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.


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

Cob oven workshop

We are holding a cob oven 2 day FREE workshop in our LLanidloes community food garden. 24th & 25th February, 10am – 4pm. All welcome, wear suitable old clothes and boots. Shelter & drinks provided.

brian and oven baseBrian and I have been constructing the base for the cob oven. Neither of us are brick layers, so we learnt as we went along. We had to choose a day when the weather broke for a bit. Luckily it was like spring on Sunday.So we had a long day in the garden. A couple of other volunteers joined us and we had lots of visitors coming to have a look. On Monday the weather wasn’t so great, but we filled the base with rubble to act as thermal mass. We then started to play around with reclaimed paving slabs, working out how to construct the base that the oven will sit on. We have decided to slab right the way across and then put a layer of sand to bed in reclaimed house brick followed by block paviors, these will be cemented around the edges to prevent them falling off.

Rhys & Brian tidying upWe have been working hard in all weathers to finish clearing the site of unwanted bits and pieces. The last area to be cleared is the proposed area for the kitchen shelter and eating space. It is so good to see the last bit of rubble and rubbish cleared up.

We have mains water on site so we are hoping to install a sink and kitchen units so food can easily be prepared on site.  Then cooked in the cob oven.

Kichen area clearedThe main thing missing from the garden at the moment is a permanent shelter, but now this area has been cleared we can start to think about how this will be constructed.

Dave removing mud from the entrance

Lynda, a regular volunteer of the llanidloes wildlife garden came to help tidy the site on Sunday, raking up gravel ready for use on the entrance which was cleared by the two David’s on Monday morning.






Llanidloes community food garden

What’s cooking in the new Llanidloes community food garden?

Garden clearing team, Llanidloes

Garden clearing team, Llanidloes

Wiith lots of help from local volunteers. In association with the Llanidloes Scout Explorer group the Get Growing project has just been awarded £1000 from the Russell commission youth led grants scheme. This will fund the construction of a sunken seating area and a clay pizza oven to be built during a series of volunteer days and workshops over the next 2 months.

A 2 day workshop will be held 24th & 25th February to construct the clay oven, followed by a pizza party in March once the clay has hardened. These workshops are open to all ages with a particular emphasis on teaching new skills to Llanidloes young people.

Building a cob oven, one we done  earlier

Building a cob oven, here’s one we did earlier

During November RWE Renewables donated time and money to build terrace beds which Llanidloes Level 2 gardening students have now planted with fruit trees awarded by Powys County Council Nectar Tree Scheme. These trees have been grown locally by Gareth Davies of Old Chapel Nursery and will be trained as espaliers so that they do not cast shade over the neighbouring houses.

Emma Maxwell, lead horticulture tutor at Get-Growing visiting the Wakelyns organic rwsearch farm

Emma Maxwell, lead horticulture tutor at Get-Growing & cultivate visiting the Wakelyns agro-forestry research farm

Emma Maxwell local horticulturalist and trainer will be delivering a fruit tree pruning course on the 15th Feb 2014 for anyone who has their own orchard or is interested in growing fruit trees. Regular volunteers Rhys Williams and Brian Marsh have been busy on Mondays planting a bed of strawberries that were donated by local residents along with fruit bushes and other perennial food plants.

Space is available for micro allotments so that local people can have a go at growing food crops and enjoy the harvest for themselves.  These small plots can be amazingly productive and allow you to Get Growing without it becoming a chore. Now is the time to get busy preparing gardens for the coming year by building structures, planting perennial plants and planning your summer vegetable growing.  On Monday 27th January we will be launching the micro allotments and anyone interested in Getting Growing should join us at 11 O’clock for enrollments and a cup of tea.

Site for the new Llanidloes public growing space, before being cleared by the Get-Growing team and volunteers

Site for the new Llanidloes public growing space, before being cleared by the Get-Growing team and volunteers

Weather you have never gardened before or you have lots of experience there lots of fun to be had and always more to learn. Get involved in community growing or enroll on a course or workshop with the Cwm Harry Cultivate team and Get Growing.

If you have any plants you wish to donate, you want to get involved in volunteer or have your own micro allotment, please contact Emma Maxwell for more information: emmam@cwmharry.org.uk.

Want to do some Arts and Crafts in the Garden?

