Monday, November 14, 2011

Common Security Clubs

A Common Security Club (CSC) is a small group of people -- extended families, neighbors, church groups, etc. -- who band together for their common good. An example might be a group of neighbors, some of whom have money earning power, some of whom have time available and some of whom might have some food growing knowledge (nice, but not essential). These sorts of groups pool their diverse resources for the benefit of the group. If one need of the group is for good, nutritious food (and who doesn't need this), they could participate as as a Red Barn Community Farm 'gardener.'

Let's say that three families, 9-10 people, decide to form a CSC. They could rent a 1/4 acre plot, spend $250-300 on tillage, seed and fertilizer and produce at least $3000 worth of food that they could eat in season or preserve for the off season. One or two people could make a plan for the garden that would include a layout and schedule for planting and a budget or 'business plan' for the project. The whole group then accepts the plan and members contribute to the budget as they are able. Next, the designated gardeners order the seed and fertilizer. As the season progresses, they initiate the gardening activities, arranging for tillage, staking out the rows or beds, etc. On weekends, the whole group pitches in and helps with planting, weeding, watering or whatever else is needed. By mid summer, the whole group begins to benefit from their efforts -- fresh food every meal. In the fall, the whole group participates in the harvest and also in the preservation of the food for the off season.

In our mild maritime climate food production is possible year round with the aid of hoop houses or other crude shelters. For a further investment of about a hundred dollars, a CSC could build a small hoop house and have fresh greens and brassicas (broccoli, brussel sprouts) for eleven months of the year. Increased investments like this could be done over several year's time.

What if nobody in the group knows anything about how to proceed with such an idea? Fear not. We could form classes for group leaders on garden planning, small scale agriculture practices and food preservation. Those people could them take the ideas back and use them in their CSC. If there is sufficient interest in this, we could also use this blog for frequent updates on practices, opportunities and plans. There are other ways the larger group (RBCF) could help: combined seed orders for lower prices, large fertilizer buys (for example, we could buy pelletized chicken manure by the ton and then, with the help of SCS members, divide that up into 50-pound bags for distribution. Eventually, we might even be able to secure the use of church kitchens for shared canning and freezing activities.

Speaking of freezing, most garden vegetables should be frozen rather than canned. That is because of the relatively low acid level of most vegetables. We might be able to buy a quantity of chest freezers for the shared use of the CSCs. Or perhaps each CSC would prefer to have their own common freezer.

If you think you would be interested in this, please call Dean Smith at 425-328-9979 or eMail to indicate your interest. You can also just comment on this blog entry.