Sunday, December 18, 2011

Treflach Farm, November 2011

Misty sunrise
I've had a busy few weeks since starting to work at Treflach Farm, doing a lot of woodwork amongst other farming stuff. There's always loads to do, frames and doors to fit, ceilings to be insulated and panelled, a kitchen to fit... It's good to be doing plenty of practical stuff and very interesting to be doing it at Treflach where we are actively working on transition solutions. We have an engineering workshop on the farm and will be making space for a woodwork area too. Farmer Ian is interested in making things as well and has an engineering background - I'm sure we'll come up with some great ideas. I'm really enjoying working with everyone on the farm - what a great team!

The same morning a bit earlier
 The piece of land where Ruth and I were planning to build our yurt-in-a-polytunnel-rocket-powered home is a sea of mud at the moment since being dug up for some recent cable laying so we haven't even made a start with that. Friends of mine in Scotland, Alex and Mick, who kindly put me up for a few great days on my way down from Perth - see Bronze Age in the Borders - lost their polytunnel during Hurricane Bawbag a couple of weeks ago which made me think that the whole idea needs a rethink anyway. Ah well, I'm learning not to keep my ideas too fixed - as John Lennon said, "Life's what happens when you're making other plans."
Busy green woodworking session at Treflach on the October Permaculture design course - what a great experience that was!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Walking the low-impact talk - Access to land

From November Ruth and I will be exploring low-impact life for real, living in a yurt and caravan combination based at Treflach Farm. Ian Steele, farmer at Treflach, has been very friendly and helpful while we have been running Permacuture courses at the farm over the last year so I'm looking forward to working with Ian and all the others there. It's an amazing three years plus since I started making my yurt in the garden at Debi's house near Brighton (making the thing turned into an epic Icelandic Saga all of its own, check out some of the many posts about it here, hereherehere and here), so it will be truly wonderful to be using it at last. There's lots of stuff we want to explore, like putting the yurt inside a polytunnel so we can get some solar gain and put lots of insulation on the outside of the yurt without it getting soaked. I want to try out Lucia stoves and a rocket stove/thermal mass combination rather than the usual log-burning variety and we'll be growing some food of course. I'd like to try using a fan to take warm air from the top of the polytunnel down into a thermal mass store under the yurt .... and lots more .... will be getting in touch with some of the great eco-boffin types I've met for advice on developing all that stuff.
We have the sort of arrangement which I hope will help many other people gain access to some land in this transitional phase, swapping some work on the farm in return for living space - so I feel it's all an important as well as fascinating process. Farms will inevitably have to use more human labour as we are all forced sooner or later to make the transition away from oil dependency. I feel Treflach will be an excellent place to be as the farm is already confronting transition issues and adopting Permaculture principles. I think access to land is the key for peoples' future security, in cities as well as out in the countryside, and learning to live a simple land based life as much as possible, regenerating local Earth capital and abundance instead of being a consumer-unit cog in a global Earth-destructive corporatocracy. I hope some of the solutions we develop in the farm will help people everywhere.

Permaculture Design at Treflach Oct 2011

This was Sector39's third Permacuture Design Course at Treflach and what a wonderful event it turned out to be. I felt I already knew everyone on the course when I met them - extraordinary feeling! Our team has been working together for a while now and the day's programme rolls along like well oiled machinery; Richie, Kev and Ruth and on the cooking, Steve, endlessly passionate teacher and knowledgeable on all aspects of sustainable living (difficult to get him to stop for meals sometime in fact...)
Steve also organises visits to interesting projects and people, while my role is to get the day started with  a Tai Chi/Chi Kung/Energy Work session in the mornings and to help out generally with anything that crops up from getting the compost loo "going" to treating a headache here and there. I also gave some lectures on the course on patterns in nature, people patterns and on design - this last one with reference to guitars, eg the Fender Telecaster, a fascinating tale and lovely to be able to share it. The course is after all a design course and studying how guitars have evolved shows brilliantly how the process works.
As well as all that, we had an ongoing Green Woodworking practical run by Richie and Kev and a teepee and two yurts on site, with music sessions late on into the night round a fire in the teepee. It's a packed programme alright.
Treflach is a family farm managed by Ian Steele and his parents, they are always tremendously welcoming and appreciative of any help we give. At the end of the day the course is all about our transition away from fossil fuels towards a life which respects and regenerates the Earth; it feels good to be part of that process and to see previous PDC students' ideas already being put into practice on the farm. I haven't processed any of my photos for ages but Ashley from the course has put a wonderful album together which you can see here: Ashley's photos - really worth a look, he takes photos from the heart and the album really captures the people and feel of the course.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Permaculture year with Sector39

