Friday, December 17, 2010

Everyday Life On the Edge...

A Permaculture Saying: "If you're not on the edge you're taking up too much space." 

We're on the edge here in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant alright! Geographically, we're very close to the border with England and also on the edge of the wilderness of the Berwyn mountains.The edge is a good place to be, it's where activity is often concentrated, whether its the edge of woodland, along the coastline or in our bodies through the membranes of the lungs, digestive system etc. In Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, you could say Steve and I are working at an edge, the one between modern day chemical agri-business and its sustainable successor, Permaculture.

Here in Powys we are surrounded by a beautiful, gently rolling landscape of small, sheep-spattered fields. The bad news is that those lovely fields produce just 2% of the food that is consumed in Powys and generally it costs more to shear those sheep than the wool is worth.Thankfully, the countryside is too hilly to have been put through the full-blown ravages of modern agriculture. It may be hard enough for farms here to make the transition away from oil but easier than it's going to be for some giant patch of the Shropshire plains, borrowed and leased for millions and mortgaged up to the hilt for decades ahead with just two or three people plying endlessly up and down the deserts on giant machines. It's difficult to see how they can make an easy transition to using one sixth of the energy they use at the moment (remembering that fertilisers and pesticides are just another form of energy as well).

The good news is that left to its own devices much of the land would soon revert to forest. (See the work of Chris Dixon.). The thoughtful, Permaculture approach is to work with that natural process and to steer it gently towards what you would like from the land. Instead of a high energy input, monoculture-desert, net loss landscape, the forest can be gardened to give us so much: food, fuel, materials, shelter, shade, water, energy, medicinal herbs, fodder crops for animals as well as fostering bio-diversity and being drought, disease and pest-resistant. And all the time building Earth capital instead of burning it up. (See earlier post about our Permaculture Design Course at Treflach Farm, farm in transition). We are teaching a two week Permaculture Design course again at Treflach from 8th to 21st May 2011, have our next Forest Gardening course on 22nd Jan 2011, and our first ever Treecare course covering pruning, planting and general woodland management is coming up on 5th & 6th Feb 2011. (More details and booking).

!! New Course !! Pruning & Basic Woodland Management for complete beginners onwards

We're really looking forward to working with progressive thinking Ian Steele at Treflach again.

And we are itching to get started on our own land-based project at PenY Garnedd where we will demonstrate all of this on our co-operatively owned 23 acre edge. Latest news is that the sale is going through.

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