Plant y coed

Investing in their future: community orchard work, March 2017

Forgive my poor Welsh but the image of children planting fruit trees in the Welsh spring (Children = plant, wood = coed) is too perfect a pun opportunity to miss out on!

There is wonderful soil down on the flood plain at Cae Bodfoch by the river Cain. Millennia of alluvial deposits have built a wonderful fertile soil there, it’s a little heavy with clay but with a high carbon content so it is open and aerated, perfect for growing. The presence of moles, who feast on worms whilst tunneling through the rich soil open up drainage and air-ways confirm its excellent fertility and potential.

Willow coppice, volunteer Lesley harvesting by the Afon Cain, Llanfyllin

Fertile soils, moisture and full sun make an excellent space for growing. Over the last 3 or 4 years via local permaculture initiatives we have been able to  introduce several willow coppice beds as well as establishing a heritage orchard there.

Willow plays many more important roles than just providing biomass for burning or materials for basketry.

The river is a spawning ground for trout who are very sensitive to silts and mud on the gravel beds where they choose to lay their eggs. Planting trees along riversides reduces the soils washing from surrounding farmland into rivers by filtering and cleaning any surface flow. Riverside plantings also stabilise soils on the banks with their roots, whilst the trees also provide habitat and food for insects and birds.

Project volunteers planted 80m of willow along the edge of the field for coppice two years ago using salix viminalis, a fast growing shrub willow long used for basketry, biomass and water filtration. We also designed the planting to provide a wildlife corridor from the river across the field in a way that also offers wind shelter to the wetland/ picnic area adjacent to it.

coppice This is a small part of the 10 acre area that has been given over to community use by the landowners at Bodfach hall, a little further up stream. There are a range of plans for how to use the rest of the field but protecting and enhancing wildlife and biodiversity was always a key consideration in this sensitive area.

The process began a few years ago when the land first became available, people across the community were invited to submit ideas as to how it could be used for long-term community benefit. A variety of ideas were submitted, some fanciful but not practical, some practical but beyond budget and in many ways suggestions fell between the two but failed to have an overall coherence.

I took the proposition and gave it to a group of permaculture design graduate students in 2013 and again in 2014 and from that we evolved a plan that took into account the key potentials from a wildlife and biodiversity perspectives whilst aiming to create relationships and connections with the surrounding community at the same time. This is the nub of permaculture design, designing for personal goals and needs in a way that compliments, benefits and includes community objectives whilst working to maximise the benefit to and understanding of our place in the wider natural world.

Development vs enviroment
We could be forgiven for thinking that achieving development objectives entails sacrifice of the environment, because industry and developers always present habitat disruption as a necessary cost of progress. Permaculture design however refutes that view asserting that until we can reconcile the two objectives we will never achieve any degree of sustainable development. Furthermore Permaculture asserts that every development is a opportunity to enhance the environment and wider ecology, ceasing this continual erosian of natural capital.

Whenever we are creating something we should be finding ways and approaches which benefit community and ecology, whilst of course achieving the original objective.

 

A plan for Cae Bodfach

With all of this in mind a plan evolved; the two groups of Sector39 students sifted through the minutes, plans and notes from the community and town council meeting and chatted with various stakeholders of the project before producing a design for the field. The student’s design had many elements in the final plan, so when it came to submitting it to the council we removed more speculative elements and concentrated on the backbone of the design, locating the key elements that fitted the brief given us by Llanfyllin town council, representing the community.

cae bodfach plan
Cae Bodfach planting plan as submitted to the Town Council, based on survey work by S39 PDC students

The orchard/ food forest is placed centrally to the field on the highest and richest ground on the flood plain. It avoids the power lines that cross the field and is arranged as a single island that the tractor which crops the hay each summer can easily navigate around.

We have added to the orchard each year since we began, firstly with support of the Cwm Harry Get-Growing project and latterly with help from the Welsh Cider and Perry society as well as this project. Year on year it is developing towards something we hope will be of real lasting value to the community and the wildlife of the area. We have planted some 50 heritage fruit trees now, with hundreds of support plants. Herbs, shrubs, bee-friendly flowers, berries and more have all been added to support the overall effect.