From November I'm moving on from Steve's flat in Llanrhaedr-Ym-Mochnant to live and work from Treflach Farm. I've had a fascinating time since August 2010 working with Steve helping to develop Permaculture courses and projects and learning all the time about Permaculture and sustainable living. Steve is exceptionally well informed and thoughtful, passionate about his work and has been a wonderful inspiration for me and the many students we have had on the courses and people we have worked with on projects such as the Cwm Harry community garden. I'm very keen to keep working with Steve, Sector39 is an excellent team now, the last course ran like clockwork and was a wonderful experience for me just as much as the students - one of them was kind enough to say that it was the best and most informative educational experience of his life. But it's becoming more and more important to me personally to adopt sustainable, low-impact living principles in my everyday life so I am moving to live and work from Treflach Farm, more about all that here.  Interesting that the world situation is heating up so much just as I make the move... will we tackle the real issues before they tackle us?

Raised Bed Season

It seems to have been Raised Bed Season recently - last time I was up in Scotland I helped a couple of my friends make beds for their gardens only to find that Steve had got an order for 800 beds when I got back down South. It's all been very interesting...
Steve Jones, Sector39 colleague Richie and I worked out a prototype for our customer, who was an enthusiastic student on a Sector39 Permaculture Design Course recently, "Steve! You're blowing my mind!" he is reported to have said. Using some guitar making knowhow, I made a jig to assemble the beds and then a team of us got together to complete the order. I found making the prototype and the jig really interesting but have to say the mass production side of the project just confirmed for me my intuition from way back in the 1970's that I want as little as possible to do with mass production... To me it has a de-humanising effect on people, tasks are broken down so that they take as little skill as possible, there's pressure to work as quickly as possible leading to pressure on quality and I have misgivings about all the transport we've got involved with. All the same they are really good, robust beds made from naturally weather-resistant larch and make the garden centre offerings look like so much junk. They're being sold as Radnor Raised Beds (site under construction) and will be well worth checking out if you're developing your food growing potential at home.
It is interesting that all of a sudden these different people have felt the need to start growing some food, I think they are at least partly responding to world change at a sub-conscious level, which is a nice lead to another post I'll be writing soon on the subject of Intuition.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Stop Believing, Start Perceiving

We're awash with opinion, articles, news and it's very easy only to read the stuff that confirms your current beliefs. I've been trying out the idea of not believing anything and I'm finding that it really helps. I think of my current understanding of the world, life etc as just that - an understanding which needs constant input and tweaking. There seems to be a lot of really shallow stuff out there, for example here's three articles on the same subject, Shale Gas, one from the Financial Times: which is all for Shale Gas exploitation. If you read it and believe it you'll probably think all our problems are solved. But then if you go on to read the Oil Drum or George Monbiot on the same subject you might wonder why such a worthy organ as the FT has printed such an un-informed and under-researched load of rubbish... Let's draw our information from wide and far and keep our minds open to fresh understanding. Is there an Ultimate Ttruth anyway?

Friday, September 02, 2011

kilowatt hour possible base for currency?

Just an idea I had the other day, but why not use an energy unit, eg the kilowatt hour, as a base for currency? It could work locally or nationally, would be just the same all over the world and wouldn't need big piles of gold stashed away anywhere. And what exactly are the dollar, pound, euro etc based on at the moment? The kilowatt hour has got to be better than ever-thinning fresh air....
its a while since the pound in your pocket was based on on a fixed weight of gold...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Urban Permaculture Inspiration at RISC

Please pass this on to anyone you know in the Reading area who might be interested. It's going to be an inspirational day at a fascinating venue, the forest food garden planted on a city roof at RISC. More at the Sector39 website here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

oh dear...

