We had a smaller volume of tasks to achieve this year, and one good solid day with a handful of volunteers has seen all the jobs we identified needing to be done finished. Hurrah!
We felled only a small number of the Ash trees in one particular area this year, and along with some bramble bashing with scythes, a gate post put in, tracks mulched with woodchip, and general tidying and smartening up this should help to continue to make the woodland a lovely place to walk this coming year.
We are now taking applications for the next Internship season:
Please share this information as widely as possible.
INTERNSHIP AT PENTIDDY WOODS, CORNWALL An opportunity for a fully immersive 9 months in an off-grid, land-based, regenerative community. Learn a diverse range of skills from harvesting seaweed to baking in a wood-fired oven, from making hay with a scythe to managing a coppice. October 2019-July 2020. 2-3 Places available. Application deadline is the end of June 2019. www.pentiddy.co.uk/internship
Community Woodland Volunteer work days- Your chance to get involved with helping to look after your Community woodland!
Sunday 27th January Sunday 24th February Sunday 24th March 10am-4pm
soup, bread and cake provided Come along and bring family and
friends. This is a fun and rewarding way to give a little back to a
local community project. It’s a great opportunity to meet new
people, learn new skills, spend time in the woods and have fun! Those
that come along and help get a share of some of the timber (once we
have put aside the few loads for sale to raise funds for the years’
children and dogs on leads very welcome! Bring hand tools and work
gloves if you have them. Loppers, bill-hooks, bow saws. We will have
a small supply available.
experience necessary. Training given. Work to suit all abilities and
and share some good company, wholesome and productive work and
contact us if
you would like to come along (so we know how much cake to make!)
Ele and Anthony Waters: 01579 363775 or 07765 103504
A request from Spencer.
am looking to get skills in plumbing and/or electrics, and
particularly interested in those relating to renewable energy
studied Biology and Agricultural Development at university, working
on social and environmental issues from a research perspective. I
always had an interest in practical work and worked seasonally on
decided to change track and, since moving to Cornwall and living in a
more land-based community, I have been exposed to site carpentry,
joinery, green woodworking, gardening, forestry and other land-based
activities and occupations, always in quite a low-skilled capacity.
lived in Cornwall for two years and developing a network of people
living on the land and who wish to have more autonomy in the their
energy supply, I would like to learn how to install renewable energy
systems. This would give an opportunity for me to really specialise
in a particular field and set of skills, and which I could use in
helping people wishing to switch to alternative energy.
help or advice on how or where to gain these skills would be greatly
If you feel you could offer Spencer some experience or training please get in touch with us and we’ll pass on his details to you…
In October our new interns started their 9 month stint, and we
thought it might be nice to introduce them as they will be playing a
large part in the activities and life here at Pentiddy.
Hello! This is a second beginning of my time at Pentiddy in a way: more experience behind me, a continually deepening holistic view of how to live closely with the Earth, and an enormous world of possibilities for the future. After first finding the world and reality of land-based living at Old Chapel Farm in mid-Wales last autumn, Pentiddy has been home and place of learning since January (I told A&E I’d be here two weeks…oops :)). In the coming cycle of seasons my biggest passion is to delve deeper into all things woodland: sustainable management of small woods, re-wilding projects, green woodwork and whatever else comes up! Also keen to gradually broaden my connections with all the non-human beings we share our lives with: deep nature connection, tracking, wild food, herbal remedies & medicines…. So much to learn, looking forward to more.
Oh, dear, how can a person sum themselves up in a few sentences?!
In some respects, the way of life I’ve been exploring since I left
London 2 years ago, through Buddhafield, WWOOFing, landwork,
Embercombe and now Pentiddy, is quite a stretch for me. Sometimes I
still crave and expect as my right unlimited hot water at the touch
of a button, being totally insulated from the elements, eating
exactly what I want, when I want it. And those cravings are
lessening. At Pentiddy I’m finding joy and aliveness in coppicing,
in seeing my food grow, hearing the ducks and being involved in their
lives and deaths… Some day soon I’ll live and work on my own
piece of land, and in community, strive to tread more and more
lightly on the planet.
