News From The Field May 2020

 

The season so far by Tom. Well it’s been a strange one…The unusual

weather is actually pretty normal now. We pretty much expect a hot dry

spring followed by a cooler damper summer. But who knows what’s

coming next?! It’s great in terms of weed control & early cultivations, but

difficult as late winter crops bolt early & some spring crops bolt before a

pick. It means the hungry gap has started earlier for us this year. As smallscale

sustainable producers, we can adapt more quickly to changes in

weather & having our committed members means we aren’t unsettled by

changes in the market.

One positive of this whole covid thing is increased

demand for local produce. Good news for new growers. But the really

strange thing this season, is the lack of our regular (& random) volunteers.

We really miss having you at the field. However, we are really lucky to

have Kevin, Isabelle & Ruth, who already it feels as though they’ve been

here for years.

As you’ll see from the pictures, we have continued to have

families & individuals who were regular volunteers already & know their

way around. They’ve been coming when we’re not on site & getting on

with jobs on their own. Sorry to volunteers who we couldn’t host. Thanks

to all our members & volunteers for your support & positive feedback.

 

Big Meadow CSA by Abbi. After a year of planning from behind a laptop Big Meadow is taking shape up at Lower

Hardingsdown Farm. Since the arrival of spring we have re-installed our polytunnel (the first one came down

in the storms in feb) and have been getting the beds prepped for our summer crops of tomatoes and

cucumbers, which has included laying down a healthy layer of well-rotted local horse manure…lovely!

We welcomed Laura Norman, who will be working with us and has a lot of veg growing expertise and is excited

to help get Big Meadow off the ground. The field was ploughed a couple of weeks ago, which seems like a huge

step forward as we can now fully visualise the growing site. We have been offered the use of a new tractor for a

year which will be a great help in getting the veg beds established. We are still hoping to have boxes available

from end June/July for 50 households locally, with the pick-up point being at the field. We have had such an

enthusiastic response from the community and are very much looking forward to being able to host volunteers

and really get into the social side of the CSA. (Abbi was a trainee with Cae Tan & we continue to support her to

establish Gowers second CSA. She has had financial support to set up from the Rural Development Programme,

Swansea City Sustainable Development Fund, Lush, National Lottery, plus the Princes countryside trust are

lending her a swanky new tractor for a year!)

 

My first month by Isa (French volunteer). The first month went too fast,

I cannot believe it is already gone. A total change from my previous

life working in an office. I learnt so much on the work -how to seed,

weed, water, harvest, build a polytunnel- and also on the varieties of

plants and vegetables. Every day is pure joy and happiness. The

team is incredible, so friendly as well as qualified. Full of new

discoveries: people, skills and places. This is one of my greatest

experience so far in life. I came here to know if working in the fields

would be my thing, discover all the positive aspects as well as the

difficulties of the job. I hope to end up with much better skills in

agriculture, have contacts in this area of expertise and be

autonomous to grow my own organic foods. I hope to take enough

time to clarify my thoughts & build my future project after these 9

months.

 

My first month by Kevin (French volunteer) Since my arrival over one month ago, I work in gardening, to maintain

and manage production at the fields, to make baskets of vegetables that go to you members. This volunteering

will allow me to discover a different country and culture, but also to deepen my linguistic level.

We’re currently living through some strange times but it feels good to be learning about

producing local food and I’m lucky to be enjoying it so much too!

 



Hello! By Ruth H…. I’m Ruth, the new trainee at Cae Tan. I’m so happy to be here on

Gower learning about growing amazing food and exploring such a beautiful area. I’ve

been working in social care and hospitality for the last few years and I really

appreciate this opportunity to get a full-seasons growing experience in such a friendly

and welcoming environment. I’m hoping that this is the start of new path for me into

agriculture and organic food growing. I’m not entirely sure where exactly I’d like it to

go yet but I’m sure this is good place to start. I’ve previously volunteered at a Market

garden in Scotland, had an allotment plot for a couple of years and been involved in

some community garden projects in Glasgow.

Sustainable Schools by Ruth E. Our amazing education officer Jessie has completed

her first year in post delivering the sustainable schools programme to 5 Swansea

Primary Schools. Kids who have never been to Gower or visited a farm before came

to explore Cae Tan and learn about growing tasty veg. They milled flour and baked

dough at the Heritage Centre and Popty Pizza helped every pupil in each school

bake their own pizzas with healthy veg toppings from their own veg patches which

Jessie helped to develop. They held assemblies for their schools with parents

invited to tell about their discoveries. Feedback from schools and pupils has been

overwhelmingly positive. Sadly Coronavirus has delayed the start of this year’s

programme and Jessie is currently furloughed. But the good news is we have extra

funding waiting to deliver the programme to more children and increase outreach

work with parents and family members. This year the programme is funded by

Moondance Foundation, Austin Bailey & Gower Power.

