1st June 2020 Tom O'Kane

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!