The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm is a twelve-acre field just outside the
boundaries of the borough of Ipswich, in Rushmere St Andrew, but almost all
of the households who are members of Suffolk's first Community Supported
Agriculture (CSA) Scheme based at The Oak Tree are Ipswich residents.
The Soil Association describes CSA as a way for farmers and customers to
share the "risks and rewards" of farming, giving customers food direct from
the farm, and farmers a secure income. Here at The Oak Tree Farm we take the
CSA concept a little further than most; our members not only enjoy a weekly
supply of fresh vegetables from the farm, they also help to grow them.
For £8 per week, and a work commitment of two hours per week (on
average) in the summertime, and one hour a week in the wintertime, members
enjoy an equal share of the vegetable harvest, as well as having the
opportunity to buy eggs, flowers and pork from our rare breed pigs, which
are reared largely on waste malt mash from small Ipswich breweries.
We are excitedly awaiting the arrival of our first two beef cattle in the
Our community approach to food production has some surprising, and
delightful, side-effects. Many members join growers Joanne Mudhar and Tom
Wilmot, at the weekly Saturday "working parties", which is a great way to
get to know fellow members who hail from all walks of life, old and young,
well off and less so.
We've become a real community of people who know and trust each other, and
many members have noticed health benefits from the regular exercise, good
company and ultra-fresh vegetables. A couple who met while planting out leek
seedlings a couple of years ago are due to be married in 2014.
As the name of the farm suggests, we are serious about reducing the
environmental impact of our food production. Not only do we reduce fossil
fuel use to a minimum at every stage of production and delivery of our food,
we also experiment with "Regenerative Agriculture" techniques. These involve
careful management of grazing livestock, moved regularly in electric fence
enclosures, to increase organic matter in the soil. Such techniques are new
to the UK, and have been shown to sequester significant quantities of carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere, making a real contribution to addressing
greenhouse gas emissions.
The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm is a not-for-profit social enterprise, with the
concrete goal of becoming financially, as well as environmentally,
sustainable, within the next couple of years. In the meantime we are
grateful to the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund for
funds which enable us to welcome a number of new members to share in the
risks and rewards of farming.
To find out more about The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm please visit