Cae Bodfach, creating a community food forest for Llanfyllin

Students at work planting pahse two of the garden
Students at work planting pahse two of the garden

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.

Species map of trees planted in Phse one of the garden
Species map of trees planted in Phse one of the garden

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.

Saving the Planet, One School at a Time – Project Anouncement in Tanat Chronicle

The following appeared in the latest issue of the Tanat Valley Chronicle (Nov 2016):

‘Saving the planet one school at a time’ – We are looking for leaders

This is big, really big. The 195 countries who signed the Paris Climate Agreement in December have now ratified the treaty. Trump or Clinton, Brexit: hard or soft, Syria and a potential WW3, we might be forgiven for being a little distracted but this is the big story.

Governments have agreed, we need to listen to the scientists, we really do have to stay under 2 degrees of change but there is no policy in place that gets us there. The agreement they signed has no binding targets or penalties, it is basically a statement of intent that has no teeth. How fast can we get off coal, gas and oil? We have about 30 years to move completely away from our old ways and that allows no wiggle room whatsoever, sooner would be better.

So where will this momentous change come from? Even though they happily signed the agreement many governments including our own are not formulating policy that will get us to where we need to be, they are still building roads, talking about fracking, planning new runways and hoping to restart economic growth in the consumer economy.

logo-walesNo, this change will come form the bottom up, the emerging generation will be leading the way. It is much easier to see past the oil age when you are not personally invested in it. Just as we found in Uganda when we were teaching there in May, the idea of localised organic food systems, distributed solar power networks and public transit doesn’t alarm them, since they have that already and it works fine. Whereas we built a commuter economy out of coal, with disconnected nuclear families and rampant consumerism as if that was an end in itself. All this assumed the oil would never run out and burning it had no consequences, inpite of what we know we are still desperately trying to keep growth going because our economic models require it of us. It is going to be a big ask for the UK to make the changes required of it.

The train that is the neo-liberal market based consumer economy has left the station never to return. For the emerging generation that isn’t going to be their future, they missed that opportunity so they are going to have to invent a new one for themselves. We might not know much about the future but I am guessing it is going to be low carbon and almost exclusively local. This is not bad news, especially not to the ears of someone who will never have a pension plan paid by North Sea Oil. The post carbon economy is a land of opportunity, like the Wild West seemed to those intrepid settlers 200 odd years ago or when they first invented the internet, it is a vast un-occupied space waiting for a new generation to inhabit it. With this bold project we are looking for the leaders who are going to help create a new vision for a post carbon society.

This is open to all, centred on Llanfyllin High School we will be linking to schools across the UK and Africa, creating blogs, radio, newspapers, holding public talks and debates. From this we hope to be initiating new projects and micro enterprises and even a community currency. Help us chart these unknown waters.

This is about working together, no one is telling anyone else what to do, rather we are required to build a common vision and action plan that fully takes into account what the science is telling us. Economy cannot exist out side of ecology, we have tried that and it has been a disaster of pollution, deforestation and species loss, together we can build an economy that restores the ecology of the planet and creates hope for a future that we all want to be part of.

Join in, be a leader for change.

Watch this space, lots more to come!

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Llanfyllin Transition Project

We have been successful in our bid for funding to support Llanfyllin School and community in a 3 year project to place Powys on the map as the frontline for innovation and change, and this Blog will be a diary of our news and activities.

We have been successful in our bid for funding to support Llanfyllin School and community in a 3 year project to place Powys on the map as the frontline for innovation and change, and this Blog will be a diary of our news and activities.

“As governments around the world commit to the historic Paris Climate Agreement, we are all challenged to find creative ways to achieve the vision of the low carbon economy that is required of us all.”

The responsibility to find rapid pathways for repairing environmental damage lies with us all as individuals and we are never more effective than when we work together at a community level.

llanfyllin_high_school_logoThe transition to a low carbon economy will require a significant change in outlook and behaviour, and this project seeks to work with Llanfyllin school and community as well as our wider network of thoughtful and conscious partners to achieve a community-led transition.

Together we must explore new and innovative climate resilient economic and productive models that enable us respond to this colossal challenge.

The Project

Sector39 has been working closely with ARWAIN over the last 9 months to develop a project proposal to offer a permaculture design process for the community of Llanfyllin. The work will be focussed on the school, working with the immediate community as well as with Sector39’s wider network of partners; that means you!

This exciting three year project commences in September 2016 and aims to find and work with the leaders of the future. Our aim is to build an inclusive vision for our community, one that recognises and understands our responsibilities as global citizens and one that creates exciting new opportunities for work, play and learning.

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While working with the school, we will also be holding public meetings, workshops and thinktanks, as well as recording interviews, sharing information and videos. We will also present a series of workshops and presentations at the school through general assemblies, Welsh Baccalaureate classes and other opportunities to collect ideas, hopes and aspirations from across the community.

As well as exploring cutting edge climate science we will be looking at the best responses to this unfolding challenge that can be initiated from a community level.

Using permaculture design we will be building a transition timeline to a carbon negative Llanfyllin by 2046, a vision and plan shaped by the whole community and for the wider benefit of all. The world is changing and as a community we must shape an informed vision of what we want for our collective future!

We will undertake a full survey of the school, its stakeholders and surrounding community. We will achieve this by working closely with a cross age range student group who, supported by us, will work on the survey, analysis and design aspects of the project.

Arwain Leader Funding

Funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales (RDP) as part of the Welsh Government and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Arwain is working with Powys County Council to deliver the LEADER 2014 – 2020 programme in Powys. LEADER uses local knowledge to promote a joined-up “Grass Roots” community-led delivery for rural development.

The principle activities that ARWAIN will be funding are as follows:

● To facilitate a full permaculture design process for Llanfyllin high school, working with a group of students from across the age spectrum.

● Undertake a community audit of resources and opportunities as well as priorities and
objectives.

● Facilitate a community narrative and process for sustainability transition; work, housing, food, transport, investment, community currency, social support, waste reduction and energy efficiency.

● Develop a social media platform to engage with the community and disseminate the
outputs.

● Produce a practitioner’s manual drawing from the course experience as a template for change. By creating a set of teaching resources, training and guidelines for use by other groups interested in following the same process.

● Recording the project methodology throughout the project. The resulting permaculture design plan will present a template which can both evolve and exist as a model that other communities might learn from.

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