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[prepared for the 1998 renewal of temporary permission.
PROGRESS OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS IN RELATION TO TARGETS SET IN 1994
(Statements and targets from 1994 documents are given in italics.)
Development of the project was disrupted by serious illness during 1996-97. Lyn contracted cancer and underwent two operations and radio therapy treatment; she is now fully recovered. The illness and recovery occupied a period of about 18 months and led to the cancellation of a number of courses and activities.
While generating funds sufficient to cover running costs the project was further hampered by a lack of investment capital. Conventional agricultural subsidies are not applicable to the project and business loans are unavailable due to the temporary nature of the planning permission. Outside work was required to fund capital investments such as basic improvements to the infrastructure of the site.
The holding is now in a position to move forward as a profitable venture capable of generating its own working capital.
The continuation of the development of educational courses in Permaculture design expanding on our existing reputation.
As stated previously (see supporting documents in the original application and the 1994 renewal) due to our early involvement in Permaculture Design we had a significant advantage in terms of offering courses. As we projected, this situation changed as more courses were offered throughout Britain (courses are now taught at about 40 different venues). Consequently, although still offering introductory courses, we now provide advanced courses based upon our specialist interests. In particular Permaculture Design for Horses. This allows us to tap into a fresh and relatively wealthy market and is proving both popular and lucrative.
a) We are at present aiming to achieve a rate of about 12 low-impact, (2-4 people), weekend courses per year averaging £200 profit per course and two main courses, (10-15 people) averaging £800 profit per course. Generating an annual income from courses of approximately £4000.
We achieved a lower rate of low-impact courses than intended (4-8) but a higher profit margin (£350-£400). We encourage course participants to stay at local B&B or campsites which injects capital into the local economy; we provide lists of suitable sites.
Large courses have been simplified by connecting with other bodies who run courses (such as Gwreiddiau Coed and The Permaculture Association, Britain). We have then taken their students for one day intensive study on our holding dealing with our specialist areas and the examples in practice on the site. This has greatly simplified the convening of large courses and reduced the impact on the site.
b) In addition we intend to continue our local talks to interested bodies and organisations, establish teaching connections with local schools, provide educational opportunities for local people at reduced rates and hold occasional open days.
We provided a number of local talks including one to the Rotarians in Dolgellau and Abergynolwyn Gardeners Club for the second time.
We supported the Bont Ddu School Gardens project which was set up by a local Permaculture group member resident at the time in Bont Ddu. This project involved regenerating the school gardens as an educational resource and received funding from the Shell Better Britain Campaign. We were involved in the design and implementation of the project.
We provide spaces for local people at reduced rates on all courses.
c) We also intend to provide a proportion of these courses through the medium of the Welsh language, (we have already given talks locally in Welsh), and aim to establish a pool of Welsh speaking Permaculture Designers and teachers.
We now offer Permaculture Introductory courses taught through the medium of Welsh. We also offer bi-lingual courses and courses for dysgwyr. We believe that there are good opportunities for Welsh speaking Permaculture Designers and teachers.
To continue the development of the capabilities of the site as a nursery for plant species and materials.
Some species have now been grown for eleven years providing good information as to their value and suitability. Additional species have been trialed. We are building up a considerable body of knowledge and plant material which could prove of great value to the locality.
a) The further development of the nursery for native plant species grown from local seed for use in amenity, conservation and productive plantings in the immediate area in order to preserve local genetic resources. Sales would be of both plants and seeds.
The development of stock for sale has progressed well but due to Lyn's illness we have not progressed marketing beyond the small scale. See also Vegetable Box Scheme, below.
b) The continuation and enhancement of nursery areas for high value plant species for sales through our existing marketing resources, (in particular Future Foods and the Permaculture network). Examples here include Sweet Cicely seed, (currently £2 for 10 in the Henry Doubleday Research Association catalogue; (we produced approximately 2000 in 1994), and the tuber Occa, (currently £2.50 for 5 in the Future Foods catalogue; we grew approximately 500 in 1994).
See comments above.
c) The further implementation of plant stock to produce specialist organic foods for sale within existing local retail outlets and restaurants. In particular soft fruit and berries, (Vacciniuum sps especially) and fresh herbs.
This has progressed well.
ADDITIONAL TO 1994 TARGETS:
Vegetable Box Scheme:
Additional to targets set in 1994, a polytunnel was introduced in 1997. As we grow most of our own food, we have been consistently asked for any surplus. Using six families as a trial, we provided them with in-season vegetables when we had surpluses. This practice has built customer confidence and provided us with the experience necessary to implement a scheme. Customers who collected their boxes were able to take advantage of soft fruits on a "pick your own" basis and buy plants from the nursery areas. This has proved an exciting project and offers good opportunities for the future including additional employment for local people. Please see 1998 targets for further details.
