Tag Archives: COCA

Community Fund – COCA – November update

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.

COCA August Update

August: Our busiest month yet!

In spite of struggling with cabbage white butterfly, turnip sawfly caterpillars, aphids and slugs we have been able to harvest potatoes, carrots, beetroots, onions, two varieties of cabbage, three varieties of kale, two varieties of turnips, radishes, lettuce, chard, courgettes, four varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, French beans and runner beans for our weekly organic veg boxes.

It’s been an incredibly busy month, and in addition to the usual tasks revolving around growing the vegetables (sowing, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, watering, trimming) preparations for the annual Harvest Party, a key fundraiser for COCA and Caerhys Farm, were in full swing.

Luckily, our German EVS volunteer received reinforcement from WWOOFers and five international helpers who joined us for almost three weeks as part of the UNA Workcamp scheme. The volunteers from Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Russia, and Japan helped with the preparations for the Harvest Party including transforming the farm into a festival-worthy space, ensuring a smooth running of the event, and helping to clean up after the festival. Katya, one of our Workcamp volunteers, sums up her experience: “To tell the truth, I spent an amazing time with wonderful people, not only at the farm, but in St Davids, too. I met a lot of guys from different countries, explored farm life and beautiful sights of Wales. Some things like harvesting beans or weeding seemed daily routine for me, but I had a great time, especially during the Harvest Party”.

Despite the fact that especially Saturday saw less visitors than last year, it was a weekend filled with fun, food, music, dance, games, talks, and theatre. Highlight of the weekend? For Silvia from Spain it was her new found love for Cider, for others it was dancing to Fiddelbox’s Ceildhi on Friday night.

An enormous thank you to everyone who helped out before, during and after the Harvest Party. Without your dedication and hard work this fantastic event would not have been possible!

Community Fund – COCA – July update

Times flies when you are growing veggies! Another month has passed, and it’s time to celebrate the end of the hungry gap. This month we harvested cabbage, sprouting broccoli, carrots, beetroot, chard, three different types of kale, potatoes, radishes, courgettes lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and French beans for our weekly organic veg boxes.

Besides the sowing, transplanting, harvesting and weeding (a mammoth job in itself!), a lot of work has gone into reviving COCA’s fruit area. Equipped with gloves, sickles and a strimmer we won the war against nettles, brambles and grass and the blackcurrants and raspberries have been freed so that out members can now pick their own berries.

Despite all the good news, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Blight got to our potatoes and all foliage had to be removed to save the crop. More news from the (battle)field: the “caterpillar squishing squad” (aka our WWOOFers) has been active to combat cabbage white butterfly and to save our courgettes and squashes we have received special permission from the Soil Association to use organic slug pellets. 

Sneak Peek for August: We are holding our annual Harvest Party on the 18th and 19th of August. Let’s get together for some great live music, talks, walks, food, drink and much more, everybody is welcome!

Community Fund – COCA – June update

It’s been all hands on deck this month, and with summer approaching fast and the weather turning better WWOOFers have thankfully found their way to COCA to give Caz and the two hard-working EVS volunteers a hand.

A massive amount of transplanting has taken place to establish the summer crops in the field: around 2000 seedlings of different types of cabbage and more than 4800 leeks were transplanted with the help of our WWOOFers from Austria, France and Germany. In the Polytunnels, the first tomatoes have started turning red, cucumbers have started producing fruits and in the field the carrots and parsnips are looking better than ever! In the meantime, the sowing of salads and winter brassicas continues, plus the usual weeding, watering and of course the Friday harvest. But that’s not enough! We are also experimenting with new, more exciting varieties this season, including purple kohlrabi, black radishes, golden turnips and different varieties of carrots.

June was a lot of work, but as everyone knows, we live by the motto “work hard, play hard” and on their days off our volunteers got to enjoy the Blue Lagoon festival and – one of Pembrokeshire’s finest – the Unearthed Festival. A weekend leisure program including sea-kayaking, surfing, hiking, biking and a boat trip around Ramsey island with Gerald made sure no-one got bored on the weekends…

Community Fund – COCA – January Update

As follows below is COCA’s update for January.  Rhiannon is currently on travels in France for a while so I’ll be doing for the updates now.

January has been typically quiet time on the farm this year with no volunteers staying and not too much work in the field either.  We’ve been harvesting oriental greens from the polytunnels and they are growing well despite the lack of sunshine.  We are also still getting lots of sprouts from the field and Swiss chard too.  Although there has not been too much activity outside, the growing team has been busy with the crop plan for the year ahead (which is to be put on our website).  Our events team have also been busy too and organised a Burns Night in a local village on the 28th January (two photos attached).  It was a tremendous success with over eighty people coming to celebrate this Scottish tradition and raised over £600 towards COCA funds.  We were lucky to find a wonderful band for a ceilidh and a bag piper too!