Art club

Art club

The Arts in the Garden club will meet once a week at Pen Dinas community garden (near the Hafren theatre/  Coleg Powys, Newtown), starting from 6.30 p.m. every Wednesday. The purpose of the group will be to  share creative experience, to make art – including painting in the garden (weather permits), to talk, to organize exhibitions (i.e. at Pen Dinas, in the theatre or the library), or plan  trips. All media, styles and levels of ability are welcome.

Please bring with you any creative media you want to use (e.g. paints, brushes, canvases, pencils, pens, textile, clay, pastel, charcoal, paper, etc.). Interesting art books or magazines are welcome too.

50 p. is the suggested donation for tea or coffee and a guide of, £1.50 donation – for the use of the room.

We hope to see you starting on Wednesday April 24!

Hope to see you there.


Willow courses in Newtown, this March

Local gardening writer Sue Stickland has asked me to pass on info about these 2 1-day willow workshops coming up in March. Willow is an incredible and versatile material to work with, from basketry to bean climbers and even living structures the possibilities are endless. These will be lively, fun and practical workshops, highly recommended!

willow course

Willow courses

Seed Swap Saturday – 23rd Feb at Pen Dinas


Its the first gardening event of the year… a chance to get together to swap seeds, get some new ideas and make some plans for the coming year. Its informal, drop in, no need to book -first come first served!

Don’t worry if you don’t have any seeds to swap, you can always make a donation.. and there will be plenty of opportunity to get hold of seeds, sets, cuttings and more.

We will also be offering talks/ workshops on the subject of seed saving and outlining strategies for successful growing over the coming year.

Drop in at Pen Dinas, next to Coleg Powys anytime from 9.00 – 2.00 to swap seeds..

Workshop one at 11.00… strategies for successful seed saving

Workshop two at 12 Midday, Soil, compost and fertility – tips for organic gardeners

Get-Growing! Community garden hub launched in Newtown

Official lanuch of the Get-Growing, Pen Dinas Community Garden. The project is a collaboration between Cwm Harry, Coleg Powys and the local community

Community gardens such as the one just launched in Newtown this week could provide at least a partial antidote to the economic blues of the wider World.

A key idea of our times is that of resilience, the ability to withstand external stresses and strains. The term really comes from ecology, as in the resilience of ecosystems, but it can be a useful term to understand the potentials of communities and local economies.

Food and energy costs are rising, the wider economic situation is looking increasingly unpromising and all this uncertainty can be especially worrying when looking at the longer term prospects of the up and coming generation. The Get-Growing philosophy is that we can at least create a bottom-up, community-led response which, although not able to resolve these issues can at the very least offer a degree of resilience by building a stronger more localised food supply and as a result a more interconnected local community around it.

A real and tangible sense of community stems from having things in common and one of our core aims is to support the Newtown community to turn its underused spaces and neglected corners into productive and useful spaces from which everyone can potentially benefit from and can interact with.

Project volunteers potting up plants from cuttings for sale

Ten tons of compost:
The Cwm Harry legacy

When the Cwm Harry food waste recycling plant/ compost factory on the Vastre estate shut down, as the Cwm Harry community garden we became the inheritors of its legacy. That being the final batch of high grade compost produced from Newtown’s own food waste and hedge trimmings, all ten tons of it!

Cwm Harry only ever had the intention of creating a community interest company that could spark positive change locally and it achieved that by intervening in the waste stream and learning how to pull out potentially valuable materials that could be turned back into useful and valuable resources. Food waste into nutrient rich compost, pure organic energy, the new black gold!

Now it is our challenge to turn that compost into force for community development, to use it to turn unproductive dead urban spaces into productive areas that we can all learn from and benefit from. By working closely with schools, community and other groups to unleash that potential energy then there is the ability to create local jobs and local revenue streams from managing, processing and retailing the resulting produce.

Local produce. Jams, chutnies, pickles and preserves.. seasonal surplus conserved and turned into a quality long lasting product

Framed in an acedemic innovation/ job creation/ personal development/ work experience context then this is a process that can generate produce as a bi product of education, of community and personal development objectives.

Big ideas, big ideals but it all starts with planting a tree, creating a possibility whilst inviting the community to take part in shaping it to meet the needs and opportunities of the locality. Lets Get-Growing!

  • Regular volunteer days every Wednesday
  • Open days and events
  • Courses and training sessions.
  • Community outreach

Three generations come together to share knowledge, enthusiasm and ideas at Get-Growing, Coleg Powys, Newtown,