Resilience training
First the farmer ploughs his field Turns around and casts his seed
tools made on mobile smithy using local charcoal
Cilgwyn Community has teaching and practical skills to prepare our children for the future we face. 
Blacksmithing, tool making, smithcrafd
Horticulture - a range of skills
Wood management
Stove building and repairs
Bike building and repairs
Electronics for photovoltaic and wind power
Solar thermal panel building and installation
Low impact home building
Food preservation and catering
Dairy farming
Willow work and wood crafts
Natural healthcare
Decentralised Democratic governance
And others.

Some of the skills lead straight to employment, others to not needing it. 

All provide the means to enjoy life, flourish and support your community independant of the global economy.
Courses lead to Countryside skills accreditation for those who want them.

Get in touch if interested: 01239 820971

 

LATEST CLIMATE NETWORK MEETING

Cassandra Lishman pictured laying her floor

LOW
CARBON REGIONS

Climate Change Community Network

 

Climate network events have been happening around Wales . They were set up by the Assembly to help communities address climate change and create low carbon regions.

I attended  the first round organised by the Welsh government, it was spangled with speeches from those meant to hold the reigns, but this round in June 2010 was more earthed, it was good practice stories, people learning from people.

 

Helen Nelson kicked off. She described her experience of the first year of Wales ’ Climate Commission set up by the Plaid Labour coalition. Everyone who is anyone is represented on it, all the political parties in Wales , the CBI , the small business fed, the environmental  regulators and quangos, CAT . She is there as director of Cynnal Cymru, Sustain Wales. ‘We all get on, we have agreed targets’, she reported, ‘but now we are entering the implementation phase and it would be good for some doers to join.’

 

She was upbeat about Wales ’ low carbon journey, despite Copenhagen , despite the crumbling economy, she was excited by our future, and the audience were with her.

 

Then we had three stories from the Practioners.

 

First was Cassandra Lishman from Lammas. ‘This is the first presentation I have given’ she shared. Lammas is the first ecovillage, being built under the only low impact planning policy in the UK . Nine homes to be self-built, nine households getting 75% of their sustenance from their small-holding and all earning an income from the land, and everything has to be complete and successful within 5 years.

 

This is a challenge of fairy tale proportions. The builders are mostly young parents who have to earn and care for their children at the same time. The homes are built using local natural materials and hand skills, all services must come from the site. Cassandra and her husband have 3 children, one of them special needs. She shared her inventions, like the low cost polytunnel frame made of hazel withies wrapped in cloth to stop them puncturing the plastic. The tunnel is a priority so the family can eat while they build. They have to do everything with very little money. The floor is clay, rammed by foot and hand mallet, polished with oils and wax. There were mistakes along the way, Cassandra stressed that none of them want to be seen as models, just learners like everyone else.

 

The group share the principle of permaculture including livestock. The homes are independent entities with their own land with some communal woodland and grazing, and communal water power being set up. Permaculture uses everything holistically, humans as part of nature not apart. Things are multifunction, trees provide shelter, soil conditioning and fertility, fuel, fruit and nuts. Water cools homes, stores warmth, irrigates, provides fish and fun. Green-houses warm homes in winter, produce food and cool leaves in summer. There is intelligent design behind all decisions, saving effort, they work that magic of one process supporting another, like a food web. Cassandra has a large personality, laughing with embarrassment.  We visualised her scything ¼ of an acre faster than a strimmer, daubing her walls with lime render, baby on hip. Her family home was half way up in 6 months, her neighbours’ complete in two months with 50 volunteers to help - they are experienced, her family building their first house.

 

The neighbouring village of Glandwr was rigidly hostile for three years, campaigning against the ecovillage. But this melted once planning was given at appeal – there are monthly tours to view progress, many neighbours praised what they saw on them unstintingly. A duck race brought the villages together in shared competitive hilarity.

 

Lammas is not just a 9 family side-show. It is a window into a possible future. This significance has been grasped by the Welsh government who plan to extend the possibility for people to live in a low impact or ‘one planet’ way across Wales . Wait for imminent announcements.

