Get in! Day

Here is a video of Cwm Harry’s ‘Get In’ Open Day which was held on Wednesday, 23rd of October, 2013. Young local people were invited to attend the Cwm Harry Pen Dinas Community Garden to learn more about the local food economy, self-sustainability and more. The day was a great success and this video demonstrates the learning outcomes.

Much thanks to Gary Mitchell, Anne Marie Pope, Kerry Lane, members and volunteers of the Cwm Harry Group and of course every attendee on the special open day.

Filmed and edited by Jamez Wilson

Summer craft workshop

Grow wild-summer craftsAs part of our summer season of Grow Wild workshops we have Terri Sweeney this coming Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th August, in Llani community food garden.Come and get involved making a mosaic tiled mural for the kitchen wall. Hang out in the sun and discuss future potential for this exciting new space. To keep younger children entertained and anyone else, we will be making wild-flower seed bombs to take home.

Please tell your friends and anyone who may be interested, families, artists, cubs, brownies, scouts etc.. Bring your own lunch. This FREE summer crafty workshop for all, is between 10am – 3pm on both days.

Then this will be followed by Insect sculptures on the 26th and 27th August with Irene Gardiner.

Throughout the summer as part of our Grow Wild summer season we will be creating a wildlife area.  Following the design produced by level 2 gardening students from ‘WEA Cymru Llanidloes’, the area will include a pond, planting, viewing platform and fencing. We are looking for donations of native plants, building materials, peoples time and skills. Please contact the Cultivate’s ‘Get Growing‘ team if you can help. Or visit us in Llanidloes on a Monday 10am – 4pm.

For anyone interested in Getting Growing we still have some micro allotment spaces left and we have a selection of growing courses coming up. From taster half and one day practical courses to regular weekly lessons.

25.9. 14 – Level 2 gardening 22 wks each Thurs 9.30- 3pm. – Llanidloes

26.9.14 – Essential gardening 12 wks each Friday 9.30 – 12 – Llanidloes

26.9.14 – Essential gardening 12 wks each Friday 1- 3.30pm – Newtown

11.10.14- Extend your growing season 10am- 1pm – Llanidloes

3.11.14 – Purely practical – overwintering crops 10am-1pm Llanidloes

9.1.14 – Garden design – design your own garden. 12 wks Friday Morning

20.2.14 – Organic gardening, 20 wks Friday afternoons

21.2.14 – Extend your growing season 10am- 1pm – Llanidloes

21.3.14 – Back garden edibles 9.30 – 1pm – Llanidloes

30.5.14 – Summer pruning 10am – 4.30pm – Newtown

Poster gardening courses 2014

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Youth led grant for Llanidloes garden

sunken seating area -beforeThe Get Growing project in Llanidloes, in association with the Scout Explorer group has just been awarded £1000 for a sunken seating area and a cob oven. This youth led grant from PAVO will give young people of the town somewhere to meet up with there friends. We will be running a series of workshops to teach young people new skills in construction. This picture shows the area to be developed- it was a sunken green house base filled with soil. Brian, Dave, David and myself- Emma have been emptying it over the last couple of weeks.

 

strawberry plantingThis is the best soil we have on site, so we have used it to top up the strawberry beds and prepare the beds for the espalier apples. The apple trees are being delivered this week and we will be planting them on Friday morning along with more strawberries.

Once we have the soil all removed from the new seating area we will be arranging some volunteer weekend dates towards the end of January for youths to get involved and learn some new practical skills in construction. Then during February half term we will be running a weekend workshop to build the clay pizza oven. Please get in touch if you know anyone who would like to get involved.

 

Terrace bed

steep bankWe do not have much open ground with good soil on this site, and the one area we do have is a steep inaccessible slope with a long drop off the edge. This is on the south side of the neighbouring houses so we can not plant anything too big or it will cast shade on their gardens below. So the plan is to terrace the area and plant apple trees trained as espaliers along wires and then a row of current bushes and some strawberries. This permanent planting will not require a lot of maintenance, so should not require a lot of people working right on top of the houses. Once planted a regular mulch to feed the soil and suppress weeds, a yearly prune and the best bit.. harvesting.

Brian placing wiresWe started by making the area safe to work in. Brain  got started will placing wires ready to train the trees. The next week the job was finished by local lad Rees, our regular volunteer.

