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[prepared for the 1998 renewal of temporary permission.
TARGETS SET FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.
Our intention has always been to develop a poly-income which is not wholly dependant on one particular course of action or income. We have always maintained that it is vital to remain flexible in order to be able to take advantage of changes in attitudes and markets.
a) The initial design has proved effective in that we have been able to survive a long period of illness, adapt successfully to changes in the market for educational courses and rapidly introduce new elements to take advantage of customer demand.
b) We feel that the targets outlined below arise out of our own expertise, the unique qualities of the site and the local situation and are achievable within the next three to five years .
c) We believe that in most cases below, the targets have already been achieved or have been thoroughly trialed and that the major income generating systems are now in place which will demonstrate the long term viability of the holding. If the forms of income substitution and community integration outlined in our original application are also taken into account then we feel the sustainability of the holding is assured.
The continuation of the development of educational courses in Permaculture design expanding on our existing reputation. In particular, the movement into more specialist fields within Permaculture Design.
a) Our previous estimates of holding about 12 low-impact, (2-4 people), weekend courses per year still seems appropriate. However, profit margins have increased due to the maturing of earlier developments on the site (for example, all food for course participants can be provided from our gardens and livestock). On 1997-98 figures, these short courses generated a net profit averaging £300 each (£3600 annually) for six person days (72 days annually). Accommodation is provided by local B&B (Llanfachreth).
Rather than convening our own larger courses (10-20 people) we have found it much simpler to provide one day venues for other Permaculture Design Courses or associated groups (such as Gwreiddiau Coed). These present much less impact to the holding and generate an average net income of £200 per day. We would aim for 4-6 such courses per year (£800-£1200 annually, 8 to 12 person days). We would not rule out the option of running our own weekend or longer courses if the demand was obvious.
b) As previously stated, we intend to continue our local talks to interested bodies and organisations as required. With regard to connections with local schools we intend to continue to support the Bont Ddu School Gardens project through the Local Permaculture Group. We intend to continue offering places for local people on courses at reduced rates and further, to develop courses related to environmental, agricultural and social issues related to the specific locality. We intend to hold occasional (probably annual) open days aimed at local people to encourage an understanding of the traditional basis of the ethics and principles of Permaculture.
c) We will continue to offer Permaculture Introductory courses through the medium of Welsh. We will also offer bi-lingual courses and courses for Dysgwyr. We believe that there are good opportunities for Welsh speaking Permaculture Designers and teachers.
d) As previously we accept site visits by prior arrangement for individuals or groups up to six. We charge for visits at the same rate as our consultations, £10 per hour (groups split this between them). This has proved an acceptable level of payment (no one who has made enquiries about visits has not come). Visits are from two to three hours (morning or afternoon). The site now has a very good reputation both nationally and internationally through the Permaculture network and in the last year we have received visitors from Palestine as well as Bangor University and Henry Doubleday. We intend to accept about twenty visits by appointment per year (£400-£600 annual average, 10 person days)
Produce generated from the site will be marketed in conjunction with courses and the Vegetable Box Scheme.
a) Courses and visits provide useful opportunities for the sale of plants; that is, we can describe the value of say a particular food plant, show course participants how we grow it and then offer them the opportunity to purchase the plant or some of the seed.
b) The main focus of attention for the marketing and distribution of organic food will be through the Vegetable Box Scheme. This centres on the Poly tunnel and the main outside beds. Customers are supplied with a box or bag of in-season vegetables on a weekly basis and are charged a flat rate. The rate varies from scheme to scheme, some offering a choice of a bag for £3.50 or a box for £7. Schemes are usually small but generate reasonable returns because of the direct marketing. They tend to work better when there are more in the same area as they can co-operate to provide a greater variety of produce. There is a growing interest in the Dolgellau area and we already have more people wishing to take part in our scheme than we can supply at present.
