21st October 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
Hi…. 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:


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!