Loxley Valley Community Farm (LVCF) has been running since 2009. We are a community-based project located in Loxley, Sheffield. We have 4 acres of land on which we keep animals (pigs, poultry, and bees) and grow fruit and veg. We are a volunteer led co-operative project which means the responsibility and decision making is shared.
What are we looking for in a member?
We want people who are willing to get stuck in and join our community. Most of us got involved because we wanted to grow veg or keep animals but to be fair to everyone we need to ensure that members put in at least as much as they take out and work within the ethos of the group therefore we do set minimum levels of commitment for members.
What do you need to do as a member?
There are currently two types of membership, full and associate. Both give you the option to purchase produce at cost price. There is some commitment expected for each type of membership but members usually find holidays and work/other commitments can be worked around and this is a lot less involved than running your own smallholding!
At the current time we are especially keen for some more full members to join us although we are open for new associates too. The following outlines the minimum commitment expected, the entitlement of shares at cost price and the cost for each type of membership.
|£12.50 a month||£5.25 a month|
|1 work-day per month *||1 work-day per quarter *|
|1 “feed” a week (feeding the animals and watering the vegetables) If the membership grows this commitment will reduce to taking a regular slot on the feed rota*||No feed commitments but option to join in the feeding rota*|
|Can buy a share (at cost price - see below) in all produce||Can buy a share (at cost price - see below in one type of produce|
Additional produce can be bought at public cost
|Keys/access to the farm for carrying out jobs||Keys/access to the farm for carrying out jobs|
* These commitments are the minimum requirement to be a member however dependent on the produce (shares) you want you may need to do extra to ensure you put in at least as much as you take out.
If you are an associate member taking a share then coming to one workday a quarter is unlikely to be sufficient to cover the work required in producing that. Suggested additional commitment per share is below (work done doesn’t need to be in area of produce you are taking):
|Share taken||Additional requirement|
|Veg||Either come to at least 1 workday a month|
Or be an active member of a committee and help order seeds/materials ready for workdays, look after seedlings offsite etc.
Or take part in the feed rota on a regular basis
Or spend time onsite weekly doing jobs not completed on workdays (i.e. weeding, tying up plants etc)
NB – work done needs to be agreed by committees
|Eggs, pork, turkey||Take part in the feed rota on a regular basis and/or clean out the sheds as required|
Or come to additional workdays
What happens if you can’t come for a few weeks?
If you have work commitments or a holiday - not a problem - a bonus of being part of a community farm is that members are able to go on holiday and others can step in to make sure the animals are fed etc. We ask members to take their names off the feed calendar a couple of weeks in advance and pick up extra feeds when they are about which means everyone can take time off especially in the summer holidays. As our produce is fresh if you are away we are unable to save it for you but you can arrange for someone else to collect it from a workday.
The following prices are correct as at March 2022 but we are closely monitoring prices of feed and materials and may need to increase these if our expenses increase. The member’s price is cost price, the public price is market price.
|Produce||Share Price||Public Price|
|Pork||£125 half a pig||£150 half a pig|
|Veg||£8.40 a month*||Not available|
|Eggs||£5.90 a month (6 eggs a week)||£1.50 per 6|
|Turkey||£42 average price||£48 average price|
|Honey||Not available in 2022||£5 a jar|
* Max 12 shares available – there may be a waiting list at times
If your circumstances do not allow you to commit to a membership, you can still be involved as a volunteer. There are no commitments and no cost just book your place in advance and come and help with tasks when you can. The option to purchase surplus produce at the public price is also available.
Who organises things on the farm?
We don’t employ anyone so members run the farm between them fitting farm duties around their jobs, family and other responsibilities. We meet every other month to plan what we want to do and also have “committees” who look after specific areas of the farm (Poultry and Livestock, Veg and General committees). All members are encouraged to get involved in one of the committees and help with planning and off-site jobs.
We are also a not-for-profit company and therefore have directors who oversee finance, health and safety and compliance. All members can attend directors’ meetings and are invited to stand as a director if they wish.
What is a “work-day”?
