Forest gardens, compost and rainbows

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Click to visit the course page for this one day event

Growing perennial plants like fruit trees and bushes although it demands thought and input at the point of establishment in general require much less on going maintenance than vegetable growing. So especially for growing projects in environments like schools, community spaces and the like forest gardens, that is mixes of trees, fruiting shrubs, herbs and vines have a very useful role to play.

The idea of the temperate forest garden was developed by pioneer Robert Hart, who had seen similar systems in Southern India where shade trees of coconuts, mango, tamarind and more were grown in amongst annual crops of rice an vegetables. In northerly latitudes such as here we are required to space plants much further apart as we have much lower light levels, but the principle still works well and it enables another layer of production to be stacked into growing systems, boosting productivity and biodiversity.

fg-plants Meanwhile, Emma and Seri on the Cultivate project here at Pen Dinas have been busy buying in plants to propagate which will be for our forest garden nursery, currently in development. There are a great many plants that suit the brief for forest gardens, however they are not always easy to get hold of.. so we are keen to develop our own supply. Lots of nurseries offer the top fruit but very few offer the under-story shrubs, bushes and herbaceous plants.

Rainbow over pen Dinas this afternoon

Rainbow over pen Dinas this afternoon

A great source to find out about these is the Plants for a Future database. The plants we bought in came from the Agro Forestry Research Trust, and nursery managed and owned by forest garden pioneer Martin Crawford.

One day compost course, a new offering from the Cwm Harry Skills department.

One day compost course, a new offering from the Cwm Harry Skills department.

Compost – the new black gold. Energy from waste is a buzz word in the world of sustainability and the best way to process waste is to turn it into compost. Nitrogen in manure and food waste quickly breaks down into ammonia and becomes a greenhouse gas, whereas once composted and incorporated into long chain complex organic molecules it becomes stable and much less mobile. Of course the composting process itelf generates a lot of heat and compost pioneer Jean Pain calculated via his experiments that composting can easily generate 10% more heat than combusting the same material, whilst of course leaving a useful residue in the form of compost that can be incorporated into soil to boost fertility, water and nutrient retention.

Of course Cwm Harry made its name via the food waste processing contract we had with Powys County Council and lead researcher Richard Northridge will be offering some of his experience on the one day Compost Masterclass we are offering on 1 Amrch at treflach farm, Oswestry

Latest from Newtown community garden

Plenty of activities planned for November in the Newtown community garden. There is now list on the right hand column of the home page with all of our up and coming training events, many which will also get featured in the blog.

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We are also planning a full day course: Composting Masterclass which at the moment is planned for March 1 st next year, if you are interested in this then please let us know. This will be based at Treflach farm near Oswestry, which is a 100 acre stock farm who are dedicated to finding organic solutions to their farm waste and input challenges and there will be a chance to find out about farm scale composting processes, the possibilities for heat recovery from compost and much more. Of course compost is subject very close to Cwm Harry’s heart and Richard Northridge will also be contributing to this event, who developed Cwm Harry’s food waste composting systems in our work with Powys County Council.

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The Cwm Harry staff outside the Ludlow Anaerobic Plant

It has been an incredibly busy month for the whole Cwm Harry organisation, we managed to have a staff get together to discuss plans and strategies going forward. Since Cwm Harry ceased its food waste collection and composting services for Powys council we have been busy diversifying into other areas. We have launched Cultivate.. the new organisation which will manage the Get-Growing project, plant nursery and veg box business. We are also merging with Sector39, the permaculture training partnership developed by Steve Jones over the last year and are now offering training drawing from right across Cwm Harry’s skills base, food, composting, affordable housing and much more.

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Beautifully patterned romanesque broccoli, growing at Pen Dinas in Newtown

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Patterning in the roof of the new erected roundhouse in the Newtown garden

The Newtown community garden is developing past and it has been a great to see the roundhouse going back up, which was a focal point in the old garden on the Vastre trading estate. This will serve as a shelter for our community mico plot holders and we are planning a series of courses to complete the sides using a range of traditional techniques such as wattle and daub, rammed earth, hemp and lime and more.

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Rhys and Jonno working on the turf roof on the roundhouse

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Volunteer Alex with one of his beautiful hand crafted garden gates

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Late crop of grapes in the Newtown garden