FTSE graph from the Financial Times

Maybe we'd get on better if we focused on re-building Earth capital and people capital.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Craig's mountain send off

 The death of one of my oldest and best friends, Craig, has been a real shock. I was able to go to Craig's service and for a walk up one of the Perthshire hills with his friends and family in his memory which really helped me to deal with the loss. I've been up the hill, Ben y Vrackie, "The Speckled Hill", many times with Craig and friends before as its so near Perth and also because its such a great walk, with lots of variety on the walk in. The climb itself isn't too much of a slog and the hill itself is a beautiful shape, a real little mountain at just under 3000ft. We were treated to perfect weather and fantastic views, a wonderful send off for the man. My friend Stone and I walked over to the hill's second peak - looking back at the tiny specs of our friends gathered below the summit lots of thoughts went through my mind, how short our lives are on the mountain timescale and how friendship can transcend the human life span.

Thinking long...

Sustainability? Does that mean patching everything up and squeezing our planet dry of its resources so we can carry on living our industrial society way of life for another few years? Or does it mean making a transition to a way of life that can be supported by the planet's resources indefinitely? Surely we should be thinking not just a few years ahead but thousands of years - isn't it just common sense?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Around Beauly

Just a few photos from around Beauly for fun, I'm up here for a few days with Laura and her boyfriend Chris.
a fine Beauly skyline
looking East towards Inverness from above Beauly
I'm not exactly sure why, but to me this is just typical of a Scottish Highlands village, the stone building, the traditional sash & case windows, heavy-duty door, the simple garden ...
and everywhere around Beauly there's lots and lots of wonderful trees
I can't help wondering how Scotland will fare as we inevitably make the transition towards sane living - people up there have several things in their favour, water, space and a long history of inventiveness. I reckon Wales and Scotland will be two of the best places to be in the near future... well they already are!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Anyone who wants power shouldn't have it

All the uproar in the media and the government at the moment just reminds me of a pack of ghastly spoiled children, all screaming, bullying and cheating each other behind their backs, and all the time our environmental systems, social systems, food production, world finances are creaking at the seams ready to burst. What chance is there that these people, in the pocket of big business, will ever do anything constructive about the dire state of our world? Exactly, fuck all.
Is it a case of wicked them and good little us though? I don't think so, there's only us, and we're all to blame for having these arseholes in control and for the mess we're in. So what to do? Here's some ideas:
GO LOCAL get involved with local people and projects, they're the people you're going to be working with in the future. Help to build up local skills, resources and resilience. Help to grow food locally - check out what we're doing at Cwm Harry. And come on a Sector39 Permaculture course! Our courses are all about local solutions for world problems.
GO FRUGAL cut down on your energy usage and other inputs - the less you need the more resilient you are. Learn how to use hand tools, buy as little as possible, get good quality stuff that lasts and can be repaired. I get so annoyed with the crap furniture for sale these days, chests of drawers that are barely able to hang together long enough to be taken to the skip - what a waste of energy, time and materials.
GO GLOBAL we're all connected, the choices we make and the stuff we're complicit with to keep us in oil and winter strawberries has an effect on people all over the world - read, think, talk about it.
...and above all, don't bother waiting for the bunch or arseholes we have in power to sort things out for you, they haven't a clue how to and they don't really have any control.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Urban Permaculture in Reading

How many edible roofs do you know of?
The inspiring RISC roof garden is now mature and giving lots of produce. This one day event with Sector39 will show you the permaculture principles behind it and help you to see similar opportunities that you can take in your own locality - opportunities for growing food and in many other areas of daily life.
More about Sector39 and Forest Gardening
More about RISC - Reading International Solidarity Centre

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Storm Clouds Gather...