We have been luck enough to receive nearly £500 and a days labour from a team of RWE npower renewables (RWE) wind farm engineers and office staff from Llanidloes have put their “green” fingers to good use in support of local Mid-Wales lottery funded project “Get Growing”.

RWE Operations manager Simon Ling explained that the team had heard about the ‘Get Growing’ project and was eager to work with its horticultural tutor Emma Maxwell to construct a series of terrace beds at the ‘Cultivate’ community food garden.

He said: “There’s a fantastic local ethos at Llanidloes. Almost everyone’s local and really keen to help the local community and businesses. When we heard about the work ‘Get Growing’ is doing in Llanidloes, as part of the ‘Cwm Harry’ group, we saw a great opportunity to do some team building work while making a real contribution to a really good local cause.”

Team work.The team undertook  some pretty tough tasks, helping to convert a plot of sloping, unloved, wasteland  in the centre of Llanidloes, into organised terraced beds, a footpath and wildlife gardens.

Added Simon: “There was a pretty substantial amount of work to do, but the team are all used to it, working to maintain RWE’s wind farms out in all weathers and conditions. It was cold, but luckily, the rain stayed off and we were able to crack on.”

Llanidloes is the home of RWE’s UK Wind Farm Service Centre, from which a team of over 20 mainly local engineers and support staff maintain the operation of the company’s fleet of wind farms across Wales, the Midlands and South West England. The staff regularly support the local community through charitable donations and support in kind, as well as investing millions into the mid Wales economy through employment and contracting local companies, from caterers to civil engineers, steel fabricators and transportation.

The work of all the staff and contractors at the facility, including a number of unique, highly skilled wind turbine Apprenticeships are entirely linked to the operation of wind farms in Wales, such as Gwynt y Môr, offshore, and Bryn Titli, Mynydd Gorddu and Carno onshore wind farms in Mid Wales.

Teraced beds.We have just received notification from Powys county council nectar tree scheme that we have been awarded 15 trees for  the site. These are coming from local nursery man Gareth Davies at Old Chapel Nursery Llanidloes. We will be getting 15 young apple trees that will be trained as espaliers along the wires, planting will be next Monday morning 9th December . We have also been donated a few current bushes from a local garden that we need to go and dig up and move to their new site. We have strawberries that we have be propagating at the Newtown community garden as part of the Cultivate plant nursery.

The area at the end around the corner of the building is going to be a wildlife area, with a small pond and native plants for biodiversity. This will attract a wide range of insects, birds and small mammals that will help with integrated pest management. Ladybirds and hoverflies to eat aphids, hedgehogs, frogs and toads to eat slugs and snails. This area is being designed and a planting plan created by students on Emma Maxwell’s level 2 gardening class. We are after ideas from anyone on fun workshops we can be hosting to develop this area, workshops in sculpture or wall art related to wildlife. If you know of anyone get in touch.

 

Designing productive public spaces

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

Urban areas are full of dead spaces. Disused land, vancant lots, verges ad roadsides and the spaces in between bigger buildings. They either require maintenance, become blighted and neglected or a just a wasted potential. With the prospect of escalating energy and food costs and tightening of government budgets it makes increasing sense to turn these spaces into productive ones that can be maintained and harvested by local residents.

Planning and building public productive gardens still takes some careful planning and consultation and to that end we have developed a 5 day how to design a community garden course. We use this learning process as a design workshop to design a real garden and as a way to train future community garden designers.

designteam

Study group working on the Llanidloes community growing space design at the Get-Growing project base in Newtown

We are really pleased with the outcome and the work on the new growing space in Llanidloes has already begun. The process is based on the permaculture design tools part of the permaculture design course, alongside intensive sessions on organic principles, soils and gardening for nature. The course was delivered by Emma Maxwell, Steven Jones and Sue Stickland.

We are currently using he same process to design a community garden on a high rise estate in Liverpool and working with local residents from the Stockbridge estate to design a build a community forest garden on top of what was the footings of where one of the 1960’s high rise blocks had been taken down.