 

Members & finance by Ruth E. A big thank you to all our members for bearing with us

as we scrambled to reorganise pick up arrangements to comply with new

restrictions and keep everyone safe. But thank you for your generous offers of help

both at the fields and picking up for members who are self-isolating. Really great to

see everyone puling together as a community. We are currently supplying 122

households and have over 90 people on our waiting list. I know for our family the

supply of nutritious veg has been a great comfort through these challenging weeks

so my thanks to the growers for all their dedication and hard work to getting us our

shares each week. We have just passed another financial year end with Cae Tan

continuing to prove the CSA model can work financially as well as delivering

environmental and community benefits.

A CSA for Swansea East? by Rob Having worked in all sorts of cafes and kitchens over the years it’s safe to say

that I love food! This combined with studying a Masters in Sustainability, got me thinking about where all this

lovely food we eat daily comes from! After a bit of research I found Cae Tan and decided to volunteer and find

out more! The basic idea of a community food system which connects consumers directly with producers of

their food seemed like such a simple yet effective method for putting people back in touch with their food and

their local environment.

Once Cae Tan established the initiative, with funding for the initial research project provided by National

Resources Wales, to explore setting up a CSA in Swansea East I jumped at the opportunity to help shape a

similar project in the area I live and work! The research project is a community consultation seeking to

establish demand for a CSA in Swansea East, both from potential shareholders and community groups. The end

goal will be to create a report that can act as a blueprint for taking the project forward in terms of establishing

the CSA through sourcing funding, attracting members and establishing a site. If you would like more

information or would like to learn how you could become involved, don’t hesitate to drop me an email:

roberthernando@hotmail.co.uk.

 

If you have any questions or comments, ideas, please chat to Lizzy or Tom at veg collection or email

tom@caetancsa.org Contact Ruth with banking & membership queries on caetanmembers@gmail.com

Thank you for all of your support!

 

 

The Sheriffs on the Land

Since last Autumn we have been really lucky to have the Sheriff family help out once a week. Mostly helping Lizzy with Wednesday harvest. It has been a real pleasure to have them around. Here’s a little blog post from the Sheriffs! Scroll down for pics & text…

We’ve been volunteering at Cae Tan on Wednesday afternoons since September (and plan to do so for a whole year) to learn more about the project and Community Supported Agriculture as well as connect our children (and ourselves) more with vegetables we are eating, the seasonal changes and cycles of growing.

We are now 6 months in and we are there come rain or shine. We’ve learned lots over this time from a variety of tasks, from clearing beds and poly-tunnels, rolling out and rolling up netting to sowing and harvesting the veg. We have harvested 13 different types of vegetables – which has taught us lots about how they grow and when they are ready for harvesting, about the unpredictable successes and failures of organic growing, and also about the land and people.

We have enjoyed watching the kids get stuck into a job (sowing onion sets, searching for ‘ready’ courgettes..) spot something interesting (an extra long worm, a GIANT cabbage…) and I’ll never forget the look on Tansy’s face when she dug up a massive carrot ”all by myself” (with a little bit of help!) And when the weather is wet and wild and their attention span is short, they are still out in nature making their own fun – striking the enemy hedges with dead celeriac stalks, spying on us from their secret den or splashing in the mud.

 

Watch the clips blow to hear what Mack and Tansy have to say about it…and a little joke!

Thank you Lizzie and Tom, we are looking forward to our next 6 months volunteering…..especially as this includes spring and summer!!

The Sheriff Family

 

Job Opportunity – Volunteer Co-ordinator / Grower


Big Meadow CSA

Co-ordinator / Grower 2020
An exciting opportunity for an experienced Volunteer worker/grower to join a new CSA on Gower, South Wales.

Big Meadow CSA is setting up near Llangennith, Gower and are looking to employ a Volunteer worker/grower for the 2020 season. We have been fortunate to secure two acres of organic land, funding and members to begin a Community Supported Agriculture project. In the first year we aim to provide up to 50 households with a share of the weekly harvest, with a view to increase to 90-100 over the coming years – we have access to a further 4 acres if we expand.
Involving the community is a key aspect to this work and underpins the ethos of our work – building community through food. We will run twice weekly volunteer days and educational workshops with local schools, youth and community groups. The post is funded for 32hours a week, £10 p/h May – October, with potential to extend.

As a lead member of the team you will be responsible for leading a group of volunteers in all aspects of vegetable production and harvesting. Working together with our volunteers you ensure production of high-quality crops that meet the needs of our members. Good inter-personal skills will be essential for this role as well as sound knowledge of the day to day tasks involved in growing food and experience with organic growing practices.
This is will be our first year of operation it and is an exciting time for an enthusiastic and experienced volunteer worker/grower to join our team and help shape the CSA – we have a blank canvas to play with!

A driving license and vehicle is necessary, machinery experience would be an advantage.
To apply send your CV and a cover letter saying a little about yourself and why you would like to work with us to bigmeadowcsa@gmail.com. If you would like to ask any questions call Abbi on 0790761730. Deadline 20th March, interviews early April.

