Spring at Pen Dinas


It was a stunning spring day in the Newtown garden today, a perfect moment to reflect o how far we have come in the 18 months since we started the garden here at Pen Dinas. Bees were humming around the spring flowers, blackbirds busy building nests and blossom was everywhere on the new fruit trees. One of the very last few of the micro allotments plots was taken up today and everywhere there was signs of hard work.


The last 18 months have been a constant hard work by the whole team here and it is on days like today that all that hard work really pays off. We received visitors as well day for discussions on some of the lessons learned so far and on strategies for starting similar ventures in other towns. The incredible edible movement and other community led growing initiatives have caught the imagination of many communities.. but in each place there is a different set of challenges, a different set of resources and different set of opportunities.


Later this month we are running a 5-day, how to design a community garden course in Llanfyllin.. using the same process we used to design the Newtown garden. Part of what we are now working on is to turn the experience of what we have learned here into courses and workshops where we can spread the learning and can assist other groups to achieve the same kind of results.


A key part of the project is to be able to replicate and spread the ideas and central to that is the plant nursery where we are propagating lots plants for sale and for use in other garden projects we are involved in. We are especially interested in perennial fruiting and herbaceous plants which we can use to attract pollinating insects, support biodiversity and of course produce food for ourselves.

Cae Bodfach – a community orchard for Llanfyllin

text on permaculture and forest gardens

Text from the Village Farm Orchard map for Stockbridge Liverpool

It has been a fantastic week for forest gardening, with the launch of the Village Farm Orchard project in Liverpool, something I have been working on for 2 years now.. and the planing of a forest garden orchard for the community of Llanfyllin. Cae Bodfach is an area next to the Cain river, upstream of Llanfyllin town that is rented by the town council from the Bodfach estate as a community asset. So we have been keen for while now to start something there that the whole community can benefit from. The potential for involvement is wide open, as we don’t intend to stop with the forest garden.. but this was a significant start to the project and I am thrilled by the interest so far. On Friday we were visited by 80 children and staff of the Llanfyllin primary school, who all got involved in planting, digging holes and adding tree guards to the young saplings they were planting.

Dewi with kids

Dewi Morris working with some of the local school children in the garden

It was a pleasure to work with freelance park ranger Dewi Morris, who has a fantastic repartee with the children and got them all busy working away and enjoying the fresh spring day down by the river. The design for the garden has been approved by the town council and involves planting a fruit hedge and shelter belt of elder, hazel, blackthorn, damson and brier.. and on the south side of that lines of orchard trees interspersed with herbs, shrubs and flowers that area ll good bee fodder and will help attract beneficial insects and build the fertility of the orchard.

Frog came to visit us planting, to see what all the fuss was about

Frog came to visit us planting, to see what all the fuss was about

Of course it is lots of fun working with young children, as every event is chance for major excitement. Find worms, a frog, bits of all clay pipe or broken plate all constitute major events and a chance for wonder and investigation. Ah the simple pleasures! Really fun to work with them all and a big thanks to the school and teachers for taking part and for their enthusiasm, I will look forward to more sessions in the future. Community Day Apologies for anyone who came later on and missed all the action and to anyone who didn’t know we were planting this weekend.. but there will be other opportunities and this is just the beginning of something we plan to build on.. so there will be other chances! I tried to count how many people came down.. 46 is my guess throughout the day.. and what was especially good we had members from across the local community.. all ages and back grounds from Town Councillors, to residents fro the housing association adjacent, folk from the surrounding hill and villages, past permaculture students,friends and more.. guild Members fro Tan Y Fron housing cooperative in Meifod came along to plant an apple tree guild.. and set of specific support species to help the tree get established. It will be really interesting watching this develop and we are planning some signs to help people interpret what is going on there as well as labeling the key trees in the orchard. Many of the trees have come from local nurseries and are old and interesting varieties. Mainly desert and cider apples, but we also planted cherry, pear, quince and plum and we will be adding roe later as well.. so it will only get more interesting over time hopefully. planted We managed to plant 33 fruit trees, 60 supporting trees in wildlife/ fruiting hedge as well as £100 worth of bee friendly plants donated by the RHS. We will be adding to this over the coming year and are open to suggestions for other elements we can include in the garden. It might be nice to include some veg growing facilities like raised beds etc… but for now we have concentrated on long term perennial plantings that will have a long life span and will also contribute to local food growing, wildlife and habitat provision.

plan of the garden

Plan for the Llanfyllin food forest

community garden planting pic

Tan y Fron Coop and friends, planting an apple tree and guild of supporting plants as part of the Cae Bodfach community garden.