A couple of clips from The Oil Drum - a good source of in-depth, reasoned comment, well worth checking out if you don't already know about it:
A new paper by NASA’s James Hansen suggests that immediate and drastic declines (ca. 6% annual) in industrial CO2 emissions are required to avoid catastrophic climatic destabilization. As no realistic political solution exists for such immediate CO2 reduction, prospects for a livable future have now become dependent on a single back-breaking option: rapid global economic collapse. And in ‘Deus ex machina’ style, we may get it just in time.

...and this from Richard Heinberg, also in The Oil Drum:
At the core, though, all of these uprisings are about the simultaneous failure of modern economics and modern politics—even though systems differ somewhat from country to country. People in all of the nations mentioned have one thing in common: crushed expectations. Economists and politicians have promised jobs and growth, but instead citizens are seeing spreading unemployment, rising food and energy prices, and increasing economic inequality. Nowhere are there realistic prospects for a political remedy to worsening economic conditions. Thus, while unrest seems destined to spread and intensify in the months and years ahead, it has no clear long-term strategy or goal. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ME and MINE Art Camp for Powys Young Carers

Lots of interesting geodesic goings-on
I was helping my friends Sue and Richie with the catering for this event, lots of people there, maybe 80 or 90 altogether. With many of them being kids I did have a few concerns about how it would go... but as it turned out this was a wonderful, fun, high-energy few days. Inspiring and sometimes moving, it was great just to see everyone getting on - and they did some fantastic artwork too.
Love all these colours and shapes...
The event was at Sychpwll, pronounced "suchpoochl", meaning "dry pool", refering to an ancient safe river crossing point. The site has been developed over many years by Pete Hendry and has lots of interesting low-impact buildings and features, including a vast photvoltaic array. It was an excellent venue for the camp and we hope to use it for Sector39 courses soon. More about Sychpwll here.

...but the final word goes to the kids.

Roots-Up at CAT

Steve talking on Permaculture during the first Welsh Living Landscape Festival at CAT
A couple of pics of the new WISE building at CAT, the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth - Steve's talks there last month went really well and sparked off some interesting questions afterwards including: 
"Examples of roots up projects are all very well but will they ever become big enough to make a difference?"
But what's happening with the Facebook revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa if that's not a roots-up phenomenon? And of course CAT itself started in a disused slate qwuarry back in 1974...
Lots of interesting angle and shapes in CAT's WISE building. A lovely feel to the place thanks to the natural materials used, on the right the impressive rammed earth walls of the theatre.


24th September 2011 at the RISC roof garden, Reading. Learn about urban permaculture and designing your edible landscape in this stunning, well-established, food forest ON A CITY ROOF. More HERE and see poster below.
More about this amazing garden on the Sector39 blog

All 2011 dates:

JULY 2011
10th Forest Gardening at Treflach

10th, 11th Introduction to Permaculture, Hay Farm
16th, 17th, 18th Introduction to Permaculture and Edible Forest Gardening at Sych Pwll: £60
24th Forest Gardening day at RISC: £45

1st, 2nd W/E 1 Hereford PDC
8th to 22nd two week Permaculture Design Course at Treflach
29th 30th W/E 2 Hereford PDC

26th 27th W/E 3 Hereford PDC

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Calling Woody Women Everywhere...

Our friend Ruth Stafford sent us this:
Woody Women:
A Two Day Woodland Skills Experience for Women
  • A chance for women to try a variety of woodland activities and crafts including axe work and fire-lighting.
  • Enjoy a tree folklore walk in the beautiful setting of the Silk Wood Barn, Westonbirt Arboretum, near Bristol.
  • Join us for fun in the woods and take home your own hand-made spatula!
Dates for 2011:
22nd – 23rd June    and    25th – 26th June

28th – 29th September

1st – 2nd October
Led by professional coppice workers Ruth Goodfellow and Jenna Higgins.
For June courses contact Ruth: 07794 054623
For Sept courses contact Jenna: 07921 256466
Cost: £135, which includes camping, materials and entry to the arboretum.
Ruth talked about coppicing on Radio 4's 'Women's Hour' April 20th:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Permaculture Design at Treflach Farm May 2011

What a great bunch! I've met very few dread-locked hippy dope-heads in the Permaculture world, instead I've worked with some of the most intelligent, well-informed, caring, thoughtful people I've ever met with a broad range of practical and business experience. This course was no exception, great participants and also great people working on the various projects we visited during the course.

