Category Archives: Newsletter

Spring 2020

Welcome to another sporadically posted newsletter! We hope that the stories here help to entertain you during these strange times…

In this Newsletter…

Pentiddy General Update

Lots has happened since our last offering, way too much to fit in this newsletter so we have tried to pick a few items that may interest you.

In the whole weird Covid-19 and lock down we have faired pretty well all in all. With our Community of 9 folk we have kept busy and buoyant most of the time, though we have all individually found the process challenging in different ways.

We decided to take a week ‘off’ (if there is such a thing) and just enjoy a little more space- but it seemed the sheep had other ideas and chose that week to have their lambs! Out of the 9 Ewes we think two are not pregnant so 7 have lambed and we have 4 ram lambs and 7 ewe lambs! They all run around in a riotous little group- escape the hurdle enclosure and generally cause havoc- ADORABLE!

Lots of projects still on the go: bread oven, cladding the barn, mycorrhizal inoculation of biochar, root cellar and larder, reed bed, water system re-jig, permaculture designs, intentional quantum manifestations… the list goes on and is all very exciting. Just a few of these things are covered below.

This newsletter is changing format slightly to include less rambling and more photos.

Fridge Fun – Anthony

One of the ongoing issues living off grid, and particularly highlighted by last summer, was the need for some means of cooling food.

We do not consume huge amounts of dairy but cheese and milk amongst other perishables were going off very quickly with either our ambient fridge (embedded in the wall of the house) or the slightly assisted cool box which never quite worked properly and was noisy…

One of the many visitors here last year lived in a van and they mentioned the idea of using a small counter top freezer as a fridge and explained how they had achieved this.The principle is fairly easy- disconnect the existing thermocouple and replace it with a circuit that switches the compressor based on a temperature sensor- like the one I bought from e-bay for under a fiver (here).I kept my eye out locally and a counter top-freezer came up on Gumtree- so I bought it for £30 and proceeded to take bits of it apart.

When I took out the thermocouple it left a convenient hole to post the new sensor through.

The downside of this set up is that the freezer still has to run from ‘mains’, or in our case the inverter, which is less efficient than straight from the low voltage system. However in the summer when the fridge is really needed is when we have plenty of power so a little drain from the inverter is absorbed easily.

The compressor on the freezer is really quiet, and because it is designed as a freezer and not a fridge the insulation is better. This means it stays cooler for longer and so the compressor runs less often.

We have been enjoying drinking cool drinks, being able to keep pastry for more than a couple of days and all of the wonders such a new-fangled device offers! A fairly simple, quiet, low cost solution – at last!

Water – Evan

So the theme of my post is the contrast of the seasons. For me arriving in January meant that I was welcomed by pretty much 2 months of rain – which obviously has its drawbacks. Recent climes have certainly made life easier; we almost suddenly went from non-stop rain too non-stop sunshine! This certainly lightened the load but was also not without its drawbacks – from flood too drought! Last week we reassessed the water management systems for the site, recognising that these weather patterns (extremes) are quite likely to continue, and possibly worsen, as the years pass. Water resilience is key to everything here and as an engineer I have loved learning about the systems in place and also thinking about ways in which they can be improved. These themes, along with reading the inspiring, Viktor Schauberger, has led me to think further about wider water management policy. The concept of regenerative agriculture/agroforestry, something which is practiced here, and the benefits that has on the water cycle has been an interesting revelation.

Project Pentiddy South West Corner – Lily

After finishing our Permaculture Design Course a few weeks ago, Evan and myself have been busy implementing our design ideas – theoretically we should wait and observe a little longer, however, as we’re only here for a few more moths we’d like to see some of our plans come to fruition!

Also, one of our key functions is food production which needs to get going! Major elements of this are the hugel kultur, herb spiral and the ‘cosmic egg’ veg patch, the latter inspired by Viktor Schauberger. Below are pictures of the processes so far.

We have incorporated Holmgren’s 14 major principles into our design, and in line with our analysis work, mainly SWOC (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, challenges) we have developed our ideas more fully.

In particular our function ‘Inspiration’ includes the element of a yoga platform which surprisingly meets most of the principles.

An element vital to the design is water storage – a limiting factor identified in our client interview and introduced by Evan in his blog on the stark contrasts in water presented by the changing seasons. Water storage is a unifying element between Pentiddy SW Corner and the rest of the site, this is down to the fact that currently water capture and storage for SW Corner is limited to that from the barn roof, which also feeds the main water system {at times of shortage}.

The final function is biochar production; this has since been a combined effort with others at Pentiddy and so, as well as requirements for suitable storage this has meant that the biochar operations have shifted back to the main site. This is an example of the ‘Adapt and respond to change’ principle. More information will be going up shortly on the biochar operations.

Plants, Activities, Herbs and Juices – Ele

Lockdown as a community of 9 (That’s Me, Anthony, Adeon, Elowen, Ben (Elowen’s fiance), Evan, Lily, Alex and Klaudia) has not felt in the slightest like isolation. Not a day goes by when we don’t give thanks for living in community and for having access to moorland and woodland right on our doorstep.

In recognition of our privilege we decided to try to do our bit to support the village populace. So we sowed lots of extra seeds in the hopes that people in the village might feel inspired to try their hand at vegetable growing. We had a big plant give-away last weekend with around 50 people coming along to take plants for their gardens – many of whom were first-timers who were very excited and a tiny bit scared! Of course these acts are never purely altruistic. Our hope is that we might finally light the spark that leads to people recognising the need to move swiftly towards a state of greater local resilience which is our aim with everything that we do here.

I’ve also been posting up weekly activities in the Community Woodland to encourage people of all ages to connect with their woodland in new ways and to see it with new eyes whilst out on their daily permitted exercise.

