What we get from the garden:
Our own garden is the source of our most 'local' food. Nick has worked hard to ensure that we are enjoying an abundance of red fruits this summer.
In autumn you can expect some nice velvety soups made with pumpkins from our garden and even in winter the garden produces vegetables like Jerusalem artichokes and a hardy mustard-type leaf with the beautiful name 'Green in the snow'.
Nick began work on the kitchen garden in May 2005. The garden lies on a half hectare field with a good slope and pretty much facing south. The soil is thin, slightly acid as the result of being laid down to permanent pasture over a long period of time. It was a difficult decision to interfere with this pasture but the productive use of the land is integral to the provision of high quality food for the café.
So far Nick has built some forty raised beds each made from three scaffold planks. The planks have been pressure-treated with tanolith-F, a non-toxic safe alternative to traditional preservation treatments.
The garden and all of the project grounds are cultivated as 'organic.’ However - we have decided not to go down the registered organic route believing that a responsible middle route is a more beneficial and low energy system for us. For instance we import horse manure from a variety of local sources. This is not organic, but is very local and is freely available. We use no artificial fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides. We are happy that our customers trust us to produce good food.
The aim has always been to employ local labour to produce fresh produce for the kitchen and to pay for this with the money we would otherwise spend on high value organic produce.
One of the greatest pride and joy in the garden are the beehives which produce a beautiful honey which tastes of a blend of all the local flowers.
In spring 2005 we also picked up our first two swarms of bees. Local ex-beekeeper Islwyn showed Nick the ropes and by the end of our first summer the kitchen took delivery of some forty pounds of totally gorgeous honey.
One of the hives swarmed with about 20 thousand bees hanging outside the café windows, but sadly we didn’t have a spare hive ready so a local keeper took them away. This year we’re ready to ‘take in’ another swarm and so increase our potential production. The aim is to become self-sufficient in honey within a couple of years.
The rest of the garden
The remainder of the Caban site is put down to more formal planting with box, yew and gorse hedging which will be trained to produce a kind of abstract topiary effect. Interspersed within this framework is a large range of standard fruit trees and soft-fruit. We’ve got apples and pears, plums, damsons, figs, red and blackcurrants, raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries. Nick also plants a wide range of native fruiting plants as food for the increasing amount of wildlife visiting the grounds.
If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions about the garden, please email us and we’ll try to answer you. If you would like a tour of the garden please let us know.