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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.

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The Potential Role of Fine Art in the Transition Movement

by Thomas Keyes

Fine Art is always having a crisis or a revolution of some sort or another, and very few of them are of any real interest.  Every now and then society has a crisis or a revolution or just a good old war to shake things up, but in the grand scheme of things the direction very rarely changes, and anomalies, if not eliminated, remain impotent alternatives - tolerated, maybe even admired, but certainly not adopted.  What happens less often is that society and Fine Art have a crisis at the same time; this is usually interesting and has produced great art, noble visions and true attempts at revolution.  However, the Achilles heel of Fine Art has been its dependence on the civilization that gave birth to it, and the addiction to which this civilization is enslaved - energy.  No matter how noble the cause or grand the vision since the agricultural revolution and through every revolution since, society has, when the dust settled, arranged itself in forms to extract more energy from its environment, with culture tending to reflect and celebrate this perceived progress.  What has not happened before is what is happening now:  we can no longer dig ourselves out of this hole by digging faster.  There’s nowhere left to exploit and, for the first time ever, we have to account for our actions as a species on a global scale.  Everything that gave us comfort on the post-modern gravy train - technology, cheap energy, capitalism - now seems threatening and devoid of meaning.  This journey never had a destination but only now, as we near the end of the line at increasing speed, do we recognise this and begin to panic.  Whatever happens next will be more than interesting.

The Transition movement is the only serious attempt to deal with impending results of thousands of years of resource mismanagement by this and previous civilizations.  The context is new:  oil and GHG’s are recent, but there have always been those who sensed that something wasn’t quite right, and it is their shoulders that those who seek the Transition vision are standing on.

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Alternatives for the Kitchen Garden

Book Review by Val Harris

The Alternative Kitchen Garden: an A-Z

by Emma Cooper

Foreword by Mark Dianco – River Cottage Head Gardener

Permanent Publications   2009         ISBN :  978 1 85623 046 9

pp 371             £14.95

Emma Cooper’s book could not have arrived at a better time for me to review it.   We bought our smallholding a year ago as relative novices to vegetable growing.   Having been a regular subscriber to Permaculture Magazine, I could see that the first year was going to be relatively straightforward according to Permaculture principles.   One observes  - and observes some more.   I did manage to grow some vegetables that first summer, mainly to placate my cynical husband who thought I was opting out, but this year I will have no such excuse.  I have been trawling through all my various books and magazines but getting hopelessly confused – to dig or not to dig?

I began by reading Emma’s introduction.   She describes how she reclaimed her neglected urban garden in Oxfordshire to create the ‘alternative kitchen garden’, and she documented this on her blog and via internet radio, culminating in her first book.

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Potential for Oriental Vegetables in Powys

by David Burridge

A pioneering trial of oriental crops has revealed some exciting new possibilities for both the home grower and commercial producer looking for varieties that will stand up to the Welsh climate.

Oriental vegetables have been grown in Britain for many years. Varieties such as Pak Choi, Chinese Cabbage, Mizuma Greens and Oriental Mustards are now grown on a regular basis and have become useful ingredients in salad packs and stir fry mixes. However, some vegetables are also still being imported from the Far East. There are now more varieties and types of oriental vegetables available than ever before, but the number grown commercially in Wales is quite small.

The growing trial aimed to identify oriental vegetables that could be grown in Powys; to examine the potential for extending the growing

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New Allotments for Presteigne after 50 Year Wait

by Lin Scrannage

There were allotments in Presteigne until the 1960s, when Beeching closed down local railway networks and the station, line and allotments were all disposed of to make way for a new road.  There has been a waiting list for many years, but 18 months ago a chain of events was set in motion by a newcomer to the town who felt so passionately about the benefits to a community that a well-run allotment site could bring that she set about making it happen.

Networking with likeminded people was the first step - to get a committed small group of interested gardeners together who wouldn't be afraid of putting a lot of time and energy into all the meetings with

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Is it Really Time to Eat the Dog? - Book Review

“Time to eat the dog? The real guide to sustainable living”

by Robert and Brenda Vale

Thames and Hudson 2009     ISBN 978-0-500-28790-3

pp 384   £14.95

In 1975 Brenda and Robert Vale published their first book, “The Autonomous House: design and planning for self-sufficiency”. This was a ground-breaking exploration of the ways in which technology could be harnessed to create a house “operating independently of any inputs except those of its immediate environment – a sort of land-based space-station”. This study had been undertaken following their awareness that the fundamental basis of the world economies was perpetual growth, in total disregard to the fact that global resources are finite, and rapidly diminishing - a situation which was clearly unsustainable.

Thirty five years later the technological solutions put forward in that

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