Laura: Pick your own lettuce for the dinner

Read how it was for Laura, from Cardiff, to lead an international project at an organic farm in Pembrokeshire. “This was a chance to explore another area of my country,” she said. 

Laura Edwards

A Cardiff native, Laura has been involved in many areas of our work. During her EVS project in Turkey she got involved with supporting and promoting workcamps. Back in Wales, she has led a workcamp and supported trainings for volunteers preparing to go abroad.

LAURA’S STORY

“I have done some volunteering before and I thought it might be quite nice to lead the project in my home country. The project I chose was farming work on Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture (COCA) farm in west Wales.  I have done a couple of environmental projects before and I really enjoyed them, as it is completely different from anything I do in my normal daily life. I haven’t been to that many places in Wales either, so this was a chance to explore another area of my country.  Yet, on the project, I wasn’t just a tourist on holiday, I was living and getting to know the locals   as well as getting to live and work with international volunteers.

Where that food comes from
We were on an organic farm and we were planting, harvesting and weeding for the local community. I remember, how happy we were on the first day, when we started to harvest the onion; pick it up and hang it to dry, working together! Working outside for the whole day was quite relaxing actually, because a lot of the time daily life is spent inside working or studying. Some days were really sunny, so it was just nice to be outside and have a nice view of the amazing landscape around. Of course the weather in Wales can be unpredictable, and there were times it was raining, however we would generally work inside if the weather was too bad.


Laura in COCA farm (3)

For me it was incredible just how much land that Gerald the farmer has and the amount of crops they planted! The farmer and his son mainly do all of it  on their own and they only have a few volunteers who come to help when they can,  but Gerald really relies on volunteers to help. At the farm they make vegetable boxes from the weekly harvest, which people can buy from COCA. We also cooked our own meals from the organic vegetables; we had delicious salad every day or milk, which was locally produced. It was such a nice thing to be able to pick your own lettuce and have that for your dinner! I think that living in city, we don’t really realize that so many people are passionate about their own community and produce their food! It is something I didn’t have awareness of but obviously living in the city it is not around you on a daily basis and this experience makes you think more about where that food comes from and what you can do to change it. It has made me want to grow my own food in the future.
Laura in COCA farm (4)

After a few days you feel like a family
It was my first time leading a volunteer project and I was ill just before, so I didn’t have much time to prepare. I was panicking a little bit, because I didn’t feel that I was as prepared as I needed to be, but luckily Gerald was really nice and friendly and he already had a lot of experience from hosting previous workcamps. Everyone in the group was quite relaxed and everyone wanted to get involved and so we didn’t have to set a strict rota for people to clean or cook. We really didn’t have to organize our group that much, because we were really small and we kind of all just got on together. Because the host was very experienced and the work was well organised, the main responsibility for me as a leader was to make sure that everybody was able to do and enjoy the work and that everyone was getting along well together. I enjoyed that we lived all together; after few days you kind of feel like a family because you do everything together all day. Obviously you can have time to go out and do your own things, but you do get close really quickly. I always like to meet people from all over, so I really enjoy the company of other international volunteers. You can just go abroad for a holiday and stay in a hotel and not really see anything of the culture, but if you go somewhere and volunteer there, you are doing something good and you learn about the culture and actually live in the culture. I think it is a much nicer way.
Laura in COCA farm (2)

It is great if people donate money to charities, but I think through volunteering you are really giving yourself in way to help and it is also about meeting people and involving yourself in a community. It was a really nice experience and I hope to lead a project again in the future.”

FOLLOW LAURA!

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  • Would you like to become a leader of one of our International Volunteer Projects in Wales this summer? We are always on the lookout for project leaders and we offer special training to develop leadership skills. Find out more about our training opportunities and get in touch with us to discuss your possibilities: exchanges@unaexchange.org