April in Llanidloes

sunken seatThings are developing fast in the Llani food garden. The sunken seating area has now had the wood slated seat fitted. This is made out of local untreated larch. Our aim was to give a more rounded seating area, the corners are to be covered with mosaic tiled art work made as part of a series of workshops during the summer with local artist Irene Gardiner.

wildlife area first plantings and new stepsOur next project is to develop the wildlife area which is part of the Grow Wild project funded by Kew Gardens and the National Lottery. In this area we are developing a wildlife pond, the soil being removed from this area will be used to fill micro allotment plots on a first come first serve basis. We have started to build the steps down through the terrace beds, these are also made from chunky untreated local larch.

Rosie tending her allotmentWe have a good team of regular volunteers now, which enables us to get a lot done each Monday during a volunteer sessions 10am – 4pm. Micro allotments are starting to come into use now and some of the plots that were started earlier in the year are even starting to get a harvest. There are still some available plots at only £10 a year. All tools are available on site and assistance available if needed on Mondays.

The willow hurdles we made earlier in the year are looking great around the seating area and so Level 2 gardening students are constructing some more to go on the other side. We will be making some more later in the summer to fence of the pond area, so if you are interested in getting involved get in touch.

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.

 

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

Clay oven workshop

Oven building 1Today was the first day of our 2 day clay oven workshop and open day. It was a lovely sunny day, which was a relief after all the wind and rain.

Oven building 2People of all ages came to have a look around the garden, sign up for a micro allotment and get involved with making the clay oven.

In the afternoon we had time to get started with the sunken seating area. We finished removing the inner breeze block wall and soil. The youths enjoyed smashing up the blocks to make hard core needed for the floor base. We are now ready to start rendering the walls tomorrow, weather permitting.

Looking forward to another action packed day tomorrow, when we will be adding an insulating layer to the oven then more clay. All welcome to come and join in.

Oven building 3

 

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.

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