Wow, it’s been a long time since I last wrote a blog, but we’ve got a few exciting announcements to make.
Recommending reading… Charles Eisenstein, Sacred Economics.
I’m only part way through this book, but so much of it is striking the same kind of “Yes that’s it!” notes as Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift”, the book that inspired a lot of the thinking behind creation of The Loop Project all that time ago…
Take this fantastic quote from Gesell, 1906 regarding ecology and the connected self,
We frequently hear the phrase: Man has a natural right to the earth. But that is absurd, for it would be just as correct to say that man has a right to his limbs. If we talk of rights in this connection we must also say that a pine-tree has the right to sink its roots in the earth. Can man spend his life in a balloon? The earth belongs to, and is an organic part of man. We cannot conceive man without the earth any more than without a head or a stomach. The earth is just as much a part, an organ, of man as his head. Where do the digestive organs of man begin and end? They have no beginning and no end, but form a closed system without beginning or end. The substances which man requires to maintain life are indigestible in their raw state and must go through a preparatory digestive process. And this preparatory work is not done by the mouth, but by the plant. It is the plant which collects and transmutes the substances so that they may become nutriment in their further progress through the digestive canal. Plants and the space they occupy are just as much a part of man as his mouth, his teeth or his stomach….
How, then, can we suffer individual men to confiscate for themselves parts of the earth as their exclusive property, to erect barriers and with the help of watchdogs and trained slaves to keep us away from parts of the earth, from parts of ourselves-to tear, as it were, whole limbs from our bodies? Is not such a proceeding equivalent to self-mutilation?
As we’re only around a quarter of the way through we’ll have to wait to see what the alternative to “endless growth” and “separation” is that he proposes. WIll keep you posted! (or you could go off and buy a copy yourself… or, following the sacred economics philosophy, download it for free).
We’re happy to say we got the second round of funding so the kitchen project is full steam ahead. More news soon but if you have a chance, take a look at the article in this month’s (February 2013) Home Farmer.
We’re very excited at Loop Project HQ to announce that we have received funding to explore the potential of a “kitchen co-operative” in the Llanidloes area.
“What is a kitchen co-op?” I hear you say. Well we aren’t completely sure yet ourselves, hence having received a grant from Glasu’s Community Resilience Fund to do some research on this subject. However we hope it will help existing and new food entrepreneurs to grow their businesses (but not too much – no tesco’s here please) through easy access to kitchen space.
Having started a small bread baking business a couple of years ago, we have seen that there are many barriers to entry to starting a food business in addition to setting up and equipping a kitchen such as insurance, certification, marketing costs and finding retailers. In a rural area it is arguably more difficult and there may be extra regulatory burdens imposed on dwellings in such areas (such as not being on mains water supply).
We think that even if suitable kitchens already exist in a town (school, community centre, church hall, pub), they may not be being used to their full potential for a variety of reasons. So a central point of contact to link all of these may be one solution OR it might be that this doesn’t really work as a model and a new stand-along kitchen would be required.
Our feasibility study will help us find out more by learning about the advantages/disadvantages and processes involved in such a scheme. We then will apply that learning in setting up our own kitchen scheme and help up to 3 other areas in Powys to the same. It’s all very exciting!
In the first part of the study, we will look for existing kitchen models around the UK, look at demand, potential users, potential facilities, compliance issues, management consideration and funding issues. The outcome will tell us how a system might work, how facilities could be coordinated, how well it might work, what levels of support there might be and how items produced could be branded.
We will pull all this information together to produce a guide called “Kitchen Cooperatives: an opportunity for Increasing Resilience” and running an event open to all to launch the guide, have a facilitated discussion and try to identify up to 3 other communities who might be interested in taking the ideas forward. If all goes well, the second part will actually be to set up some of these kitchen cooperatives in Powys in 2013!