Community Garden Design Course – Press release

Press Release

Date: 1st April 2014

Headline: Tree Planting : A new forest garden for Llanfyllin Town.

Local residents in and around the Llanfyllin area are invited to come tree planting to develop a new community orchard at Bodfach Field or Cae Tref next to Llanfyllin’s public car park in Llanfyllin on Saturday 5th April. Tools will be available, but bring a spade if you have one!

10 acres of land has been leased to the Llanfyllin Town Council for the use of the Town by Simon and Maggie Baynes of Bodfach Hall. Work on Friday and Saturday will turn part of this new public open space into a community orchard. Cwm Harry, local charity, are supporting the project and have secured fruit and hedging trees from Llanfyllin Town Council, The Woodland Trust and Keep Wales Tidy to plant up at the site.

Dewi Morris, local resident who has been volunteering on the project, says “it’s great that we’ve managed to secure so many trees to plant up at the Wetlands. I’m really looking forward to getting the Primary School and rest of community involved in planting up the site to create a beautiful community resource.”

Pupils from Llanfyllin Primary School will be planting some trees on Friday 4th, and people are invited to continue the planting from 10am on Saturday 5th.

This will be part of a larger project to transform Bodfach into a community forest garden in partnership with Llanfyllin Town Council, Cwm Harry and Llanfyllin Green Hub. Cwm Harry runs a community garden project called Get-Growing, which will support the development of the garden with community involvement. Get-Growing has developed community garden sites in Newtown and Llanidloes.

To find out more, please call Steve on 01686 626234 or email skills@cwmharry.org.uk

Editors Notes:

For more information, please contact Jodie Griffith on jodieg@cwmharry.org.uk or 07814 271360

Cwm Harry is a registered charity focusing on sustainable land use and working towards a zero-waste world. Activities and projects include community gardening, local food production and marketing, skills and training opportunities in practical sustainability, renewable energy, sustainable homes and waste reduction.

Get-Growing is a 3 year lottery funded project managed by Cultivate, part of the Cwm Harry family of enterprises.
The Get-Growing project is based on the Coleg Powys Newtown campus where we are developing a 21/2 acre community market garden, with wildlife and play areas. We are working closely with a range of volunteers, apprentice gardeners, students, local schools, community groups and other enterprises.
We are a national Lottery funded project, launched in March 2012 and are based in Newtown, Powys, Cymru/ Wales

See www.cwmharry.org.uk or www.cwmharryskills.org.uk for information about other courses and events.

oven open day

Andy cooking pizza in the clay ovenMothers day, glorious sunshine and the first bake in our new clay oven attracted 46 people to our open day and wild workshops.

Andy and Leanne from’ Andy’s artisan bread’ fired up the clay oven and spent the afternoon cooking pizza’s for all the visitors. The oven worked well and the pizza’s tasted great, first pizza- Ralph & Hannahaccompanied with lots of fresh salad harvested from one of our polytunnels at the Newtown community garden.

Hannah and Ralph snapped up the first pizza out of the oven. The base was a little sandy and grey with ash, but they got better as the day went on and as Andy mastered cooking in the new oven.open day- eating area

This project has been funded by GwirVol youth led grant scheme, that paid for the materials for the construction of the oven and seating area,  workshops in clay & willow and volunteer opportunities in construction, cementing, block and brick wall building and plastering.

