Nov 2012 : Newsletter
What a season! Some sun and rainbows but much rain, mud and Summer gales. After fearing we were done for in early Summer, we just about caught up with cultivations and planting sufficient to have some Winter cropping to sell. Most Squashes were destroyed in the strong winds at Pencrugiau (Glanrhyd) and much of the Caulis and Broccoli struggled in the gloom. Our increased plantings ended up often yielding less than 2011. We have however kept up supply of most crops planned most of the time and we have felt appreciated for it, thanks to all.
Our polytunnels have risen up and have filled with crops to get us through the Winter: once inside the removal of wind chill is immediately noticeable, as is the absence of rain! We are now commencing work on our wooden building to provide basic comfort for us and the produce. Good insulation will be doing most of the work thereby minimising the refrigeration load inside. We hope it is a credit to the landscape.
Work continues on improving our soil to boost organic matter levels and prepare for future cropping. Two treatments of lime are raising pH, along with generous applications of compost and manure, while green manures such as Clover, Chicory and Vetch have been growing away. This is all slow but important. Feedback from customers on taste and quality suggest organically managed soils have something to offer beyond locking up carbon efficiently and avoidance of herbicide and the like.
So what further ahead? We may be able to create some further employment as production expands and local sentiment appears to be strongly in favour of buying anything which can be made or grown in the area. We would like to support one or two specialist growers of crops we are not able to efficiently produce ourselves and some grower co-operation in the wider region exists.
Cardigan itself is now more of centre than many of us realise for innovation and taking control of local resources and many people from other areas are beginning to look here for inspiration. Some change from the town that suffered the closure of Dewhirst only 11 years ago. Much remains to do for local young people however
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The traditional lean season ran from late March to early May: Winter roots and greens ran out and Spring crops were in the ground but few harvestable. Modern times brought pan-European logistics and Mediterranean produce in serious volumes as well as increasing polytunnel use back here in Blighty.
Our ambitious plan here to grow and sell as much West Wales produce as possible relied on minimising this "hungry gap" with our own polytunnels but we hadn't bargained upon one of neighbours taking fright at our crazy local food ideas. They,or their views, also appear to have unusual influence on the County Council! Doh. Perhaps we should be running a gigantic lawn for them and not growing food?
So something of planning struggle underway with much policy supporting our position but large amounts of time being consumed to make and defend our case against a generally hostile planning dept line and one or two dodgy local councillors.
This has involved two Freedom of Information requests, lots of meetings, reference to Agricultural solicitors and hundreds of emails.
This really doesn't help any Spring plant raising and gound preparation campaign, at all. Despite a dry and warm March we ended up behind with that scary moment when module trays are stacking up to go out and mae hi'n bwrw glaw!
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