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We had a great Global Gardens trip to Lammas Ecovillage on the 18th November.

Tao, one of the original founders of Lammas, met us in the community hub – a simple space made from Douglas fir timber frames, straw bales, cob and lime wash walls with a green living roof. The building is heated by passive solar gain, hydro power and biomass via the Masonry stove.

Tao explained the framework and origins of the Wales One Planet Development Planning Act (for more info, follow this link. One Planet Development which enables people to build their home on the land on the condition that they live sustainably, use natural building materials and and can demonstrate that a proportion of their income is connected to the land. The legislation is the only kind in Europe and enabled 9 families to move to the Lammas plot and build their own homes.

Tao and his partner Hoppi’s plot Maes Melangell includes a harmonious permaculture garden and orchard inhabited by a gaggle of geese. There is also an incredibly warm polytunnel on a south-facing slope. The polytunnel includes a central pond edged with a masonry wall. The wall acts as a heat sink whilst the pond provides a home for frogs and toads – key for slug defence. Tao explained how as well as being a productive site, having space in the garden to relax and nourish our inner space is also key.

As we walked up to the carefully constructed timber barn and raised home made from stud-walls, Tao also introduced us to the Lammas Earth Centre that he and Hoppi are working on. This space will become a sacred space for meditation, sound baths and inner healing. They are crowdfunding for it at the moment so if you would like to find out more and support them in their venture, follow this link.

After a tasty lunch, thanks to Riverside Sourdough back at the community hub, we headed back out into the golden November light up to Plas Helyg – Cassandra and Nigel’s plot. Cassandra is a weaver and felt-maker and makes most of her income through willow-weaving teaching and basketry sales. She grows over 1,000 willow trees of 26 different varieties - apparently there are 400 different varieties of willow out there!

Cassandra and Nigel’s home made is a roundhouse and includes a beautiful reciprocating roof supported by timber frames, packed in with straw bales, cob (a mix of soil, clay, sand and lime) and painted bright pink! Cassandra’s partner tends to be the one who deals with the wood and framework whilst Cassandra likes the “mushy stuff” that is cob. Within her plot there is a cob walled garden and greenhouse made of cob which radiates heat and another roundhouse barn. On the Plas Helyg plot there is also one wooden structure which features a great example of crux frame.

After walking around her plot, we spent the afternoon helping build the Plas Helyg guest home with the cordwood technique. This involves mixing the cob structure and then creating sausages of cob to set a lattice of wooden logs insulated with a fluffy material made from recycled water bottles. We quickly got in to the rhythm and were surprised as the sun suddenly began to set and it was time to pack up.

As we drove back to Cardiff, what a beautiful orange sunset it was. This trip was a brilliant insight into the opportunities of One Planet Development and natural building techniques. Some of the folks are keen to return to volunteer with Cassandra in the summer!

Many thanks to Permaculture Wales/Paramaethu Cymru for making it possible and Tao and Cassandra for hosting us!

Comments about the trips from some of the participants:

“Interesting and informative snap shot of the eco site. Plenty of opportunity to volunteer and learn new, transferable skills.”

“Very interesting trip, I really enjoyed seeing the different gardens and learning about alternative building techniques.”

“Was good to see two different sites and different ways of doing things. Nice to do hands-on things too.”

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