Members of Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture (COCA) are worried that changes to UK immigration could mean they lose out on the help of vital volunteers from the EU.

COCA a community of people sharing and supporting organic food production on Berea Farm near St Davids. In a partnership between community group farmer, it produces local seasonal produce, supports local farmers and involves people from the area, and further afield, in the life of the farm.

International volunteers pay a huge part at Berea and COCA has hosted two long term European Solidarity Corps (ECS) volunteers per year for over five years.

They also have local and international volunteers from WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) on short term volunteering.

Marta Anzilotti, 25 from Florence, Italy and Mireira Mera, from Girona, Spain decided to stay with the COCA community during lockdown and throughout the summer.

"The experience of being a volunteer changed me," said Marta. "I have completely changed my plans for the future, thanks to the many things and skills I have learnt and discovered.

"I could take up this experience because it was low cost. If I had to pay for a visa and a health surcharge, I could not have done this. I never even thought about leaving [during the pandemic]. COCA needed us."

Marta and Mireira have come through ECS, supported and funded by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA).

WCIA inspires people in Wales to learn and act on global issues. This includes supporting international exchange and volunteering.

WCIA currently supports 12 ESC funded long-term volunteers in Wales. Up to 20 young people a year from Wales also take short term volunteering opportunities in Europe.

However, funding will end with Brexit, this along with changes to UK immigration, mean that the future of the volunteer placements looks uncertain.

COCA manager, Gerald Miles said that the Berea Farm 'would not have managed' without the European volunteers during pandemic

"If the changes in the UK Immigration and funding mean we do not have the opportunity to recruit international volunteers this would be very detrimental to our community supported agriculture," he said.

"COCA would not be able to supply the community of members with organic vegetables each week and might even have to stop growing vegetables altogether.

"The volunteers stay with us on the farm; they learn and gain the experience of growing all vegetables from seed to plate. They bring a vibe, a young spirit, to our lovely farm. They share their knowledge, friendship and sense of fun to create a true sense of wellbeing.

"Funding such schemes is vital to give the younger generation the experience and opportunity to travel and better their skills, their knowledge in languages and to find themselves".