It's wonderful for me to be involved at the edge of exploring sustainability and I feel a sense of vindication, that it's my path. When I was living back down near Brighton I used to feel a continuous background unease, that living there was just shoring up the problems rather than looking actively for solutions.

I really enjoy working with Steve, apart from his breadth of knowledge and passion for permaculture he's always thinking about how to make the courses better and where best to put our energy generally. We included more ideas from my experience of the therapy world this time, there's a big overlap with permaculture ethics and principles. The healing journey is often a journey of inner understanding which mirrors and enhances the outward journey we are on towards regeneration of our environment and our partnership with the Earth.

There were two design briefs this time, one group worked on the project for a bunkhouse that Treflach's farmer, Ian Steele, will be building and on how to get more people involved with the farm. The other group looked at ways of developing the pigs' field into more diversity. They came up with excellent useful plans but more importantly they came to a deeper understanding of working with nature and working with each other. Well done you lot! good luck with all your projects and stay in touch.

I did these composite photos just for fun, individual photos are at:

Facebook PDC Treflach May 2011 Photo Album

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Primrose Earth Awareness Trust - Quantity and Quality

Steve and I visited PEAT with friends from the Llandrindod course and it turned out to be a really inspiring morning. You can read books and look at websites all you want but there's no substitute for the impact of seeing ideas put into practice out there in a field. PEAT represents 25 years of work by Dr Paul and Jan Benham and apart from anything else is the most productive one and a half acre plot in the UK. The garden produces between £25,000 and £30,000 worth of fruit and vegetables a year. As well as quantity they have top quality too, PEAT has received no less than six True Taste of Wales awards for its produce and supplies the top end local hotel and restaurant trade, especially with salad crops. The centre is on the edge of the village of Felindre, just five miles from Hay on Wye.
That's the friendly figure of Paul front-right wearing the white shirt and green scarf

It might look a bit ramshackle here and there...

...but Paul is a master of re-using stuff and getting a lot out of a small budget. The garden plot at PEAT is the most productive 1.5 acres in the UK.
Densely packed beds in between abundant poly-tunnels
Ingenuity: cast-off fridge feezers used as plant propagators with incandescent 40w bulbs as heat sources.

One of several polytunnels - well stocked for April
 The beds are a densely packed system developed over the last 25 years and the polytunnels were in full production even in April. The plot has mostly been worked just by Paul and his wife Jan with the help of two WOOFERS in the growing and hearvesting seasons and without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. It was really good to see so much space given over to forest gardening methods, some of it established over 25 years. There's different densities of forest gardening at PEAT and its very interesting to see how the forest areas fit in with the beds and polytunnels. I'm convinced that Forest Gardening has the potential to help many people in cities as well as out in the countryside so have started a separate page for that: Forest Gardening Page.

Roundhouse at PEAT with beautiful thatched roof.
There's lots of interesting buildings at PEAT including the roundhouse above and the earth-sheletered building below which is the regular home for two wwoofers. I didn't get a photo of another building, the "Sound Peace Chamber", which is built on an ancient sacred site and where Paul holds meetings timed with other similar buildings in different parts of the world. I hope to find out more about this work as it ties in with what I have been thinking and practising myself in the area of global communication and consciousness - learning to live with the Earth rather than on the Earth, learning to be part of a regenisis of bio-diversity rather than trampling out all life on the planet by continuing on our mad chemico-agrico path towards mass extinction.
Earth-sheltered woofer home

A pear tree with its fruit just set.
I loved this area for the variety it has on the go - well possible on the home gardening or allotment scale.
There's many areas of  forest garden at PEAT, this is the longest established one.
 As well as exploring Sound Healing for people, another area I'd like to explore more, Paul has been experimenting with treating plants with precise frequencies from tuning forks and has found that this can help to keep them healthy. Much more on the PEAT website, including details of courses and guided tours as well as many ideas about making the transition to sustainable food supply - do visit PEAT if you're in the area, I bet you'll find it inspiring too.
Sunday 8th May 2011 - Seasonal Sounds: connecting with the energy of Spring time with sound.
15th - 17th July - Sound Healing with Nature: experiencing sound healing and the healing sense of belonging in nature.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"The Biochar Solution" by Albert Bates