The vision fo the Cae Bodfach food forest is a community able to harvest useful quantities of fruit for its own use with surpluses available for juicing, jamming and fermenting – all of which could potentially be resold to generate income for community projects in the future.

Of course these plantings only take up a small part of the space available and are either at the extreme edges or in the middle of the field furthest away from the picnic areas and entrances. So those plans as yet unrealised and calling for more physical investment, skate parks and natural amphitheatres still have plenty of available space to evolve into but hopefully at least we have created something that makes the area more interesting and inviting to both the community and the ecology of the area.

Local students planting trees as part of the first phase of development in 2014/ 5

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

200 total views, 1 views today

Year 10 Photography Class

Jack has been at Ysgol Uwchradd Llanfyllin High School this morning discussing climate change, permaculture and the Llanfyllin Transition Project with Year 10 Photography students. They are going to be creating posters, placards, banners and a book cover for our World Earth Day event in April, communicating the message of our collective responsibility to care for our local and global environment.

photography1a

photography2

photography1

176 total views, no views today

How far can you see?

Creating a 25 year Vision for Llanfyllin,
can we be carbon neutral by 2042 ?

Rising to the climate challenge can create new opportunities and new possibilities, all it takes is imagination – we can be leaders not followers!

Many people try not to think about the climate challenge as it is either too scary or contentious for them. The future will indeed be dark if we don’t work together to build a vision of what we do want, inaction is no longer an option. The longer we wait to rise this challenge then the harder it will be to make the changes required of us.

The longer we wait, the more rapid the change we have to make
The longer we wait, the more rapid the change we have to make

Science is warning us not to wait any longer to make the changes and adaptations to the unfolding crisis, inaction only means an even more rapid and severe transition is required.

None of us has a crystal ball but we do know that the future will be very different from now. If we use current science to make predictions, what does that tell us?

The Science underpinning the Paris Climate Accord tells us that we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, we should be well on our way to that target by 2042. We can be sure that the way we plan and deliver essential services like transport, food, energy and buildings will be entirely different by then. The key sources of green house gas emissions are food, energy and transport and what many specialists in the area are predicting is that:

‘the future is going to be local.’

narch for science
Global actions are planned in support of the scientific community, as politicians continue to duck their responsibilities by claiming there is still doubt about the data.

More than simply finding creative solutions to food and energy issues we are told that we must develop strategies to actually capture carbon from the atmosphere and return it to the soils where it is no longer a problem. They call this carbon sequestration and the target we have to hit by the end of this century is to drive atmospheric CO2 down to 350ppm.

The climate has alwyas changed but nothing like this in the last 2 million years

Before we started burning coal and chopping down forests the level was 285ppm and today, it stands at close to 410ppm. Don’t let these numbers baffle you, it is a huge challenge and one we simply have to achieve if we are to have a chance of a secure future.

carbon budget
The path to climate stability

This graph shows data from the 2017 COP22 meetings held in Marrakech Morocco earlier this year and show the extent of the changes we all will need to make to secure our futures. This is the available science and contrary to impressions you might get from the media, is widely agreed and accepted, there is a clear consensus amongst scientists regarding these assumptions and our government is signed up to the global agreements requiring action.

Paris is not enough!

195 countries signed the Paris agreement in December 2015 accepting the science and the urgent need for climate action, however governments, including our own have only committed to about half of what we are actually required to do. They have admitted that on their own it is too big a challenge for them to achieve and therefore the need for leadership to come from us, the people has never been stronger.

Perhaps older people are more complacent facing up to problems they perceive won’t affect them directly but whatever the reasons for this I strongly believe the younger generations have an amazing opportunity to rise to this challenge.

Make the climate challenge the defining issue for this generation!

If we don’t plan and work for the future we want then in all likelihood we will have something last-minute and ill thought through imposed on us from above. The world is waking up to the fact that Governments and industry are too embedded in the current system to be able to make the changes required. It is up to us to build a vision of what we want our future to look like.

Lets create a different vision of the future!