There are a number of additional advantages in our own situation. By offering our clients the option of collecting their boxes they can take advantage of pick-your-own soft fruit. Customers can also purchase seed and plants or order organic meat. We are also in a position to take volunteer workers who are seeking experience in Permaculture who provide help.
Over the next five years we intend to build up the scheme to the point where it generates an average of £100 per week on a customer base of 10-15 people for an equivalent of two person days per week. Estimates are based on research, our own experience and in particular work with Mandy Pullein of Ragman's Lane Veg Box scheme, Gloucester. Mandy attended a Permaculture Design Course we ran in 1991 and since then has developed a very effective system. She also runs a market stall during the summer months selling produce surplus to the scheme. This would be an additional option we could take.
c) The continuation and enhancement of nursery areas for high value plant species for sales through our existing markets. Again, this is an ongoing project, inherent to Permaculture design.
d) The refinement of our existing soft fruit and berries stock to produce specialist organic foods for sale through the Veg Box Scheme or existing local retail outlets and restaurants.
e) 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. This is considered by us to be an on-going project of increasing importance. At present, no specific market exists other than concerned locals. Sales are of both plants and seeds.
4. 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 five years;
a) Although we may undertake some design work outside the area our main concentration shall be on the locality itself with the intention of forging good connections with existing bodies in order to broaden the scope of diversification and provide options for landowners which are not necessarily obvious at present.
b) On site we will continue to develop models for wider implementation in particular the establishment of a sustainable marsh flow-through system with products including berry crops, coppice, fish, crustaceans and water fowl. As this project is initially non-income generating its progress was slowed during Lyn's illness. Appropriate access routes have been developed which have doubled as dams across the drainage ditches; consequently the marsh area is holding far more water than previously. The access routes provide good planting zones (a wet side and a wetter side). A further development was the appearance of water voles.
c) The refinement of productive animal fodder systems with shelter, timber, soil conditioning, conservation and amenity as secondary products. We now have some plantings reaching their eleventh year and are regularly harvesting bio-mass. The introduction of a small livestock unit will allow us to measure the effectiveness of cut fodder more easily.
Lyn now holds the Monty Roberts Preliminary Certificate of Horsemanship and is gaining a reputation in this field. She has been personally recommended by Kelly Marks (Monty Roberts' British representative)
a) We will continue to offer courses based on Monty Roberts' methods and principles; these are proving very sought after and lucrative.
b) 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 and the invasion of pasture by noxious weeds such as ragwort. We would like to address this challenge.
c) We also intend to continue and develop the training and use of horses for timber extraction on environmentally sensitive sites locally, in particular the Forest Nature Reserve which surrounds us. We will be using ponies in the extraction of small rhododendron.
6. Site specific conservation work for Forest Enterprise.
We intend to continue our partnership with Forest Enterprise in the control of invasive species on Forest Authority land surrounding our holding. This will include surveying, clearance of species by hand tools, identification of areas requiring control by specialised teams (such as spraying) and medium to long term monitoring. We believe that this locally based approach to the control of invasive species provides a viable complementary approach to large scale capital and energy intensive projects. The total value of the contract for 1997-98 was £3456 and we are expecting to renew this for 1998-99.
7. Computer Networking.
Connection to Computer networks via existing phone lines and using existing hardware on site.
a) To establish an informative (information dense) bilingual web site on the Internet providing information relating to Permaculture Design in general and this holding in particular in an accessible and useful form including 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, booking of courses and provide further opportunities for income such as teleworking.
We are faced with a rapidly changing world. These changes relate to our economy, society and environment. It is not yet clear what the results of these continuing changes will mean; that is to say, the future is uncertain.
a) A flexible strategy, able to adjust to altered conditions and take advantage of changes is essential. Relying on just one main income is not appropriate in the present time. A poly-income, where revenue is derived from a cluster of closely related and mutually supportive practices, provides the most secure basis for development.
b) The patterns of organisation required to develop poly-incomes reflects the traditional values of co-operation, interdependence, mutual support, re-cycling and integrated communities. It is of especial importance that we recognise that these are also ecological values.
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