Hello, I’m Alex. Since leaving a career in Civil Engineering 4
years ago, I’ve lived briefly at Old Chapel Farm and at Tinkers
Bubble, in amongst other stints of volunteering and travel in the UK
and abroad. I was attracted to Pentiddy because of the connection
between community and woodland, and am glad to be gaining skills that
enable me to live simply with the land. I’m hoping to learn enough
to be able to live in and look after a small patch of woodland, and
to grow food for myself, in ways that integrate with the spiritual
practises that I am exploring through Buddhism, simple living, and
Tim who has already been with us for several years has returned after a summer in Devon. He is already a well known face here…
This winter season we are
coppicing large areas of the community access woodland.
We have already made a
significant start with the area of Sweet Chestnut to the South side
of the area, and this will continue down to the bottom boundary. The
slope to the East of the area will also be cut, as this area of Ash
sadly has Ash Dieback and plans are afoot to change the use of this
into something broader- maybe some form of agro-forestry which might
include grazing animals under the trees. This will clearly involve
fencing the area so you may see this change happening through the
next few months.
This autumn has been an incredible fungi season. Collectively we
have had some amazing finds including several kilos of Hedgehog
fungus (Hydnum Repandum), a few Chanterelle (cantharellus Cibarius),
lots and lots of Winter Chanterelle (Craterellus Tubaeformis), a few
Ceps (Boletus Edulis) and a large Cauliflower fungus (Sparassis
Crispa). Yesterday we also found a big flush of Wood Blewits (Lepista
Nuda) growing in our leaf mulch bags…
It is such a nice thing to cook wild mushrooms and add them to
your dishes. The flavours and textures are so lovely and it feels
like a treat that we find them just doing what we do…
Ros, Ele, Elowen and Adeon all went up to London in November to be part of the non-violent direct action blocking 5 major London bridges to protest against the government’s inaction on climate change and to deliver the demands of the rebellion to the houses of parliament. Since then, Extinction Rebellion has grown hugely in the UK and is spreading rapidly across the globe in readiness for a week of international action in the Spring.
We have since started a local group for SE Cornwall (Facebook page here) and meet weekly to plan local actions to raise awareness amongst the general public, to support the local councils to declare a state of climate emergency, to encourage the media to start telling the truth about climate change and all institutions and individuals to start pulling together to create a completely new society where all life is valued and can be sustained. According to climate scientists across the world we are so very nearly out of time.
On January the 4th our group is hosting a talk in the Liskerrett Centre, Varley Lane, Liskeard entitled ‘Heading for extinction and what to do about it’. The meeting will start at 7pm and everyone is welcome. Further details can be found here – It would be great to see you there!
Our grant from Natural England has finally been approved after a
drawn-out and frustrating time with the Rural Payments Agency (Hannan
has had to be somewhat tenacious!). Work will be starting on some of
the hedgelaying in the new year in the (2 styles!) followed by stone
bank repairs and restoration over the next 2 summers. If anyone has
skills to share or would just like to come and join in the work we’d
be very happy to hear from you.
We have finally made a start on building the oven.
It has been in the design stage for a long time so it feels amazing to have actually found enough time to start construction. For a relatively small structure there’s a lot of interesting engineering to think about. We have laid heavy concrete slabs as a foundation and have started building the stone support plinth. Anthony wants to document the build process well with lots of photos and his plan is to publish a newsletter post specifically about the whole process from design thoughts through to the first pizza… keep an eye on this newsletter!
As always, we have a lengthy list of interesting activities to keep our ever-growing community busy for quite some time!
