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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 14:10 GMT
Monks' organic meat venture
Caldey monk
Caldey Island's monks are moving into the meat market
The monks of Caldey Island off the coast of west Wales have joined the organic meat market to help cover the running costs of their community.

The public is being offered the chance to buy prime steaks and succulent joints from their herd of Hereford-cross-Friesian cattle which graze the herb rich 350-acre farm on the island.

Farm manager Gwyn Bolton claims the meat is among the tastiest produced in Wales and it is already featuring on the menu at a restaurant in neighbouring Tenby.

The beef is vacuum-packed for sale after the cattle have been taken by boat for slaughter on the mainland.

Abbey monks
The Cistercian community lives a sheltered life

The monks themselves will enjoy their beef only occasionally as they only eat meat on feast days.

If the venture is a success, the 33-strong herd will be increased in size.

Caldey Island, off the coast of Tenby, has played a key role in monastic activity in Wales since the sixth century.

But in recent years the island monastery and outbuildings, which are visited by some 65,000 tourists every year, have become rundown and leak extensively.

Urgent repairs

Recently, the Heritage Lottery Fund Committee for Wales has announced that the Caldey Island Trust has been awarded a grant of 379,500 so that urgent repair work could be carried out.

Work on the Grade II listed buildings, which date from the turn of the century, will include re-roofing and ensuring sure they are watertight, the replacement on unsightly uPVC guttering with cast iron and the restoration of leaded windows.

The island, which lies within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, is widely recognised as one of the most important archaeological sites in Wales.

The island is inhabited by just 58 people, of which 18 are monks, who eat sleep and pray within the confines of the monastery.

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