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@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.

The Launch of Cow Tan!

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Feast from the Field & Cowtan launch event 7pm, Sat 9th March

Cae Tân CSA is embarking on a new adventure and we want to know if you’d like to be part of it? We are setting up a cow club whose mission is to bring ecological harmony and fertility to the commons. We are looking for local people who would like to take part in rearing a small herd of cattle on Fairwood Common and that would like to learn more about cows’ role as eco-engineers and cultural dynamos.

After the feast you’ll have a chance to hear from local experts about ecology, animal husbandry, carbon sequestration, paleo diets and nutrition as well as hear a story or two.

Food will be prepared by fantastic local social enterprise Square Peg. For more information and to book your place go to:

https://cowtanlaunch.eventbrite.co.uk

If you can’t make the event but think you might want to get involved in the scheme please contact cowtan@caetancsa.org

 

Job Opportunity – Growing Sustainable Schools

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2ceWe are seeking a motivated & dynamic person to run this exciting new programme. The Ernest Cook Trust, Gower Power Coop & Greggs, have funded us to work with five local schools in Swansea East.
Building on the base of our well-established pizza project, the post holder will explore & expand activities, to engage these schools throughout the growing season. Inspiring young people to get their hands dirty, grow & eat more of their own veggies & learn more about sustainable local food production. Hopefully germinate a few new farmers too!
The post is initially for one academic year. The post holder will be working two days per week within the academic term.

Period of post, from March 2019 to February 2020.

Rate of Pay £26,000 pro rata – 14hrs per week (term time only)

Person specification
1. Experience of working with school children
2. Inspired by sustainable local food production
3. Hands on experience of basic food growing
4. Willing to be part of the Cae Tan team & at the same time, drive this project forward with your own initiative
5. Experience of project management & reporting
6. Some experience of fundraising
7. Good computer skills
8. Full driving license

To apply for this position please
1. Send us your CV
2. In 500 words OR LESS, tell us about yourself using points 1 to 8 above as subtitles.
CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS – 8th February 2019

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 to come for an interview, but if you want to come & visit in the meantime that would be great.

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

Is CSA good value?

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Throughout the growing period of June 2017 to May 2018 Lizzy conducted price comparisons for our veg shares. We worked out the average prices from 21 boxes during this period. Our veg turns out to be very competitive with other organic options. Also this was done last year. We think the quantites and quality have been even better this season. Here are the results…

Cae Tan Major Supermarket Organic Major Supermarket Non Organic Organic box scheme (minus delivery fee) Soil Association Farm Shop
Large Box £12.50 £14.17 £8.77 £15.64 £15.17
Small Box £7.50 £7.67 £4.42 £7.45 £7.49

Theres a few interesting points;

  • Even in not such a good growing year CSA is really good economic value
  • Compared to non organic its more expensive, but there are many hidden social & environmental impacts with non organic
  • The small share is more expensive comparatively; due to the fact that it takes less than half the time to pick, pack & administer than the large share which has twice as much veg
  • With CSA there are a whole host of hidden benefits that are not accounted for in monetary comparisons……

When we don’t just consider the fact that this is good value for money, but its also good value for all sorts of other reasons..

  • The growers are properly paid
  • The food is freshly picked from biologically rich chemical free soil, meaning they’re much higher in nutritional content & taste
  • The environment around the fields, both within & alongside cropping is biologically diverse & healthy
  • Reduced imports of produce
  • Inspiring & training new growers & farmers that this is possible & fun
  • Creating social & volunteering opportunities for people of all ages & backgrounds
  • Re circulating money in the local economy
  • Taking control of our local food systems as a community

Surely CSA is the way forward as a key player in the matrix that will make our land & communities full of health & vitality.

 

 

News From The Field December 2018

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It has been an incredibly busy season, what with it being the first year cultivating our new 5 acre site in Lunnon, TV appearances, 2 new trainees and not to mention the crazy hot, dry summer that we have had!

Overall, it has been a very successful year. We have a bountiful crop of winter veg sitting in the field, including enough roots to last us until April at least. This is something that we would have found hard to believe back in May when they were being sown directly into very dry ground in the baking sun! Due to the weather this summer we have had to invest in irrigation for these crops which has definitely paid off.

All of our Brassica’s are looking fantastic, the Brussels seem to be holding a lot better this season so hopefully we will have them for the Christmas Veg boxes this year! Squash and onions were harvested back in late summer and have been stored in one of our Polytunnels. They should last into the New Year! We also have 5 tonnes of spuds stored in a barn close by. This year, we are hoping to be self-sufficient in veg all winter and the majority of spring.