So, it’s the time for balance – well it’s good to have something to aspire to!! Day and night are of equal length. It’s the time to celebrate the harvest and to ooze gratitude. Becoming aware of the changing season gives us another chance to look at things anew. The seeds of ideas and hopes that we plant now will re-emerge in the Spring, strengthened and consolidated by their time in the dark and stabilized by their strong roots.
As always, there are plenty of ideas being bounced around at Pentiddy. But very much like our garden this year, we have fertile ground, we just need to decide what to plant and then try and find space to fit it all in!! To help with figuring that out, we take September off from having volunteers on site. Elowen has also now officially left home and is at college in Bristol and Adeon is back to school so there’s opportunity for some deep breaths and dreaming.
It’s the time of year for apple sponge puddings, evening craft activities, reading and the lighting the first of the indoor fires. A time for appreciation of the harvest and abundance of food. IT’s been a great year for growing (apart from the lack of water at times). We’ve had bumper crops of sun-loving crops including corn, tomatoes, squashes and beans.
Adeon (meaning ‘Bright Fire) had a big moment during the Summer when he succeeded in making fire by friction on his own for the first time. So, following on from Elowen’s Menarchy ceremony last year, we feel it’s the right time to start looking at designing Adeon’s rite of passage to take place next year. Jeremy Thres, whom we know though our 8 shields involvement, has come on board to help us. With his 20 years of study and experience in the field of Initiation and Vision Quests, we feel more confident about creating something to support Adeon in becoming more of who he is at the heart.
We were delighted to find out last week that we’ve been successful in our application to Natural England for a hedge and boundary grant. We have been awarded £10,000 towards work over the next 2 years repairing and restoring some of our beautiful stone hedges and laying some of the lengths of over-stood trees and shrubs on the tops. It will be really good experience for the team and it will be great to be able to pay them for their time on it. The result will be even better wildlife corridors and effective livestock-proof hedging. Congratulations to Hannan for his hard work with Ele on the application – the funders don’t make it easy!
Firewood for sale
Yes- we still have some firewood available though sales are going well. There are Ash and Alder available, or a mix. A trailer load (about 3/4 cubic metre) is £90 and we can deliver it for free in the local area. Most of this cost is fed back into the Community Woodland Charity, so purchasing it supports the continued running and management of this lovely open-access woodland.
Community Woodland AGM
In order for the Community Woodland Charity to function, it requires active community involvement which takes many forms. One of these is to join us for the AGM and have your say in the management and running of the woodland- you may even enjoy the trustees company enough to join them! The meeting will take the form of a walk around followed by tea and cake in the roundhouse. It will take place on the 7th October, 4pm-530pm. It would be lovely to see you there!
Much of the Summer has been spent refurbishing the Roundhouse. After 10 years of temporary walls it now has wattle and lime walls using the surplus poles from last year’s Hazel coppice cut and some of our neighbours’ excess lime plaster. It looks gorgeous and we’re looking forward to seeing the array of events that it’ll be used for in the next year, including a family wedding!
A big thank you goes to our extra volunteers who came along to help out numerous times and especially to Lee for providing the most beautiful hand-crafted breads and other goodies to help keep us smiling.
Our 3 full-time Interns will be starting on October the 1st for 9 months. We will ask them to introduce themselves in the next newsletter. We have plenty of interesting work for them to take part in over the coming seasons. The masonry stove will DEFINITELY be happening, as will the creation of the wildflower meadow on the new burial site, a Dying Matters open day in May and of course the coppice season. This year we will be doing our first cut of the Chestnut in the Community Coppice.
We’ve attended a number of meetings recently to help us clarify our ideas regarding social enterprise possibilities here and the idea of leasing the community coppice to a coppice worker/woodlander/social forester. Watch this space for progress….!
Stool making Course
The dates have changed for the woven bark seat post and rung stool making course. It is now set for the 3rd and 4th of November. There are only a couple of places left so have a look at the events page for details…..
