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.
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…
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
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
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!
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 Stripling 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- email@example.com or call him on 07765 103504, or simply turn up before 7.30pm on a Thursday.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
..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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Welcome to what will hopefully now become our monthly newsletter. Our aim here is to impart some useful information and share news and insights from all the sub-projects that make up Pentiddy. We hope the content will be insightful and informative.
We have a huge amount of gratitude for being able to live here and steward this plot of land. Many who walk, attend events and learn here also have a love of the place. This newsletter is a means of celebrating everyone’s connection to Pentiddy.
This is the time of year for all thoughts that have been brewing over the winter to awaken and start sprouting. Buds and ideas swell and bulbs and new ventures push up through the earth. It’s certainly had its effect on us!
We’ve been enjoying our visits from the buzzard who perches on the same gate post daily to look for breakfast. we’ve also been treated to numerous breath-taking sunrises and the first taste of fresh wild salads.
Natural Swimming Pond
Sitting on the veranda one sunny spring day last year, counting our many blessings, we rhetorically asked- “…how could this be any better?”. One of the children then piped up- “Well… it would be good if we could swim in the pond…”
So we’ve started the process of changing our small wildlife pond into a natural swimming pond which is no small task! It’s been interesting work to carry out in the middle of winter as it has involved lots of mud, and wading in the pond in January to build the sand bag wall (which was not Anthony’s favourite job!).
The principle of a natural swimming pond is simple enough- instead of chemicals to clean the water, oxygenating plants are used and nutrient levels kept as low as possible to inhibit algal growth. The planted zone has to be at least equal in area to the swimming zone, so we will still have a haven for wildlife. We’ll let you know how effective it is once it has been completed and the plants and biology have established properly.
We can’t wait to swim in it come the spring…
Pentiddy Natural Burials
We have received planning permission to extend the burial site into the area to the south of the existing site where the previously planted Chestnuts have not thrived. This area was under our Woodland Creation Grant with the Forestry Commission who have agreed to us removing the trees and changing the use from forestry to burials. Because of the low fertility levels in this area we have decided it will work best as a wild flower meadow which also offers further choice for those being buried here and it increases the diversity of habitat.
Following a meeting with local grassland expert Kevin Austin (Skyegrove) we now have a clearer plan in place for using the sheep to manage the grass in the early Spring and Autumn and cutting for hay in the summer. We have also sown a couple of areas of yellow rattle, a wild flower that is parasitic on grass and will assist in the creation of some wild flower glades for wildlife.
Sustainable, Biodegradeable Coffins
With the Burial site, the coppice and the skills base, we figured we should at least look into producing a sustainable coppice-based coffin. We’ve encouraged our basket-making friend Jessie Carr who lives here in Pensilva to have a go at making a willow coffin for our next burial here. She agreed to include some willow grown at Pentiddy which we’re hoping to supply to her in increasing amounts. The coffin she has produced is stunning.
Back at Pentiddy’s workshop we’ve been busy thrashing out ideas for using Hazel for coffins for a quicker and therefore cheaper coffin and we’re also looking at developing shrouds with a hazel base. We’ll keep you posted on progress.
Coppice and Sales
We have started the coppice cycle with a cut in the area of Sweet Chestnut above the house, and also a re-cut of the 3 year old Hazel. Although only a small area, the Hazel is of fantastic quality with pretty much all of the poles selling by word of mouth. It has gone for hedging stakes and binders, bale spikes for a straw bale build and of course bean poles. We have also supplied the Devon Rural Skills Trust with materials for their hurdle making course. As it is the first cut for the Chestnut there are not really any useful poles this time round but an awful lot of firewood! Tim is also experimenting with a kontiki kiln for making biochar with the brash tops.
Workshop dry store
As part of our post-house process, the Heartwood Creations woodworking workshop is undergoing an overhaul with the anticipation of running a series of courses starting again this year. Materials salvaged from the demolition of the mobile home and left-over house build straw as insulation have created a dry store attached to the workshop so Anthony can have rust-free dry tools. Francis (who has the allotment here) has also donated her old kitchen cupboards for storage. He’s a very happy man! What’s even better is that he also has a whole list of things to make so he’ll be making very good use of the new space in the next few months.
Open Day – April 8th 2017
April the 8th will see us opening the site here to an event tied into the Small Woods Association national bean pole week. This is looking like it will be a fairly large event with a ‘local and sustainable’ theme – around 30 stalls showcasing businesses and individuals from the local area. there will also be talks, demonstrations and live entertainment. Put the date in your diaries. More information will be available in the next newsletter.
Courses and Events Calendar
The websites and content have had an overhaul and we now have a calendar of events which include courses run through Heartwood Creations, community work days for the Community Woodland and anticipated dates for sheep grazing and hay making in the burial site. We’re breaking ourselves in gently with courses this year offering only a few but we hope to be at full speed in 2018. Ele’s pursuing a Food Hygiene course so that we can include a home-produced lunch down at the house for course participants.
Once again an apology for any spurious e-mails, and any odd things that have happened whilst things were tested, re-jigged and set-up. I am not a whizz with technology, just a little bit of a geek, and I hope that eventually my efforts will make the suite of Pentiddy websites an interesting, useful and informative resource….
Please pass on the link to our newsletter to anyone you think may be interested and encourage them to subscribe. Unsubscribing is also easy and is honoured- we are not into e-mail spam!
As always we love to get feedback. Let us know your thoughts on the newsletter content, how we could improve it or the websites and their content. Any broken links or spelling mistakes…
Enjoy the Spring!
A diverse Permaculture project in South East Cornwall, UK