :

  • learn more about farming
  • explore an alternative economic arrangement for farming
  • learn about more sustainable farming methods
  • be involved in the production of some of your food
  • get involved in an interesting participatory project
  • support the OurField project financially

I haven't include 'an investment', because I doubt anyone joined to make money, although I imagine we would all like to see OurField be financially viable.

With this in mind, the belief that theres still a reasonable desire among people for OurField to continue, and given recent posts from Graham and Abbie I'd like to propose we set up some kind of not-for-profit co-operative to continue and expand the OurField experiment.

For anyone who would like to see something more profit motivated created, I think that could easily be created, based upon the model of OurField once/if we can map out a viable way of making this kind of collaboratively managed farming enterprise work. Its early days and this is all rather experimental.

I think it would be great if all those who've been involved (that would include the Cherrys, Graham and the organising team) would join this co-operative, although possibly some may wish to step out at this stage.

I'll leave it there for now - I've been working on a proposal for how this co-op would be created and organised, I'll post it in the coming days.

TA

Tony Allan Tue 16 Jan 2018

Dear Darren
Very many thanks for taking the initiative in providing a thoughtful analysis and for suggesting the establishment of a cooperative mode for the OurField enterprise. Your six motivations are perceptive and I remain committed to the OutField project because I I am moved by all six.
I have no experience of being a member of a cooperative nor am I informed on their workings or of the resources needed to manage one. I look forward to your draft proposal. Considering and discussing it will be a very useful process for all of us.
Count me as being very much in favour of the OurField activity.

D

Darren Sun 21 Jan 2018

Apologies -out of necessity this is rather lengthy, but also, I feel, quite important.

My proposal for how to move forward would be -

If they wish any existing 'investors' can take their portion of the OurField working fund that would include the income gained once the spelt is sold and accounts for last year finalized and leave the OurField group.

People who wish to continue with OurField would pay their part of the working fund to buy shares in, and become a founding member of the new OurField co-op. This money would then continue to be used as working capital.

OurField Co-operative Proposal

The OurField Co-operative will be formed for the purpose of developing, through action research, a viable model for a collaborative farming enterprise where the membership is empowered to actively collaborate on the management of the enterprise.

People who have been directly involved in the running of OurField, but have not got a 'farming share' (eg the organisers, John and Grahame) can also become founding members. I would suggest that this is either for free, in recognition of services rendered, or at the same rate as existing 'investors' - a point of discussion.

Membership is then opened up with a requirement of £200 for new members. I'd hope that by opening up membership we'd get some more members ready to be actively involved in orgaising the enterprise and hopefully more money invested to fund increase activities.

I dont believe it was ever explained how John came to have so many 'farming shares', but making the assumption that he has paid £150 for each of his 'farming shares' into our working fund, my suggestion is that he can either cash out at their 'accounts finalized' value, or alternatively have this value, or possibly £150 per 'farming share', transferred into a similar value of co-op shares.

Anyone who wishes to support OurField financially, beyond the amount required to acquire enough shares to qualify for membership, can purchase more shares.
All shares are withdrawable at their agreed value - with a 3 month notice you can get your money back. The co-op can choose to pay a small interest on shares or suspend the withdrawal of shares. If the co-op is found to be making a loss - the value of shares can be reduced, to reflect this loss.

Its often said that farming is not profitable, I don't imagine we are likely to start making huge profits, but if we did suddenly find ourselves with a significant surplus I'm sure we could usefully spend them - remunerating members for their work for the co-op, expanding our activities, donating food to food banks, supporting other like minded projects etc.

We should start planning for this (and possibly future) years growing. If we gain new members or members purchase enough shares, and Weston Farm is agreeable we could increase the area to include the rest of the field, or possibly even expand into a second field.

I suggest that OurField is set up and operated so that, as much as is practically possible, decision making and other co-op business happens on the internet in a fashion that is visible both to members and the public (so people can learn from our experiences). To save members who do not have the capacity for involvement from floods of emails, we move significant portions of discussion about our activities away from the main Loomio group. These alternative discussion venues (I would suggest, at least initially, sub-groups of our Loomio group) are open for the participation of all members.

Organisation structure

Ideally I think we should incorporate as a co-operative society. I've attached a draft constitution for a co-operative society.
This is the rules of how the co-op will operate. Because of legal requirements they are complex, but we can write our own much simpler rules to operate under, but will have these robust rules to fall back on if that is ever found to be necessary.

