Tag Archives: Transition Horncastle

Sustainability in Human Terms

Well it’s been two months since my last post, and there have been quite a few days when I have taken pictures for an article, but not actually written one. There have been lots of individual reasons for that, but the simple answer is that I have been too busy, and the reason for that is that I have been trying to do too much, and that isn’t sustainable.

A little background information might be useful here. Up until five years ago, we were breeding and racing greyhounds here, so the smallholding was designed in a way that suited that purpose. It was a good system, logical, and well thought out, but it used up all of our cash to do so. About six years ago I had started to grow vegetables again. I had wanted a smallholding for a long time, but was sort of side tracked by the dogs. Once I started to grow stuff again, I knew that the racing wasn’t for me, so we re-homed most of the younger dogs, and kept about nine, mainly the older ones. Being short of cash, and having unused fenced enclosures, we utilised these existing structures for growing stuff. That wasn’t a problem for some time, but as I added to the stuff that I did, the amount of work needed to run it went up too.

This year I guess that I reached the point where I realised that something had to change. There were a number of things that contributed to that. Firstly, I increased my involvement in outside stuff. I became chairman of the Lincolnshire Beekeepers, and a member of the steering group for Transition Horncastle. I was also fortunate to get some work helping to keep bees. This was great, but took up another six or seven hours a week of my time. On top of that I was mentoring some new beekeepers, ran some scything courses, and growing a lot more experimental plants, principally in pots/modules, all of which needed watering etc. Typing up stuff for my blogs added to the workload.

I had a plan of what I wanted to achieve here, but it became increasingly obvious that I didn’t have any extra time to implement changes. In light of that, I asked some friends of mine to come up with some ideas to help me out. So the weekend before last,seven friends who did the same Permaculture Design course as me, brought their families here, camped, did some work, and contributed some ideas.

Many of the suggestions that they made were things that I was already considering, but one or two new ideas did come out, mainly whilst chatting during work. I’ve had time to think about all that they have said, and the stuff that I had already concluded for myself, and have decided on some of the steps that I’m going to take.

Firstly, I need to take some immediate action to reduce the number of hours spent on cyclical tasks (weeding, watering etc.). These steps could be permanent, or temporary. The aim is to give me some time free, which I can then use to implement longer term changes to reduce the workload. One of the ways that I can do this is to mulch the paths between the raised beds. These paths occupy nearly a third of the growing space, but due to compaction, are harder to weed. A small amount of one off work, should yield a long term reduction in labour, perhaps by as much as half, which is a saving of about six to eight hours a week. Initially I was going to use a permanent mulch (geotextile), and probably still will, but I’m not going to cut it up too much as I’m not sure how much of the growing area to retain, so would like to be able to use it elsewhere later.

This leads me to the second area to look at. I have nearly 1500 sq metres of growing area. Nearly a third of an acre, but there’s only two of us to feed, and much of what I grow is either given away or wasted. This needs to be reduced, as it is all managed alone, by hand, with no machinery or chemicals. I don’t want to just let it go back to wilderness, and I have some ideas for ways to use it that will be more efficient, using Permaculture principles, but I need to find some time, and finish the designs, before that can go ahead. In the meanwhile, I’m going to cover any space not used for growing, to cut down on the weeding. It was always my intention to grow using mulch for weed suppression, but the sheer volume of growing area made the finding, and moving of so much organic matter seem difficult. I’m going to solve that by growing more trees and shrubs close by, and using them to provide mulch material. Increasing the proportion of perennial plants will reduce the amount of sowing/watering needed, and using white clover as a living mulch should help to reduce weeding. I also need to look carefully at whether the benefits of scything three acres of grass, justify the time that it takes to do so, and to clear the grass, when I no longer have animals.

Further efficiencies could be made by creating a new protected area for plants in pots/modules, big enough to allow me to keep all of the stuff that I’m growing together, and near to roof spaces that could be used to harvest water. In the Summer, watering was taking me two hours, but nearly half of this time was spent walking between the water butts, and the plants. I’m using some of my time to help create this new area, and expect to have it up and running by the end of the year.

Perhaps the most important thing to come out of this  for me, is that it has reminded me that it is worth spending time, energy, and money  getting the placement of things right, even when I’m busy, as the long term saving of energy, is far greater than the energy expended getting it right.

On that note, I  think it’s time to finish.

Take Care



Perhaps it was echoes of my last post, or meeting somebody at a gig just now, who lives where I grew up, but memories of my childhood keep bubbling up. What’s interesting for me is the way that these memories keep linking in with the now.

When I was kid we were pretty poor. My parents didn’t own a car, so my grandparents used to drive over, and take us out for trips, six of us in a little Ford van, the little one that was the size of a small car, but with no back windows.  One of the things that I remember is the number of bugs that used to get hit, and ended up flattened against the window, and the front of the van. Loads of gooey mess. Now I can drive hundreds of miles and barely see a bug, let alone hit one. Our industrial farming has killed them all. Billions of little living things, no longer living, and feeding other living things. Watching ‘A farm for the Future’, the sheer noise and number of insects at Fordhall Farm  reminded me of what a day in the country used to be like. Full of the sight and sound of life. I’ve included a link to their site Fordhall Farm.  Walking out today, the countryside is as empty as most peoples’ lives.  A real reflection of what our current society is like, and the strongest reason for the need to change that I can imagine. That’s why I’m involved with Transition Horncastle. I want to help create a world, and a society that is full of life, interconnected, not stuck away inside  boxes, watching boxes, and communicating with other people only through a machine.