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Carole one of the volunteers on the Liverpool project, with some of the produce we grew on an unused space on the Stockbridge estate

denecliff

The Denecliff high rise overlooks the area where we have been allowed to build our next community growing space.

stockbridge_tunnel

Our project polytunnel in Liverpool is behind the service area of the local shopping precinct. We have been busy propagating plants for the garden there over the last year,

Volunteers, keen and novice gardeners wanted in Newtown

Have you got growing skills to share or are you keen to learn?
Either way we would love to meet you and involve you in the Get-Growing project here in Newtown. We are still in our first year of development and are creating new opportunites for involvement all the time.

fennel-bulb We have a plant nursery where we are growing vegetable plug plants, as  well as ornamental, perennials, fruiting bushes, companion plants and more. We have been running Saturday market stall al this last month and are keen to try out lots more ways to reach out into our community to help build a strong local food economy and support wildlife and biodiversity

spud-trials

Our lead horticulture trainer Emma Maxwell is running crop trials on several varieties of potato as we try and find the most weed resistant strains that we can grow locally and we are very keen to be able to offer informed advice to local growers. We are passionate about wildlife and biodiversity and have come to realise that small scale organic cultivation has a major part to play in long term food security and in protecting our wildlife and biodiversity.

enterprise

We have been working with students from the local college on their enterprise projects and this week we have to congratulation the latest crop of students for their excellent enterprise pject, which we witnessed the presentation of yesterday, in readiness for their going to Newport next to compete for a national award. there are many facets to community growing and we are trying hard to bring them all alive here on our 3 acre site on the edge of Newtown
bloom

Currently we are looking at submitting a bid to the national lottery to re-wild and re-green a large public space in Newtown.. as part of a new national scheme to explore ways to bring public spaces into playing a much bigger part in protesting and enhancing biodiversity and involving a much broader section of the public in interacting, valuing and understanding those spaces

Potato trials

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David, who has become a regular volunteer at the community garden with a sign for the compost area he has made for us

img_3762Suddenly the sun is shining, that bitter winter a distant memory and it is all go in the garden. We had a great team of volunteers this week for our regular Wednesday session at Pen Dinas and having spent the winter building the paths and raised beds we can finally turn our attention to planting the main crops.

We believe strongly that it is our role to try out different ideas and to test different varieties, growing strategies and methods as part of the garden’s contribution to local growing. Emma our lead horticulture trainer is also currently studying for her MSc so we are all encouraged to be more scientific in our approach to the work here.
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Last week we firstly ploughed and then rotovated three areas of ground ready for planting our main crops in. We are very keen on zero tillage methods  but with a field of pasture full of couch grass to contend with we have to make a start somewhere  We hope that if we stay in control of the land and keep it covered when not in use that we wont have to plough it up again. We have also discovered in the process that much of our land has very thin soil with a very compact clay layer underneath it, so it is going to take some work, muck and compost to improve it and make it suitable for horticulture.

img_3750 So our approach here is informed by challenges, firstly shallow not that good soil, and secondly that the muck we are using is really fresh and would burn the potato shoots if we were to plant them in contact with the fresh cow manure. So we have dug a series of trenches, in which to put the muck, which we then covered with a thin layer of soil, before mounding them up into ridges.

A lot of work.. but it will be worth it in the longer run, as it will deepen and improve the soil a well as giving us a crop of spuds.

The potato trials using varieties such as Sarpo, newer varieties bread for blight resistance as well as resistance to weeds will form part of a much bigger series of test looking at the viability of certain new varieties. What we are testing here specifically is resistance to weeds.. and we are testing 5 varieties.. planted in a grid in a random patter, half of which will be weeded during the growing season and half not. This should give some clear results which can be fed back to the wider national survey.

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Big pile of muck from the Coleg Powys farm

We used muck from the Coleg Powys stock farm.. who have an intensive unit raised beef cows indoors and feeding them on silage and grain. We have to say that we are not convinced by such methods that they are sustainable.. but it represents what is seen as the cutting edge of intensive meat production. This is an area we have not been involved in before.. with our main interest in horticulture or integrated systems like permaculture.

Anyway we are very happy to sue the muck that comes from it as it will be ideal for building our and its fertility.

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Stopping for an choc ice break

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It is fantastic when we get a whole team of people like this, hard at work on a big task together. We have 2 work experience students, a Wwoofer, some of our regular volunteers and staff.

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A hand potato ridger tool and the finished beds

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Beautiful blossom on the flowering currents

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Raised bed with seat… designed by Coleg Powys students and made on a training day here at Pen Dinas

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Regular community gardener Chris is testing to see if there is a discernible effect of reiki energy treatment on plants. ” beds have been planted up identically.. but only one is receiving special attention.