Back at the ranch, Alex (our herb-loving intern) has been leading us through ‘herb-time’ every Monday afternoon. Using the Sensory Herbalism approach, we have been meeting the acquaintance of a new plant each week. This has lead us to making nettle tonic wine, teas, fresh juices, various tinctures and even an anti-viral blend in response to Covid-19. It feels great to be blending not only herbal potions but also our various levels of knowledge and personal insights and to be learning alongside each other in such a nourishing way.

Guest Slot – Wildlife Photography – Harry Rule Hodson

Hello my name is Harry Rule Hodson and I am a surfer and a wildlife photographer. Due to the lock down I have been doing lots of my photography at Pentiddy woods. One of my best shots is one of a Roe deer buck.

I took this image early one morning in April while I was walking though the woods. I walked down the paths and 2 Roe deer ran out in front of me and into the woodland. I got down on the ground and looked under the trees. There they were in the clearing, standing looking at me, so I started taking photos! The doe  was really interested in me and kept coming up close and running away again but the buck was less interested and just stood still. This gave me a really good opportunity to get some shots of him though the trees and the final outcome is the image above!

During these uncertain times,I have found that having access and being able to go to the woods has helped me relax and enjoy time outdoors and has helped reconnect me to nature. I would like to thank Anthony and Ele for letting us as a community use the woods for personal exercise etc.

My Instagram feed is here

Thank you for reading and I hope you found this interesting

Best wishes

Harry

February 2020

In this newsletter:

February stew
Woodgas cookstove
Klaudia
Lily
Alex
Evan
Josh
Geeky technical tinkering
Community Woodland work day

We’ve just looked at the blog and realised how ridiculously long it’s been since we wrote anything! We knew it had been too long but the more we thought about it, the more we panicked because so much has happened and we didn’t know where to start. Thankfully, one of the bonuses of the recent stormy weather is that we have been unable to do quite so much work outdoors, so here we are with a bumper edition as 7 of us will be contributing!

Hannan, Ros, Alex and Tim from last year have all moved on but are still very much a part of our lives. The new crew are now all installed. It feels like they’ve been here for ever! Each of them introduce themselves in a bit…

February Stew (Ele)

I got so excited serving up 8 bowls of steaming stew last week when I realised that all of the ingredients were from Pentiddy (except for the flour in the dumplings). Feeding lots of hungry mouths day-after-day on home grown/produced food at this time of year is a challenge and something to celebrate when it’s achieved!

Hearty Pentiddy Stew.
Hearty Pentiddy Stew

So, here’s the recipe for the stew:

Borlotti beans (dried last Summer then soaked and cooked in pressure cooker)
Onions (From Francis’s allotment here. Mine were not great!)
Garlic (hanging, dried, in the kitchen)
Jerusalem artichokes (still in the ground)
Yacon (still in the ground)
Parsnips (still in the ground)
Perennial greens (Daubenton kale from the forest garden)
Shitake stems (grown on logs here then dried and ground)
Mixed seaweeds (kelp and sea spaghetti harvested in the Summer, dried and ground)
Nettle and treen spinach powder (dried and ground)
Chillies (fresh from the plant over-Wintering in the kitchen)
Rosemary (fresh from the polytunnel)
Sage (fresh from the garden)
Parsely (fresh from the garden)
Thyme (fresh from the planters on the veranda)
Damson wine (last Autumn’s)

Dumplings:
Organic wholemeal flour (how I wish it was at least locally-grown!)
Lard (grated. From the pigs that Tim butchered last Summer)

…Kelp lasagne tonight with meadow waxcaps…followed by an apple and blueberry crumble with a yacon topping…

Wood Gas cook stove (Anthony)

A couple of years ago I was given a small portable wood gas cooking stove. Testing it I was impressed and realised it worked really well, but due to its size it required regular re-fuelling and a lot of attention. At this point ideas formed and designs were hastily scribbled to build a larger more useful cooking stove using the same principle.

The stove works by heating wood to release the wood gas and then igniting the gas to produce an incredibly clean and efficient burn. The principle is fairly simple- light a fire in the internal chamber, once it is hot, air is drawn up between the inner and outer skins and pre-heated before being fed into the top of the chamber where it combines with the unburnt gasses and helps them to ignite. I worked out that by using two gas cylinders of different sizes (one 13kg, one 7kg) the larger version could be made.

After removing the valves of the cylinders and purging them by filling with water, the first step was cutting the top off both bottles and the bottom off the larger one. Then came the process of drilling many holes around the top of the smaller bottle and in the base of it too. I then sat the whole thing off the ground so air could enter underneath and lit a fire inside to test it… and it worked!

My task now is to mount it on legs to put it at a better height for cooking on. I might even give it a coat of stove paint! The stove will be used as part of our outdoor kitchen, with the eventual aim of shedding the reliance on our bottled gas stove. With this we are one step closer to the goal, and I’m a happy man!

Anthony’s sketched plans are available here.

Klaudia

I have been living at Pentiddy for over a year now, joining in with some of the work and community life and also looking after a neighbour’s field. I bring some permaculture expertise and am currently teaching a design course in Plymouth, which 2 of the interns attend, as well as facilitating a design for St Ive parish for a zero carbon future. I’ve been bringing groups of permaculture students to Pentiddy to see one of the best examples i know of permaculture in action.

Lily

Hi, I’m Lily. I’ve been at Pentiddy since October as part of my placement year for my Geography with Forestry degree at Bangor Uni.

I’m particularly interested in food production and sustainable woodland management, with emphasis being on the regenerative practices of leaving the land in a better state of being.

The forest garden is the perfect opportunity for me to learn the basics as it is still in it’s developmental stages. All of this links to my dissertation subject of biochar as a pathway to regenrative culture with improved food security.