Work-days are held on weekends, and there are two each month (1st Saturday and 3rd Sunday of the month). Sometimes throughout the summer, there may be some work evenings to make the most of the long, light nights! Members get together on these days and carry out tasks around the farm. We try to organise jobs and task lists in advance but work-days allow for discussion around what people would like to achieve and how this will happen. It helps keep everybody motivated and informed and maintains the social side of the farm as well.
What should you wear/bring?
Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and a good pair of shoes or boots for workdays. You will also need a pair of gardening gloves. A waterproof or hat & sunscreen might be needed depending on the weather – sometimes both on the same day! We normally stop for lunch about 12.30pm so bring something to eat and plenty of drinks.
How will you know what jobs to carry out?
The best way is to get actively involved in one of the committees and help plan the jobs. Work-days are a good place to catch up on what’s going on at the farm i.e what’s being grown, what needs building, what the animals are up to, the list goes on! We have a job list which each committee feeds into. This is posted to Slack (the app we use to communicate) and we run through tasks at the start of each workday. Everyone then choses what they want to do and we make sure there’s an experienced person on hand to help if there’s anything you’re not sure on. With time, it becomes clearer what needs doing and when and you’ll be able to come to the farm and get on with agreed jobs independently although it’s always good to work with other people particularly when there is weeding involved!
What does a feed involve?
We have two feeds a day and members sign up to do them via a google calendar that we all share. If you’d like to get involved with feeding (more accurately feeding the animals and watering the veg!), we will buddy you up with someone to observe first. A feed normally takes between 30 mins and an hour although some people stay a bit longer and get a few jobs done at the same time. Feeds involve:
- Letting the poultry out in a morning and putting them away at night
- Checking animals look healthy and alert
- Feeding the poultry and pigs (notices tell you how much to give them at each feed)
- Topping up water for the animals
- Refilling feed bins if they are running low (where possible)
- Watering veg (notice boards tell you what needs to be watered when as this is very weather dependent!)
- Collecting eggs
Do we offer discounts on the membership fees?
The membership fee contributes towards farm overheads (rent, insurance, maintenance etc.) but we still need to raise additional money each year by selling produce and taking part in fundraising events in order to meet costs. However, we would not want cost to be a barrier therefore please speak to the membership secretary if you would like to join but cannot afford the membership fee. Similarly, if you are able to afford to make a regular additional contribution please consider doing so especially if you don’t want to or don’t have time to get involved in additional fundraising efforts.
What happens if the farm suffers a loss – will you get a refund?
Members buying a share do so in the knowledge that they are taking on the risk of death of an animal/ crop failure. In the event that there is insufficient harvest, remaining produce will be shared amongst shareholders in proportion to their shareholding of that specific share. If all the harvest/flock/herd is lost or stolen a refund will only be given if the farm has not yet spent all the funds for that particular share. Surplus produce purchased upfront (i.e. not as a share) will be refunded.
If that all sounds great how do you join?
We currently have a waiting list for membership. If you express an interest in joining you will first be asked to attend a workday as volunteer so you can decide if the project is for you. Following this you will be placed on our waiting list and will be contacted when a place comes available. You will need to join the farm within a month of a place being offered. If this isn’t possible (i.e. due to holidays or work commitments) the place will be offered to the next person on the list and we will contact you again when another place is available. If you are still not in a position to join at that time then to be fair to those on the waiting list who are ready to go we will remove you from the waiting list. If you join us as a full or associate member you will complete a month’s trial membership (no charge) and will need to attend a workday and complete at least 2 buddy feeds (AM and PM) in that time as part of your induction.
Can you come up to the farm outside of a workday and feed?
Yes as a member, once you have been through the month’s trial membership and done a couple of buddy feeds you are welcome to enjoy the farm when you like. You can bring friends and family with you but are responsible for them while they are on site. For insurance purposes you cannot organise group visits or hold parties on site without agreement from the members. If you find you are coming to the site regularly please consider whether you could be completing some tasks while you are on site.
Interested in joining the farm
If you are interested in joining us the first step is to sign up to one of our workdays as a volunteer to find out more about the project and meet the team.