The constitution is unusual and allows decisions to be made on the internet and members to attend the AGM via remote connection (any method that enables two way communication). This constitution complies with UK law and would be acceptable to the Financial Conduct Authority - the registering body of co-operative societies. Its a bit long, but some may find it an interesting read, and I think provides us with a robust framework under which to continue.

We would need a secretary and at least three directors, although I think, if most business is completed online, and we get sufficient participation from members, we can structure things so that any additional work connected with these roles would be very limited or non-existent. Ideally the directors would keep track of the co-op's activities and be prepared to step up in the, hopefully, unlikely event that we encounter a crisis.

I'm happy, at least initially, to volunteer to take on the secretary role, which is the role that would involve the most extra work. I'd also be very happy for someone else to do this if anybody is interested/keen.

If it looks like we don't have the funds (there are registration charges & probably higher administration costs), or energy to set up the co-operative, we could, at least initially, continue our operation as an unincorporated association with clear articles of association (rules for how it operates) and a bank account.

I've got experience with organisation creation and am happy to work on the creation of an OurField organisation.

Planning and Decision making

As mentioned previously, I propose that we move most of the discussions away from the main Loomio group, to avoid the notification email overload that some people have expressed. I think we should set up different Loomio sub-groups to work on different aspects of our enterprise (eg. crop planning and management, produce sales, finance, administration, new member outreach - initially all these groups could be combined into a 'organising' group)

All these sub-groups would be open for any member to join - joining a sub-group does not create a requirement for a member to do anything - they can just watch, although I would like to point out that OurField will only be as great as our combined actions.

These sub-groups should work on (where possible and applicable, costed) proposals for action, to take back to the main group for voting.

WA

Wendy Alcock Thu 25 Jan 2018

I also wanted to add my thanks for your recent posts Darren. They have obviously taken a lot of time to generate and explain and you have made some really interesting suggestions. Thank you :)

AR

Abby Rose Mon 22 Jan 2018

Wow @darren4 thanks for your very in depth assessment of the situation. Brilliant you have taken this on and in such a thoughtful manner, amazing. There is definitely a need for others to step up and take on roles and responsibilities. I would be happy to be part of the Co-op model but I think this is something that John would have to consider quite a bit and it may be easier to continue as an unincorporated organisation for now as you suggest, with clear terms of how it's run. @grahamehunter is taking on a more comprehensive role from here on out in order to ensure that OurFieldWeston continues, so I will let him respond to some of your other thoughts for now about re-allocation of shares and new members etc!

GH

Grahame Hunter Tue 23 Jan 2018

I shall be at Weston early next week (29th January onwards) and will discuss this with John. It is not clear to me that there are any practical advantages from establishing a new organisation, over the informal arrangement that exists presently and which has already proven somewhat unwieldy. For many members I suspect the level of activity and commitment during the last 8 months has been about right.

The suggestion that the paid-up members may wish to be part of a more structured organisation is something we could vote on; but I think this should occur after we have determined who will remain in the OurField group after this year, such a vote to include the voice of the putative new members.

There are some issues about money and daily operations of our current OurField scheme which require attention. I had been waiting for a general posting / update from any one of the Organisers about their intended future role, but it could create more uncertainty if I delay further: so, in the next few days I will make a general post that will summarise what is happening currently with the money and other matters of general interest.

TA

Tony Allan Wed 24 Jan 2018

Thank you Darren, Abby and Grahame. Darren you have provided a very useful analysis and some very good ideas regarding options. Your experience is relevant.
Some thoughts:
1 We need John to be comfortable with whatever changes are proposed and he must participate - as much as he can - in discussions.
2 We need to hear from the founding members about what they feel about any proposed changes.
3 We need to hear more from Grahame. His initial comments are very useful. The relationship between OurFiled and The Farm is fundamental.
4 We need to recognise that most communication will be via Loomio and those making contributions would need to be comfortable with this model.
My position
5 I can contribute administrative time and I can buy an additional share(s).
6 I have one additional potential investor and could probably find 2 or 3 more.
7 I would be in favour of Darren acting in the role of Secretary

I'd appreciate seeing the latest version of the financial position.

AR

Abby Rose Wed 24 Jan 2018

Please see the important update here: https://www.loomio.org/d/69UaW2QX/important-announcement-organisers-role-after-jan-31st-2018 that is relevant to all.