Finally, during my time here I’ve developed a keen interest in Ki-Aikido and green woodwork, both of which I plan to do a blog post about.

Currently, I am excited to get on with making my chair and willow basket under Anthony’s and Ele’s direction respectively.

Alex

I’m Alex, a gardening enthusiast from the south west! Having spent a lot of time at my allotment over the past year and dreaming of a more practical and holistic way of growing food I decided to join Pentiddy as an intern.

I’m, excited to be learning more about trees, and their management in coppice, charcoal burning and hedgelaying as well as building on my gardening knowledge with some crafty bits and bobs too. As an artist I’ll be recording some of my time through my print-works and trying to build a series of seasonal inspired prints. You can take a look at my work here www.alexgoodman.bigcartel.com

Evan

Evans the name. Life’s the game. I enjoy many things, not really having a specific area of interest – I prefer the big picture. It’s clear to me that there are many more desirable aspects of living the Pentiddy way, compared to modern (especially urban) lifestyles. So I am looking to learn as many of these ways as possible so I can apply them to my LIFE. I have a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and like to think of practical solutions to problems. I practice ashtanga vinyasa yoga and consider myself a fairly metaphysical fellow. My favourite group activities include, going to the pub, deep conversations, games and eating.

Josh

I’m Josh. I’m doing a three month internship at Pentiddy Woods. Before coming to Pentiddy, I was earning my living as a green woodworker, handcarving wooden spoons and making wooden bowls on a foot-powered pole lathe. During my time here, I’m hoping learn about coppicing and woodland management (which includes going on a chainsaw course), whilst also expanding my knowledge of greenwoodworking. Stonewoodcraft.com

A garden planning session…

Geeky Technical tinkering (Anthony)

Over the last year or so I have re-discovered my (never quite dormant) interest in electronics, computers and programming, and have ended up being absorbed (sorry Ele et al!) in two projects.

The first of these came from upgrading our solar controller to a Morningstar Tristar TS-45. Now this controller happens to have a com port and so I just had to explore connecting it to our laptop…

 Esp32 Datalogger in development.
Datalogger in development.

The upshot of this was managing to get it to talk to my Linux based system, learning a little Python programming language and eventually getting current data from the controller displayed on the desktop using a program called Conky. (I know, I know… your glazing over now aren’t you!)

The second project came from discovering a development board called an ESP32 (catchy name!)

This little board is really cheap, has wi-fi and bluetooth on board and can be programmed to do all sorts of things. I concieved the idea of building a real-time data-logger, tracking power in and out of the house, as well as temperature, humidity and pressure. This is still in process, but is working in part. I might even end up combining the previous project and get the logger to store the info from the TS-45!

I am sharing this mainly because I found it difficult to find the information I needed and I’m happy to share my findings with anyone interested.

Community Woodland work day

A brief reminder that Sunday 23rd Feb will see us back out in the community woodland for a work day. Please come and lend a hand if you can make it.

Spring 2019

In this blog…

Coppicing is officially finished!

We’ve talked about the coppicing at Pentiddy before, so I won’t go into great details. Suffice it to say we bit off quite a large chunk this season, and we are grateful for the fact we have actually now finished it. The Chestnut is now sprouting new shoots and looking healthy. Once again we have decided not to protect against rabbits and deer, so we’ll be keeping a very close eye on progress…

Chestnut regeneration

Whilst the coppice was down we also took the opportunity to pollard the Alder along the southern edge of the area. These trees were planted as a nitrogen-fixing shelter belt- but they had grown so tall and had thinned out so that the wind whistled through the lower branches and the canopy was shading the coppice. By pollarding them, and hoping for them to re-grow lower down, we will be re-instating the shelter but without the shading aspect. The timber from these trees has already been split and stacked to dry and will make high quality firewood for next winter.

You might also notice walking around this area that the willow that was around the central chestnut area has been coppiced too. The rods that will re-grow from these will now be cut annually and will provide basketry and hurdle materials, or will be bundled into faggots to fire our bread oven.
All in all we will be getting a large volume of very useful products every year. Our next challenge is to find markets for these…

Hedgelaying completed

Newly layed hedge
Newly layed hedge

After managing to secure a grant for hedgerow restoration and hedge-laying last year, we also embarked upon a lot of hedgelaying amongst the winter work this year. Many of the hedges here were planted with this in mind and we laid them West of England style with stakes and binders supplied from the coppice. The laying itself is a pleasure to do. The more tedious bit was the removal and re-instatement of the fences on either side of the hedge. As part of the requirement of the grant we had to make sure the fences were at least 1.2metres from the centre of the hedge… it did however give us the opportunity to replace failing tanalised fence stakes with cleft chestnut ones (unfortunately not yet from our own coppice).

Regenerative Silvopasture Experiment

The ‘Ash slope’ was planted mostly as ash coppice about 12 years ago. The intention was to sustainably harvest wood for furntiture, tool handles, firewood and charcoal.
Unfortunately however, ash dieback disease (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is very likely to kill them all in the next two to three years. This is a problem for ash throughout Europe, for more information you can visit https://www.forestry.gov.uk/ashdieback
We are looking at this as an opportunity to experiment with silvopasture, the combination of grazing and forestry.
As a start, we have felled and extracted an area of ash near the roundhouse and planted a mix of Hazel, Oak, Whitebeam, Cherry, Willow, Poplar and Douglas Fir. We will replant the rest of the slope over the next few years with a diverse mix of trees.
As those trees grow, we will pollard many of them (cutting them at around head height) on a regular rotation like the rest of the coppice. We will harvest a mix of basketry materials, fodder and tree hay for animals, kindling, firewood, weavers for wattle hurdles and many other things from these pollards.
Underneath the pollarded trees, we will graze our sheep in a style often called “management intensive rotational grazing”, moving them little and often to benefit both the pasture and sheep.
Over time, the slope should develop more diversity of structure and species and become a more resilient, productive and beautiful part of the land here. Having just finished removing the last of many thousands of tree shelters from earlier planting, we are reluctant to put too much more polluting plastic back onto the slope. Because of this, we are experimenting with using very few tree shelters and encouraging brambles to protect the natural regeneration and replanting from rabbits and deer. If you notice that the slope looks untidy and chaotic at times, this is the reason why.
We will monitor it closely and intervene if the brash and brambles choke the trees more than they protect them during the establishment phase.