We’re really excited and keen to get started. All the paperwork has been signed and we are aiming to have everything finished and an event at the start of November, that means we have 3 months… Best get working then…
If you want to find out more about what we are up to, take a read of this PDF Summary
If you are interested in setting up or expanding a small food based enterprise, or would have kitchen premises you would like to see used more in the community then please do get in touch, we would love to hear from you!
This project has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Cyllidwyd y prosiect hwn drwy Gynllun Datblygu Gwledig Cymru 2007-2013 a ariennir gan Lywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru a’r Gronfa Amaethyddol Ewrop ar gyfer Datblygu Gwledig.
…or garlic in one bed.
This years garlic harvest.
So last year we grew garlic for the first time, we went for it, worked out we probably used around a bulb a week and would need around ten extra for cloves to plant for next years bulbs, so planted 60 garlic. All of them came up, and grew amazing well into big, healthy delicious garlic, which we plaited into beautiful strings and hung around the kitchen.
Very proud of ourselves we were. Full of enthusiasm I was planning rows and rows of garlic in my head. It’s a cert, I thought. So easy. Yeah. We will make our fortune in garlic. We could supply the whole of Llani.
This year? Well, what can I say. Hmph. Something went wrong. The lovely damp, dull weather we’ve been enjoying for most of the year probably was the cause. Rust suddenly appeared on all our garlic and rapidly spread. We picked infected leaves off hoping to halt the spread, but eventually, with nothing but sticks in the ground, we had to give up and pulled our tiny little handful of garlic.
Luckily we hadn’t gone for the full field scale mission. We’d only done a few rows, we were never going to make the year’s worth we’d managed before. But still, I was expecting to have our own for a decent part of the year. In contrast to last years harvest (which has only just run out) this year’s looks set to run out some time in the next month.
Boo hoo hoo.
A close lesson me thinks.
At the risk of making this the most depressing blog post ever I could go into our other garden failures – slug attacks reducing our 40 kale plants to stumps; beans which would normally be 6 ft tall and full of beautiful red flowers, if not handfuls of beans, are struggling to clear two foot from the ground; all our fennel chomped before they’d even left their module trays; leeks, fail; strawberries, gone – I saw nothing but one hollow shell. The slugs, as they say, have been having a field day.
Good job this is only practice.
OK, we admit it, we haven’t been keeping this thing up to date. Tut tut. Naughty us. But that is NOT because we haven’t been doing anything… quite the opposite. It is in fact because The Loop Project has been very busy. LOTS has been happening, and there’s lots more on the horizon.
Here’s a brief round up of a few select projects we have been particularly proud of, we’ll be putting up a bit more detail about these and future happenings over the next couple of weeks:
TLP 21Out of the box Illustrations(July 2010)
TLP 22Cupcake Revolution logo(July 2010)
TLP 231st ever Wyeside brochure(August 2010)
TLP 24Low Carbon Llanidloes Leaflet(September 2010)
TLP 25LOAF tote bag(December 2010)
TLP 26TLP Presents – Food Inc(January 2011)
TLP 27Marmaduke Dando Website(February 2011)
TLP 28LAAG – Trees for All(February 2011)
TLP 29Seed Swap(March 2011)
TLP 30Geekowarriors – Stationery(March 2011)
TLP 31TLP Presents – Bring and Barter(March 2011)
TLP 32GOF Shop Refurb(May 2011)
TLP 33GOF Producer of the Month poster(May 2011)
TLP 34Ethical change Website(July 2011)
TLP 35Andy’s Bread NEW Price list(October 2011)
TLP 36Andy’s Bread Website(November 2011)
TLP 37Nantclyd – Website(November 2011)
TLP 38GOF Website(November 2011)
TLP 39Nantclyd – Egg Box(December 2011)
TLP 40GOF Veg News Column(January 2012)
TLP 41Llanidloes Seed Swap(March 2012)
TLP 42Odyssey – Poster for Willow Globe Theatre(June 2012)
TLP 43Both Coed Rebel Rebel Pizzas(July 2012)
TLP 44Spirit of Place – Poster for Willow Globe Theatre(July 2012)
Years ago, everyone kept their own seeds from one season to the next. This knowledge is disappearing and along with that knowledge many heritage seed varieties are being lost due to the majority of seeds currently for sale being produced by huge multinational companies who concentrate on a very small number of varieties without a thought for where you might be growing the plants or encouraging biodiversity.
