SPUDS Co-op is a grassroots, local food sustainability initiative providing Islanders affordable access to land for organic potato growing. The collective has created a Basis of Unity Statement that encourages the participation of a diverse, intergenerational group of people and decision making by consensus. Members join together to help plant, weed, water, harvest and care for the soil- sharing our learning experiences along with crop yield, and building community. Individual and/or family/group members encouraged!
Individual memberships are $15 per year, and family memberships are $25 per year. Individuals who wish to share a membership AS a family are welcome to do so. Each membership is responsible for sending a representative to as many of our community field dates as possible...at least 5-6 per year help the co-operative achieve the majority of tasks that require group assistance: planting, hilling, hilling again, weeding, harvesting, sowing cover crop, etc.
It is understood that not everyone will be able to make every scheduled event, especially given the fact that mother nature often dictates the best course of action and so some field dates have to be planned rather spontaneously. It is always helpful if members with a family membership attend with more than one individual representing that family, but this is not required. However, the more folks in attendance together at one time, the quicker big projects can be attended to, and the more fun it is accomplishing our goals!
If you are interested in joining SPUDS, please take a look at our Basis of Unity Statement (click on the link under pages on the top right hand corner of the blog page). These guidelines describe choices made collectively by the membership about how we see ourselves as a local food security initiative and community building project. Working together we are learning as we grow.
SPUDS stands for Sowing Potatoes Underground for Denman Sustainability! The idea for our potato patch was inspired by Linnaea Farm on Cortes Island, which has run a very successful potato cooperative for nearly three decades.
SPUDS Field Management Subcommittee (FSC) is a small group of members contributing extra time to the cooperative as volunteer co-ordinators for season to season, week to week field management. Anyone is welcome to get involved and lend an extra hand to the project this way as well, although there is no requirement that members attend meetings of any kind if they wish only to participate in the field. SPUDS employs consensus process for collective decision making and the FSC is mandated to implement/coordinate field management tasks throughout the year without consulting all the members on minor decisions. Meetings of the entire membership outside of field dates happen less frequently now as warranted, generally after the fall harvest in order to review the past growing season and to plan ahead for the coming year.
Our potato patch is located at the Hermitage on Denman Road, in a lovely private location near the back of a large field. We are guests of the Hermitage, and respect the privacy of our hosts who provide peace and solitude for retreat goers throughout the year. These visitors also park in the vicinity of our water cistern, beside the fenced growing area we tend.
Our crops operate on a four year rotation. Potatoes are grown in one quadrant per year and the other three grow cover crops designed to maintain and or build soil fertility. This means that none of the land is ever dormant, and we are actually growing three or four crops at a time, although only one feeds us directly each year.
Our harvest is shared more or less equally between all memberships (family memberships get more potatoes), and varies from year to year dependent upon a whole host of factors: soil fertility levels, water availability, other environmental influences and field management decisions. In a way, membership in SPUDS is a bit like supporting a CSA program (community supported agriculture) where people pay a certain amount of money per year to receive a box of organic veggies every week or two during the growing season...sometimes the box is overflowing, sometimes a crop isn't as good as it was the year before and you receive less. But the point is to support the principle of local organic food production, care of the land and the farmer. The investment is not just in the food, but the future of food produced in an environmentally sustainable and just way. SPUDS is not for profit, although we may share our harvest anyway we like.
You'll find a list of links on the right handside of this page to other informative, and fun webpages celebrating the potato, to information about consensus process decision making, SPUDS Basis of Unity Statement, and more. SPUDS blog itself is an archive covering our past several years of record keeping, complete with planting details, meeting minutes, photos, and membership communiques. A hard copy of pertinent information is maintained in our local library for the benefit of members without computer access.
Not only are island families and or individual folks of all ages welcome and encouraged to join us, community support is integral to our success! On that note, we also have a reusables bin at the recycling centre and all donations help defray our expenses...thankyou. Please call 335-1209 for further information or to sign up today!