Agroecology & CSA Event at Cinema & Co

On Wednesday 13th November, Cae Tân hosted an event focused on the environmental, economic and social benefits of CSA, and the current obstacles to developing agroecological food production around Swansea. It was great to have attendance from a wide variety of organisations, including Swansea Council, Welsh government, several local farmers, local parliamentary candidates, NRW, the Soil Association, Swansea University and RSPB.

We identified key challenges as: access to land, funding mechanisms, opportunities for training and education, policy requirements, and knowledge of supply chains. There are also several important opportunities in our area, such as consumer demand, the amount of fertile land, and interest from aspiring producers. At Cae Tân, we’ve demonstrated that it’s possible to provide food for a great deal of local households in a sustainable manner, and by starting a wider conversation around these issues, we want to open the door to more producers.

If you wish to join this discussion, and have ideas for helping develop food production around Swansea, please do get in touch.

Thanks go to all of the Cae Tân directors for their help in organising this event, and to Cinema & Co. for hosting us.

Trainee Post 2020


Cae Tan community supported agriculture is based on the Gower Peninsula, south Wales. Please look at our website & watch the 9 minute film there as it explains our work in detail. www.caetancsa.org

We are seeking a hard working person to join our team for the 2020 season. Period from April 1st to 31st October 2020.

What we can offer you

Accommodation near to the field & shared with a European Volunteer
£50 per week living expenses
As much fresh veg as you can eat
Support in your work with us to learn the ropes of how to grow a CSA

Work will involve

Day to day sowing, planting, weeding, harvesting, packing organic / biodynamic produce
Working alongside staff & volunteers
Occasional schools & youth project work
4 days per week 9 – 5 with occasional weekend watering
The opportunity to learn about machinery use if this interests you

What we would like from you

Motivation to learn about sustainable growing & community development
Willingness to work hard in all weathers
Adaptability & willingness to work & get along with a lot of different people

To apply for this position please

Send us your CV
Answer the following questions;
Why do you want this position?
What are your long-term goals in sustainable farming?
What relevant experiences & aspects of your character will you bring with you
CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS – 19th Jan 2020

Please send these by email to tom@caetancsa.org

If you want to ask anything just give me a call 07791696848

We will invite those selected in January to come for an interview, but if you want to come & visit in the meantime that would be great.

Cheers, Tom

Sharing knowledge with other Welsh Growers

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Last Tuesday, myself, Geoff, lizzy, Abbi, Rhian & Gio headed out west for the day to meet some other growers & learn from their systems of growing & selling produce. Through the winter whilst work is quiet this is a great way to build our knowledge. The visit was funded by Social Farms & Gardens.

The first stop was with Martin Samphire of Banc organics. Here we looked at his system which he is in the process of mechanising as he has very few hours to produce quite a lot of veg. Martin is using a lot of biodegradable mulch which saves him time, regulates soil temperature, suppresses weeds etc. He’s been studying an MSc on this material & is now starting a pHd! And still growing to supply enough for 60 households! The biodegradable membrane is something that we may use on certain crops in 2020.

Second stop was Glebelands Market Garden in Cardigan. Adam & Lesley kindly fed us on arrival then gave us a tour of the farm. Their business operates around a small farm shop where they sell both their own produce, produce from other local farms & imported organic fruits etc.They operate quite an extensive field scale where large areas are put down to green manures for fertility building for some years before rotating squash, leeks & brassicas. They have a super organised & productive polytunnel & intensive outdoor salad area where a lot of the more lucrative crops are raised.

It’s great to chat to other growers & have a look at what they’re up to. We are all developing our own ways of working & a site visit is the best training we can get….Thanks to SFG for supporting this. We hope to make more visits this winter.

Our Sustainable Schools Programme

IMG_6076We are really chuffed to introduce Jessie Kidd, the new member of Cae Tan’s team. She is a dynamic & enthused representative of Cae Tan. Jessie has a degree in Environmental Science, has worked as an education warden for Manchester Parks department and as a primary school teacher and is the chair of the Forest School SNPT charity. She is co-ordinating and delivering our exciting Sustainable Schools programme, to pupils from 5 schools across Swansea. This aims to raise awareness of sustainable farming, reconnecting children and young people to the land and their food.  Our current programme, funded by the Ernest Cook Trust, Gower Power and Greggs, enables Jessie to work with 5 schools in east Swansea delivering our “Seed to Plate” project. Through hands on activities and visits to our farm Jessie is teaching pupils how to grow their own pizza and hearty winter.  Our current project is fully booked but if you are interested in future projects or have any other queries please contact Jessie on jessie@new.caetancsa.org

Weekly Film Blog

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You may have spotted that I am doing a weekly film blog on Facebook. It’s really aimed at other growers getting started or thinking about getting started on small scale growing & running a CSA.

It’ll pretty much be a weekly thing for the coming year. They will all be a minute or 2 to keep it accessible & snappy.

Alongside practical elements of growing we will be working in crop planning, legal structures, yoga for bad backs & hopefully a few cooking videos.

Find the films on Cae Tan CSA facebook page or on youtube, search Cae Tan CSA.