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This site has not been updated since 2014 and is being maintained as an archive for now. As time allows we'll be weeding out the dated material and presenting the many useful articles in a new format. We'd appreciate any feedback on what you find most useful on this site via our contact page.

Guest Writers

They're eating the lawn in Llanidloes

After Andy Wright from Llanidloes had completed his C.A.T MSc dissertation on local food entitled 'Can Llanidloes Feed Itself In Light of Peak Oil' he was inspired to get involved with helping local school children to learn more about where their staple foods come from before they find them on the supermarket shelves. Having spent the year creating a bakery CSA (community supported agriculture) and experimenting with sourdoughs and local traditionally milled grains to produce beautiful rustic ciabattas, mixed grain loaves. Andy and his wife Leanne had heard about the Bake Your Lawn

initiative (www.realbreadcampaign.org) when they visited a local water powered flour mill near Aberystwyth.

Bake your lawn is a national project sponsored by ? to grow wheat from seed on an area previously given over to grass lawn. Andy contacted Lisa Stead who runs Llanidloes Primary School's wildlife club and Eco Schools accreditation. Mrs Stead had already established fantastic gardens for her receptions class and raised beds for the other infant classes in the school and was delighted to hear from Andy and to get the children involved in with Bake Your Lawn.

Together they decided that the newly created raised beds directly outside the infant classrooms would be the obvious choice for pupils to sow, water and observe the wheat in each stage of its cultivation during the spring and summer months.

Andy planned to return to school in Autumn to assist with the harvest when hopefully the children of Llanidloes Primary will be able to use a hand operated grain mill to convert the resulting wheat grains into flour and to bake a loaf of home-grown bread.

 

(From The Real Bread Campaign)

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Introduced species - attitudes and management: Book Review

Invasive & introduced plants & animals. Human perception, attitudes and approaches to management. Edited by Ian D.Rotherham & Robert A.Lambert. Earthscan 2011, 374pp. RRP £65.

There is a lot to ponder in this book, but what it isn't is a pest management manual - it doesn't tell you how to control rhododendron invading your permacultural oak-with-coppice & pigs under.   In many ways it's two books in one, divided between parts 1,2 & 4 which look at the human perceptions and attitudes mentioned in the subtitle (11 contributions), while part 3 explores case histories at various levels of scale and detail from around the world (13 articles).

To one who has been involved in issues of invasive plants on fragile island ecosystems for 35 years, the perceptions & attitudes sections are, to say the least, jarring.  Several contributors attempt to minimize the impacts, and blame wanting to eliminate the invaders on a kind of eco-racism-cum-xenophobia.  One, the St.Andrews historian Chris Smout, even considers people trying to save the Spanish white-headed duck by eliminating invasive ruddy ducks as promoting a kind of apartheid by preventing these species from interbreeding.  Let's be clear, as is Dan Simberloff in his welcome chapter rubbishing these theorists (who are social historians, not ecologists), we are dealing here with protecting ecosystems under threat, not human proxies.  These are real animals and plants, not some kind of Disneyland talking bambis. Yes, grey squirrels are from America, and knotweed from Japan, and yes, some popular tabloids write up the stories sensationally in a pseudo-xenophobic way, but ecologists and conservationists only care where they come from when seeking clues on controlling them - the geopolitical designation of their homeland is totally irrelevant.  Perhaps the conventional designation 'alien', originating in the 19thC, is too loaded, and one should simply call the incomers 'introduced'.

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Aminopyralid - a time bomb hidden in manure

Coming soon to a garden near you!

Three years ago we had the opportunity to take on a quarter acre of bramble infested, waterlogged, stony land with a couple of polytunnels on it. Coming as it did, right when we were going through our peak oil moment, timing couldn’t have been better. We’d been casting about for appropriate ways to respond to the challenges of an uncertain future and growing vegetables was something we knew we could do.

So we got stuck in; clearing, building raised beds, mulching, making compost, collecting manure, sowing, weeding. Every bit of our spare time and money went to “Einion’s Resilience Garden”.  Fruit trees and bushes were our birthday and wedding presents, and at X-mas, it was tools and books. Obsessed? Not really, just an acute sense of urgency and the realisation that the patch we decided to cultivate had come with a few challenges of it’s own.  First we discovered that it had rampant clubroot and we learned to deal with that. Then we had the soil tested for heavy metals and found that one part of the plot had much higher lead levels than we were happy to grow vegetables on. We started bio-remediation and grew flowers and fruit there instead.

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The Edible Perennial Landscape

Many gardens have a strict divide between the veg patch and the ornamental bit. The food area tends to consist mostly of annual veg, neatly laid out in rows, duplicating the style used on allotments which in turn models itself on a farmer’s field. Then there is the pretty patch, consisting mostly of flowers and ornamental shrubs, which is lovely to look at but has no other function. Edible landscaping starts to blur the lines between these strict divides. Springing from its basis in permaculture, it places a strong emphasis on creating functional and productive landscapes, which are attractive and pleasing to the eye.


Edible landscapes can be many and varied. This can mean growing lots of edible perennials (of which there are thousands) in an arrangement which is bountiful in terms of food production but also beautiful to look at or it can mean combining your conventional annual veg garden into a less rigid format intermingling your veg with other herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees for example. Or it can simply mean the deliberate creation of a beautiful space when creating a patch of food even if it’s in a 12” container.

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What will I learn on a Permaculture Design Course?

What does a typical Permaculture Design Course cover?

The curriculum covers a wide variety of subjects. Below is a typical course schedule. This course will not make you an expert in any of the individual subjects covered, although in many cases we go into considerable depth. The point of the course is to introduce you to the relationships and synergies among the disciplines that Permaculture connects. In a sense, Permaculture creates an ecology made up of the many tools and concepts used to design sustainable communities.  You will learn what these tools are and how to decide which to use, and when. The course will show you how these subjects connect. Then, after the course, you can go into whatever depth you desire in your areas of interest.

The order of topics in a course may change due to the presence of guest instructors, and emphasis on certain subjects may shift due to the needs and focus of the participants, such as urban or rural residents, city planners, farmers, and so on.

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