Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Breath of Welsh Air

It turns out that I've arrived at Llanfyllin just at a time when there is lots of change in the air. Steve is moving on from the Workhouse project and working on plans for several new projects through the Permanent Housing Coop. The core of this is to buy land for a permaculture site with all the features I've wanted to help to develop for years: organic market gardening, forest gardening, a forest garden nursery, a tree nursery, teaching facilities, therapy/retreat facilities and even ponds for trout. It's all really really exciting - what a great time to have turned up. Then I heard the news that the Welsh Assembly has extended the Low Impact regulations that have helped Lammas to set up their project in Pembrokeshire to the whole of Wales. It feels as if the tide has finally turned - in Wales at least.

Land hunting - another field
Powys is a lovely part of the world, a multitude of interconnecting, lush, steep sided valleys with old trees and beautiful views everywhere. It's a patchwork of small fields, a bit like a very wet, colder version of Portugal and is the second least populated part of the UK after Sutherland. I cycled over to work with Steve at Llanrhaedr the other day and came back to sleep at the Workhouse through the dusk - nice to have very little traffic but still hard work with the steep hills.

In need of modernisation - untouched since the 1930's

I helped Steve on a Permaculture Introduction weekend course which was good fun and very informative even though I've already done the course with the Brighton Permaculture Trust. Steve is inspirational, a storehouse of information, has a wealth of practical experience and boundless energy and enthusiasm - a great teacher.

Steve in full inspirational flow

Chicks at the edge of the forest garden already established at our venue, Farm2Grow

An unusal seedling to see - a baby Monkey Puzzle Tree. It bears delicious nuts after 60 years, but you need a male and a female and you can't tell them apart until they're 40 years old...patience...
It reminded me a lot of helping John and Carol with the Upledger CranioSacral Courses - lots of fun and learning all the time. If you've not studied Permaculture already sign up for a course straight away wherever you can. It gives you a framework to help you respond to change and design versatile, resilient systems at any level. I believe that we are entering a phase when Peak Oil, Climate Change and many other challenges will force a period of unprecedented upheaval on us. Permaculture will help us to adapt and get prepared as best we can. Check out: Permaculture with Steve Jones at Sector 39 and Brighton Permaculture Trust.

Cwm Harry

this is an excellent project that Steve is managing in Newtown. It's an old industrial site which is now being used to make compost from food and garden waste and has an organic garden on site as well. Many volunteers help on the site including young offenders and it's produce goes into a local veg box scheme. After just three years it shows how much good stuff can be done on a vacant lot like this.

Organic Gardening Course

I joined the Workhouse Organic Gardening course for a day. It's only 19 weeks old but is already producing lots of food from raised beds.

The insect hotel - more about this eye-opener soon. You need the aphids as well as the ladybirds.

Steve with one weeks's produce from the small plot

This system of mixing many kinds of seeds together has been helping villagers in Nepal to gain a succession of crops from the same plot. Pioneered by another Permaculturist, Chris Evans, a network of hundreds of villages now use it successfully.

I'll be writing more about this - they can be set up to help people gain access to land as well as housing, with capital and without capital.

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