I write a short column for the Tanat Valley Chronicle, our village newsletter. I guess my principle aim is to get a dialogue going around sustainability without being preachy and to link that to actually doing things.
As part of my job I have been able to lead on planting a community orchard in the area and wanted to make reference to that whilst making a wider point about mutually beneficial relationships.
18th April 2014
Gail, from a farm above Llanfyllin sheared her Jacobs sheep last summer and offered some of the bountiful wool produced to Ian, ex-Mayor of Llanfyllin and one of the trustees and driving forces behind the Workhouse restoration. He offered it to Sue from Llanrhaeadr, another Workhouse regular and local artisan.
Sue spun the thick, dark wool into yarn, some of which she knitted into two beautiful jumpers for friends Bill and Chava, who run the Welsh Mountain Cider apple-tree nursery near Llanidloes. In return for those home spun, hand-knitted garments Bill and Chava gave Sue 30 apple trees from their nursery, which Sue planted in her home garden to mature. Last weekend 9 of those trees were planted in the Bodfach field as part of the new Llanfyllin Community Orchard, a collaboration between Llanfyllin Town Council and Cwm Harry’s Get-Growing project.
With plenty of wool left over Sue decided to offer a weaving workshop in the new village hall in Llanrhaeadr, which 9 people attended and after a busy afternoon of carding and weaving a beautiful rug was made, which this spring Sue gave to Gail.
I must thank the folk from Tan Y Fron housing cooperative, who planted an ‘Apple Tree Guild’ as part of the Cae Bodfach planting. Exploring the idea that plants thrive in relationships not as individuals, they planted an apple tree which they surrounded with bulbs to repel the codling moth and other cyclical pests. They under-planted it’s canopy with comfrey, the deep-rooted, nutrient concentrating companion plant. With the turfs lifted and inverted to suppress the grasses, the guild was completed by surrounding it with a ring of berry bushes to attract pollinating insects and located where they would enjoy the extra moisture from the dip-line from the crown of the tree, once established.
At the heart of all natural systems is a web of inter-linked, mutually-beneficial relationships and therein lies a lesson we can perhaps all learn something from.