The indestructible greenhouse

I’m still amazed at how well built the greenhouse is. Whoever designed it was obviously inspired by the fourth bridge or the Graff Zeppelins of old. I swear I’m half tempted to fill some old bulk hard core bags with helium, undo the mounting brackets and float of on some perilous adventure like a modern day Phelias Fogg…

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But a closer inspection of the airworthiness of my vessels revels some slight structural weakness in the rib construction. In the years this site was abandoned some of the aluminium bolts have corroded and the expansion and contraction of the frame has acted to shear some of them of.

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76 in total. Which has also allowed some of the ribs to fall away from the spars. Remedial work needs to be undertaken before I set my self-adrift on a flight of whimsy.

It can get expensive buying that many bolts and nuts. The simplest solution is to buy some sections of threaded rod, 160 nuts of the right size and cut the bolts down to size as we fix the old girl up.

And whilst I’m doing that might as well look at resealing the glass when I’m up there.

I’ll get this lady to Mauritius

I am a thistle shifter….

And that’s about as far as I got with that particular tongue twister !!

But it did remind me of last Saturday in the sauna. Well less of a posh spa day and more like an episode of attack the weeds in the polytunnel. After being abandoned for four years the place was thick with thistles almost head high and im 6ft 4 !!

Any way the kids from the National Citizens Service did a wonderful job in the late summer heat, beating them down and generally taking out their teenage angst on the overgrowth of triffids. A job I certainly don’t begrudge them.

But like all fairy tale monsters they can never be truly killed. Dead doesn’t always mean DEAD..

And so Johnny’s back !!

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This time though they are manageable so I’m getting in early and knocking them back before they get too big. Hopefully a combination of carbohydrate death (denying the plant the chance to store more energy than it expends in growing) and the fact that most of the polytunnel will be Deep Water Culture hydroponic tanks the day of the triffids will be postponed !

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You may also notice the old post and wire system has been taken down…. making way for who knows what wonders !!

#DoncasterIsGreat for Growing… come along and find out why…

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Come and join us next Thursday (May 23rd) anytime from 6pm onwards as we begin to plant an Apothecary (food, herbs and medicinal plant garden) at Church View (just behind the Minster opposite Tesco car park) and find out how growing your own can make you healthier while saving you a shed load of money.

Click here to download and share a copy f our Get Growing poster 🙂

#DoncasterIsGreat for Growing in a Small Space… amendment

Please note the change of date on the following event…

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PermaFuture co-founder John Briggs will now be giving a presentation for Growing a Greater Bentley (GGB) on Growing in a Small Space at Bentley Baptist Church at 6:30pm on Tuesday, 14th May (rather than the 7th as previously stated). We’ll be following this up with a practical session in the heart of Doncaster at the end of the month, so watch this space for further details.

Click here to download, print and share a PDF of the altered poster. 🙂

#DoncasterIsGreat for Growing in a Small Space…

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PermaFuture co-founder John Briggs will be giving a presentation for Growing a Greater Bentley (GGB) on Growing in a Small Space at Bentley Baptist Church at 6:30pm on Tuesday, 7th May. We’ll be following this up with a practical session in the heart of Doncaster at the end of the month, so watch this space for further details.

Click here to download, print and share a PDF of the poster. 🙂

Next DUG meeting 28/3/13 at The Sal… #DoncasterIsGreat #GuerrillaGardening

small DUG poster Mar 2013The next Doncaster Urban Growers (DUG) meeting is at The Salutation from 7pm on Thursday 28th March, 2013. As you can see from recent DUG posts members are itching to get active. With Spring in the air and mud on our minds you can expect some interesting debates and ideas! 😉

Click here to download a PDF of the poster.

Graham Burnett teaches permaculture in Doncaster – #DoncasterIsGreat

The very wonderful Graham Burnett will be visiting Doncaster this April to host an Introduction to Permaculture workshop at Glass Park in Kirk Sandall. Leave a comment or email us at permafuture.project[at]gmail.com if you’d like to get involved. Details as follows…

yorkshireDates; Saturday 6th – Sunday 7th April, 2013 (Meeting-up 5pm on Friday 5th for welcomes and orientation)

Venue; The Glass Park, Kirk Sandall, Doncaster. Nr St Oswald’s Church, Kirk Sandall Old Village, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN3 1RA

Led by; Graham Burnett (Dip Perm Des)

An excellent way to find out more about permaculture is to attend a two-day introductory course. This ‘taster’ will provide an opportunity to actively learn about the ethics, principles and applications of permaculture design.As well as introducing you to the key principles & practices of permaculture this course will mark the first stage in turning an underused recreational park into a self-reliant, permaculture-based, managed woodland.

