A Bull Ring stall, Community Supported Agriculture and a Co-op market

Carol Byrne sells local and organic vegetables that are moderately priced and bought by general customers at her L.O.V.E stall in the Bull Ring market. [Picture sometimes loads slowly]

She wrote about what might be our nearest community supported agriculture scheme in the region in her latest blog: “Today I visited Canalside Community Food and bought some gorgeous vegetables from them, organic courgettes, patty pan, broccoli, oak leaf lettuce, cucumbers, spinach and cricket ball courgettes. I haven’t got any photos so you’ll have to come to the stall tomorrow and have a look. All fresh, organic, local and picked today!”

Canalside’s website tells us that they are a Community Supported Agriculture scheme for all who live in and around Warwick District.  The scheme is based on Leasowe Farm, a family run farm adjacent to the Grand Union Canal, just outside Radford Semele. They started full scale vegetable production in Spring 2007 and are now producing weekly shares of seasonal veg for over 110 local households.

Soon, visitors to 24Carrots market in the Jewellery Quarter will be able to buy from her stall there. The next market will be held on 21 August 10-3. 24Carrots is a popular local market, selling a range of food, drink, gifts and plants, open from 10am-3pm and located in the car park of the Big Peg on Warstone Lane, Birmingham, just next to the Chamberlain Clock Tower.

It has been set up as a co-operative venture by a group of Jewellery Quarter residents who all have full time jobs and do this in their spare time. They aim to provide an exciting central place for people to meet friends and families, share good food and have fun, whilst also supporting local businesses by increasing the number of visitors to the JQ, providing a wide range of fresh, local produce from farmers, local schools and neighbourhood allotments, supporting healthy eating initiatives, and building a stronger community.

Buy locally grown fruit and vegetables

Earlier in May, though the Co-op store in Evesham and Pershore was stocking asparagus grown in the Vale, local people were concerned to find that their Tesco store only stocked asparagus grown in Peru.  Waitrose in Hall Green also offered nothing but Peruvian asparagus that week.

As oil prices rise and air travel is interrupted alternatives are being considered.

John Walton, a tenant farmer in Cheshire, has an open farm with an organic dairy, arable crops and a vegetable box scheme. He was stranded in Spain because of the volcanic ash clouds and wrote to the Farmers Guardian [23.4.10], reflecting:

“Seeing the chaos something like this causes, brings home how much the world relies on airspace and airfreight.

“Now that people are finding alternatives during the crisis, it might urge us all to take a large step back and reassess world logistics.

“Another good thing to come from this is, hopefully, people will increase their awareness of local produce and its importance to the economy.”

No fun at the airport…

The volcanic ash saga gives us a taste of what things will be like if we don’t develop markets and aviation policies fit for the 21st century.

The Birmingham Post’s editorial this week criticised Birmingham Friends of the Earth, for pointing out that whilst inconvenient for many, the volcanic ash saga has at least resulted in a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a demonstration of other ways of doing things.

Of course the impacts of this crisis – on stranded and stressed friends and colleagues, laid off airport workers and producers of air-freighted fresh food in developing countries – range from ‘no fun at all’ to ‘livelihood-destroying’. But this is exactly why we need to start viewing differently the part that aviation plays in all our futures.

It does not demonstrate that we should continue to pursue the aviation growth agenda to which Solihull International Airport and Birmingham City Council appear to be committed in spite of its legally proven inadequacy in the light of climate change policy. Continuing with aviation growth as if nothing has changed, will see similar sudden crises in the next few years – without any need for Icelandic volcanoes.

We need to start a sensible and measured adaptation of our aviation growth plans and our food strategy now, and supporting those in developing countries to create internal and external markets in goods that are appropriate to a fuel-scarce future. 

Karen Leach