We had been busy this week finishing the sunken seating area and today open day-seating areawe put the fire bowl in place and the local youths lit a fire and heated up marshmallows, having lots of fun and really enjoying this new space. It is a multi purpose area, that can be used by all ages. Parent and toddlers will be able to throw down a rug and some toys and use it for containing the little ones while they work on their allotments or enjoy a chat. While others can take the fire bowl from the shed when needed.

seating area and fire bowl

We started the day running workshops in making bug hotels and wild flower seed bombs. Individuals could choose their materials for making the bug hotels, using moss, wool, hollow sticks and leaves they tied them together or slotted the Bug hotel - zeff Lyonmaterial into tubes or bottles. These were then putt into place in our larger hotel between the oil tanks in the wildlife area or they could be taken home. We also were making wild flower seed bombs made from a mix of sand and clay rolled in wild UK native annual meadow flowers. The flower bombs were put into egg boxes to be taken home and then Gary & Kids making wildflower seed bombsdistributed. The open day was 10-2 pm but with it being mothers day and the clocks changing it was a slow start, although it turned out to be such a beautiful sunny day people came for pizza at lunch and stayed till around 5-6 pm and made the most of the new garden and the weather.

We have just been awarded another grant called ‘Grow wild’ this funded the native seeds for the wild flower seed bombs and will be funding many more workshops during the summer. Our next project is to develop the wild life area designed by level 2 gardening students. This will have a large pond and bog garden planted with UK native plants. We will be constructing a small fence to ensure child safety and a viewing platform over the pond. The craft workshops coming up will be run by local artists Irene and Terry, dates to be confirmed. There will be painting a mural in the eating area, mosaic tiles for the kitchen and making insects out of recycled materials.



Llanidloes meeting and eating place

We have been busy in the Llanidloes garden during the last month finishing the clay oven and sunken seating area that has been funded by a youth lead grant from pavo. Creating the sunken seating area by converting an old crumbly greenhouse base. At times it has looked like we are making a swimming pool, but it is draining and the cement and rendering is now nearly all dry.

Willow workshopweaving willowWe held a one day willow workshop with Beryl Smith to make 5 hurdles that will surround two sides of the seating area to give shelter and privacy.

We had a fantastic hot spring day and everyone enjoyed learning skills in this traditional craft.


Some of the willow had been harvested locally just outside Llanidloes at Cae Felyn market garden. The rest came from a willow coppice on Bulmers water purifying land. Willow is a fantastic renewable resource, coppiced every year it increases yields year on year, giving straight lengths of a couple of metres.

completed willow hurdles


The hurdles are going to look great around the seating area, but first we need to cut out some tarmac and cement in place some posts.  These hurdles will go in place when the cementing and rendering is finished in the sunken seating area.


starting cementing


We eventually finished digging out the soil, which has been used to fill some of the raised beds. We smashed up some old broken bricks and paving to give a hard core base and then started cementing the base.

Bill rendering

Local builder Bill kindly gave up his Saturday to teach volunteers how to mix cement and render the wall. Also fixing the fence posts in place ready for supporting the willow hurdles.

This Monday regular volunteers Rhys and Luke continued with cementing the base, positioning some slate slabs to brighten up the cement.


Rhys & Luke cementingWork will be continuing this week to finish the seating area ready for our open day this Sunday. When we will be firing up the clay oven and Andy local artisan bread maker will be cooking up some pizza, whilst visitors will be able to take part in making a bug hotel or make some wild flower seed bombs to take home.


Community garden design

We are thrilled to be able to offer this course without charge, thanks to funding accessed by the Llanfyllin Green Hub project.

Cwm Harry Skills and Sector39 Permaculture have developed this course over the last three years and have used it now to design and build a series of community gardens. There is a huge opportunity to be had in finding productive, low miantenance wya to manag public spaces, to be able to do that we need a mechanism with which to be able to resolve the many different perspectives and constraints on any potential situation.

It can be a real challenge when a mixed group of people with different objectives, priorities and concerns to come together to try agree about how to manage and develop an asset such as land, a farm or small holding.

This is an ideal opportunity for permaculture students working towards their diploma, Transition trainers, managers of public spaces, project developers, communards and more.

