Tag Archives: Volunteering

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.

Internship opportunity – 1 place left!

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!)

www.pentiddy.co.uk/internship

e-mail us: volunteer@pentiddy.co.uk

Internship applications open for 2019/20 season.

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

Lime, Charcoal, Seaweed and Stools

After a busy few weeks and before Anthony disappears on his Aikido Summer Course we thought we’d post out a quick update on events here…

In this newsletter:

Stool making course
Lime Rendering opportunity
Seaweed harvest
Charcoal and firewood

Stool Making Course

Woven Bark Seat
Woven Bark Seat

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

Roundhouse Walls just waiting for render...
Roundhouse Walls just waiting for render…

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…

Seaweed Harvest

Seaweed harvest 2018
Seaweed harvest 2018

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;

Gutweed
Sweet Oarweed
Dulce
Bull Kelp
Laver
Sea Spaghetti
Sea Lettuce

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.

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…

Community Woodland Volunteer day (March Sunday 25th) CANCELLED!

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).