A beautiful and accessible project and a lovely piece of furniture to take home…
8 shields mosaic
We’ll leave you with a photo of the mosaic that Hannan and Ele created during the Summer. It is hanging above the outdoor kitchen sink and serves as a very beautiful reminder of the 8 shields model used in the Nature Culture Regeneration work we’re becoming more involved with. Click the image to see a bigger version. To read more about Nature Culture Regeneration, the Art of Mentoring and the 8 Shields model visit http://8shields.org/
Anthony is running a stool making course on 20th/21st October.
You will spend the first part of the weekend shaping ash and drilling mortices to make a ‘post and rung’ stool frame, then weave strips of Elm bark to make a beautiful, comfortable and durable seat. All tools and timber will be supplied.*
As before this is being offered at a variable rate depending on the number of participants- 6 places available. Weekend will cost £360, so if all six places taken each person pays £60.
*NOTE: The Elm bark seat is not included in the above cost- This product is one we have had to buy in and costs £2.25/metre, so a 350mm² stool will use approx. 16m of bark strip- so £36.
Lime Rendering Opportunity
The Roundhouse is in process of having it’s wattle walls rendered with lime. This is a fascinating process and, although lime has a lot of mystery surrounding its use it is fairly straightforward if one applies a few basic principles.
If you would like to come and have a go at applying some lime render we will supply all tools necessary and of course some guidance!
We are planning to do this process in two stages- the first will be to finish the first (scratch) coat on 23rd-25th July, then the second will be the second (float) coat on the 13th-15th August. This is a process which is weather and progress dependant- please keep an eye on this Calendar for regular updates on this and other events.
We will start each day at 10am and work until about 4pm
Please let us know if you are planning on coming out…
One of the annual food foraging highlights is a seaweed harvest.
We all took a much needed chilled day (though it was scorchingly hot!) and took off to the coast to gather some lovely sea vegetables…
We returned after the obligatory swim with a boot full of buckets each with a different seaweed. The different varieties we collected were;
After rinsing then drying them they are all now safely stored for use over the coming year. Yummy!
Charcoal and Firewood
After having various bits of our kiln replaced we have just completed our first charcoal burn for many years. You may remember in an earlier post a mountain of sweet chestnut which we cut in the winter of 2016-17? This is the timber we have used for this burn.
It took 6¾ hours from lighting to shut-down. For the first one in such a long time we are very happy with the results.
So… we have 2.25Kg bags of top quality local sustainable hardwood charcoal for sale at £6/bag. Purchasing this charcoal helps support local coppice woodlands and all of the wildlife they support. Please contact us if you would like some.
We also have loads of Ash or Alder or a mixed load of firewood for sale at £120/load. Place orders now to secure your load for the winter.
Amongst the things that came out of the Nature Culture Regeneration weekend we attended recently was the idea of verbalising an appreciation as a way of bringing our attention to something special we notice each day.
Today it was easy to find that appreciation- the blessed rain.
In the hottest driest part of the year, when all vegetables are in constant need of water and animals, including the humans on site, all need this precious resource, we can run very low. Very low!
The last few weeks have seen us having to be incredibly frugal- using the washing-up water to irrigate the plants in the garden and washing in the pond (though obviously without soap!)
Showers have been massively rationed, even though the solar thermal panels have given us plenty of scorching hot water in the cylinder.
As of 7am this morning (Sunday) all of our stores were basically out. Other than the pond, no water but for the small amount a minute or so of pumping from the borehole produced. Then… one drop… two… and then it came down properly and whilst its not quite the same as monsoon season in drier countries, the relief and joy, the smell of water on soil, the feel of it on our skin… well you get the picture!
All our downpipes have been used to fill every receptacle we could find- and when they were full we have set up a gutter run to take the rest into the pond (which has dropped by about 5”).
I would therefore like to voice my appreciation for this precious life giving rain.