GH

Grahame Hunter Fri 26 Jan 2018

Going forwards

There are quite a lot of linked points, and I will make several small posts to avoid burdening everyone with too much reading in a single Loomio block that I know downloads slowly on mobile phones..

GH

Grahame Hunter Fri 26 Jan 2018

the present financial position

The funds raised for farming were 60 x £150. (the other £50 went towards organisation and set-up) = £9,000

  • Farming expenses were £5,048 in 2017, leaving £3,952 in cash or £65.87 per member.
  • In addition every member has a share of the crop, about 240 Kg. of un-hulled spelt each.
GH

Grahame Hunter Fri 26 Jan 2018

The payout for any withdrawing members now

Anyone who does not wish to remain in the OurField group for 2018 should let me know by 15th February 2018 either publicly on this forum if you wish to share your reasons, or privately to me by email.

Anyone leaving on 15th February 2018 would receive
* £65.87 in cash at once by bank transfer,

and also

  • the eventual sale value of 200 Kg. of un-hulled 2017 Spelt less £10 administrative cost, within 21 day of the sale of the grain. It is not yet known how much this could be, nor when it would be paid as a sale has not been agreed, nor any indicative prices obtained.

The reason that withdrawing members would only receive the value of 200Kg. of Spelt (vs. the harvest of up to 250 Kg. per member) is that the actual weight in the shed is only a rough estimate; there may be some losses, and there will certainly be some handling, drying and transport costs.

I propose that any happy overage over 200 Kg. will accrue to the benefit of remaining members as a small recompense for their patience and persistence.

GH

Grahame Hunter Thu 15 Feb 2018

withdrawing members 2017

written February 15 2018

__ We are now at the end date for cashing in from the 2017 harvest and withdrawing from the group.__ Anyone who does not let me know very very soon will be assumed to be "in" for the 2018 year. No one has yet withdrawn, so it looks as if we have existing members going ahead..and are starting to open the group for 18 new members.

Of course people can withdraw at any time, but mid year withdrawals _ will mean they will have paid some of the current year running costs but would not receive a share of the eventual harvest._

anyone who wishes to withdraw can contact me privately by email on gnlh01@gmail.com

@alexandrasexton @alfredlawrie @andreadibiagio @annielandless @averilglencross @catherinearend @christinelewis @danielkindred @darren4 @edibleutopia @edna @ellemcall @emersoncsorba @carolingoethel1 @harryboglione @harrygreenfield1 @jamestickell @johnanthonyallan @johncherry @karlschneider @lucybradley1 @matteodv @matthewshribman @nikireynolds @nikitagulhane @romymiller @sadhbhmoore @seangifford @sebastianpowell @shyamdesai @sineadfenton @stevenjacobs @stinewilhelmsen @tamsynforsyth @tessatricks @tristramstuart @veronicalopesdasil1 @wendyalcock

GH

Grahame Hunter Fri 26 Jan 2018

The monthly accounting from January 2018

Each second month-end (so by 28th Feb, 30th April, 30th June etc) every member will receive a statement from me showing the cash balance per member brought forward, and below that the bi-monthly costs incurred, broken down into the following categories:-

  • the ground rent net of Single Payment
  • the farmer's cost

  • farm admin overhead

  • the agronomy charge

  • seeds and sprays purchased

  • machinery and manpower costs

  • other handling costs (store, drying etc)

These categories make the Sub-total farming costs

Then follows

  • Accounts & facilitation charge

  • misc. organisational expenses

  • VAT paid, not recoverable

All the above then make up Total Outgoings

With this information, I will then forecast the cash sufficiency for the members, so that everyone will have at least 90 days warning of an impending cash shortage, and there will in those circumstances be opportunity for the members to determine the best course of action.

GH

Grahame Hunter started a proposal Fri 26 Jan 2018

Lets keep growing in 2018 Closed Mon 5 Feb 2018

Outcome
by Grahame Hunter Mon 5 Feb 2018

Everyone who voted, __ voted to continue, and to expand.__ 11 votes were cast.
This has some exciting implications:-

  • in 2018, OurField Weston will be farming a total of 13.6 Ha. including the same 8 Ha. farmed last year,

  • the total number of external members will rise to 60 and John Cherry will be the farmer and not a member,

  • existing members have until 15th February to inform me if they wish to end their membership, but so far no one has left,

  • a nominated team are putting together information about the goals and scope of OurField with the purposes of explaining the project, attracting new members, and bringing renewed focus on what we want to achieve..