If you are interested in finding out more about our plans here you can email Tim : tim@pentiddy.co.uk

Sheep update

Sheep in hurdles
Sheep in hurdles

The sheep have just started a new regime where they are in a fairly small enclosure and being moved two or three times a day. This gives us a lot of flexibility about where they can graze, benefits the grass and the sheep, and means they become more used to human interaction which will help come shearing time and when we need to work with them in other ways.

We have been making lots of chestnut gate hurdles to make this possible, and have refined the design and now pin the timbers together with oak pegs instead of very expensive copper nails… they are incredibly versatile and beautiful too!

Milking sheep

In the next month or so we are getting two new Ewe lambs and these are a milk breed. The plan is to grow them on through the year and then put them to the Ram in the Autumn.
If all goes well they will lamb next spring, and we will start to milk them alongside them feeding their lambs.
Tim plans to practice cheese making before then so at the peak of the yield we can be making stores for the half of the year when they will not produce milk… Watch this space!

Ki Aikido drop-in taster day

Anthony has been teaching Ki-Aikido for a little over a year, and is still looking for new students.
On May 4th (no jedi jokes being used here) he will be having a free drop-in taster event to give anyone interested a chance to look at Ki-development, ki testing and Aikido.
If you are interested just pop along to the Liskerrett centre, Varley lane, Liskeard, PL14 4AP any time between 11am and 2pm to chat with Anthony (1st Dan), Mel (3rd Dan), Ian (Green belt) or Alex (White belt).
The weekly lessons are on a Wednesday evening from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Liskerrett, cost just £7 and new students are welcome at any point- there is no requirement to start at a particular time of year as lessons are in no particular sequence.

So… what is Ki-Aikido?

Within us all is a singular point of calm. Here we find we are relaxed, clear and sharp and time seems to expand allowing considered actions to follow. In this state we are strong, resilient and flexible and can allow ourselves to invest fully in our endeavours. This place is our ‘one point’ and the result of finding it is the co-ordination of mind and body.

Ki-Aikido is a fun and compelling way to help us understand and develop the one point through specific practice and dynamic exercise. It can be practised by anyone willing to learn, of any age, size, ability or gender.

Rather than fear, violence and hate, we learn calmness, tolerance and respect.
Ki-Aikido is the Art of Peace.
For more information visit www.setsudo-ki-aikido.co.uk

Dying matters day

As part of national Dying Matters week, Pentiddy Natural Burials and Confortia are offering a Dying Matters day here at Pentiddy on Sunday 19th May 2019, 11am – 3pm.
The day will be an opportunity for us to explore together our choices around death and dying with the hope of bringing death back into the heart of our communities and empowering us to make the most of our (finite) lives. View (download and share) the poster here.

Guest spot- A request from Lee Dodge

Lee Dodge
Lee Dodge

Six years ago I spent one glorious Summer doing an apprenticeship at a bakery in the woods near Wellington in Somerset. Since then I have dreamt about building my own wood-fired oven and sharing my love of sourdough. While I have the skills to make the sourdough my building skills fall into a very different category. So I am looking for people with building skills and experience to help me convert a field shelter on my off-grid smallholding into a bakehouse along the lines of a crowdfunding campaign, I am offering all-you-can-eat sourdough in return for helping me with the build/conversion. I could also offer some training in sourdough making for any budding dough-heads.
So come on and help me make my dream into a reality.
Thanks.
Lee

Lee lives near Liskeard on his off-grid smallholding which he shares with his cat Jelly, and lots of hens and ducks. Contact him on 07563 542274 if you are interested.

Internship applications

We have been advertising as far and wide as possible the opportunity for the next internship which will start in October.
We have had a flurry of interest and have had telephone/skype interviews with some applicants already.
If you know of anyone who might be interested, or indeed have a channel to advertise this opportunity we would love to hear from you.
More information available at www.pentiddy.co.uk/internship.

Products from Pentiddy

Over the last couple of years many aspects of our project have started to show the fruits of our efforts. From this point onwards each year should see an increase in diversity of products and an increase in the quality too.

The list below should give you an idea of what we will expect from the land here. We are pretty rubbish at marketing, so this is a little start at trying to let people know what’s available. Markets for these products is our next challenge… please get in touch if you can help.

  • Firewood- Alder, Ash and Chestnut.
  • Charcoal- for those summer barbecues.
  • Bio-char- as a soil improver.
  • Hazel poles- for hurdles, beanpoles, pea sticks, benders etc.
  • Chestnut poles- for fence stakes, hedge stakes, furniture.
  • Willow rods- for basketry, living willow structures and oven faggots.
  • Furniture, gates and other beautifully hand-crafted items from these materials- Heartwood Creations

Midwinter 2018

In this Newsletter

Introducing the new team

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.

Hannan

Hannan
Hannan

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.

Ros

Ros
Ros

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.

Alex

Alex
Alex

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 land connection.

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…

Coppicing has begun

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.

Mushroom Bounty

Wild Mushroom Bounty
Wild Mushroom Bounty

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…

Extinction Rebellion

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!