We have developed a collaborative, consensus based design process, based on the principles of ecology, permaculture and cooperation. Using this informed and ethical based design system we can develop wonderful diverse gardens, landscapes and public spaces that meet the needs of people, nature & biodiversity and are attractive, beautiful and easy to manage. Permaculture is sustainability by design, a conscious informed process that invites feedback and deliberately aims to meet the requirements of all stakeholders. This is a great an practical introduction into this design system for regeneration and abundance.

Art and design for Cultivate

The Get-Growing project is located on the Coleg Powys campus, and how coming under management of the Cultivate Horticulture team. A recent project in collaboration with the college has been around exploring messages and marketing of how we might communicate so of the aspirations and values of the project via logos and design. We now have the hard task of judging the best entries, meanwhile here are some of the ones that caught my eye

Cultivate logo

Cultivate logo

Dancing carrot

Dancing carrot




Some of the Cultivate team viewing some of the art entries

Some of the Cultivate team viewing some of the art entries

Super hero

Super hero

Recycling logo

Recycling logo

Green power, broccoli man!

Green power, broccoli man!

Water bucket/ headphones

Water bucket/ headphones

Broccoli figure

Broccoli figure



Cultivate centre, Newtown.

View of the Cultivate horticulture centre

View of the Cultivate horticulture centre and our new notice board

I took the liberty of adding a couple of pictures to the notice board in Photoshop. the Get-Growing project has made its home in Newtown at Pen Dinas, on the old Llanidloes road in Newtown. The team behind the project and the local food hub are now officially called Cultivate and we even have shiny new notice board to prove it.

Get-Growing is the three year lottery funded project with the specific aim of developing three community growing hubs in the North Powys area, there are in Newtown, Llanidloes and the third one will be in Llanfyllin.

From the outset of the project we had the intention of using that investment to develop a set of enterprises that would at least have the potential to carry on once the funding was used up. In fact we were told not think of it as funding at all, but as investment in a new community horticulture enterprise. To that end we have started a forest and wildlife garden plant nursery, raised bed production, a training enterprise providing horticulture and community development skills and a local food distribution hub. All these and more go on at the new centre, we are open to visitors and volunteers and host regular events.


The Cultivate Team outside the Roundhouse in the Newtown community garden, Feb 2014

Clay oven and open day in Llanidloes

Oven insulating layerWe started the second day of the clay oven workshop glad to find it had survived the rain and wind over night. The clay hadn’t dried as much as we hopped which meant we had to progress slowly during the day. We mixed up the clay slip with sawdust to make the insulating layer and applied that it stages.

time for teaWe had to leave it then to dry, so lots of time for tea and chats. Lots of visitors popped in to take a look at the progress around the site and sign up for a micro allotment. The final layer will be finished next Monday during our regular volunteering session.

Meanwhile we continued to work on the sunken seating area,  regular volunteer Brian gaining help from Aidan and little Sammy. We are now ready for constructing the bench seat and putting in a solid floor.

sunken seating area

Two of the micro allotment holders have bought raised beds from our cultivate site in Newtown, so while we had some time Alexandra and I put the  beds together.

We have a regular volunteer day every Monday and have several events coming up. Including a willow weaving course with local weaver Beryl Smith. Sunday 9th March only £5. We will be lighting the oven and having a Pizza lunch with local artisan bread maker Andy on Sunday 30th March. The same day we are running a bug hotel making session for all the family 10am – 2pm.

raised beds

Planting days for Llanfyllin, 4th & 5th April

Subject to approval of plans by the town council we have scheduled the first planting days for the community orchard for the Friday 4th of April, which will include Llanfyllin primary school and Saturday 5th April for the general public.

The vision is to grow a forest garden and community orchard in an area in the middle of the Bodfach field down my the Cain river. It will be accessible to all and community members will be welcome to help them selves to resulting fruit.

We will be down there on the Saturday from 10 am and anyone is welcome to come along and get involved.

We will provide some tools and the main job will be preparing holes to plant fruit trees.

We will have 20 – 30 fruit trees to plant it all.. which will make an excellent start to the community garden project.