The gig that I went to was a result of an e mail from a new friend in Transition Louth. Her band was playing, along with two others. All three were great, but I was blown away by ‘This is the Kit’. I bought a CD, and it’s playing in the background while I’m typing. Their site is here, and I’m really enjoying it.   Itried to add atrack to this post, but my computer wouldn’t allow it. Sorry.    http://www.thisisthekit.co.uk/

At the gig I met friends from Transition Horncastle, Louth, and Lincoln. Chatting during the evening, I was struck by how many really good people I’ve got to know over the last few years, and how I seem to be meeting more than ever. Many people are frightened, and think that the world is full of badness, yet my experience is completely the opposite. Again I’m reminded of childhood car trips, where we amused our selves with watching for things, like looking for different makes/colour of car. Until you start to play, the other traffic is just ‘white noise’, surface clutter, but once you play the game, you see blue cars everywhere, hundreds of them. Where are they all coming from? Are there more blue cars than all of the other colours? I guess that the people that we don’t know yet are like the motorway traffic, and we only see what we’re looking for. If all we think about is the bad in the world, that’s what we will see, and that’s how we will experience the world. The world is the same, but we will perceive it that way. I see good people all around me, so my world is full of good people. I live in the same world as somebody who only sees the bad, but our experience of it is different. Of the two, I know which experience I prefer.

Time for bed


P.S. I filed this post under ‘uncategorised’, because when I started it, I couldn’t see how it fitted in with Sustainability, but in reality the change in the world that we want to see, has to begin with a change in ourselves. So as well as learning new skills, we have to learn  new ways of thinking, and all of a sudden the post was relevant.

Transition Training 2

Hi All

Sorry about the lack of originality in the title, but it’s late, has been a long weekend, and if BBC iplayer had been working well, I would have been watching the Rugby.

I spent this weekend in Lincoln, doing the official Transition Town Training, provided by the Transition Town Network. The training was organised by Transition Lincoln, and was conducted by two trainers from Mid Wales. 22 of us attended, the majority of whom were from Lincolnshire, but with 2 from Ireland, and Brazil, joining us.

For those of you who know nothing about The Transition Town movement, the following links will provide the best sources of Information.

The Transition Town Wiki  http://transitiontowns.org/TransitionNetwork/TransitionInitiativeis probably the most comprehensive source of information about the movement.

It also lists all of the initiatives that are going on around the world.

Global Public media http://globalpublicmedia.com/ contains lots of articles on Peak Oil, for those of you who are not fully up to speed on the dangers that we face.

There are some great articles published on the oildrum.http://www.theoildrum.com/

In outline, Transition Towns are a ‘bottom up’ response to the threats of Climate Change, and Peak Oil, that realise that we cannot wait for politicians to take action, and recognise that we need to lead them, and not the other way around. We need to find a way to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, and come up with alternatives that are sustainable, physically, mentally, and emotionally. What attracts me the most, is that instead of telling us all that we’re doomed unless we do something, but failing to offer an alternative, Transition Towns challenge us to decide for ourselves what type of world we want to create. It is then up to us to come up with our own plans to make our visions real, at a local level. Please take the time to look into the implications of Peak Oil, and Climate Change, and ask yourself is this the type of world that you want to live in?

I saw this little clip from youtube, and thought that it was amusing. there are plenty of clips about Peak Oil there.


This clip explains what Peak Oil is.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uYmZmWAaxk

Can you tell that I’ve just learnt how to create a video link?

Back to the Training. I found the training more useful than I expected it to be. There was a lot about forming groups, and awareness raising, which was to be expected. There was also quite a lot about ways to conduct meetings, or ‘doings’, in order to get the most out of people. What was really inspiring was sitting in a room with 23 other people who had all decided that they were going to do something to change the way that we’re all heading. Closer to home, there were five of us from my own area, who are now going to look at how we can make Transition Horncastle a reality. Probably the most moving thing was to visualise for myself what I hoped that the world would be like in thirty years time, and discovering that everybody in the room had a similar vision. Perhaps deep down we are all longing for something similar, a sort of collective ideal that we don’t always understand, or express, but which is sitting there dormant, waiting for the opportunity to grow into something beautiful.

Is the world that you live in the one that you dream of?


Transition Training

This weekend I am away in Lincoln doing the official Transition Training. I became involved with Transition Lincoln by accident. I went along to a meeting of the Lincoln Urban PIGS (Pemaculture Interest Group), as I’m involved with Permaculture, and they were in the process of morphing into Transition Lincoln. I decided to get involved, even though I live 26 miles from Lincoln. In reality, I should be involved with Transition Horncastle, but they don’t exist yet. There are four of us from the Horncastle area scheduled to do the training, but only one of the four lives in the town itself. Perhaps we’re a few months away from forming a group, but it is something to aim for. Local solutions for local people. Perhaps my own village will, take up the challenge? Maybe not. The Burghers were outraged when we tried to get some affordable housing built. ” We don’t want poor people in the village” was the mood of the minority, and was actually said to me. The selfish way that we lead our lives has to change.

I intend to lend my support to Age of Stupid, by watching it again on Saturday. Hopefully, enough people will attend to convince the cinemas to show it more widely. Even though the film doesn’t offer any positive message, or solutions, I still think that we will turn things around. I don’t believe that it’s too late to change, and that it is imperative that we do so.

I will reply to any comments next week.

Have a productive weekend.