Appreciation for rain – Ele
As the gardener at Pentiddy I am acutely aware of our water situation. We have ensured that we can collect whatever falls when it falls so our storage capacity is good but when it doesn’t fall for 3 months things get a little tricky. I have been amazed however at how much easier it’s been with the garden since moving over to a no-dig-system last year. The plants’ need for extra water has been noticeably less. I have only really watered in the polytunnel and on new seedlings. The garlic didn’t swell as I would have liked but everything else has been fine. As we completely ran out I made a point of mulching around the new pea transplants so the water they got when planted wasn’t lost to evaporation in the very hot polytunnel.
Knowing the pond was there as an emergency reservoir made a huge difference and what a luxury to be able to bathe in deep water during a ‘drought’. Without today’s rain I would have been filling watering cans from the pond for the polytunnel so we still actually had 50m3 (50,000litres) of water available to us but the wildlife in the pond (including the kids) might have had something to say about us draining that!!
Context: Without a mains connection we rely entirely on what we can gather here. Our ‘main’ supply which feeds the house comes from a store collected from the barn roof at the top of the site (currently 4500 litres but another 1500 litre tank being installed soon).
As well as this store we have a range of other tanks collecting rainwater and greywater from the other structures on site, notably the house (3 tanks from various downpipes/outlets totalling 3500 litres). A few other smaller water butts and excluding the pond and what small amount we can pump from the borehole that’s our total available water. About 9000 litres (with the new tank 10500 litres)
It’s been a very quiet couple of months here with our volunteers all off on various courses and adventures. Tim is presently helping our friend Jeremy with his cob building at Velwell and is then continuing on to look at a bit more of the outside world before deciding whether to return. The other 3 return tomorrow and we’re having a couple of concentrated weeks on charcoal making, firewood prep and liming the roundhouse. It’ll be great to have them all back again. It’s then Summer craziness until the new interns start in October. We’ll introduce them to you soon……..
So much to say but even more to do so we’ll leave it there for now.
We have at the last minute decided to take this weather window as an opportunity to cut some, if not all of the burial site.
Many of the flowers have finished now, and one of the advantages of mowing by hand means we can be selective, so any that are still looking nice we will leave.
The grass we cut will all be made into hay for our sheep to eat next winter.
Please contact us if you have any questions, or indeed if you would like to come out and join us in the next few days and try your hand at scything. (email@example.com)
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From snow blizzards to heat-waves, we’ve had it all since our last posting. The energy is high and new ideas are rapidly unfurling at Pentiddy. We were anticipating sitting back and enjoying the feeling of having completed the coppicing for the year but the land here had other ideas….and plenty of them!
So, yes, the Hazel coupe is all cut. Considering it was a first cut we weren’t sure what we’d get out of it but we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much we’ve managed to sell and use. A wide variety of products have been extracted including hedging stakes and binders, pea sticks, bean poles, bale spikes for 2 straw bale houses and weavers for fencing. The rest will go for firewood and charcoal and the tops are being converted to biochar in Tim’s Oregon kiln or being chipped for use on paths and on beds in the forest garden. Duchy of Cornwall Nurseries and Goldenbank Nursery have been very keen to buy our local products to sell in their shops but sales will depend on the mark-up they put on them. Today we were making up sample batches of liggers, gads and spars to take up to the Guild of Master Thatchers to see if we can persuade them to use UK grown material instead of cheaper Polish imports.
The remaining weavers that we didn’t manage to sell are going towards re-building the walls of the roundhouse to replace the planks which were only ever intended to be temporary but have been in place for 10 years! The new walls will be wattle and lime. We will be opening this up as a community project from the 7th to the 11th of May. 11am – 5pm (sorry for the short notice!) Materials are being paid for by donations we’ve collected from people who have used the roundhouse over the last few years. If you would like to get involved please let us know so we can arrange tools etc. Please bring lunch to share. We hope to have a BBQ on the Saturday evening.