Glass Park was a former dumping ground for a Pilkington’s Glass factory and was turned into a large recreational area by a local charitable trust over a decade ago. Since then the economic downturn has made it difficult for the trust to continue developing the site in the way that it had originally intended. PermaFuture is a local non-profit company which uses permaculture principles to help set-up low-cost, low-impact resilient community infrastructure. Working closely with the Glass Park Trust we intend to integrate woodland management, local food production/distribution and traditional skills, such as green-woodworking and bee-keeping, to build a financially self-sustaining educational facility for the people of Kirk Sandall and Doncaster.

Under the capable guidance of the very wonderful Graham Burnett (author and illustrator of ‘Permaculture- a Beginners Guide’ and holder of the Diploma in Permaculture Design) you will be introduced to the basics of permaculture design in a unique community space. Not only will you take away a grounding in the practice and philosophy of permaculture, you will be helping to lay the foundations for an important community project.

Full cost £55, concessions £35. £10 deposit secures a place.

Fees include tuition, light refreshments and handouts.

This course is limited to 15 places, so book now in order to ensure your place!

Please note that bookings/enquiries for this course are NOT via Spiralseed, please directly contact John Briggs permafuture.project@gmail.com

MAKER SPACE

 

or how I learned to stop worrying and just love stuff !!

In 2012 we exported a lot of stuff. One direction, rain water into the north sea, British pride and the royals ( the Americans get that last one free to make up for 1776 ).

But the export business started long before that… it started with ideas. And one of those ideas was the maker space. We sent it over to America where they have latched on to it with the same vigour they had with the Beatles. So once it became the done thing to hang around with old guys that knew more than you did, knew it and could give a toss they sent our baby back. Now we have sulky petulant teen of an idea ready to take on the world and the world be damned !! So what is this maker space I hear you cry ??

A maker space is simply a place where a group come together Co-operatively and in collaboration.

Errrr OK that’s not so simple is it…? I’ll try again….

A maker space is a building which house’s all the tools you need to build what ever you want. Fancy building a bookcase ? Maker space. Got a great idea for a product but can’t afford prototype or production cost’s? maker space.

You see not all of us are nicely well off middle class types with google chrome as our task bar. Most of us have an idea or two or just want to simply learn how to do stuff properly, that age old ache to create, to produce to express .. but the cost of the equipment is way out of our league and we may find it a bit hard to justify the cost of a pillar drill or bench lathe to our spouse’s if we just want to play. Especially as the benefits get cut and I wont get a pay rise this year. And forget about adult extension classes. Who has the time ??

Well your local space might have that equipment, if it doesn’t it might have the tools you need to build it. The people that you meet down there will come from a wide background, an untapped resource of unbelievable potential from welders and fabricators to draughtsmen and designer’s. The computer girl that will show you, that if you can use a photocopier you can use a 3D printer. The old time carpenter that can teach you all you need to know about making that presentation box.

You know, the one that wowed the sales team and convinced them that your doohicky is what has been missing all their lives….

A maker space is an eclectic mix of old world wooden hand tools to mega gig computers and star trek replicator’s …

So why am I banging the drum for the maker space. Well my nearest one is access space in Sheffield. It’s main focus is multi media but its also a bit too far to travel if I want to make a bike trailer !!

However a new year a new opportunity. Doncaster is getting it’s own maker space !! . the copley roadproject will soon open it’s doors to you fair and creative citizens so please show support for what could be the best thing since an ironed shirt….

Lets take a chance and become producers not consumers. Lets learn things we didn’t know we wanted to learn. We are willing to pay 20-30 quid for a gym membership why not the same for our local maker space ??

Here’s a few links to get you in the making mood…..

A podcast about maker space’s, it’s woth skipping the housekeeping !

Maker space in ann arbour

And another american based one

Hope to see you at the Copley road project !!

The Fiscal Cliff & the Permaculture Parachute

The world may not have ended on December 21st, 2012, but it looks highly likely that the economic dominance of the US will be very much in its death throws during 2013…

This puts the UK, with its intimate links to both the US and the Euro-zone, in a very precarious position. On hearing about the looming fiscal cliff and the risk of hyperinflation there are some people who will be tempted to build a bunker, dress like an action man and stock up on freeze-dried chicken noodles (the kind of people who give preppers a bad name courtesy of the Discovery Channel). But those of us who enjoy fresh air (and fresh fruit & veg for that matter) like to take a more logical (in actual fact ‘methodological’…) approach.