We want Llanfyllin, the school and community to be leaders, rather than waiting to be told we should be planning for an exciting low-carbon future. Jobs, housing, food, finance and so many other opportunities are going to be defined by this increasingly urgent agenda. If we can see these changes as a big opportunity then I believe people’s attitudes can be quickly changed.

food forest
Seattle/ Llanfyllin, we have already started a food forest for the Cain valley
  • Did you know there are ways to build houses that lock up carbon from the atmosphere for many decades? Using timber, straw, wool, earth and lime plasters we can build modern homes for less cost that also sequestrate carbon.
  • Did you know there are ways to grow food and manage land in ways that also suck down tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere and lock it up in the soils?
  • Soil carbon, like compost and humus doesn’t just make land more fertile, it helps it absorb and hold onto moisture, reducing flooding and the need for irrigation.
  • There are even Search engines that plant trees on the revenue generated
  • Did you know there are ways to produce heat and electricity that are many times more efficient than the current technologies we use?

We need new ideas, new stories, new inspiration to help people’s understand grow and with the clock ticking we need find ways to be creative and inclusive in how we do this.

Saving the planet also means creating lots of new opportunities

The price of renewable electricity is droppng fast. This will create many new opportunities

for ourselves, new jobs, more interesting work, new and innovative ways of doing things that both embrace new technologies and methods but also that are informed by tried and tested ways of being that draw on centuries of history.

Send us your vision for 2040!

  • How old will you be then?
  • Use your imagination to create a story or description of what Llanfyllin school or community will be like at this time.
  • Can you think of ways to inspire, inform and change people’s attitudes to be more respectful of climate change issues and aware of the potentials to make positive change.
  • Feel free to talk about any aspect of life in our low carbon future, work, school, food, economy, entertainment, technology, its up to you.

Write an essay, draw us pictures, record a talk or video. We and keen to hear your ideas in what ever form you would like to share them in.

One rule, keep it positive!

We want to inspire people that we can rise to this challenge and at the same time make big contributions to the Llanfyllin school, community and Wales as a whole.

We believe Llanfyllin can be leaders and an inspiration to the rest of the world, do you?

Llanfyllin Transition Team March 2017

1 month ago
Alex Klokus

This device can pull up to 11 gallons of water from thin air

LIKE
LOVE
HAHA
WOW
SAD
ANGRY
1 month ago
Goodful

You can repurpose glass jars into adorable seed starters!
FULL INSTRUCTIONS: http://bzfd.it/2mAwC7K

LIKE
LOVE
HAHA
WOW
SAD
ANGRY
2 months ago
Vandana Shiva: Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Forest

Unity in (bio)diversity

We need to value nature's biodiversity, clean water, and seeds. For this, nature herself is the best teacher.

LIKE
LOVE
HAHA
WOW
SAD
ANGRY
2 months ago
Tech Insider

This blooming sunflower collects energy from the sun.

Learn more: http://smartflowersolar.com/

LIKE
LOVE
HAHA
WOW
SAD
ANGRY
2 months ago
David Wolfe

This Is How Gardening Benefits Your Child

LIKE
LOVE
HAHA
WOW
SAD
ANGRY
3 months ago
HuwsNursery

Trying out something different on my Facebook page - I am creating short 60 second videos to do with growing your own food. This one is how to grow peas in 60 seconds 🙂 To see the full tutorial ... See more

LIKE
LOVE
HAHA
WOW
SAD
ANGRY
3 months ago
"Permaculture Trio" -- Forest Gardening, Edible Landscapes & Urban Permaculture

Inspiration:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXVnAMQRGbI
(48.06 min)

This video consists of three mini-documentaries: 1. (0:12) FOREST GARDENING with Robert Hart Find out loads about what forest gardening is, and how to make y...

