Due to a change in situation we still have one intern place left.
This would now run from January 2020 until July 2020
It is an opportunity for a fully immersive experience 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. Please pass this on as widely as possible- share it on social media (we’re a bit backwards in this department!)
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…
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…
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 : firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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…
Just to let everyone know that due to two very well attended workdays in January and February we do not need the planned one in March. We have therefore CANCELLED this work day.
Thank you to all who attended in January and February- we really appreciate your support. After such a fruitful couple of days we have quite large volumes of wood to extract once the ground is dry. This will then be processed and available as firewood for next season- we are taking orders now if you have space to stack/season this yourself (we are running low on storage here at Pentiddy). Call Anthony on 07765 103504
We are able to deliver free within a five mile radius and a half load* is £60.00 (*approx. half m³)
Unless otherwise specified logs will be ringed to around 9″ long and where necessary split- a mix of sizes will be included in the load from 1½” Ø upwards.
Firewood Purchases will help to support the Community Woodland (Charity no. 1094857).
A diverse Permaculture project in South East Cornwall, UK