Llanfyllin is a typical Welsh market town in many ways, it is home to the regional High school with over 1000 students and is therefore widely known in the area, yet it faces many challenges as a community as well as a shrinking resource base with which to address them.
Since the Spar supermarket up-scaled its operations last year we have seen the Bank, Corner shop and Bakery close, along with one of the pubs previously, and suddenly the high street is looking distinctly quiet.
You could almost be forgiven for thinking the global climate catastrophe wasn’t happening here as, despite the economic challenges, life carries on pretty much as normal. We are a community based on farming, an important industry also being shaped by market forces forcing farms to become ever more capital intensive and increasingly impactful on the landscape.
Yet we know from Peak Oil theory that the oil industry, which underpins agriculture, is increasingly precarious and with our Paris Climate Accord commitments we have a double incentive to be exploring pathways to a rapid decarbonisation of our economy. Food and transport are the area most exposed to the climate and energy threat so it seems a good place to begin our own local resilience plan.
To that effect we began working with the High School’s Land Based studies GCSE department two years ago, establishing a community food and withy forest using heritage varieties of fruit trees and fast growing viminalis super willow. We have plans underway to greatly enlarge this resource and to work with many more community partners to expand the scope of the work.
This year, adding momentum to previous work, we have commenced a three year transition project, funded by the EU, to work with the school to use permaculture design to create a community vision for transition to a Carbon negative economy within the time frame advised by the Paris Accord. Saving the Planet One school at a time, funded by ARWAIN rural development partnership is our vehicle for community led change in Llanfyllin.
We have taken the position that the climate debate is over, with 195 countries having committed to keep emissions well under 2 degrees our focus is now on how we are going to achieve this ambitious yet vital target.
The intention is for the school and the emerging generation to lead the way, to allow those most affected by these monumental changes to set some of the goals themselves, and to engage directly with the processes required to make the change.
Follow our progress on https://llanfyllintransition.wordpress.com/
Steven Jones, Sector39 Limited, Dragons Co-operative, Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant.