As the global challenges mount and the UK drifts apart traditional Cardi resilience has never felt like a better idea! Even locally produced food and energy now sound like common sense principles, neglected at our peril. Glebelands goes into the Winter as prepared as at any point despite surviving the worst drought so far. We are cutting the last Summer crops Eg Aubergines, Cucumbers, Basil, Toms and filling our tunnels with salad and herbs to run through till next Spring. Outdoor crops look pretty good with decent stocks of Greens, Caulis, Squash and Leeks, and Autumn weather has been mild so far. Our field to shelf model of operating with minimal handling seems to have a place in the future because it achieves freshness but also competitive pricing.
Many of us have had our concept of value challenged of late ie what do you get for your money. For those with literally no choice then frozen food and cheap carbs have increased in their shopping and fresh fruit+veg has shrunk. In parallel with the 2008 recession the latter are around 9% down on the previous year. Aldi, Lidl and Greggs are all achieving higher sales.
While nutrition for poorer people clearly suffers for others the choices are wider. We and other organic producers are offering foodstuffs largely free of glysophate and other chemicals but the higher production cost v personal health is a decision heightened for many by Covid pressure. (Week 4 of what is now the 8th UK wave, unbeknown to many....).
The wider factors such as water pollution we would also do well not to forget as the Teifi catchment suffers repeated run-off and effluent dumping.Disappearance of keystone species Salmon and Eels in the river are entirely related to agriculture practice. Repeatedly voting in politicians committed to looting and rentier economics is also a choice that many have made but seem mystified as to why the UK feels so unstable.
More positively we can recommend turning to news from a Welsh perspective and suggest www.nation.cymru as a relatively well informed source. With Carwyn Graves now contributing on food issues and generally good writing on most subjects it makes what is often called the "legacy press" look pretty poor in comparision and increasingly ugly in tone. The end of BBC News output as a trustworthy source is a great shame, with 400 redundancies announced at the still credible World Service arm this week showing the direction of travel.
We host a commercial growers day on Wednesday covering Composting and Irrigation which may still have places available
Newyddion yr Haf,Machlud a Sychder/Beautiful Sunsets....and Drought
There's not been much time to post pics or news of late.In what has turned into a difficult season we have been stretched trying to keep as many crops alive as possible.Droughts are affecting much of Europe and beyond with significant forest fires resulting. Cymru's west coast has felt a relatively benign place to be in fragile times. Awareness of wider issues seems very variable,often dependant on how somebody makes a living.
The wider UK continues to face an expanding range of problems but would seemingly elect another far right Government were another election to be called.We may need new scapegoats to replace migrants as Covid,Brexit and profit gouging continue.For those who have given up on the UK press and Radio 4 we can recommend www.nation.cymru, the London Review of Books(actually v.good on current events),and selective use of twitter(fading but still up to the minute).
Having invested in more building space to cope with Covid challenges we now return to the tricky water supply issue and a borehole solution.St.Dogs is fortunate to be sat on top of reasonably good reserves of fresh water,sufficient we hope to sustain our cropping.Getting water up to the surface is stage 1 but stage 2 of moving and delivering in volume is also expensive to create.Good irrigation does however save on our most precious resource-time. We're saving hard.
Inevitably availability has been patchy,here and for many growers with many reigning in plans for next year.Toms,Basil and Cucs have all done well in the strong sunlight but Celeriac,Fennel,Broad Beans and Celery have failed where water was prioritised elsewhere.So far Winter field crops such as Purple Sprouting,Kales and Leeks are still looking ok and we have kept up salad production throughout.Accompanying pics tell some of the story.
Our Covid advice remains similar to 2 year ago(yes it is a long time).Assuming it's gone away or will inevitably become more benign is working very badly.Staff shortages because of illness are real enough and long term harm to others should not lead to complacency from those lucky enough to be well fed and living in relatively healthy places.Eg Cardigan(some of the cleanest air on the planet). Avoid infection where ever possible and try not to infect others.Victorian Cholera outbreaks tended to prey heavily on the poor and needy.A clean public water supply arrived only after London became almost unbearable for all. Clean air is pretty similarly obvious.
Yn y Maes Sych/Bank Holiday Updates
We open as normal next Thursday and Friday,10-5.30pm.
Works continues in typical Spring manner of slightly too many things going on at once.While it is very dry,light levels have been high and most crops are doing quite well.We tend to spend a lot of time moving irrigation kit around but do a good job on spring weeds in such conditions.
The first sunny days tends to attract people expecting immediate new potato availability,cheap Strawberries and endless Asparagus.Hungry Gap realities are a cuisine dominated by leafy crops(Sorrel,Spinach,Chard,Salad,Spring Onions)supplemented by early Tenderstem and Courgettes.
We continue to have problems establishing Spring Clover mixes(the basis of our fertility and farming)in dry conditions and our desire to drill a borehole onsite is increasing.There is actually plenty of water under St.Dogs but getting up and powered around a site is a big spend.Controlling when it rains would be a big step forward.
Recognition of St.Davids Day as a Welsh public holiday feels overdue at this point.....
Newyddion Covid/Updates 26.3.22
Some bright dry weather has raised some spirits,and soil temperatures.As accompanying pics show we are already well into volume plant production and outside planting has begun.New seasons are always a combination of optimism and fear!
