March 20, 2012

Cusgarne Organic Farm in Cornwall

Before I get into all the fun stuff I’ve been up to here, I thought I’d tell you all a little about the farm and the surrounding area.

Cusgarne Organic Farm is in a small village called Cusgarne, contained within a valley that shares the same name, located just about in the middle of a triangle formed by the three larger towns/cities of Falmouth, Truro and Redruth, in the heart of Cornwall. Cornwall is the furthest west of the four counties that make up the southwest region of England. A slender sliver of land, which is surrounded by coast except for the bit on the east side where it is cut off from Devon, the next county over by the River Tamar. So it is quite isolated from the rest of mainland England, which accounts for its strong cultural identity. Cornwall is well known for its breathtaking beaches, many a surfer’s paradise, and beautiful coasts full of dramatic cliffs and quaint little fishing villages, so it is no surprise that it is considered the “nation’s favorite getaway”.

The farm has been fully organic since 1988. They grow over 60 varieties of vegetables on 30 acres of land. For the last 20 years, they have been running a successful organic fruit/vegetable box scheme, currently delivering something like 150 boxes per week, in and around the surrounding area. A lot of the produce is grown in the farm but a good amount is also bought in, especially during the colder months when invariably less growing takes place. The objective is to be able to provide customers with variety all year round; otherwise they’d mostly get potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale during the winter. They also have seven good-sized polytunnels, which extend the length of the growing season as well as the range of crops that can be produced. These make it possible to grow vegetables that require warmer temperatures. Some of which could almost be considered delicacies during the winter: lettuce, spinach, rainbow chard, rocket and leeks, among others. And as such, the prices sky rocket.

Still, a lot of the products are bought in to satisfy the demand for variety. We all know how we as consumers love to have choice and variety. A big effort is made to purchase as local as possible but this is not always the case. A lot of the produce is grown in the UK, in some cases much further away. I mainly see boxes with origin from Spain and Italy, like in the case of oranges, lemons, avocados, tomatoes, aubergines and courgettes. I was surprised to find out recently that the bananas come from Dominican Republic. I always assumed they came from somewhere perhaps closer like the Canary Islands or Africa, but I suppose when making such decision there are other factors to consider other than how far it must travel, one of the most important being good quality/price relation. But hey, at least the bananas are fair-trade! I can only be pleased for my Dominican campesinos back home, although one has to wonder how much actually goes into their pockets at the end of the day.

There are also about 30 free-range Angus cows that graze on 50 acres of grass and forage, more coming soon as we’ve recently found out nearly all of them are pregnant, and a little over 300 free-range hens that lay eggs. Apart from the vegetable crops and the animals, they have a mixed fruit orchard and lots of berries in the summer, from which they press apples to make into their own brand of apple juice, cider for our own consumption, and also prepare all sorts of jams, chutneys and preserves. There is a shop open to clients at the front of the pack house, where the range of products is completed with dried goods like flour, rice, oats, musli, tea, just to mention a few, as well as cleaning liquids and other household supplies. All products are organic and/or bio friendly.

The owners of the farm are a sweet hard-working English couple. I’ve never really asked their age but I estimate he is somewhere in his mid fifties and she is in her late forties. His family has been in Cusgarne for more than 200 years and although they still own quite a large amount of land, some of it has been sold off over the years. Father passed away, not sure how long ago, but Mother is still going strong at 90 something. She lives in the old Cusgarne House across the street and usually comes in on Saturdays to get her vegetables for the week. She is about as sweet and charming as they get. They have three daughters who are all in their early twenties and have gone off to university, but they come back home from time to time. Looks like the middle daughter is the only one that has decided to take on the family trade. She’s nearly finishing her degree in Agricultural Studies but I’m not sure whether she will come back home and help run things here or if she might very well prefer to do her own thing. It’s only an assumption, but I think the sort of stuff she is learning about in school will be mainly focused on intensive farming methods, very little to do with what her father has built here.

All in all, I have to say that I feel pretty at home here. Without a shadow of a doubt, I chose my farm well. In my next post, I’ll start telling you about some of the stuff I’ve done since I’ve been here. Maybe even walk you through a typical day here at the farm. If you haven’t read the last post, where I talk about the reasons for coming here, doing so would probably not be a bad idea.

Here are some images taken at the farm and around Cornwall:

The fields.

Lovely spinach and rainbow chard in one of the polytunnels.

A few of our chickens.

Myself weeding lettuce in another one of the polytunnels.

One of the beautiful beaches in Kynance Cove, Cornwall.


  1. Hi Zaura! I'm enjoying your blog very much :D Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you Marol!! I just sent you a message on fb literally like 5 seconds ago haha Que bueno saber de ti. Un abrazooooooo!

  2. Hmmmm... very tempting for me to go take video...

    1. You would have a lot of good stuff to work with!