Newtown, Cardiff, London, Liverpool, community growing in 12/12/12

It feels like our feet haven’t hardly touched the ground over the last few weeks. Some major milestones for the project by way of our first work experience students from the college and now our first apprentices, who will hopefully be with us for at least the next nine months. With the addition of Dave to the Get-Growing team we are suddenly growing in lots of other ways as well!

This week saw the launch of our community micro allotment plots, on the rather auspicious 12/12/12 –  we have had 17 takers already which has already left us wondering how much space we will have a squeeze in many more.

By way of distraction this week, I travelled to London for the première of Grasp The Nettle –  a documentary film feature of eco activism. In its own words

Grasp the Nettle follows the exploits of a ragtag band of land rights activists in London as they struggle against corporations, government, police – and themselves – in their efforts to create alternative communities outside the framework of consumer society.


It begs the question of how to do we work together effectively to bring about change and accidentally explores a theme of how society deals with vulnerable and marginalised people. From the up and coming young film maker, Dean Puckett

Permaculture at Camden market

Permaculture planting at Camden market

I was there at the invite of the Transition Primrose Hill group with whom I have done work with in the past and members of whom are active in Camden Lock in natural health, whole foods as well as community gardening and permaculture


Camden lock, North London


Might this be a door to a sustainable future?

I was very excited to hear plans of their latest venture which is to open an urban farm shop that would be an outlet for local, organic and high quality produce from independent and community growers and producers. Making strong links and inroads into high profile and busy places like Chalk Farm Camden, which is the area they are interested in could open up new worlds of possibilities!

So watch this space about this potential, early days yet.

First fire in the new fire pit

First fire in the new fire pit

Meanwhile work goes on at a pace establishing the new garden at Coleg Powys. Even in the mist and cold of this week shape and form is emerging as the new space comes to life. We still have trees and shrubs to plant from the garden move, but massive progress has been made.. with all of our espalier fruit trees going in this week and the work experience team have been working hard on the forest garden  lifting turf and getting in some of the seemingly millions of strawberry plants we have.

Sepp Holzer's huglkultur raised bed technique has inspired us to build our own

Sepp Holzer’s huglkultur raised bed technique has inspired us to build our own

We feel a responsibility to make the most of the amazing opportunity we have here in Newtown, with the development of this garden and to a certain degree that means we should be willing to try out new ideas and to share the learning and outcomes from doing that. So with our deep interest in permaculture and inspired by the pioneering Austrian farmers Sepp and Veronika Holzer we are trying out one of their ideas, the Huglkultur bed. A system of building up a raised bed built on a base of rotting wood and compost, a strategy for maintaining moisture and humidity that is also free draining and self fertile. It is taking the no dig system to another level potentially.

micor allotment plots at the Newtown garden

Micro-allotment plots at the Newtown garden

Also this week we launched the micro-allotments plots.. an idea I originally was inspired to do by a visit the Hells Kitchen (Clinton) community garden in Manhattan, New York some years ago. Creating a vibrant space for anyone from the local community to get the support and encouragement to get their fingers in the soil where perhaps they might not have other wise. Whilst I was coming back from London Dave, Emma and crew were run off their feet as 15 people turned up to mark out their plots.. so we cant wait for the spring to see all that take off.

As a PS.. To make the title work I need to mention Cardiff and Liverpool, and this is part of feeling the excitement of being part of a bigger awakening of interest in community growing. So, in Cardiff this month we contributed to a NHS cross departmental investigation into the potentials for community gardening to address a cross section of health concerns, such as isolation, depression, poor diet, lack of exercise etc..

Whilst I have also been travelling regularly to Liverpool to contribute to the Village Farm Orchard project, developing forest gardens in urban and sub urban locations in the city there

Happy Christmas everyone.. we will be there on Wednesday next week having a celebratory seasonal bring and share lunch, so anyone is welcome who wants to celebrate with us. Here’s to great things in the New Year!

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About admin

I lead on the Cwm Harry Skills and training enterprise, am a qualified teacher and permaculture design tutor and garden designer and project consultant. I write several blogs and am an avid networker and communicator on the subjects of sustainability, transition and co-operatives. I have written an occasional column for Channel4/green and have worked for Channel 4 on their 'Dumped' seriesworked as well as for BBC Wales as a green advisor on their Changing Lives- Going Green series, Nov-Dec 2009. I have been working in sustainable development, on project management and development, teaching, growing and small business development all my life really. I also grew up living and working on farms and have a broad experience working in Britain and Canada and Zimbabwe on sustainable agriculture, grass roots permaculture projects, micro business development and housing and worker co-ops. I have been based in Wales since 1994 and currently live in the Welsh borders.