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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Grow Llangollen hears talk from permaculture specialist

* Grow Llangollen members hear from guest speaker Steve Jones.

Grow Llangollen held their eighth talk this last Thursday, welcoming permaculture specialist Steve Jones. 

Grow Llangollen is a community organisation working towards sustainability and food security by inspiring and supporting local people to grow food through community gardening, produce sharing, and informative talks and workshops.

Steve owns Sector39 training and is a partner at Treflach Farm near Oswestry, where he delivers a lot of his training. 

He led a fascinating discussion across key aspects of permaculture and how it can be delivered at garden or market scale, emphasising the principles of observing and interacting to understand energy systems and storage opportunities.

Permaculture is a form of land use modelled on natural ecosystems, following the cycles, diversity, and resilience found in nature. 

* Steve Jones.

Steve talked about the value and impact of community gardens he's started in Newtown which has helped transform engagement around food within the town. 

He was a founder of Cultivate Newtown, which started on an industrial estate when they were able to build a roundhouse which attracted growers. 

He explained how his work has required significant persistence with three burglaries in three years causing set backs, and some damage to trees planted - but that persistence has paid off: participation has never been higher and the vast majority of trees have thrived. You can read more about Cultivate Newtown here 

Alongside places in Wales that he has worked, Steve gave fascinating examples of how devastated, unproductive hillside areas in Zimbabwe have been transformed by permaculture. 

In Chimanimani district in Zimbabwe, groups of residents have volunteered their time over the past 15 years to restore productivity and bring young people back to the land. Before and after photos can be seen here 

He talked about how permaculture could be integrated into farming in Wales to restore the productivity of land as the UK is now among the most nature-depleted in the world.

The example from Zimbabwe prompted a discussion on how that volunteer-led achievement contrasts with expectations here that such projects need external funding and are often done by outsiders, perhaps missing opportunities to shape the future for ourselves by getting involved in practical initiatives. 

This led to a further discussion about how to get more people involved in community gardens at Bryntysilio, Pengwern and Corwen, who are all welcoming new volunteers. 

Steve also talked about the value of biochar in his work. Biochar is any organic material or 'biomass' that has been cooked at a high temperature with limited oxygen present. 

The approach creates a soil enhancer that stores carbon for hundreds of years, boosts food security, and increases soil biodiversity. While this is available commercially, it can be easily produced at a garden level too. 

Grow Llangollen will be organising a field visit to Treflach Farm to see the farm in action (the subject of another recent talk) and to learn how to make biochar. 

You can find more information about permaculture here:

The next gardening session at Bryntysilio will be on Sunday May 26, from 10 am to midday.  

The next talk will be held on June 20, topic to be confirmed.

* For more information, you can message us on our Facebook page (7) Facebook or by email:

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