LIKE
LOVE
HAHA
WOW
SAD
ANGRY
3 months ago
Photos from Food Forest: Permaculture in Africa's post

This is the site that a friend of mine (Paka Mos​) had in mind for me to start the forest at.
It is a space of approximately 10-12 km2 (1000 - 1200 hectares), that is not being used right now, to ... See more

LIKE
LOVE
HAHA
WOW
SAD
ANGRY

365 total views, 2 views today

Are we ready to face the climate challenge? – Lecture Screening and Discussion

earth-day-poster-1-single

Rachel Carson, author of the groundbreaking Silent Spring, warned us many years ago of the dangers of allowing politics to influence our understanding of the natural world:

“The real wealth of the Nation lies in the resources of the earth — soil, water, forests, minerals, and wildlife. To utilize them for present needs while insuring their preservation for future generations requires a delicately balanced and continuing program, based on the most extensive research. Their administration is not properly, and cannot be, a matter of politics” Rachel Carson, The Silent Spring.

This begs the question what the role of science is when the politicians of the day can cast aside the dire and detailed warnings of the climate science community, despite the agreements and commitments they so publicly made to respond to this unfolding crisis?

We teach science in our schools yet we fail to adhere to it in our daily lives. What message does this send to the growing generation? The smoking ban, compulsory seatbelts in cars, these were considered responses to known and measurable threats, so why then do we ignore the much more serious warnings about climate and energy?

We know of the disproportionate hold the oil industry has over our economy, over the US presidency and the Russian rouble, yet to allow that reality to frame our responses will have dire consequences for all.

Last year we launched the Llanfyllin Transition Project, ‘Saving the Planet One School at a Time,’ with the specific aim of exploring these ideas across the whole community, and asking ourselves the question of how we can better prepare for what awaits us.

To begin, surely we are obliged to refer ourselves back to the science – what can we expect, what is happening, how much do we know? Also, we need to look at this information outside of the political and economic framework that surrounds the debate in the media.

The global scientific community will stage mass demonstrations to celebrate World Earth Day on April 22nd. This year’s event and campaign will fight against efforts to silence science and focus on creating and supporting knowledge sharing, community engagement, citizen science and stewardship.

We will be holding a series of events leading to Earth Day, the first of which is at Llanfyllin High School, 23rd March, building to the global event in April. It is free and will be informative, challenging and inclusive.

Facing up to a changing climate

Facing up to the challenges of our changing climate goes much deeper than erecting a few wind turbines and switching to a Honda Prius, it challenges the very heart of our economic model. The transition before us will require active involvement from everybody. Some people believe our environmental woes are due to the sheer weight of population but the truth is more complex, a small percentage of the global family are responsible for the vast majority of emissions and we are faced with the reality that it is not possible for India, China, Brazil and Mexico to follow the same economic path as the West without tipping the balance into a catastrophe. What if, we can find new ways of working that are actively beneficial, that lock carbon away in plants and soils whilst also meeting the needs of the 7 billion of us. If each person can have a net benefit on planet and climate then maybe at this moment that we face our greatest challenge the many hands available to us become a big part of the solution.

Steve and Dewi with students from GCSE Land Based Studies, planting trees in Llanyllin.
Steve and Dewi with students from GCSE Land Based Studies, planting trees in Llanyllin. Photo by Aine Larmour-Jones

We are bringing these ideas into the mainstream curriculum. Kids at school today are growing up into a different world than the one we did and will need to be equipped with new concepts and ideas. I call it permaculture, it goes beyond agro-ecology and green technology and fashions a mindset, it provides design tools that facilitate this great change. We are saving the planet one school at a time, we are working with schools in Powys – children of farmers and rural communities where we hope to start a revolution. That is an emotive word – let’s call it transition, evolution maybe, one that embraces our planet’s ecology and understands that society and economy are a subset of a healthy living biosphere. Everything falters and fails when the rains stop, the soils erode, and our stable weather systems collapse. Join us.

www.llanfyllin.sector39.co.uk

This piece was written on request for ARWAIN lead funding partner in this project for promotion of the outcomes of their LEADER programme.

We are funded by ARWAIN EU Leader programme
We are funded by ARWAIN EU Leader programme
Permaculture Wales
Permaculture Wales
Permaculture Association Britain
Permaculture Association Britain

Planting Trees in Llanfyllin with GCSE Land Based Studies Students

Some photos from a practical day of tree planting in Llanfyllin, with students studying the GCSE Land Based Studies course at Llanfyllin High School.

Also a big thanks to Aine Larmour-Jones who was the photographer for the day.