Notes from the meeting of July 27, part two: Top Bar beehives

During the second part of our meeting, we went to a member’s house to build beehives. I wish to thank the members who hosted the meeting, and the members who donated wood and other materials. (For the past three weeks, the group has been collecting salvaged wood for the project.)

During the meeting, two top bar beehives were begun. We were unable to complete them due to lack of time, so there will be another meeting soon for this purpose. We will also continue to build hives till all interested members have acquired one, and will build swarm traps for  use in the spring.

A top bar hive is a much simpler design than the standard hive, the box shaped Langstroth. The advantages of a top bar hive include: a natural comb pattern and cell size, as opposed to the Langstroth; no heavy lifting; simplicity of construction and management; and the ability to harvest honey without an extractor, among other  things. You can find lots of information about top bar hives on line.

Notes from the Meeting of July 27th, part one: Farm Discussion

At this meeting, we discussed our the way we would go about developing any individual community farm site, without applying it to any site in particular.  (We are currently considering two possible sites.)

Here is a list of the decisions we made. 

Ownership of the land: The group will probably not own any land for the foreseeable future. However, that brings up one problem: what happens to our investments when the land is sold? So long as we can use a piece of land for a reasonable amount of time, this is not a problem for most investments, which fall into two classes. Firstly, those which would repay themselves within a short timeframe, such a vegetable garden, chickens, or soft fruits; and  secondly, those which can be removed from the site, such as beehives, fencing, and even greenhouses or chicken coops. The only problem would occur with things like nut trees, which are non-movable and pay back over a long time frame. There are three solutions: avoiding those particular investments, which restricts our possibilities; the owner could set up some way for the Society to keep using the land after they no longer want it; or, if longterm, non-movable investments are wanted, they could be paid for by the land owner. For instance, if an orchard was planted, the owner would pay for the trees, but the Society would do the planting and maintenance. The owner would decide which of the above solutions would be used in each particular case. Since the soil itself is a rather long term investment, any term of use should be fairly long, at least five years.
Funding of Investments: How do we raise money for improving the land? We have decided that it would be best to minimize our use of money. Since we will need a little money, we will still try to run fundraisers, (see below,) and members are certainly free to donate. However, members should understand that any money thus donated is an absolute donation; the member will not be able to control how the it is used. If a member wants money to be used a certain way, they should buy and donate items instead. To minimize our use of money, members can instead spend time finding used, cheap or free materials, which fits in with our philosophy of a local economy. There will be no membership dues.
Fund raising: As far as fundraisers go we may sell top bar beehives, tickets to events, or CSA shares.  We are still hoping to put a solar and earth heated greenhouse on any land we use to raise seedlings for a plant sale.
Produce allotment: We are still trying to decide how this will work. Some members think that it should simply divided up based on the number of people in a member’s family. Others think that there should also be a certain minimum number of hours, interchangeable with money and materials. We are currently taking a vote from those members who were unable to attend the meeting.
 Decision Making for land: the group will control what happens on the land by a majority vote. However, interested or talented members will become “Managers” of different sub-projects, such as beehives, chickens, or a greenhouse. They will make day to day operating decisions. There will be small individual plots controlled by members on any given piece of land, but if it was all divided up into member plots, much of the advantage of working together would be canceled out. Naturally, the land owner will have a large say in what happens.
One of the members could possibly pick up produce which needs frequent harvesting, such a lettuce, and bring it in to a central point. OLMC might work well for this.

Notes from the meeting of June 22nd

At this meeting, we decided to began raising funds to improve future garden or farm sites. The two ideas discussed were building top bar beehives for sale out of scrap wood, and selling seedlings in the spring. For the second idea, we need to find a site for a solar heated greenhouse. At the next meeting we will be building  top bar hives for members, thus gaining practice, and we are currently gathering scrap wood.

We also approved our new logo, designed by graphic artist Ted Schluenderfritz, and decided to change our name to The Saint Isidore Society, a Catholic Urban Farming Group. Though we will still use the principles of Permaculture in our work, the changed name better communicates our mission.

The first issue of our newsletter, Domini est Terra, will hopefully be printed in a few weeks.