The word economy comes from the Greek oikonomos (manager of a household) and is closely related to the word ecology (oikos = house + logia = study), but modern attitudes which focus on ‘bottom lines’ and ‘perpetual growth’ can seem far from homely. This is because the economists define wealth and security in terms of access to the market. But despite being elevated to a central position for the last few centuries the market is not the most important factor in the economy… the real driving force of the economy is – and always has been… – the land. As The Land magazine say in their manifesto:

Anyone who has land has access to energy, water, nourishment, shelter, healing, wisdom, ancestors and a grave. Ivan Illich spoke of “a society of convivial tools that allows men to achieve purposes with energy fully under their control”. The ultimate convivial tool, the mother of all the others, is the earth.

Don’t get us wrong, markets can play a vital role in the peaceable exchange of skills & resources and in countering creative and cultural stagnation, but when the market is placed above every other aspect of human ecology the effects are devastating… hence the current crisis. The dominant economic and legal systems we are expected to live by have divorced the vast majority of us from both the land in general and the skills to cater for our own central needs – food, shelter, sanitation, etc. – in a convivial and ecologically sensitive way. And as the ongoing economic crisis makes it ever harder for an increasing number of people to secure access to the essentials, the ecological crisis – which is itself a product of a dysfunctional socioeconomic worldview – is making present human ecologies even less stable… a viscous circle spinning at the heart of a perfect storm.

sandy

Spencer Platt/GETTY IMAGES

If this sounds a bit gloomy, it is; there’s little point in denial when it comes to one of the most rapid and monumental changes in the earth’s climate. What’s more there’s not a whole lot of real, decisive action taking place… in fact, thanks to a political system ultimately based on lobbying clout (whoever can pay has the last say), the very opposite is true. On a global level we’re about to witness some of the most dramatic shifts in sovereign power for centuries, but there is little evidence to suggest that Gaia will replace the gun regardless of who’s in the big chair. On a local level even before the economic crisis there were very few local authorities which paid anything more than lip service to building genuinely resilient communities. But we have now reached a point where we are being forced to reconsider both our economic and ecological systems in the light of the overwhelming evidence that continuing along our current path is almost certainly suicidal.

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From Robert Graves and Dider Madoc Jones digital art series Postcards from the Future

Well that’s the doom & gloom done with, now for a glimmer of hope… THERE IS A BETTER WAY!..

Permaculture is a design system which uses naturally occurring ecological patterns and feedback-loops to create highly sustainable, convivial and resilient human habitats. Far from being a pie-in-the-sky utopian dream these are widespread everyday practices which often take advantage of techniques that have been known to humans for millennia (and to mother nature for billions of years). What’s more it is a process which doesn’t rely on any outside help from politicians, bankers or business gurus; so regular people (like you and me) can begin to make a very real difference – both locally and globally – regardless of the inactivity of government and the local authorities. Some might find that they have to bend the rules a little depending on exactly where they live and the socioeconomic circumstances they find themselves in, but absolutely anyone can – and should!.. – begin to practice essential permacuture principles today.

Permaculture is no magic bullet, as you’ll quickly discover it’s all about small steps and a lot of patience. But taken seriously each small step you take will lead you  to a healthier, more fulfilled and resilient (not to mention cheaper!..) way of living.

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Design for Eco-Village Wroclaw

There are plenty of freely available online resources (this is a good place to start), but if you have some spare cash one of the most accessible (not to mention most beautiful) introduction books has to be Graham Burnett‘s “Permaculture, A Beginner’s Guide.

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At the moment it’s on special offer and includes a copy of Graham’s “Top of the Crops“, but even if you miss the offer we recommend ordering Top of the Crops as well anyway… especially if you have kids!

PermaFuture will be hosting an Introduction to Permaculture workshop in Doncaster sometime in the Spring; drop us a line or follow the blog for further details… in the meantime, GET GROWING!

How to Work Out Your Ecological Footprint…

Radical Roots is a network of cooperatives working for social change. They do a great range of pamphlets and publications, including one of our favourites: “How to work out your Ecological Footprint.

Click here to download a PDF of the booklet.

Click here to download a PDF of the cover.

And if you enjoy it as much as we did why not buy yourself some copies from Radical Roots and spread them around your friends, neighbours and workmates 🙂