Our tunnels were planted up in succession during September and October with winter salads, which we have already started cropping, these shall go through until May next year, when we pull them out ready for the tomatoes. Also in the tunnels, we have sown over winter broad beans, garlic, and this year we are trying out a few beds of early carrots.

We are delighted to have raised £3000 at this Septembers Harvest Party! We would like to thank everyone for coming along and those who donated the wonderful prizes and their time to the cause! The money will go towards building a barn to provide us with a place to store produce, the tractor and a sheltered packing space at Furzehill.

Together as a CSA we have donated 1150kg of uncollected veg to Matt’s Cafe to date. They would like to send a special thanks from the whole team as the donations of veg make a massive difference to their project!

 

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Ecological Land Cooperative

Phil and Lauren, representatives from ELC came along to last weeks AGM to discuss latest plans for the 13 acres at Furzehill surrounding our 5 acres. The ELC are a co-operative, which has been operating for 10 years. They are developing a model of small-scale, ecological agriculture and working towards making it more accessible for new entrant farmers to live and work on their own piece of land. We are delighted to be working alongside them on a pretty amazing project. Please do have a look at the website or get in contact with them if you have any questions about future proposals for the site at Furzehill. http://ecologicalland.coop/

 

An update from Francesca on her salad’s project.

This year I have been busy setting up a salad growing business with Cae Tan. I have been growing mixed salad leaf, chard, edible/cut flowers and herbs, selling to cafes and restaurants in the local area. These customers include Pennard stores, Crumbs, Hoogah, Arthur Neave, Govindas and George Chaplin. A member of Cae Tan, Olly, has been very generously volunteering his time to deliver the salads, he has been an amazing help.

I have been growing on approx a 60m x 10m space on the new site, using hand tools only. We have also put up a Polytunnel, which I have planted up for winter salads. Feedback from cafes about the produce has been really good. They have said that they can’t get this quality anywhere else. The customers have been really grateful for the produce and I believe we now have a strong link with these businesses. (A visitor this summer had just come from Prince Charles’ garden at Balmoral. She said that Charles garden was nothing on Francesca’s!)

To get the project going I have had funding from Nature Save, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Cae Tan fundraiser 2017. With this help the project has financially had a good start and has up to now broken even, with a little bit of surplus. The intention is to break even next year without the help of this funding and I am hopeful that this will be possible as there is potential to expand with a lot of interest from other customers. Setting up this project has been a dream come true. It is a lot of hard work, but I love working on the land, in such a beautiful place, with a lovely community of people and I am so happy to have this opportunity. Thank you for your support.

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Projects

Unfortunately, we didn’t secure funding for the Pizza project in 2018. However, Tom and Laura have continued to work with Pennard school anyway this season. But for 2019 we have been successful in a funding bid & hope to have enough funds to employ someone part time to develop school projects throughout the year. More news on this soon….

Throughout the season Tom and Geoff have been working alongside the Swansea National Waterfront Museum, creating a permanent community garden and workshop at their site in SA1, commissioned by Now the Hero and 1418. They have been working closely with a range of volunteers and St Thomas school who have been for site visits at the land. All produce grown in the garden is donated to projects who make food for those in need across the city. We have also grown squash for them to make a soup for the 2500 people who attended the Now The Hero performances in September.

2018 Trainees

Abbi and Isabel have been a fantastic addition to our team and we are sad to see them go. They have worked hard all season and been a part of all aspects of running the project. Isabel has now returned to Spain and is hoping to return to University to complete her masters. Abbi is now doing some winter work with schools at Swansea Community Farm and looking at farm project positions around the south west. We hope we can keep her in Swansea somehow…

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Financial Summary

At the AGM on 8th November Ruth presented financial statements for the year ended 31st March 2018 (2018) which show a small surplus of £142 compared to £147 for the previous year to 31st March 2017 (2017). The big difference in 2018 is that the WCVA grant, which for the last 2 years has paid £1k per month towards salary costs, ended on 31st March 2017. This means in 2018 salary costs for core activities of growing veg for members was fully funded through Cae Tan’s own income i.e. members payments for veg shares for the first time.

This is a big step towards securing Cae Tan’s future as viable self-sustaining financial model. Whilst membership numbers were not quite as high as forecast we maintained numbers at over 100 and income from veg boxes increased from £37k in 2017 to £44k in 2018. As of last week we are up to 120 households and have started a waiting list for new members. There were some cashflow issues through the Spring this year, mainly due to funding streams being paid quarterly in arrears. This financial year will be less impacted by high seasonal costs through the late Spring as Cae Tan will be buying very little produce now that so much Winter veg has been grown in the new field at Furzehill.