Community Fund – COCA – December Update

img_20161202_141044-1December was a quiet month at COCA, the winter absence of residential volunteers leaving Caz on his own for the first time since February. Thankfully it is at least a quieter time of year, with a lot of the ground and crops already prepared throughout the autumn. Most of the harvests this month were unfortunately on fairly miserable rainy days, but that didn’t stop the regular crew of members from volunteering for the weekly harvest with a smile. A special mention to David and Brenda, who have consistently lent a hand for harvest throughout the year, come rain or shine.

This month still saw some new veg in the box, with a fresh new crop of salads in the polytunnels ready for harvest. This included plenty of oriental green leaves, which taste fantastic, and for the first time some pak choi. They made for great additions to our bumper Christmas boxes, which included a whole array of fresh veg for Christmas dinner, including brussel sprouts, parsnips, beetroot, onions, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, leeks, kale and chard.

And plans are already a foot for the new year, with a Burns Night party on the horizon for the end of January, to bring together all our members and volunteers for some food and good cheer in the middle of winter.

Community Fund – COCA – November Update

unknown-1It felt like winter came to COCA a little early this year, with sharp cold weather, the occasional frost, and even the odd bit of hail right from the start of November. The days may have been getting shorter, but the work carried on of course. In November we were joined by a new woofer, Magdalena, who stayed at COCA for two weeks, who, along with our long term volunteer Agnès, and of course our grower Caz, helped to get everything well and truly prepared for the winter ahead.

Out in the field, the now empty seed beds were covered with plastic to stop the weed growth over the winter, and the irrigation pipes stoppered and drained to prevent them from freezing in cold weather. The tool shed has been tidied and reorganised ready for spring, next years early crops like the chard and kale were weeded and manured, to give them the best chance in the harshest months, and our current crop of chard were covered with fleece to protect them from the wind.

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Community Fund – COCA – October Update

A good helping of traditional winter veg started cropping up thick and fast at Caerhys this month, with the first leeks, brussel sprouts and butternut squashes all appearing in the share shed. And of course, some timely pumpkins for Halloween. There have still been some reminders of summer though, as October also saw the last of the tomatoes, green peppers, courgettes, cucumbers, french beans, and the current crop of salads. All in addition to seasonal staples of potatoes, turnips, carrots, kale and swiss chard.

As a consequence of that seasonal shift in veggies, it’s been all change in both polytunnels. The french beans, peppers and tomato plants have all been removed, and the soil prepared and turned in both. The replanting has only just begun, with Poly 1 providing a new home for hundreds of freshly transplanted salad leaves, but with many many more to do. Meanwhile in Poly 2, ten lines of carrots have been planted, with cabbages and chards to follow shortly.

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Community Fund – COCA – September Update

img_20160808_193356Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture – September 2016 Update

After bustling with people all summer, Caerhys seemed much quieter in September, as several of our longer term volunteers moved on to pastures new. Farewell and thanks to Emma, Janny and Josie, who finished their time at Caerhys after putting in a fantastic amount of work while they were here.

September marks the start of autumn, and so the time has come to begin a new phase of planting. After planning it out in August, Caz, Gill and Agnès have begun taking out the old plants to make room for the new. This month saw the last of the courgettes (probably, a few plants were kept back, just in case), and there’ll be fewer tomatoes from here on out. Some new salads have been sowed, and we’ve had the first of our turnips. And with Halloween approaching, it’ll soon be time for the squashes!

Outside of the veg itself, toward the end of the month some vital maintenance was carried out on our straw building, so soon it’ll be ready to act as the new store shed, providing us with a new place to store and collect the veg. The building has of course already been put to good use, hosting a variety of talks and the local Pembrokeshire Ukelele Pirates over the summer.



The Ukelele Pirates playing in the new straw building

The core group members being given a guided tour of the field by Caz

Community Fund – COCA – August Update

August is traditionally the month where it’s all go at Caerhys, and this year was no exception.

Well into the glut now, this month members saw a bumper crop in their veg boxes, including the first cucumbers, four varieties of tomato, french beans and courgette. It’s a fair assumption that a lot of members will have had their fill of courgette cake and been busy making chutney. And of course more veg means more harvesting!

Luckily, there were extra hands to help, as August saw COCA hosting the last work camp of the year. Once again a raft of volunteers from across Europe came to the farm, to learn about organic permaculture, get a taste of rural welsh life, and get involved with a community agriculture project.

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