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.

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.


Llanidloes garden progression

design course survey and measuring siteAfter the initial clearing of the site during the summer by local volunteers including many school children from Llanidloes high school, as part of the Welsh baccalaureate, we held an intensive community garden course in September. During the design week we taught learners the principles of permaculture design and how to survey. We spent a day interviewing locals to discover what was needed in the town, all the ideas and surveying info were bought together to produce a concept design.

Concept design Llanidloes community food garden



Now we have a design to work on we have been busy marking out different areas, forming beds and planting.


Entrance bed. First planting in the new garden

Entrance bed. First planting in the new garden


We started with preparing and planting a herb bed at the entrance, so that everyone can see that this space is now becoming a garden.

We have a volunteer session every Monday morning from 10 am. All are welcome to join us and lend a hand or just to give moral support and see how things are developing.

Dave Ashley comes for an hour each week supporting David Brunton and here they uncovered some history buried beneath the rubble. Some beautiful slabs of slate edging what we presume to be an old path. We would love to get hold of some old pictures of the site to see the layout beneath all the tarmac and rubble. All we know is that before 1986 it had been a garden, but since then has had a lot of hard core and tarmac laid.

David Brunton



slate edging

Powys Food Alliance Support Worker – job opportunnity

Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations has the following vacancy

Powys Food Alliance Support Worker

This fixed term appointment is funded until 30th September 2014

The purpose of the post is to work with colleagues in the Powys Food Alliance

The successful applicant will have an understanding of how networks/alliances work

• Experience of working with networks

• Experience of research

• Understanding the rural nature of Powys

Salary:- £14,367 per annum (£23,945 pro rata)

Hours of Work:- 21 hours per week. Hours to be worked are flexible and subject to agreement but will include working on a Friday

Post based at PAVO Offices Unit 30 Ddole Road Enterprise Park in Llandrindod Wells

For job application packs or further details please contact:

Lisa Banfield
Plas Dolerw
Milford Rd
Powys SY16 2EH 

Email: lisa.banfield@pavo.org.uk

Tel No: 01686 621537


All applications must be returned to Lisa Banfield

Closing date for applications: 4.00pm Tuesday 10th December


Interviews will be held on Monday 16th December 2013.

Permaculture design, training for a sustainable world


Understanding compost is an essential skill in building sustainable alternative to the current way of doing things.


View over the community micro allotment plots at the Pen Dinas garden in Newtown. Home to the Get-Growing project and deliberately set up to demonstrate the key principles of organic horticulture and community growing

Understanding how the natural world works and building an economic system that understands and respects those processes is at the heart of what permaculture design is about.

As global leaders wrestle with Climate Change policy, resource depletion and the like what is perhaps being overlooked is the potential of working with the wider community to incorporate a much wider and more fundamental way in which we do things to reflect these changing priorities.


Inspecting a batch of compost from food waste. Between 30 and 50% of food produced is wasted, turning this into a stable organic compound, i.e. compost means it is no longer wasted can help build soils and food security going forward

So part of our work towards a secure food system, and finding ways to contribute to the global change to sustainability we have developed a series of courses and projects that communicate the ideas of sustainability in a clear and meaningful way.


Compost worm, or brandling worm: a key alley in turning food waste back into useful soil

The core ideas behind the Get-Growing project has always been to demonstrate the potentials and techniques necessary to start a local food revolution. It is our contention that we will never have food security until at least a third of what we consume is being generated from local resources and from with the community. The idea that we have food banks here in the UK in 21st century seems untenable  and also should be sending signals and making alarm bells ringing, something about the current system is obvious not working.

Cwm Harry as an organisation made its name from food waste composting.. but really this is only the first step in  a series of things that needs to happen to make food security real on a local level. Towns and suburbs are full of unused spaces, verges, lawns, dead spaces between things.. all of these could be bought into useful production and could contribute to developing a vibrant local food economy.
img_6918 Of course gardens produce a lot more than food plants and there is another whole new area of opportunity around growing and working with natural materials, such as willow, rushes, wool and the like. Good management of soil can also sequestrate carbon dioxide, locking it up in the soil in the form of humus. No one is pretending that such measures are going to be some magic bullet to our Climate Change problems.. but if people across the world were to switch to these kind of measures then the impact would start to accumulate. It is this kind of thinking that is going to be required.img_6920
Permaculture is a design system that has triggered a grass roots movement around the world. It is the application of the principles of ecology to design systems that also have the properties of natural systems. Self regulating, made of local and natural resources. The more we can learn to work within the principles of nature the more we can create resilient and abundant systems.

Our energy hungry world is ripping its way through the carbon fossil reserve at an alarming rate, and the onset of Climate Change is sounding alarm bells around the World.

img_6923 To my mind this also heralds a new way of thinking, of planning and of using resources. Permaculture gives us that framework to begin to frame the kind of responses that are going to be required for society to respond to the on going challenges it is facing. Rather than seeing this as a whole lot of doom and gloom, the fact is we are entering a new paradigm, and with that will come a whole new range of opportunities.

Relocalised food supply, working much more with local and natural resources, moving away from making everything out of plastic

img_6935 and instead moving away from the consumerist throw away society will create numerous new opportunities.


