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This site has not been updated since 2014 and is being maintained as an archive for now. As time allows we'll be weeding out the dated material and presenting the many useful articles in a new format. We'd appreciate any feedback on what you find most useful on this site via our contact page.

Guest Writers

Peoplecare and Permaculture

Looby Macnamara of Designed Visions sheds light on the role of Permaculture in personal and societal change

There is the perception in both experienced practitioners and beginners in Permaculture that it is mainly about land-based design. However, we need to do more than just plant trees to address the problems surrounding us.  If we are to truly turn them around we need to deepen our understanding of the potentials of Permaculture. How can we think and act deeply to change our own behaviours; embrace an abundance mentality; extend our connections with other people; strengthen our communities; widen the systems of society to be inclusive, nurturing and non-polluting; and ultimately to challenge the paradigms of fear, greed and scarcity which currently govern the global situation? How can we grow as humans? These are the questions we must find answers to in order to survive and thrive.

The principles of Permaculture are universal and can direct us to solutions: however, it takes thought and practice to translate them beyond the garden. Luckily there are limitless opportunities to apply them daily. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

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The Freetree Initiative

How local

At FreeTree, our aim is to provide local individuals, community groups and schools or other educational establishments with free trees, either broadleaf deciduous or fruit/nut trees to plant in their gardens/community space or woodland and to expand this service to other parts of Wales and the United Kingdom. This will encourage the growth of local provenance trees for both firewood and food and educate local individuals and groups in the propagation, planting and care of trees. FreeTree will provide trees from our home base in Esgair-Rhiw and also locate other potential sources of free trees from local woodlands, orchards and gardens or community spaces. Our website will enable us to liaise between those who wish to offer free trees and those who have space in which they wish to grow trees.

What is natural re-generation?

The natural regeneration of woodland, from seeds dispersed by nearby trees or by other natural means (such as vegetative propagation, regrowth and seed dispersal by birds) depends on

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'The Living Landscape – How to read and understand it' by Patrick Whitefield

A review by Rhian Hill

ISBN: 978 1 85623 043 8

48 informative, clear photographs.  333 pages

Published by Permanent Publications. Price: 19.95 (U.K. Sterling)

Having been a walker for most of my life, I have have managed to glean some understanding of how our diverse landscape has evolved. Being naturally inquisitive I often wonder why, why not and how.

Reading 'The Living Landscape' has informed me in much more detail about the influences that have shaped this land of Britain. People, rocks, soils, climate, plants and animals - each have their

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The story of a common and a not-so-common flower pot.

Do you have loads of old plastic flower pots  that seem to have ‘self seeded’ in all sorts pf nooks and crannies in the garden – in your shed, piled in the greenhouse,  or just hidden next to the compost?  You know they will all come in handy – one day!  How did they get there?

Well, somebody found some oil, then shipped it around the word, and then refined it (so pretty, that gas, when it’s ‘burned off’), then added some very complicated chemicals and lots of energy, and separated some ‘by’ products for plastics production.  Some of these by-products went off to be moulded into your pots. Well, they went through lots of other processes first – but I do not want to get TOO boring!

All that energy. All that CO2 up in the air.  Just for that shprt trip from the nursery, and then a long, empty laze around your garden.  Well, we think that’s a bit of a waste. Worse, a totally avoidable waste.

How about a biodegradable pot?  A pot that was ‘grown’. A pot that will go back where it came from – after it’s let you plant without root shock, although perhaps with a bit of air pruning, strengthening the core of your plant’s roots.

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Economies of Scale - Where Do They Lead Us?

Could we feed ourselves – should we try?


Nick Snelgar

Economists gaze lengthily into the firmament and declare loudly that economies of scale force down retail prices so everything is cheap and we can fill our wallets with surplus cash to buy the things that are really expensive. But agriculture has been slavishly following this message since I was a student in 1973, and long before that. Even then a 600 acre farm was borderline ‘viable’, or so they told us. Like an enormous Leviathan; like a tremendous cargo container ship, farming has got bigger and more capital-heavy and lighter of manpower and - no more profitable!

I hear my farming friends utter the terrifying phrase  ‘Nick, it’s just not worth doing anymore‘. This might be brought on by another huge and unpredicted drop in the wholesale price of pig meat, taking it well below the cost of production – and this even with a unit hosting 1000 sows; or the price of wheat in Chicago has blipped down to £80 per ton for some unfathomable reason known only to the speculators.

Is it time to try the ’economies of small-scale’? Is it time to place a value on skills – keeping them and expanding them; to place value in working once again in small efficient groups; to place value in well-being and job satisfaction, and the satisfaction of having a job?

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