Availability has been good(quite a contrast to last year's rationing of greens)with Purple Sprouting,Russian Kale Sprouts and Spring Tunnel Cabbage all tasting great.With recent tighter household budgets and challenged immune systems veg grown without chemical inputs,glysophate particularly,might be argued to be very good value.
Our building extension is largely complete,a significant expense for us but some very welcome greater space for all.The protracted nature of our planning process and difficulties of post Covid construction haven't helped.We are now allowing 3 customers in at once which has largely ended any queueing.
Covid 19 continues to blight daily life across the western world particularly, although interestingly altruistic and communal behavior came out better than many feared in recent World Happiness reporting.We thought Welsh gov announcement this week was very poor,on one hand noting hospitalisations at record levels while accepting increasing them! Worth remembering Welsh schools,hospitals and public transport all continue to be problematic and at times dangerous,often for the sake of low cost measures.While the UK press and Gov continue to promote the "it's all over" line the reality for all is that you can't go to work if you are ill.Repeated infection is a powerful argument for taking clean air seriously.
Facecoverings have become a totem for many, with right wingers+libertarians seeing them as symbols of oppression while in practice they are simply another public health tool. Having been on the end of 2 years of sporadic rants of those seeking to put their individual freedom of action above wider community right to avoid infection, we remain disappointed with some behavior.Staff and owners meet this week to decide policy post 28.3.22.Our intention remains to make Glebelands a difficult place to catch Covid and any other respiratory disease while shopping,or working.
Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant Hapus a Crempogau 1.3.22
Happy St.David's Day to all.Cymru's original veg enthusiast and clean living soul.Some head of steam to get a public holiday in place and not before time.
For those on the pancake trail don't forget the world of pancakes is a large one.You can literally make pancakes from any fine ground flour and mixtures of and no you don't need eggs to do it.Getting your hands on a chapatti style heavy flat pan or shallow sided skillet always makes it easier.Thick metal spreads the heat and a decent hard black steel or iron make sticking far less likely.
Among the tastiest versions might be Caribbean style patties either savoury or sweet where veg or fruit is sliced into the batter and nutmeg and allspice takes it all to a lovely place.Worth remembering our local distant relative the Tocyn y Cardi oatcake used local grain to achieve a passable and nutritious meal base.
Dim Stormydd Yma/Sheltered St.Dogs
Yes normal service here today til 5.30pm.
While we sometimes get frustrated with growing on north facing land Llandudoch/St.Dogmaels is very sheltered from the prevailing SW wind. Our problems tend to start with cold northerly winds,thankfully a lot less common.
Availability as we approach towards the hungry gap remains pretty good,with decent Caulis, Brussel Sprouts,Savoys,Purple Sprouting and Kales still on the shelves.While the outside stuff is tailing off we just about seamlessly move onto tunnel staples of Spring Cabbage,Cavolo Nero and Russian Kale.It is effectively Spring already in the polytunnels.
We have invested heavily in more tunnel space,a new propagation tunnel and more shop+packing space.We are attempting to increase our resilience in wider challenging times and keep the option of local nutritious food open to all.It remains disappointing
watching Asda,Amazon and Tesco delivery vehicles rolling into local homes in larger numbers and exporting the revenue.
Adroddiad Adeiladu/More Shop
Some pics of new shop extension taking shape below. It has taken a while to get to this stage but erecting the walls has been more straight forward than the groundwork. The re-roofing takes place early next week.
The extension will provide more prep and washing area, more shop space, and 2 different fridge temperature areas. Lack of physical space and literal room to breath has long been identified on our Covid Risk Assessment (all businesses have to produce up to date ones). From a customer perspective it is likely to mean 3 customers in at once and therefore a little more time to shop comfortably, and safely.
Our cropping looks suitably seasonal with decent amounts of winter Salad, Watercress, Purple Sprouting, Savoys, January Kings, Leeks and Squash. Many people have been particularly keen to achieve optimum nutrient and health while Covid infection remains at high levels.
Organic production remains a system to achieve that, as well as a biosphere we can all survive in. In value for money terms it looks rather cheap in comparison to medication, supplements and being unable to work through ill-health.
Most people wealthy or not, recognise the desire to eat well but ability in the UK to do so is deteriorating, as the wider economy suffers further looting and disruption. Many of us would like to send the bill to Eton school, origin of much polarisation.
While Covid and Brexit have been divisive experiences it is to be hoped than most of us can at least see them as crises taken advantage of by some. The challenges remains to focus on healing the ill caused by the crisis, literally as well as metaphorically, and avoiding further harm.
This continues to mean weighing up the eternal balance of personal freedom and responsibilities, our desire to act as we see fit while constantly tempering our impact on others.
The determination of the UK Government (and many other Western countries) to effectively ignore Covid impacts means the overall situation is almost certain to remain difficult and needlessly risky. It also means that responsibilities will continue very much at the personal level and avoided at the institutional level. Eg many hospitals and schools don't have air quality control or plans and individual staff must decide how they can work safely.
Back at the farm level we welcome Marta back from recharging in Udine and say a big thanks to Pip who covered some fiercely north wind shifts before Xmas. We are busy planning and prepping the 2022/23 season and already the lengthening days are apparent. First sown trays are on heated bench space and sowing will accelerate now. Much opening and closing of heat shields and tunnel vents to come. We are only 3 weeks away from the effective start of Spring inside our tunnels, warmer than Spring 2021 we hope and without any rationing of crops.