For more general information please look on the Extinction Rebellion web site (https://rebellion.earth)

Hedgerow and Boundaries grant

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.

Bread Oven

Bread oven plinth

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!

Happy New Year to you all.

Autumn Equinox

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.

In this newsletter

The harvest – Beautiful abundance
Bright Fire – Adeon makes fire by friction!
Funding success – Natural England’s Hedge and boundaries grant
Firewood – We still have some for sale
Community Woodland – A walk and an AGM
Roundhouse – The walls are complete.
Where next? – Ideas and plans
Stool making course – Dates have changed and spaces still available
8 shields – The creation of a  mosaic

The harvest

Squashes!
Squashes

Beans!
Borlotti Beans

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.

 

 

Bright Fire

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.

Funding Success!


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!

The Roundhouse

Roundhouse with new Lime walls.
Roundhouse with new Lime walls.

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.

Where next?

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

Elm bark stool
Elm bark stool

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

8 shields mosaic
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/

Spring 2018

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!

In this Newsletter…

Coppice products
Roundhouse
Hedgelaying
Burials
Sheep
Scything
Community Woodland
Networking
Volunteers
For sale

Coppice Products.

Finished biochar
Finished biochar

Biochar kiln burning
Biochar kiln burning

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.

Roundhouse.


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.

Hedgelaying.

Hedgelaying at Pentiddy
Hedgelaying at Pentiddy

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.

Burials.

Sheep grazing the new burial area
Sheep grazing the new burial area

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.

Sheep.

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.

Scything.

Freshly Peened blade
Freshly Peened blade

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.

Community Woodland.

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.

Networking.

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 Alliances 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!

Coppice cut at Devichoys Woods
Coppice cut at Devichoys Woods

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…….

Volunteers.

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.

For sale:

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…

Winter bonus newsletter!

In this newsletter;

Frogs have arrived!
Volunteers
Bent Hazel Chair course
Burial site news
Community Woodland workday success
Ki-Aikido
Caravan wanted
Baskets
Nature Culture Regeneration (NCR)

Frogs have arrived!

Frogs in the pond
Frogs in the pond

Always seems to be just after Imbolc. This year the pond is ready for them and they’re thoroughly enjoying themselves! Can’t wait to get back in for a swim with them…

Volunteers

We seem to be having a bit of trouble with our volunteers in that we can’t get them to leave! It’s looking like Tim will be staying with us for the foreseeable future (hurrah!), Hannan, who came in January for 2 weeks has chosen to stay on as our intern until July (hurrah!) and Esme, who arrived a couple of weeks ago for 2 weeks has asked to stay until the end of May with the possibility of coming back as our 9-month intern later in the year. So great to have such a fabulous trio of caring, self-motivated and exceedingly useful volunteers and great to feel we’re able to offer them more through the internship. For more info see previous post.

Bent Hazel Chair making

Chairmaking course participants with their chairs
Chairmaking course participants with their chairs

Last month’s course had to be postponed but is now rescheduled for 10th and 11th March. As before, cost will depend on how many places are taken up. Please see the Calendar for more information.

Burial Site News

Those who walk over here will have noticed an area next to the burial site in which we are clearing the brambles and the trees which have not flourished (with permission from the Forestry Commission). This is to become a Wild Flower Meadow burial site to complement the neighbouring woodland burial site. Ruth Wilson of the Growing Project in Pensilva took the first spot and was buried there early in January as part of a beautifully appropriate community-led celebration of her life.

Jane Waters, Anthony’s Mum, was laid to rest next to Barry Waters last week in the woodland burial site snuggled in one of our Pentiddy wool shrouds. Jane was one of the founders of Pentiddy Woods and helped to secure the purchase of the land back in 2001. She has been a wonderful support through everything we’ve done here and was a much-loved woman. She will be missed by many.

The burial site continues to thrive and we are constantly grateful for the opportunity to help people to build a better relationship with death – the only certainty in life.

Community Woodland workday success

Volunteers enjoying a well earned lunch
Volunteers enjoying a well earned lunch

We had a very successful work day on the 14th January, with over 20 folk out to help us tidy the woodland, sned the trees that had been felled and bash the brambles back. A good time was had by all and we enjoyed soup and cake as well as good company.

If you missed it – DON’T PANIC! We have another work day booked in for 25th February and all are welcome to come and help support the woodland. Please contact us if you plan to come so we know how much cake to make!

More info on the calendar.

Ki-Aikido

Ki-Aikido Liskeard
Ki-Aikido Liskeard

This might at first glance seem like an odd thing to include in our newsletter, but some of you will be aware that both Anthony and Adeon have been studying Ki-Aikido for some time and it has become integrated into all areas of their lives and has implications for them in their well-being, their general attitudes and their efficiency of work amongst a host of other benefits.

Ki-Aikido has its origins in the Samurai warriors of Japan and is ostensibly a martial art, but it is also and foremost a fascinating study of the co-ordination of mind and body. It is dynamic, compelling and life-enhancing.

Having studied for around 12years, Anthony is now a 1st Dan Black belt and Adeon after about 5years of study has a yellow belt with 2 orange stripes (stripes are junior intermediate levels). The school of which they are both members is headed by Sensei Stuart who has been teaching for around 23 years, the last 13 or so in Liskeard. This year though he has made the decision to change the way the school works and he will teach only the higher grade students.

Anthony has been asked to step in and teach the Liskeard club from the 8th February. An exciting opportunity! The way the hierarchy works means he cannot teach the same grade or higher so he will only have four of the clubs’ original students. This means that beginners will be very much welcomed and encouraged to come and have a go and help support Sensei Anthony at his new dojo. Lessons will be in the hall at the Liskerret Centre every Thursday evening from 7.30-9.30pm. Please come along with loose fitting clothing and with short finger-nails and toe-nails. You will even get a lovely cup of tea half way through!