Throughout the growing period of June 2017 to May 2018 we have conducted price comparisons for our veg box. We worked out the average prices from 21 boxes during this period. Our veg is very competitive with other organic options. Also this was done last year. We think the quantites and quality have been even better this season. Here are the results…

Cae Tan Major Supermarket Organic Major Supermarket Non Organic Organic box scheme (minus delivery fee) Soil Association Farm Shop
Large Box £12.50 £14.17 £8.77 £15.64 £15.17
Small Box £7.50 £7.67 £4.42 £7.45 £7.49

 

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Plans and projects for the next season…

*This year we have been working closely with Soil Advisor Niels Corfield. We are developing a long term rotation plan incorporating a long term green manure system.

*Our annual survey will be available soon, please take some time to complete it as it is really useful to have member input before we begin crop planning for next season.

*We are now accepting applications for our 2019 trainee and are also hoping to have another trainee through EVS. Please see blog on our website for info.

*Please join us for our Christmas get together on the 20th December, this will be at the packing shed with music, mulled wine and mince pies. We will have two weeks worth of veg on the 20th and boxes will resume on the 3rd of January. If you are away for Christmas and would like to donate your veg to Matt’s Cafe please contact Clarity on 07870345561 before the 20th December.

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Any questions contact tom@caetancsa.org 07791696848

Thank you to all our members for all of your support!

Thanks to our funders who have supported social, educational projects & helped Francesca get set up. Natural Resources Wales, Rural Development Programme, The Ernest Cook Trust, The Naturesave Trust, Swansea Green Spaces.

Trainee Position 2019 Open for Applicants

Trainee Position at Cae Tan CSA 2019

Now Open for applications

Note….This is not the EVS placement….to apply for the EVS placement contact evscoordinator@unaexchange.org 

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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 2019 season. Period from April 1st to 31st October 2018.

 

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

  1. Send us your CV
  2. Answer the following questions;
    1. Why do you want this position?
    2. What are your long-term goals in sustainable farming?
    3. What relevant experiences & aspects of your character will you bring with you

CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS – 19th Jan 2019

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

Farm Hack & CSA Gathering Cymru

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A couple of weekends back a few of us travelled up to Tyddyn Teg, a CSA based in Snowdonia, where we spent the weekend sharing ideas on small scale growing with farmers from other CSA’s & organic farms.

The weekend had two key focus groups. ‘The Wales CSA Network’ & ‘Farm Hack’. The CSA network come together in order to share best practice & help support new CSA’s to get set up in Wales. Cae Tan ran a workshop on setting up a CSA. Other workshops included a growers round table, farm machinery best practice & seed saving.

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There were some interesting technical workshops including how to build a weeding robot, creating your own hand scale machinery using old bikes & random bits of junk, timber framing & working with horses.

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The best part of these gatherings for me are the informal chats you have with so many growers & farmers from different projects. The farm tour always generates alot of really interesting discussions as we generally all have similar seasonal challenges.

Next month we head back into Snowdonia to join the Landworkers Alliance AGM for more information sharing & to push forward political agenda’s for sustainable farming in the UK.

 

Harvest Party Thankyou’s

A huge thankyou to everyone involved in organising & making the harvest party happen a couple of weeks back. (Especially Lizzy…)

We raised a staggering £3000!!

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This will go towards the construction of a small barn on the new site for storage of veg, tools, packing space etc.

Thanks to the following for your kind donations..

Raflle Prizes
Homemade breakfast hamper (Lara)
Hoogah Pizza
Dr Organics Gift Set
Crumbs voucher
Clipper Gift Set
Arthur Neave cafe voucher
Bottle of red wine from someone really nice
La Doce Vita voucher – Tony & Sarah O’Kane
Vegan Shea Butter – Bobinogs Gonzales!
Auction Promises
Gower Heritage Centre Free entry to cider festival
Artisan breadmaking with Chendore
Gower Heritage Centre Charette cinema screening
Pilates lesson – Mariana
Chiropratic session at Gower Chiropractic Centre – Becky
Sue Kent Foot massage
Picnic hamper – Abbi & Rhys
Crochet lesson
Spin round Gower in Triumph pi – Lizzy & Tim
Swans v QPR football tickets from someone fantastic
Emma Bissonat Lino cuts
Tai Chi class with Abbi’s dad
Neck and back massage with Sue Kent
2 nights in cosy cabin in sandy lane – Tom & Pasacle
Gower SUP 2 hour lesson
Canoeing with Ant
Private gig with Goeff
Spanish lessons with Isabel
landladies meal – Laura & the land ladies
Gower pleasure flight with Alex

Biodynamic Practice at Cae Tan

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Its been a while since I wrote a post. I went away on holiday in August & got out of the loop, but as autumn settles on us I thought I’d write about one of the biodynamic practices we use on the fields.