This is where the Seed Swap comes in. Perhaps you have a favourite bean variety that you have been growing in the area for years or you need a few tomato seeds. The seed swap aims to create a way of circulating these seeds between local gardeners, and to preserve traditional varieties.
Saving and swapping seeds is also a great way to save money. Especially for people who can’t resit the tempting seed catalogues and buy a several packets containing hundreds of seeds each when you might only need a few. Instead, just buy a couple of packs, split them and bring your spares along to swap!
If you need some seeds or have spares, please drop them off in the Seed Swap box at the Resource Centre on Great Oak Street. There are some instructions here for how to make a seed packet.
We hope that this community resource will grow over the next few years. Help Llanidloes protect biodiversity and protest against the increasing control of the seed supply by a handful of large companies.
This year sees the introduction of “Llanidloes Seed Bank”, a permanent collection of seeds held at Llanidloes resource centre. Find out more on the day.
Below is a list of the seeds that are currently available in the Seed Bank. If you have any seeds you would like to add to the box – please come and see me at the resource centre on a Tuesday morning or drop me an email. I’ll try to keep this list updated as much as possible!
- Radish – Sicily Giant
- Radish – Jaune d’Or Ovale
- Mange Tout – Oregon Sugar Pod
- Mullein – Aaron’s Rod
- Lemon Balm
- +LOTS MORE!
What is a seed swap? Take a read of this Ecologist article
The loop project has gone a little quiet recently as we’ve been busy baking lots of bread, moving house and gardening. However the biggest project is loopy baby that is due in August. Hence Leanne has been reducing the amount of work she is doing to concentrate on a much more important project!
There was good news recently in that I (Andy) passed my Msc Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies at CAT. I was researching and writing about local food production in Llanidloes. I will post a link to the thesis at some point.
It was hard work last winter writing for a January 31st hand-in. However, once the thesis was submitted I felt so relieved but also drained that I had to stop thinking about “local food production” for a time. However I’m now at the point of feeling inspired about the whole thing again, perhaps it’s the bounty of fantastic local fruit and vegetables we are devouring at the moment. I want to use the knowledge I’ve built up to make a difference to the area in which we live, it would be a real shame not to.
Anyway the focus of the loop project is going to change over the next year; the bakery is doing well and I would also like to focus more on research and perhaps do some consultancy work (if any comes our way) surround the mid-Wales region and local food production. Therefore there will be less emphasis on website design although Leanne will still be graphic designing and if the right sort of website comes along we will still work on it. There will also be a little one to nurture and look after.
I am becoming increasingly aware of the need to reduce our dependence even further on some aspects of the consumer society that surrounds us. We have already reduced the constant bombardment of advertising and marketing by not watching TV adverts and not buying newspapers or glossy magazines. We don’t really need much more than we have and by embracing “voluntary simplicity” we’ve had the happiest few years of our lives.
The next stage of this plan is really to spent more time learning simple skills such as pottery, carpentry, making clothes and basic electronics. This is not to say I expect an imminent societal collapse, it is just that we are (happily) time rich and money poor – we can learn these skills to improve our lives whether or not the consumerist world continues to grow for the rest of our lives. Community building is also very important. Luckily we appear to have stumbled across a fabulously strong community in the town we moved to only 18 months ago, Llanidloes. This can only grow stronger as time progresses and we build even greater bonds of trust with those we live and work near to.
We’re looking forward to the year ahead!