Lessons are £5 (£3 under 16’s). Membership is £18/year payable on your second evening.

For more information (and a slightly more eloquent description) of Ki-Aikido and more about the school please visit setsudo-ki-aikido.org or contact Anthony- anthony@pentiddy.co.uk or call him on 07765 103504, or simply turn up before 7.30pm on a Thursday.

Caravan wanted

We’ve been having difficulty getting rid of volunteers recently. They plan to come for a week or 2 and end up staying! We have had a wonderful trio supporting us through the last few weeks, Tim, Hannan and Esme who will all be staying for the Spring and beyond. Unfortunately we’re a little short on accommodation as a result so would be interested to hear if anyone knows of a cheap (or cheaper!) caravan available. Our hope is to eventually build something more permanent, but for the time being a caravan is the best option.

Please get in touch if you know of one up for grabs.

Baskets

Baskets ready to go...
Baskets ready to go…

Since the new year Ele has been working with 2 close friends Sara and Jess to fulfil a big basket order for a hotel in Reading. The order was placed through Sara’s business naturesparks but having just had a baby she called on Jess and Ele to help carry it out. It’s been a brilliant experience to work together on it and lots has been learnt.

Nature Culture Regeneration (NCR)

Ele has been asked to help run this year’s Nature Culture Regeneration Course on Dartmoor. Anthony, Tim, Hannan and Esme will also participate. Check it out if you’re interested in learning how to connect more fully with ourselves, with our natural environment and with each other to create more whole and effective communities. Click here for details on Facebook or here for the flier.

Winter 2017

Mid-Winter greetings to you all! We thought you might like a little holiday reading so here’s our latest offering.

In this Newsletter;
Pigs
Coppicing
Squirrel Skin Tanning
Internships
Volunteer days- Community Woodland
Bent Hazel Chair course
Winter salads
Fire


Pigs

5 minutes before slaughter
5 minutes before slaughter

December always seems to be a busy month but add in slaughtering and butchering 4 pigs and it becomes frantic!! Saying that, it all went incredibly well especially considering it was our first time. The results have been much enjoyed already and there’s plenty more to come!

Mid butchery
Mid butchery

We have hams drying, bacon curing, 4 types of sausages, brawn from heads and trotters, liver pate, fried brains on toast, copious jars of beautiful white lard, roasting joints, blood sausage, heart and kidney pie, pork scratchings……the list goes on. Tim took on the bulk of responsibility for organising everything which was a great relief for us and which is why it all went so well!

Mincing for sausages
Mincing for sausages

There is so much about the whole process that feels really positive. None of the pigs were aware of any impending doom. They were gratefully chewing on orange rind at the time. No faf, no transportation and the massive learning that comes from taking the life of an animal you’ve reared. Although the laws are constantly tightening on home kill, it is nice to know that what we did was totally legitimate. It’s very empowering to know that you can provide your own family with delicious protein and fats without any external inputs and no stress to the animal.

Coppicing

This seasons cutting has started well with a large area of hazel which has not been cut before being coppiced. We have been surprised at how much useful product has come out so far, with two orders for bale-spikes for straw bale building projects, beanpoles, pea-sticks and many good weavers for either hurdles or hedge-binders coming out too. Materials for the bent hazel chairs have also come from this area.

Other products we are investigating markets for are faggots (bundled up brash-wood) which are used primarily to stabilise river banks but are also used to fire cooking ovens, and thatching spars which are the hazel ‘staples’ used when re-thatching roofs. The remaining timber will go for firewood and charcoal which will be available for your Summer BBQs.

The other product we have started to cut is the willow- mainly the pollards of red willow in the community coppice area, but we will soon be cutting the bigger willow higher up in this area too. Most of the red willow Ele made into around 100 wreaths which Danny and Sheila Hobbs form next door decorated and sold. Basket making has started up again for Ele now she has more time due to Adeon being at school so there will be colourful Pentiddy baskets being made.

If you would like to order any Hazel produce then please get in touch.

Squirrel Skin Tanning

Smoking the squirrel skin
Smoking the squirrel skin

Squirrel skin tanning with egg yolk
Squirrel skin tanning with egg yolk

Adeon shot his first squirrel recently, and after eating the meat and offal he decided to do something with the skin. Firstly he put it ‘in salt’- pinning it out and rubbing salt with borax over the inside of the skin and then left it until it was dry. He then scraped it to remove the membrane and once this had been done rubbed 2 egg yolks into it and worked it whilst it dried to keep it supple, this took several hours and was very sticky to begin with then just a little icky after that!

The end result however is a very soft pliable skin but if left like this it would revert to ‘crispy’ if it were to get wet, so to preserve it it needed smoking.

We found some ‘punky’ wood (wood that is soft and crumbly- too far gone for firewood) which creates lots of smoke. Adeon erected a pyramid of four poles and wove a light ‘web’ high up with string, then placed the skin on the web, wrapped it all in a tarp and placed it over a smouldering, smoking fire. It’s turned out to be of amazing quality. The next stage will be to sew it into a pouch of some kind but until then it’s decorating his bedroom wall.

Internships

We have finally got around to writing an outline of the internship we are proposing to start from October 2018. This is a really exciting opportunity for the right person so spread the word!

The internship is an opportunity to join our family for 9 months living off-grid on an established experimental woodland smallholding.

From October each year through to the following July we are offering a full, rounded experience in sustainable living. You will be trained in numerous essential skills for setting up your own project. There will be a small training budget for off-site courses, free weekends (except during hay-making time!), 1 day each week for more flexible study or skills learning. 4 days a week helping on a variety of interesting tasks around the land.