 

Next speaker was a complete contrast. Each round of these events has a guest from outside Wales . This time it was Chas Ball from Carclubs UK . Carclubs (called carshare outside the UK ) recognise that private car use is one of the front drivers of climate change, that the cost of private car ownership is or will be an issue on the energy descent, that making cars uses more energy than running them for their lifetime and that people love their cars. ‘They are a great bit of kit’ says Chas. So to square the circle, keep the private car without private cars, you own them in common. Or more accurately an organisation owns a few and locals buy membership to use one from the pool when available.

 

It is neat. Like hiring but you just walk to pick it up and can use it for an hour or a week, and much more cheaply. It’s a pay as you drive in contrast to the awful up front outlay of buying a car and the annual bills on top of the fuel. And the sweetener is that you will have a new super efficient model to swank, large or small according to the need of the hour.

 

Car clubs are successful, as straight commercial ventures, they are also set up by conscientious communities and they foster neighbourliness.  All good stuff, but Chas had plenty of experience of the circumstances in which they were unlikely to work as well. He offered a sort of check list to ensure the situation was ripe for a carclub, numbers and socio-economic types living in sufficient proximity for that walk to the car. Internet technology makes the admin automatic, you can book online, even have onboard billing, dispensing with the old mileage book. Support from business and councils greases the tracks: Councils paint parking bays for carclub cars, they get no congestion charge, share priority lanes and still better get fuel tax rebates if I heard right, or maybe I was dreaming at that point.

 

They are few and tentative in Wales , so far.

 

The last speaker was from Green Valleys project, and he dazzled us with money gushing from hydro power. Wherever water tumbles down a drop you can engineer a head or weight of water to turn the turbine and produce incessant power while the water flows. Government feed in tariffs now make this lucrative, for larger streams absurdly so. There is still red tape holding back the floodgates, this was discussed. The cool bread-head man addressing us has set up a community interest company which will provide the initial finance and most of the work of getting the thing set up, and not surprising as they pay themselves back out of those lovely feed in tariffs and retain some income to set up more of these gushers.

 

I went to his workshop, the audience asked searching questions which reflected the with-itness of the gathering. Another delight of these events is the company of such front liners.

 

The other workshop which was memorable was part of ‘open space’. People could raise issues for discussion and anyone interested joined them. A County Councillor complained that the biodiversity brigade were stopping green progress, they were called the Species Police, also Bugs and Bunnies Brigade.

I took notes of this discussion, luckily as I could feed them into an Environment Agency and Welsh government review which we discovered. It is looking at the same problem, their tack is to propose that the biodiversity brigade become less speciest and more ecosystematic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


photos part of a surge in people growing.

The latest event was a small one, but significant. Elin Jones (again) is helping Wales to get European 'knowledge transfer' funds to set up horticultural training hubs accross Wales. The neat thing is they can be 'anything from a one man band to an institution', says Jane from the National Botanic Gardens who is in charge of the bid. They hope to start with over a million £ but of course admin will bite chunks out of this. see below for comment.

Next year is to set up the courses and the hubs, 2012 they will start teaching, they can be informal or accredited, teaching by anyone who knows the subject. The idea is to ensure people across Wales have the ability to grow their own, and each other's essential veg and fruits. Very foresightful, recession can do its worst, we'll be in the garden minding our peas and bees.

note
The admin and regulators are like the greedy barons and church, govt like the well intentioned controlled old king. Everything that should go to the people gets a thorough mauling from the powerful, sometimes by the time it reaches the people it was intended for there's just empty packaging - fine words.

Sometimes there's enough left to do some good. Let's hope the CRB checks and insurers and health and safety brigade and the rest who swarm in after the barons don't finish the pickings.

No different to third world aid, no wonder aid is seen as bait. 


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22.01 | 19:00

Hi, do you have any adze in the shop at the moment? thanks

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14.04 | 09:58

Have you or can you suggest any use for rosettes awarded at the agricultural shows please?

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23.03 | 18:06

Hi from Ellie at Pembs. FOE I can't make it to your Green Fair ,but will try and bring some info. about latest campaigns etc. this Friday for a display board.

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01.12 | 23:31

Is there an local organisation in SouthWest Wales for smallholders and allotment holders to sell excess produce from their holding for income?

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