What an amazing book!
This is a really good read as well as being packed full of hopeful practical ideas and solutions for world problems. There's fascinating insights about soil, chemical agriculture, climate change, the sustainable abundant forest and carbon sequestration, all backed up with references to appropriate research papers.
Albert Bates details solutions that are already transforming lives on a small scale and may even have the potential to avert climate catastrophe. When carbon in the form of charcoal is locked up in the soil it can easily stay locked up there for a thousand years and in the soil its multi-micro-pocketed structure makes it a coral reef style habitat for the millions of micro-life forms that are found in healthy soil. Biochar is charcoal that has been impregnated with nitrogen, (you just have to soak it in pee) or bacterial or mycellial cultures and helps to bring back degraded soil.
The Amazon Carbon Store
Part of the book that made my jaw drop a bit deals with the Spanish conquest and eradication of the Amazon people of the 16th century. There may have been as many as 30 million people living in the area at the time and more than 99% of them may have been wiped out, mainly by mutations of the diseases of domesticated animals to which the Europeans were acclimatised - but to which the Native Americans had no immunity...
Jaw-dropping in itself, but the sudden growth of sapling trees afterwards, which incorporate carbon at the highest rate in the trees life, may well have led to the period of global cooling from 1500 to 1750 known as the Little Ice Age.
The Lucia Stove
This is just such a nice story! Nathaniel Mulcahy, an industrial designer of home appliances, injured his spine badly in a fall down a flight of stairs. His life was saved by his dog, Lucia, who supported his head and spine for over five hours until neighbours discovered them and summoned help. Once he had recovered, Mulcahy gave up his job and turned his skills to humanitarian engineering launching the company WorldStove. Their Lucia stove, named after his dog, is a brilliant design which runs on a wide range of biomass waste eg nut shells. The stove burns its fuel very efficiently and without the smoke which is a major health hazard for families who cook on open fires. The charcoal produced by the stove can be charged with compost and used as a soil-improver while also sequestrating carbon. Each time a Lucia stove is used to cook a meal for a family it can produce enough charcoal to filter 10 liters of water. WorldStove helps local communities to set up their own stove companies and the project is changing lives from Burkina Faso to Mongolia.

WorldStove's Lucia model.

Steve and I have both been really impressed with all the ideas and possibilities for biochar and will be doing some experiments with tin cans very soon - you can download plans for a simple stove/charcoal maker, the "EverythingNice Stove" from the WorldStove site.

"The Biochar Solution" is available from New Society Publishers at $17.95.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Florida calling....

I was delighted to get a request to write a guest article for my blog from a college graduate of the University of Central Florida, Krista Peterson. Krista is an aspiring writer and Health and Safety Advocate, she is passionate about the wellness of others in her community and for the health of the environment. She says she uses her writings to spread awareness of such issues to help encourage others everywhere to live the healthiest and most eco-friendly lifestyles possible. Brilliant! I think it's great that more and more people are waking up to the fact we are going to be forced to lead very different lives in the near future. Here's Krista's article:

Students at UCF are helping to develop an array of tools to make the solar panels that make up solar farms easier to install and monitor. UCF News Report,  "Greening the World's Energy" here.
A Primer on Permaculture
With the spring finally springing and the flowers blooming it’s getting to be a lovely time to be outdoors.  This spring, as you make your way outdoors be sure and take a moment to appreciate the beauty of your natural surroundings and consider that unless we make changes to be sure that we have sustainable development it may not be there much longer.  Of course making the change to permaculture and sustainable development is a serious and major commitment, but here are three easy ways to get started!

