The isolation of the Gower Peninsula before the 20th century meant that it had to be self-sufficient, as the poor road and rail network made it difficult to transport food in from outside Gower. Today, Gower continues to produce high quality foods and crafts, many of which are unique to the area.
Agriculture is an important part of the Gower economy, with the majority of land away from the coast being used for farming. Local pork, lamb and beef, including that of the rare Welsh Black Cattle, are all produced on Gower.
A market garden industry formerly existed throughout Gower, particularly in and around the Bishopston/Murton area. Crops included flowers, vegetables and salad crops, often grown in greenhouses or cloched areas. Much of this produce was sold direct to customers through farm shops and at Swansea Market. This smallholding practice can still be found on Gower but it is no longer as widespread as it used to be – and is instead mostly limited to weekend markets.
The coastal habitats provide a rich source of local food. Sheep graze on the salt marshes of the Burry Inlet. This unique habitat gives the lamb a very distinctive flavour. Cockles from the coast of Gower are one of the specialities of Swansea market and other seafood such as mackerel, sea bass, crabs, lobster, prawns and oysters are still important for Gower’s economy.
Laverbread is a traditional local dish made from laver seaweed, porphyra umbilicalis, which is found in the intertidal area of Gower. It is usually boiled until it becomes a thick puree. This is rolled in oatmeal and cooked in bacon fat then served as part of a traditional cooked breakfast, often with fried bread. It can also be deep fried and turned into crisps.
Gower is home to a wide variety of local artists and crafters working with many different materials – from wood-turning, pottery, jewellery making and glass blowing, to textiles, photography, painting and drawing. Examples of traditional art and crafts can be found at many of the local markets.