John Cherry is content to continue the present OurField engagement for 2018 and onwards.

To make this viable, and easier to track the inputs, and to better monitor how field fertility is improved it is proposed that the entire bounded-area of 13.64 ha. (33.7 Acres) be farmed entirely for OurField members.

The 8 Ha area farmed last year for OurField, that has a handsome cover crop of clover and reseeded Spelt growing, is within the larger area which is called Far Town Field, Lannock.

The implication of farming the entire field and not just a part of the field is that we will have space for new members, and the OurField project is more viable for Weston Park Farms to support.

Agree - 11
Abstain - 0
Disagree - 0
Block - 0
11 people have voted (26%)
WA

Wendy Alcock
Agree
Sat 27 Jan 2018

The more the merrier I say :)

HB

Harry Boglione
Agree
Sat 27 Jan 2018

CL

Christine Lewis
Agree
Sun 28 Jan 2018

Happy to keep going and I should have more time and energy for this in 2018

CA

Catherine Arend
Agree
Mon 29 Jan 2018

NR

Niki Reynolds
Agree
Mon 29 Jan 2018

D

Darren
Agree
Mon 29 Jan 2018

AR

Abby Rose
Agree
Tue 30 Jan 2018

Sounds great!!

AL

Annie Landless
Agree
Tue 30 Jan 2018

LB

Lucy Bradley
Agree
Sun 4 Feb 2018

TF

Tamsyn Forsyth
Agree
Mon 5 Feb 2018

HG

Harry Greenfield
Agree
Mon 5 Feb 2018

GH

Grahame Hunter Fri 26 Jan 2018

Financial implications for 2018

I have put up a poll to farm the entire field. Without this larger area it is hard to correctly track inputs without asking the farmer to follow all our decisions for that part of the field which is not within the Ourfield area.

If we take on the expanded area, then we can also accept new members, part of whose money will replace John Cherry's 18 /60th stake in the initial project. If we continue to have 60 paid-in member-stakes, the costs of farming the larger area are entirely manageable at the current level of contributions (new members paying in £200, existing members leaving the rump of last year's stake in play.)

I have shown the costs based on a repeat of last years inputs, with additional costs that are known (Administration, VAT etc) and for the larger farmland-area here,

2018 projection

D

Darren Tue 30 Jan 2018

Thankyou for taking all this on Grahame - mapping out a fair direction for us to continue.

I dont appear to have got a notification about the vote, other than in the middle of one of the daily digest emails, which I tend not to read, rather checking the emails for each individual discussion posts - guess this is a habit I should change. I'm sure we used to get mails about votes. It might be a temporary hiccup with Loomio, I know they've recently been doing lots of work on the voting/polling part of the website.

On a somewhat unrelated side note - I've been in contact with two separate places where we can probably get some of our spelt dehulled. One may be able to do it all, thinks the hagburg number isnt an issue for baking and even says, that if it bakes a good loaf, they could probably find us a buyer for it all. I should have more details very soon.

GH

Grahame Hunter Tue 30 Jan 2018

Loomio

There have been continuing issues with Loomio. I have no especial loyalty to it and it has some particular defects, although perhaps some of these are remedied in the paid version..
I would like to suggest

  • a little pop-up group of 3 current members including at least one person with very limited technological savvy should look at the options - eg forums, paid Loomio, etc and suggest how we want to communicate in the year ahead if we do not wish to stay with Loomio

  • that the members can then vote to switch or not and the vote will be binding on all

  • that each of the group be remunerated £20 from general funds (so £60 total, £1 per member stake) for undertaking this research which is sure to take them several hours..

_ If not more that 5 people object to this, and if at least 3 persons nominate themselves then they can start_

For true randomness, if there are more than 3 applicants, I will select them by rolling a dice. The group of 3 will then communicate amongst themselves however they like and set their own terms of reference!

CL

Christine Lewis Tue 30 Jan 2018

Happy to nominate myself to the small group to help look over options for working as a virtual group. If I remember someone else on this forum did a post about Loomio and options a while ago as well. Will try and dig that out as a starting point.

GH

Grahame Hunter Wed 31 Jan 2018

great Christine..you are the pop up committee head. Now we need 2 more and you are off!