Biodynamic agriculture originates from a series of lectures that Rudolph Steiner gave to a group of farmers in Silesia in 1924.

Biodynamic translates as ‘bio’ life, ‘dynamic’ force. So its Life Force Agriculture. This life force is exhibited in our soil, our crops, our animals, the people who work the land & those who eat what comes from the land. Its a constant work, learning process & juggling act on all sorts of levels to find the right balance to allow these elements to thrive.

My introduction to biodynamic agriculture was as a trainee at the age of 21 in Jerpoint Camphill Community in Southern Ireland. The community worked on a 1 acre garden & small farm to produce veg, meat, milk & eggs for its community of people with learning disabilities (the lads) & an international crew of volunteers. It was a really rich period in my life & provided a solid foundation to everything I’ve been involved in since.

Our focus was in equal measures to work with and care for the land in a mindful sense and to provide meaningful & satisfying work for the ‘lads’.

I had the good fortune to have a one to one apprenticeship with a biodynamic grower & whilst at Jerpoint myself & my cousin put together a biodynamic training course, inviting some of the leading biodynamic bods from around Ireland to come & share their knowledge with us.

To alot of people I find that the practice of biodynamics is hard to grasp. Many of the writings are quite intellectual & the concepts unfamiliar. People think its just a bit weird. I think this depends on the context you meet it in.

Personally, I have found it a really exciting & mind opening journey which allows me to have a different view of the crops we grow, the landscape around us & how we interact with one another in this environment.

To give you an idea of what its about, I’ll try to concisely get across one of the key practices we carry out.

The ‘horn manure preparation’ or ‘500 preparation’ is a fertility building treatment that we apply to the land in spring, summer or autumn.

Biodynamics very basically follows two key motions of inward movement & outward movement. This can be reflected in the in breath & out breath; the inward workings of the soil in the depths of winter & the outward exuberance of flowers, fruit & insects in the height of summer; our own birth & death & ultimately the birth & death of a planet.

I may have lost you already……

Its basically about working with a natural flow that exists within nature. Sounds like some kind of hippy thing? I find it a pleasure to work with as it literally allows you to contemplate the stars & wider universe whilst you’ve got your hands in the soil or even a bucket of diluted cow shit!

Now you’ll probably find this a bit out there!

The horn manure preparation is made by filling cow horns with cow manure & burying them in the soil for the winter period. They are then dug up in spring, mixed in water & applied to the land to increase biological activity, soil fertility & life force.

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The basic idea is that the cow manure, from a lactating cow is super rich in flora & fauna, having travelled a huge distance through the cows intestines. The cow is also seen as a very earthy land aware creature. Steiner perceived the cow to be more conscious in its 4 stomachs than in its head. If you hang out with a grazing cow, have a look at its glazed over eyes & you can just imagine how theres not any great thoughts going through its head, but all the action is happening in its 4 stomachs.

Whilst its belly is processing the fodder it eats, the cow is literally processing the land it stands on, churning over, digesting it & transforming it into a biologically rich substance. Cow Poo!

This process is directly linked to the cows bloodstream. Blood flowing around its bellies is also flowing up through the tips of the cows horns & back around the rest of its body.

In this sense the cow horns are seen as a cap holding the life force of the cow in as in digests and transforms what it eats. So the cow horns do the same job over winter whilst the manure is buried in the ground.

Whereas this process was happening inside one cow, once the horn is buried, the earth is seen to act like the belly of the cow. In autumn & winter, the outward surging summer forces of warmth, growth, smell, taste, colour all return to the earth for winter. Many of these qualities are trapped in the crops that we store for winter foods.

So through the winter period, this rich substance is composted & digested in the belly of the earth, taking on new qualities some of which can be both measured & some not.

So twice this year at Webbsfield & once at Furzehill, myself and others took some of this composted horn manure, mixed it in water & spread it on the fields to boost life force in the soil, in our crops & hopefully in us!

I won’t go into the method of mixing & applying the horn manure just now as this is another story.

If this is something you’d like to learn more about, then let me know & I’ll tell you when we’re making an application next spring.