Internship at Pentiddy
Internship at Pentiddy

Each season there will also be trips to the Green Scythe Fair and the National Coppice Federation AGM. There are plenty of interesting places to visit fairly locally such as the Eden Project, Landmatters Community, Agroforestry Research Trust, Keveral Farm Community…

We can only offer 2 places each year, and we would obviously prefer you to visit beforehand if possible. Please in the first instance apply in writing or by e-mail.

For further information on this please visit www.pentiddy.co.uk/pentiddywoods/volunteers/ or click on the image for more detail.

Volunteer days- Community Woodland

Please make a note of the dates for the volunteer days for helping in the Community Woodland.

14th January, 25th February, 25th March all from 10am to 4pm. More details available in the Calendar. Come and join us and we’ll feed you and share out the resulting firewood.

Bent Hazel Chair Course

Bent Hazel Chair Making Course
Bent Hazel Chair Making Course

The course in November was a great success. All participants had a fun time and went home with beautiful chairs. The next course is 27th-28th January. Before Christmas it was fully booked but due to very difficult family health issues one couple have had to pull out so there are still a few spaces left.
More information here.

Winter Salads

A beautiful winter salad
A beautiful winter salad

Ele just wanted to share a photo of one of our December salads. Such a lift to eat bright colours at such a dark time of year!

 

 

Fire workshops

..and just as a final thing, our friend Klaudia visited yesterday and is running the several ‘meeting and making fire’ workshops which some of you may be interested in- please follow this link:

Happy Solstice to you all!

As always it’s really nice to get your feedback on the newsletter- please feel free to e-mail us.

Autumn 2017

Articles in this newsletter:

Our visit to Old Chapel Farm
Wind generator erected
Dandelion Coffee
Projects
Ash die back
Community Woodland work day
Pentiddy shroud

Frequency of newsletters

Well, as things here at Pentiddy tend to do, time-scales have drifted and the newsletter is now looking more like a seasonal one rather than monthly which actually was the plan originally. Perhaps we should have heeded the inner voice?! This however does gives us the opportunity to be more selective with the items we share and will mean hopefully each newsletter published will be of a better quality with more interesting articles. As you may have noticed I’ve included a contents list above with click-links- I hope you will find this easier to navigate to the parts of the newsletter you are interested in.

Please encourage anyone you know who might find these newsletters interesting to view them and to subscribe and share the content.

Our visit to Old Chapel Farm

Old Chapel Farm
Old Chapel Farm, Wales

23 years ago Anthony and I, on completion of our Permaculture Design Course, decided to travel around the UK as WWOOF volunteers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) to see how farms and smallholdings were using the design principles we’d learnt about. The highlight of our adventure was our visit to Waen Old Farm in Mid Wales. Fran, Kevin and their children gave us such a wonderful bundle of inspiration that we’ve been back numerous times since. They even built us a tiny straw bale house for the start of our honeymoon!

For various obvious reasons it’s been quite difficult to get away since buying Pentiddy and Mid-Wales isn’t a place we tend to drive through very often so it’s years since we’ve visited. However, we felt that Tim would really appreciate some learning there as they are doing so many interesting things including running a micro-dairy which is of particular interest to him at the moment. So, using that as an excuse, we took the whole family up there for a weekend, leaving Tim to find his own way back after a couple of weeks volunteering. What an amazing place!

Since we were last there they’d moved to Old Chapel Farm down the road and have expanded massively in beautiful directions. Yet again we had a hugely inspiring time there and marvelled at their ability to gainfully employ 12 volunteers at a time on a whole host of interesting projects including the building of a neolithic settlement. I won’t detail all their activities here as it’s all on their web site (which is well worth a look at if you can’t get to the farm itself!) Needless to say Tim had a great time and has come back fired-up about much more than just the dairy! Elowen and Adeon were also really taken with the place and designed a roundhouse for the woods here as soon as we got home!

One of the ideas we have brought away with us is to offer internships. This is something they offer at Old Chapel Farm and is working really well for them. From October 2018 we will be offering 2 places for a 9 month internship here. Participants will have a programme drawn up for their stay detailing their learning about all things sustainable. They will have opportunities to learn natural building techniques, basketry, make a chair, learn coppice craft, how to design and build off-grid systems, scything and hay making, no-dig gardening and forest gardening, sheep blade-shearing, and will also receive a small training budget to spend on an external course of their choosing during their stay.

If you know anyone who may be interested then please put them in touch. More details next issue.

Wind generator erected

After a long break of hanging up in the workshop and gathering a thick layer of dust- the old machine has been cleaned up, put back together and placed on top of the 12m tower. We finally erected it in August. The raise is always a little bit scary, but it went well with a few extra people around to hold guy-lines and support.

The Air 403 is an now an old 400W 12V machine but has had a new set of bearings, and a new set of blades which have been polished to reduce the turbulence and therefore the noise created by their spinning. The hope is this generator will help to top up the batteries in the shorter days of winter, and mean the need to run a petrol generator to charge them and subsequently protect them from damage will be less frequent.

Dandelion coffee

With help from Sarah, one of our amazing volunteers from earlier this year, we have harvested a good quantity of dandelions from the coppice which have been washed, chopped, dried, roasted and ground. I’ve been doing this for years but it’s always been drunk as a special treat as there was never very much of it. It feels luxurious to be having it every morning and to know there are plenty more jars of it in the stores. It’s so tasty, completely free and has numerous health benefits too. A winner!