D

Darren Thu 1 Feb 2018

I'm up for being involved.

I've started a pad with some of my initial thoughts on this, where anyone else can add suggestions/thoughts if they have any, especially if they don't necessarily want the commitment of being in the pop up group.
I started it with a section on potential requirements for any tool(s) we use - interested if anyones got any to add?
Just click in the text and type (possibly may not work well on some phones - but you should be able to read it)

CL

Christine Lewis Sat 3 Feb 2018

Thanks Darren and the pad works well for me - I will continue to add in some thoughts

GH

Grahame Hunter Tue 13 Feb 2018

thanks Darren, I have added a comment in your Pad..not sure how to see who is each colour..I am red.

GH

Grahame Hunter Tue 30 Jan 2018

Bank Account

We now have a bank account in the name of Our Field. Because this is a public forum, I will not give the a/c name and details here. The account holds the cash funds of the members.

GH

Grahame Hunter Tue 30 Jan 2018

ideas for a cooperative structure from Darren et al

Darren @darren4 has done some valuable work on how the group may organise themselves going forward. I have not ignored this; but my suggestion for now, is that we should first determine who is leaving, who is staying and who are the new Our Field members - and then the reformed and enlarged group of 60 members can determine what they want to do.

TA

Tony Allan Wed 31 Jan 2018

Thank you Grahame for seeking comment on next steps.

Loomio - works for me
Bank Account - good news
New members - I propose to invite about five friends. Have we a couple of paragraphs summarising the purpose, organisation, note on Lannock Farm Weston, etc.
Does it matter that those whom I would invite would all be male and elderly? One of the features that attracted me to OurField was that the leadership was young and not male.

GH

Grahame Hunter Fri 2 Feb 2018

@darren4 Thanks Darren - so with you and Christine that makes 2 for the Loomio investigation.._can one more person any age gender or tech level put themselves forward to review Loomio in a group of 3 with Darren and Christine? As before a small £20 honorarium for the time and involvement. _

GH

Grahame Hunter Fri 2 Feb 2018

John, thanks for those comments. Certainly I cannot imagine an objection to members on gender and age grounds; more on who is going to take an active interest and contribute to the discussions.
You have asked specifically
"Have we a couple of paragraphs summarising the purpose, organisation, note on Lannock Farm Weston, etc."

So, I am now in this post commissioning Annie Landless and Abby Schlagterer to do this, perhaps in collaboration with Carolin Goethel, as they were instrumental in setting up the group originally, and must have blocks of text / web links ready.

@annielandless @abbyrose Can you decide and put together an information pack / web link / data file of whatever information you want to provide and think is appropriate, to inform 18 new members, who will contribute £200 and joint the group?

The new members will not have any stake in last year's crop, and the difference in their cash contribution to the residual stakes of existing members will be accounted in the usual way (ie separately) as if it were in a share premium account (so they do not lose the extra they pay in, nor does it get co-mingled with everyone else's money on a pari passu basis..)

New members will NOT vote about last years crop, and will share equally in all new decisions going forward. Carolin Goethel suggested a payment of £60 for doing this - so that sounds like £120 in total to the 2 of you, equivalent to £2 per member (all the members including the new ones sharing this cost.).

Any members objecting to this cost should write to me, and as usual if there are more than 5 of you I will take some notice of the objection otherwise it is assumed agreed..

AR

Abby Rose Mon 5 Feb 2018

I think @annielandless and I can get this together. I will have to do it this week as I'm away for 2 weeks after that. @annielandless does that work for you? My suggestion would be to create a page on the ourfieldproject site that we can link new potential members to....we need to pull the text together and get it up there!

AR

Abby Rose Mon 5 Feb 2018

I have just invited @carolingoethel1 to also participate in this as I know she is keen

GH

Grahame Hunter Mon 5 Feb 2018

keep me informed..gnlh01@gmail.com. Also where we will send the money for you and Annie / Carolin 's time & expertise.

TA

Tony Allan Fri 2 Feb 2018

Dear Grahame
Very many thanks for: 1. commissioning a statement of scope and purpose of OurFile Weston, 2. clarifying what the new members could vote on what they will be asked to contribute.

GH

Grahame Hunter Mon 5 Feb 2018

Loomio small honorarium still up for grabs

As requested 6 days ago, we now need just ONE volunteer to join the group reviewing and recommending if we stay with Loomio, or alternate methods..

