After August’s hectic work schedule of Harvest Party prep as well as the growing/ harvesting, and the ever-changing company of international Woofers, EVS and UNA volunteers, September starts the wind down to the quiet of winter. The autumn days were mostly mild and sunny, so that crops kept on growing really well, especially in the shelter-belt areas. But gradually nights got cooler, days less warm …… and now we know winter is really with us! The farm is quiet, the fields are bleak and wet, but the light, the Pembrokeshire coastal light, can be amazing and sunny days glorious. Today, before the hail storms, the sea was jade green, the sky deep plum purple, the cliff slopes ginger with bracken, slashed with lime green where a grassy path wended through. Lovely to look at, but we were glad it wasn’t a harvest day … it was bitter cold.
COCA’s seventh growing season has definitely been its most productive, and the shares of veggies to our members almost too big each week for folk to cope with. At one stage in late September we were harvesting 15 different crops, from “summer” tomatoes and French beans to “winter” leeks, beetroot, and kohl rabi. The reason for the success? a good season weatherwise, excellent dedication and ability from our two long-term EVS volunteers, new equipment for weeding and irrigation, and inputs of lime and manure and green manure crops following professional soil testing and advice. Plus of course increasing knowledge and confidence by the growing team lead by Caz Miles.
The polytunnel crops of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs gradually dwindled, and late September and early October saw the “turn over” as the old stuff was cleared and the space planted out with greens for the winter. Now the Oriental Greens are being harvested weekly, following on from the very last of the field-grown lettuce that had thrived in the mild autumn. We dont lack our dark green leafy vegetables here! Out in the field root crops dominate the scene, and carrots in particular have been superb this year, grown on ridges for easier weeding… although the volunteer gangs spent many hours hand weeding as well back in July, and it made a difference.
Dave, Brenda, Paul and the dog picking the Chard … again.
The regular Friday team of harvesters come and pick veg for everyone and weigh and share out the crops around the boxes. Now all the live-in international vols have gone, these are the local folk that COCA relies on, week in, week out.