Projects

Many different projects are happening all at once as usual, but we thought we should perhaps give you a taste of things current and planned…

Garden shed
Garden shed at Pentiddy

Glorified living roof, tyre wall garden shed – It finally made it’s way to the top of the ‘to do’ list after the Summer and is almost finished. It’s incredibly exciting to think that I may actually have somewhere to put all my garden tools and an under-cover potting bench with strawberries and thyme growing on the roof. It was a great project for using all sorts of materials we had left over from previous jobs: the liner on the roof came from the old pond, the under and over-liners from the swimming pond off-cuts, lath from Bex’s shed build, cladding from a friend’s old shed, and boards for the roof from the house build. Pensilva Tyres were more than happy for us to take as many tyres as we needed to save them from landfill. The only problem is that I no longer have any excuse not to be extremely well organised with my gardening!

The solar shower, which is part of the same tyre wall construction, is nearly finished but is on hold until the spring but will be ready to use for next summer.

Climbing Wall Skeleton
Climbing Wall Skeleton

Climbing Wall – A request from Adeon has been that we create a climbing wall in the barn where the straw workshop wall was being replaced. He has put money into the purchase of materials and is helping out with the construction when time allows. The designs has been drawn up by our friend Jessie Carr (who also makes the coffins for us) as she’s a very experienced climber. The design work and some help with the construction will be in exchange for her using it as a practice wall. It will provide many hours of fun and exercise for family and volunteers alike. Anthony is thoroughly enjoying the challenge of the multi-plane angles but is under a little bit of pressure to get it completed before the chair making course later this month…..

On that note, the course on the 25th-26th Nov is fully booked and more requests for places are coming in so we have decided to run another weekend on the 27th – 28th January. See here for more details.

Bread oven– Our plan to build a bread oven in the outdoor kitchen will finally become a reality in the spring.

Designs are being finalised and materials gathered. It will be a masonry stove rather than a cob one, and the hope is to to start a routine of cooking once a week… the construction will be documented and shared via this newsletter.

Coppice cutting is starting this week and we have extra volunteers lined up until the end of the month to give us a kick-start. We are cutting the last area of Hazel that is not yet in rotation so it’s not the easiest to work but we already have lots of orders to cut to which feels really positive.

Ash dieback

Some of you who walk here regularly may have noticed the young ash trees in the community coppice not looking too well. Unfortunately the Forestry Commission have confirmed that now we have Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) here at Pentiddy. We have yet to make final decisions about how to deal with this as there are so many differing points of view to consider but we will be carrying on thinning out Ash in favour of Oak in the Community Woodland, and assessing the situation as the trees in the coppice come into leaf again (hopefully) in the spring.

Community Woodland work days

Following our AGM last week, these are now booked for the 14th Jan, 25th Feb and 25th March. Everyone welcome to help clear paths, sned branches,  carry lumber and prune. Please phone if you’re interested in coming. Scrummy soupy cakey lunches provided. Please check out the Calendar tab for more details.

Pentiddy shroud

Pentiddy Wool Shroud
Pentiddy Wool Shroud

The first Pentiddy Wool Shroud has been purchased and buried here. The product design and development for something seemingly so simple has been astounding but it has proved worth the time and was much admired by funeral directors and attendees alike. Details are on the website here.

August 2017

A bit of a contrast to the weather in early July. We have been working around incredible rain storms for the past month or so which has made it tricky to get stuck into any one thing. Also various members of the team have been away during the Summer – Anthony running a workshop for Wildwise on their Family Camp, Ele’s parents’ Golden wedding celebrations, the children on circus and scout camps, music residentials and holidays and Tim has been away WWOOFing in Dorset learning about running a micro-dairy. Many of the original house-build team have been back for their annual visit and we’ve had a steady influx of other volunteers. Not a settled month of weather or personnel and definitely not dull!

The vegetable garden, Pentiddy Woods
The vegetable garden, Pentiddy Woods

The garden has had it’s best season ever with every inch under successful cultivation and very healthy crops. We put it down to the inspirational teachings of Ele’s latest Guru – Charles Dowding and his No-Dig Gardening. Ele was lucky enough to hear a talk from Charles at the Scythe Fair this year and has since bought one of his books. Hoeing is now a much more regular thing so there is far less slug habitat and there are mountains of compost being made around the site ready for a thick layer on each bed this Autumn. Successional cropping has also been better planned to make use of space and time gaps. The other aid to the garden has been the ducklings who have been brought up to forage for slugs and are learning to come to a whistle when we find slugs hiding.

Full pantry!
Full pantry!

The abundance of crops has meant that lots needs preserving and we are trying to learn to do this without using a freezer. The shelves in the kitchen (now officially more than full!) are stacked with jams, compotes, chutneys, cordials, wines, pickles, dried mushrooms and herbs. Our increased interest in aiming for a diet closer to that of our ancient ancestors has led us to experiment with various forms of fermenting so we also have saurkrauts, kombucha, ginger beer and sourdough bubbling away. Ele’s been clearing out the garden seed box and is sprouting all the excess home-saved kale and mustard seeds for sprouted greens which is a really tasty way to end the planting season.There is nothing more satisfying than a full larder and we’re learning so many interesting things in the process.

Tim's hair donation
Tim’s hair donation

The solar shower/compost bay/tool store/potting shed structure is moving along slowly. Tim’s dedication to the project was proved when, within 5 minutes of running out of fibre for the lime mix, he had shaved his head and added his hair to the mix! It’s looking like it will all be fully functioning in time for next growing season. Can’t wait!

There is a mountain of firewood for sale either Ash from the Community Woodland or Chestnut from the coppice. Long lengths £80/load, ringed and split £120/load delivered. We also have nets of kindling £3.50 each and small hand-made bales of organic hay £3 each. We’re taking orders now….. and as always we are happy to discuss exchanges other than monetary!

There are still a couple of places available on the bent hazel chair course in November please see the Calendar tab or click here for more details.

More soon….!