My post on this was

_ a little pop-up group of 3 current members including at least one person with very limited technological savvy should look at the options - eg forums, paid Loomio, etc and suggest how we want to communicate in the year ahead if we do not wish to stay with Loomio _

__ £20 is paid to each of these investigators for their time and effort.__ The recommendations will go to a vote, which will be binding while I remain facilitator.

Say here (click the reply symbol..) if you wish to do it... First name down secures it.

TA

Tony Allan Tue 6 Feb 2018

Dear Grahame
Three things
1 I volunteer to join the op-up group, And for any other tasks you may have.
2 I voted in the recent poll. I voted to continue. I was amongst the first three to vote but I see my name does not appear amongst the eleven. A very minor technical hitch.
3 I would like to approach some friends to 'invest'. I would like to share a version of the scope, goals and experience of OurField Weston that is 'official'. Has the draft you asked Abby et al to prepare come to hand? Would it be appropriate to share the minutes of our last meeting when inviting new members? Many thanks Tony

SJ

Steven Jacobs Tue 6 Feb 2018

Hi,

First off my apologies for missing the vote. I failed to schedule it in. I want to express how I feel, and that is happy. I'm happy with the group and the decision.

I would like us to discuss farming in more detail whenever the group feels is appropriate.
I appreciate getting seed in the ground and grain to the mill is dynamic and interesting but if we can find time to also discuss farming methods and approaches even before a single clod of earth is tilled, or no-tilled as may be the case, I think that would help the farm system we appear to be stepping into.

My gratitude to all who are taking active roles in this group. Your work is tremendously helpful and despite my lack of action I do support you all and hope to more fully engage over time.

Cheers all,
Steven

GH

Grahame Hunter Wed 7 Feb 2018

@stevenjacobs good morning Steve..would you like me to start a new thread "farming methods and approaches"? Would you be willing to make at least a first post and get a conversation going in the direction you would be interested in following?

SJ

Steven Jacobs Wed 7 Feb 2018

Good morning Grahame. Thank you, a thread on approaches to production would be good and yes I’d like contribute. I’m on a train just now and will be in meetings this morning but can have a go at writing something on the train home this afternoon/evening. Would that be OK?

GH

Grahame Hunter Wed 7 Feb 2018

perfect.

GH

Grahame Hunter Wed 7 Feb 2018

new members

@carolingoethel1 is putting together the philosophical background to why and what we are doing; I understand she and Annie (Landless) @annielandless will have this ready by the weekend.

I will then put up the financial information of

  • how the money will be caretaken,
  • where it goes, and
  • how to pay. It will be £200 per new member.

I suggest that to get the impetus, __ the first 12 people who pay up will become members automatically,__ and for the remaining (6) places, there will be a deadline for applicants, and then according to a system which will forever remain mysterious yet always joyous, John and I will collaborate with others and choose the remaining 6 or 7 people.

_ The maximum shall be 19 new members, so 61 altogether._ The extra place is so that when one person does not pay, or another wishes to drop out, we still retain 60 committed supporters.

SJ

Steven Jacobs Mon 12 Feb 2018

Good morning.

Here is a sort of rough intro to farming methodology. Its really just a way to introduce the topic, and the context. A starter for ten and then hopefully will help stimulate discussion.

We can approach food production as a way to get calories and nutrients or as a way to enhance and enrich our lives and the landscape we live within or a myriad of ways in between.

We can see food production as a part of the whole, the whole being, the whole existence, the entire life cycle. Things grow, they die, then the dead feeds new life and so it goes. This starts with microorganisms and as far as we know it never ends. Things eat things then die and are, in turn, eaten. Energy is cycled again, and again. Transformative processes cycling and evolving.

How to grow food is one part of the story. And a complex one too. Then there’s harvesting, transport, storage, processing, preparing, packaging, retailing and all along the way is the grading and sorting and regrading. And there’s the cooking, baking, brewing, preserving, and of course there is the consumption and in time there is the decomposition and the composting.

Farming practices are intrinsically linked with all of this. And all of this is intrinsically linked to and from farming.
Before the turning of a single sod of earth, before a seed is purchased it can be helpful to properly consider the details of how the resulting crop is going to grow, be harvested and so on, then there’s market availability, market demand, logistics and so it goes.