We managed to fit in some lengths of hedge-laying before the season ended. We laid West-country style on top of the hedge banks and South of England style on the new hedge by the house. Hannan and Ele have worked up a £10,000 grant application for work on re-building, repairing and laying lengths of hedge all round Pentiddy. If successful there will be plenty of opportunities for anyone wanting to come along and learn the skills involved.
It’s been a really busy start to the year in the burial site with some beautiful ceremonies and, with a bit of encouragement, an increasing number of families willing to take on more themselves rather than handing everything over to funeral directors. The wild-flower burial area is finally fenced and the sheep have been busy grazing in there. We are now ready to start looking at the rest of the process. The top soil that was removed from the area years ago is needing to find a new home. If you are interested in a large quantity of top soil then please get in touch so we can discuss logistics.
The sheep have been sheared mostly by Tim this year following on from a blade shearing day we attended at Fernhill Farm near Bristol. There’s a lot to it and it will take quite a bit of practice to get it down to 3 minutes per sheep but Tim’s determined. I now have some more fleeces ready for shroud making. Our first lamb was born on Easter day but no more yet so we’re not sure what’s happening there.
From one sharp tool to another, the scything has begun! Kevin Austin of Skygrove hosted a peening day to help us all to get our blades hammered out and sharpened up ready for hay-making. We picked up plenty of tips from the expert. We will be working with him and others as a mowing team over the Summer so if you have fields that need mowing let us know! If you’re interested in getting involved at hay-making time then get in touch and we’ll keep you posted- or keep an eye on our events calendar.
The Community Woodland work days were staggeringly well attended this year. Many thanks to all of you who leant a hand and a good vibe to the days. There are large quantities of top quality firewood available and more to come over the next few years as Ash Die-back has well-and-truly hit. We have purchased a new trailer for the car so we can now deliver 1m³ loads for £120.
The last few weekends have seen us attending 3 really interesting meetings relating to getting more happening in Cornwall regarding sustainable land use and community building. The first was the Land Workers Alliance’s first South West regional meeting. This was a very well attended and inspiring weekend with some very good networking amongst other land workers and policy makers. It also included the opportunity to look around the various projects based on the Dartington Estate of which there are many from forest gardens to CSA schemes and field-scale permaculture designs. We have returned with renewed enthusiasm for my budding forest garden which is really starting to come together. We’re now thinking of setting up a Liskeard area land workers group – watch this space!
We also attended the Cornwall Coppice Group meeting at Devichoys Woods where Tom Kemp has been coppicing. He and Nick Jarvis have started a community supported firewood project which also encourages volunteers to get involved in sustainable woodland management. This was on the same weekend as the Cornwall ‘Village building’ Art of Mentoring event designed to connect together those wanting to look at ways to create more holistic communities throughout Cornwall and sharing ideas on how to achieve this. We’re following this up by going along to the Nature Culture Regeneration weekend in May on Dartmoor. We’ll report back…….
We are set for a great season with a solid team; Tim, Hannan, Esme with Tom as a new addition this week. We are also currently interviewing for the Internship for October and have some very promising candidates.
Tim is taking on increasing levels of responsibility and we’re trying to balance that by offering him the management of areas of coppice and mature woodland for him to try out some of his many masterplans. Since putting him through his chainsaw training last year, the weight of all the felling and processing of timber has been lifted from Anthony who is enjoying returning at last to crafting and teaching. The second Hazel chair course took place earlier this month and produced some great furniture. More courses will be offered in the Autumn to include post and rung stools and a full chair-making course.
We have the following products for sale- please contact us if you are interested in anything listed below;
Firewood– 1m³ – £120 – green ash, alder or mix- ringed/split – buy now and it will be ready for the winter… delivery free within a 10mile radius. Charcoal – sustainable top quality locally produced hardwood barbecue charcoal – 5kg bag – £7.50 Biochar – 40l bag £20 Top soil – call us do discuss…
A diverse Permaculture project in South East Cornwall, UK