Eat Local and Organic
While it may be the way of the future, it’s not always possible right now for everyone to make the switch over to co-op farms, where rather than having factories produce food you purchase in supermarkets (yech!) a community bonds together to help raise livestock and plants in a natural, sustainable way.  But most people are able to support these growing sustainable farms by purchasing local organic food through a farmers market or local co-op
Garden and Compost
Of course, another great way to get your food locally is by starting your own garden! Starting a sustainable garden can save you a little green too, even up to $800 dollars a year in food costs. Growing a garden might seem daunting at first but sustainable gardening can be pretty easy, and is a great skill to learn.  And just in case you end up not needing as much food as you grow start you can start a compost!  Every eight months the UK produces enough waste to fill Lake Windermere.  If everyone simply dropped their food scraps, grass clippings, newspaper, cardboard, and coffee grounds into a compost we could dramatically lower the waste you leave behind. 
Natural Building
Natural building is a big part of permaculture because currently our building processes simply are not sustainable.  It can be a large undertaking, but building a house using primarily natural materials like logs seriously lessens your global impact and is likely to be a key facet in human housing in the future.  There are plenty of resources available if you’re up to the challenge of natural building, but if not you can always look into more natural modifications of your current home.  For instance, soy-based insulation foam is far more sustainable and healthier than other types of insulation, and can also protect you from mesothelioma cancer!
While a major culture change towards permaculture definitely ought to be in your plans for the future, these three easy steps can get you started down the path we all need to start walking. It’s time for us to turn away from unnatural, unhealthy manufacturing ways and start examining local natural solutions within our ecosystems.
Thanks Krista! Great stuff, I'm looking forward to reading your own blog once it's up and running. 

Monday, April 04, 2011

Sistine Chapel Shock !!

Recent cleaning of the famous ceiling has revealed that the old familiar scene had actually been painted over this extraordinarily prescient warning:
A Dodo invites Man into the halls of Extinction: note the old master's wonderful brushwork and the delicacy of his treatment of the dodo's luxuriant plummage.

Final Weekend of Llandod Permaculture Design Course

What a journey this course has been! Instead of the usual two-week residential PDC Steve ran this course on a weekend-a-month format. This suited our course hosts, the Llandrindod Wells Transition Town Group much better - Steve will always adapt the course material to accommodate different groups' needs as far as possible.
Looking down to Nannerth Ganol through the beautiful old oaks on the hillside - I wonder how much human nonsense those old oaks have seen passing...?
Over the seven months we often said how much the Llandod course reminded us of The Council of the Elders from Lord of the Rings, partly because much of it was held at Nannerth Ganol, Roz and Brian's restored long house at the head of a beautiful valley. It was easy to feel a connection with the many generations of people who have lived there during the settlement's history - many, many thanks to Roz and Brian for all their hospitality, all the wonderful meals and for the use of their cottage. The course also had a Council of the Elders feel about it because although we had people of all ages, many of the participants have many years' experience from a wide range of working lives. It gives me a lot of hope that these respected, experienced, intelligent, connected people took the time to sit down together and study how we can work with nature to design truly sustainable lives and systems for the future - another big thank you to all the participants, it's been a wonderful experience getting to know you all. I'm looking forward to seeing how all the projects everyone is involved with flourish - not least the house whose re-design was central to the course, Lis and Nick's house, Trosnant.

Steve discussing garden plans with Lis and Nick, Trosnant in the background
Fully-fledged garden design above - the participants came up with excellent, detailed, integrated designs for the house, garden, energy and work systems, for Lis and Nick's contact with the community and with space deliberately kept free for "Wilderness Ideas" or inspiration from the bigger picture.
Unusual but very effective presentation idea from Alan - a box pasted up with permaculture ideas containing a wealth of local resources.
1: Scything Workshop, part of the final weekend. 2: Different blades for scrub and grass.  3: Removing bumps and twists from blade using mini-anvil or "peen". 4: Scything's a bit like Tai Chi...

Now we're getting ready for our next course, a return to Treflach Farm, 8th to 21st May, where it will be fascinating to see how Ian Steele is already incorporating some of the design ideas from our first course there back in October 2010. This is a unique opportunity to get right into the nuts and bolts of food production, energy systems, building bio-diversity, community access to land and much more - places still available - BOOK NOW !!