Tillage refers to the preparation and maintenance of the ground. Tillage covers everything from deep mouldboard ploughing to light harrowing. All the tools have their specialist function, some are multifunctional. Ploughing is a way to reduce weed burden and by changing soil particle size and relationship to a more homogeneous state the aim is to improve the condition of the ground to aid food production.

Reducing tillage helps to ameliorate some of the negative effects that result from using the plough. Soil disturbance is not all bad, but there is, as always, a balance to be struck.

No tillage is a method with a number of different versions but in essence it involves sowing the seed directly into the ground through the layer of previous plant material that must now be dead. This approach has its challenges. How to ensure the plant matter of the preceding crop is dead and doesn’t regrow to compete with the new food crop and how to ensure seed is delivered carefully and successfully into the soil.

Also available for farmers are other tools and techniques.
Crop rotation is a topic all of its own.
Inputs such as manures, minerals, artificial and natural fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. These range from animal waste to beetle banks to potash to soft soap, to ammonium nitrate to glyphosate and so on.
Then there’s mono-cropping, multi-cropping, inter-cropping.
Agroforestry is becoming better known now with people starting to look in increasing detail at ways to better work with crops and with trees.

It is fair to say that all approaches to food production have positives and negatives.

A big question also is how food production practices and the resulting food operates also within the wider food paradigm. Do we grow tomatoes under glass or import from southern Spain? Do we have the equipment and the knowledge to grow and roll our own oats, considering that oats need heat treatment to stabilise the natural enzyme or the fat in the oat will turn rancid very quickly once rolled. Can we de-hull the spelt, or do we have a de-huller within reach?

A lot of things to consider.

A good starting point, as we have done, is to find a friendly and experienced grower. John is on his own journey and we are a part of that and the of our journey.

I’ve not here yet gone into any detail on soils and soil borne organisms, plant soil and organism relationships, the benefits of encouraging biodiversity, permacultural techniques including edge design, zoning and multifunctional elements. And there is so much more. Lets discuss what we each of us has come across or are curious about.

I’m very happy to discuss all of the above. In great detail.

Cheers,
Steven

TA

Tony Allan Tue 13 Feb 2018

Dear Steven
Very many thanks for starting the discussion. You have very usefully identified the huge scope of the topic. The literature is (too ) rich. We are after all engaging with society's oldest industry and its oldest 'market' system. Unfortunately it turns out that there are some 'failed' markets because the political imperative is to provide under priced food for (some) under paid people.
Putting the food system in place has involved many experiments that worked spectacularly well and many that did not. We have a food system that has locked in many bad practices that are currently held in place by corporate interests that are hard to contend with. A number of them are on the farm but most are in the political economy of the food system and its supply chains.
A very important feature of the OurField Weston project is that it has become part of a global farmer led initiative that is bringing back practices that are consistent with sustainable ecosystems and human health. The other major virtue of the project is the link that has been created between a farmer and some food consumers.
I could provide a analytical structure that would help in the discussion of farming and food supply chain issues. And I could also suggest some key publications. However, as an author of chapters and articles on the subject I am very aware that people are too busy to read much.

Grahame, could we start a segment of our Loomio pages entitled something such as - Sustainable farming and the food system. Those who want to contribute on this topic could do so and those who don't, need not open the string.
Tony

GH

Grahame Hunter Tue 13 Feb 2018

please see new thread "Farming methods and the ethos of OurField Weston"

@stevenjacobs @johnanthonyallan I have copied your recent posts to the new thread "Farming methods and the ethos of OurField Weston". If you are happy with this, perhaps you can also delete your last post in the old thread "the way forward for OurField Weston"

SJ

Steven Jacobs Sun 18 Feb 2018

Hi @grahamehunter Yes, am happy for that, though I can't see the original post, is that me being dim or ...?
Also, I've noticed a typo toward the end of my post, small matter but thought I’d point it out in case leads to confusion -

A good starting point, as we have done, is to find a friendly and experienced grower. John is on his own journey and we are a part of that and the of our journey.

Should read -
A good starting point, as we have done, is to find a friendly and experienced grower. John is on his own journey and we are a part of that and he of our journey.

GH

Grahame Hunter Tue 13 Feb 2018

future with Loomio

@darren4 @christinelewis @christinelewis1

do you want to invite comments in a Loomio thread, or some other way? I think first, perhaps youcan set out your intentions and how long you want to look at this so we can know when to have a vote on your recommendations.