The addition of a small, temporary livestock unit has allowed further diversification of grazing and product. Various species have been kept for various periods fed on cut fodder (generated through maintenance operations on other parts of the holding).
3. Design Practice.
The enhancement of the existing Design Practice and in particular the further modelling on site of plant systems for adoption and adaptation locally on larger scales in order to provide farmers with greater opportunities for diversification. In particular over the next three years;
a) The establishment of a sustainable marsh flow-through system with products including berry crops, coppice, fish, crustaceans and water fowl.
b) The refinement of a productive animal fodder system with shelter, timber, soil conditioning, conservation and amenity as secondary products.
The existing Design Practice was suspended during Lyn's illness. In some ways this proved beneficial as although the work was fairly profitable it often involved driving some distance and detracted from work on the holding. Subsequently Design work has been concentrated more locally.
a) above has been progressed slowly with the addition of bio-mass causeways to gain access. b) above has progressed well with some of the plantings which were established early in the development of the site approaching maturity.
The continuation of the training and use of horses for timber extraction on environmentally sensitive sites locally, in particular the Forest Nature Reserve which surrounds us.
The movement towards full integration of horses into the site has proved extremely successful. Lyn's successful completion of the Monty Roberts Preliminary Course of Horsemanship has gained her credibility within the horse world (she is shortly to have an article published in Horse and Rider). She is now able to offer courses based on Monty Roberts' methods and principles which are proving very sought after.
Combined with our Permaculture Design skills we are able to offer specialist knowledge relating to the care and management of both horses and their environment. We have observed a considerable increase in the number of horses locally over the last fifteen years and a consequent degradation of their grazing often with considerable damage to hedgerow trees or trees in pasture. We would like to address this challenge.
Composted manures and bedding provide invaluable inputs into the plant based projects.
5. Computer Network.
Connection to Computer networks via existing phone lines and using existing hardware on site.
a) To establish a presence on various networks such as the Internet in order to disseminate information on Permaculture and related subjects without the need for high production and distribution costs. Information would include articles, species lists and other relevant data.
b) To allow for the acquisition of up to the minute data.
c) To facilitate the sales of goods and services and provide further opportunities for income such as teleworking.
Due to Lyn's illness development of this area has been slow. We use a computer to record information relating to the site and its projects and have fronted the local group Internet presence for two years now. This has proved very useful at times allowing for access to good resources. However, many people either do not have a computer or find the Internet software difficult to work with. We feel that there is a growing market here but that until access becomes more available and easier to use (perhaps with the advent of set-top boxes) it should be seen as an additional resource rather than as a replacement to existing resources.
ADDITIONAL TO 1994 TARGETS:
Site specific conservation work for Forest Enterprise.
In a trial project we worked in partnership with Forest Enterprise. The Forest Ranger for Coed Y Brenin, Martin Garnett has pioneered a locally based approach to the control of invasive species (such as rhododendron). As we live within the Forest Nature Reserve, are "on the spot" and know the surrounding land and watershed intimately he considered us to be the ideal people to undertake management of the riparian and broadleaf zones directly upstream of our site. This involved clearance of self seeded conifers (in particular Western Hemlock) and has been extremely successful. The total value of the contract for 1997-98 was £3456 and we are expecting to renew this for 1998-99.
Our intention has always been to develop a poly-income which is not wholly dependant on one particular course of action. We also intend to remain flexible in order to be able to take advantage of changes in attitudes and markets. Having said that, we feel that the targets given above arise out of our own expertise, the unique qualities of the site and the local situation and are achievable within the next three years.
As can be seen from the comments above, the development of a poly income is progressing well.
a) Certain of the targets are easily measurable in terms of financial statements and bank balances. Others are less easily modelled now but after three years it should be clear whether they have worked or not.
b) The targets have been given in order of emphasis based on what has already worked at Tir Penrhos Isaf. However, we feel that as the system develops in time, the educational aspect will be lessened and the produce value increased.
To a certain extent this is still true in that we expect the produce side of the holding to increase as a result of the development of the Vegetable Box Scheme. However, we see education as essential if people are to adapt to changing economies, lifestyles and environments. We still consider that Permaculture design offers a valuable flexible approach based on sound ecological principles.
c) We believe that the achievement of these targets will demonstrate the long term viability of the holding. If the forms of income substitution and community integration outlined in our application are also taken into account then we feel the sustainability of the holding is assured.
We still consider this to be true.
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