Craft barn above Llanidloes, where the June PDC will be held next year

Up until this point agriculture has been geared up to produce large quantities of cheap food as an over riding objective. This whilst beeing successful has come about at a significant cost to the environment, in terms of habitat loss and more. Furthermore, it has underpinned our whole food production system with the need for endless supplies of cheap oil, diesel and petrochemicals to power it. The green revolution has essentially been a system for turning petroleum into food, and for turning biodiverse landscapes into rapidly growing populations and a consumer economy.

There is a huge journey of exploration before us as we are compelled firstly to wean our-self off this oil addiction and secondly to find ways of farming that restore habitats and biodiversity.

Regenerative Agriculture

This is going to be the main driver going forward. Climate Change is set to prove itself as the overriding issue of all. Unless we can find ways to respond this crisis there wont be a future worth having. As we have just witnessed in the Philippines these highly charged super-storms cause such horrendous amounts of damage that avoiding ever more frequent occurrences of this kinds of thing is going to be an imperative.


Local Grower Emma Maxwell is someone leading the way in re-discovering a locally focused food economy using organic techniques that help build soil

Managing landscapes in a way that captures carbon and stores it as humus becomes the over riding importance in everything we do. We are starting to call this regenerative agriculture and this is gong to be a key theme in our work going forward. Building soils, sequestrating carbon, restoring damaged habitats, reconnecting with local markets and producers and moving away from fossil fuel based agriculture. It is going to be a huge and exciting journey!.

Incredible Edible

Community gardening is growing! This Saturday over 100 people attended the Be Incredible Conference in Todmorden, the home of the international Incredible Edible movement. It was inspiring to see so many people ‘progergander’ gardening in their towns. Todmorden started Incredible Edible in 2007 and now the town is absolutely full of edible plants, it’s fantastic to see.

Youth Centre raised beds

Youth Centre raised beds

Communal herbs outside the Theatre in Todmorden

Communal herbs outside the Theatre in Todmorden

The idea behind the movement is to provide good local food for everyone through working together, supporting local businesses and learning about food. We are doing all of these things right here in Newtown, so it was great to meet up with other people doing the same thing across the country.

In Todmorden, even the new Health Centre has been planted up with pears, apples, raspberries and herbs all up for grabs. The canal path is lined with mint, the station with herb beds. There is even a ‘vegetable tour’ to take in all the sights.

Edible bench in the Health Centre car park

Edible bench Todmorden Health Centre car park

The movement has captured the imagination of so many towns, that a national network has been developed to allow people to share ideas and get in touch with other projects.

We have a fantastic community garden established next to the College…is it time to branch out and start ‘propergander’ gardening around the rest of Newtown?

Busy week for community growing

NBGW (Col Logo)We finished our free 20 week course: Understanding natural systems and preparing for growing with willow weaving and food harvesting & preserving sessions in the final weeks. The whole course has been a fantastic experience and we are very grateful to the National Botanic Gardens of Wales for funding it.

Here is some feedback from one of the participants

Thank you for organising and running the 20 week gardening course (‘Understanding Natural Systems’), which finished on Tuesday. It was fantastic, very wide-ranging, and of a consistently high quality. I really enjoyed all of it and would recommend your courses to anyone. Good luck for the future!

Weaving a willow arch as part of our preparing for growing course

Weaving a willow arch as part of our ‘understanding natural systems preparing for growing course’

weaving willow hurdles

Weaving willow hurdles in the sunshine

Emma has started work clearing the new community growing site in Llanidloes and had an excellent turn out of helpers for the first of a series of regular Thursday afternoon sessions. Anyone interested in joining in should turn up at the Great Oak Cafe in Llanidloes from 2 – 4.30

The site will form a community food growing garden and is a perfect compliment to the courtyard and wildlife gardens already established as part of the Llanidloes co-operative.

Garden clearing team, Llanidloes

Garden clearing team, Llanidloes

The Cwm Harry food company is in the process of developing a local food hub is now well established in the shed at Get-Growing and the their veg box scheme is now operating out of the barn behind Pen Dinas on the Get-Growing site in Newtown.

Full permaculture design course, September

Full permaculture design course, September

Skills and Training

Cwm Harry Skills and Training is a new enterprise, part of the Cwm Harry group led by Steve and Jodie who are busy preparing for the next courses including permaculture design and community garden design. They have been to visit the stunning location for the September course, based on a 40 acre small holding in Mid Wales.

We are on a mission to being permaculture design into the mainstream and to offer a range of courses in different locations that make it as accessible as possible for everyone to get involved.”

Steve Jones founded Sector39 back in 2005 as a collective of permaculture teachers, artisans and event crew to stage permaculture design courses and to design and build gardens and edible landscapes. In April this year they formally merged with Cwm Harry to enable us to delve in the vast expertise of the Cwm Harry organisation to enable us to develop a comprehensive range of courses in developing a cyclical economy. We are currently developing courses on arange of subjects including: waste minimisation, composting, community growing, anaerobic digestion, housing co-operatives and affordable housing, water treatment with algae and more.