As posted previously ..

__ Loomio small honorarium still up for grabs __
As requested 6 days ago, we now need just ONE volunteer to join the group reviewing and recommending if we stay with Loomio, or alternate methods..

My post on this was

a little pop-up group of 3 current members including at least one person with very limited technological savvy should look at the options - eg forums, paid Loomio, etc and suggest how we want to communicate in the year ahead if we do not wish to stay with Loomio

£20 is paid to each of these investigators for their time and effort. The recommendations will go to a vote, which will be binding while I remain facilitator.

Say here (click the reply symbol..) if you wish to do it... First name down secures it.

CL

Christine Lewis Tue 13 Feb 2018

@grahamehunter thanks and I think a new thread for how we will communicate in 2018 may be helpful as it is hard to find things with no search facility. Darren's pad is working well but I don't know how to share the link here. If we have a short-term thread and set ourselves a time limit I am sure we can manage to make some recommendations on going forward before we are too far into the next growing season. PS I thought @johnanthonyallan had offered to help with the comms task in a different thread as the 3rd person - but I may be wrong, but I suggest Darren and I crack on with a review of options in the meantime.

D

Darren Thu 15 Feb 2018

The pad for anyone to add comments about what tools we use for communicating is at http://board.net/p/ourfieldcommunications. Just click anywhere in the text there and start typing - it gets saved automatically.

TA

Tony Allan Tue 13 Feb 2018

Dear Grahame

I shall try and advise.

Best. TonyA

TA

Tony Allan Wed 14 Feb 2018

Dear Christine
I sense you are suggesting that you, Darren and myself liaise by email rather than attempting to do it via Loomio. I have not been able to do what Grahame suggested I try to do - namely switch some material from one string to another. I am open to suggestions on how to liaise. Many thanks.

GH

Grahame Hunter Thu 15 Feb 2018

the Loomio pop-up group - email addresses

This is now up and running; anyone who wishes to add their ideas or comments should contact directly Christine Lewis, Darren or Tony Allen. This may be easier done off this thread, and we will await their conclusions. @christinelewis1 @darren4 @johnanthonyallan if you are content to receive comments about from others directly, can you post your emails here, by replying ..they will be publicly visible!

TA

Tony Allan Fri 16 Feb 2018

From Tony Allan My email is ta1@soas.ac.uk
Thank you Grahame for your useful clarification. I am willing to work with Darren and Christine. I would like Wendy to be associated as she has revealed that she has much expertise.

GH

Grahame Hunter Fri 16 Feb 2018

@wendyalcock Wendy, on Tony Allen's request, are you willing to join this small group looking at Loomio pros and cons. You would need to contact Tony Allen and Christine and Darren, and that then completes the quorum.

GH

Grahame Hunter Sun 25 Feb 2018

new members

Information about the basis for new members to join the project, and so help us finance farming the larger field, has now been sent to every member by email.

This same information is also available here for everybody on this web link to the information document: new members 2018

As before, existing members are not required to pay in money, to stay in the group for 2018. However, It is important we have a full complement of members, otherwise the higher costs of farming the larger area could exhaust the carried-forward cash resource of existing 2017 members before the harvest is reached.

So please help out by getting this information out to anyone interested in joining.

@abbyrose @alexandrasexton @alfredlawrie @andreadibiagio @annielandless @averilglencross @catherinearend @christinelewis @danielkindred @darren4 @edibleutopia @edna @ellemcall @emersoncsorba @carolingoethel1 @harryboglione @harryboglione @harrygreenfield1 @jamestickell @johnanthonyallan @abiaspen @karlschneider @lucybradley1 @matteodv @matthewshribman @nikireynolds @nikitagulhane @romymiller @sadhbhmoore @seangifford @sebastianpowell @shyamdesai @sineadfenton @stevenjacobs @stinewilhelmsen @tamsynforsyth @tessatricks @tristramstuart @veronicalopesdasil1 @wendyalcock @johncherry

TA

Tony Allan Sun 25 Feb 2018

Dear Grahame

Noted and thanks.

Tony

AR

Abby Rose Sat 24 Mar 2018

I am going to close this thread as we have now completed bringing on new OurField members to farm the whole field and have a clear way forward for 2018. If anyone thinks we should keep this thread open for longer then please do speak up here and I can re-open the thread!