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[prepared for the 2000 application for a low impact dwelling for a permaculture (sustainable) holding
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RE: FUNCTIONAL TEST FOR LOW IMPACT DWELLING FOR A PERMACULTURE HOLDING
Dear Mr. Jones,
We would be grateful if the following could be considered in regard to the functional test for the above application.
The holding comprises a number of interconnected businesses which are mutually supportive. We would consider that all these businesses relate to agriculture, forestry or diversification. For further details please refer to supporting documents submitted with successive applications (1991, 1994, 1998 and the current application 2000) and in particular the permaculture design (farm plan) for the holding. Please also note the following from TAN6
24. Farms plans may usefully support applications relating to farm diversification proposals, although they should not be made a requirement of applicants. They can demonstrate how a proposal fits into the wider farming picture and set out its environmental consequences."
The holding has been organic since 1986 (fourteen years). During that time the following livestock have been successfully reared and local markets developed. Similarly, fodder schemes have been planted (trees and other perennial plants) to support each species and further reduce costs. As well as permanent livestock, the overall design and implementation of the holding also provides time-slots for a variety of additional species. The length of the time-slots and their repetition are dependent on the regeneration of the fodder systems after use; depending on the species and numbers, this may vary from one to eight years. Please see accompanying data.
Sheep (flock mark 709555)
Up to ten breeding ewes (Welsh) for local supply of added value food products (smoked lamb). As well as food production, sheep are routinely employed in pasture management through grazing control (eg. maintenance and further development of wild flower meadow) requiring regular movement and control.
Up to twenty five ducks for local supply of organic eggs and meat. Also for slug control in food and plant production (see below) requiring daily control of flock and seasonal confinement on growing areas to aid pest control.
Please note the following from TAN6
"59. The definition of agriculture includes "the breeding and keeping of livestock" and "the use of land as grazing land". Land can be said to be used for "grazing" if horses are turned on to it with a view to feeding them from it."
Up to four grazing horses for sale at any one time. The grazing horses are a consequence of and related to the horse training operations (see below). Grazing horses are stabled at night during the winter to avoid excessive damage to pasture and receive additional training to increase their sales value.
Pigs (Herd mark M5974)
Eight weaner pigs (Iron Age: Tamworth x wild boar) for local supply of added value food products (organic bacon, smoked pork). The time slot occurs every three years at present but the interval is expected to reduce over time as perennial fodder systems mature. Similarly, the number of animals that the fodder systems can support will increased over time. Pigs occupy a seasonal niche from late spring to early autumn and are not over wintered.
Up to three milking goats for local supply of organic milk and meat and added value products (organic yogurt). Goats are supported by their own or shared fodder systems and the by-products of timber and tree operations (see below). Goat time-slots are included to coincide with those of pigs, allowing milk to also be used as an additional pig food.
Up to three cows for local supply of organic milk and meat and added value products.
Time slots occur every five years with the animals kept for two to three years, the second and third years in milk. Cattle are supported by shared fodder systems and the by-products of timber and tree operations (see below).
2. Food and plant production
All food elements contribute to the vegetable box scheme. Some of the following elements form components of stacked systems, occupying the same area at reduced planting rates and allowing for continuous harvesting.
Polytunnel and glass house
500 sq. ft. for intensive food production as part of the vegetable box scheme. Require regular (minimum twice daily) checks as regards to ventilation and watering systems and additional frost protection as required during six winter months.
Main growing bed
72 square metres of intensive organic vegetable production requiring irrigation and frost protection (fleece). Plants reared for sale to course attendees and visitors.
Approximately 60 square metres of intensive organic food production. A stacked system including root, surface, shrub and tree crops requiring regular maintenance through harvesting.
Approximately 200 intensively managed plants of a wide variety of species requiring attention for disease, pests and harvesting.
Hard fruit and nuts
Approximately 150 trees of a wide variety of species for food production. Plants are managed intensively through pruning, mulches and associated supporting species.
Herbs are included as part of stacked systems (edges and under trees) providing local supply of organic products, requiring routine management through harvesting.
Increased numbers of rabbits over the past fourteen years have posed a threat to crops and pasture. Control is implemented through the use of live traps. Traps require routine baiting and regular (daily) checking. Rabbits are a yield from the system.
Maintenance of habitat and bio-diversity
Although in the main, conservation activities are an adjunct of normal harvesting operations, certain habitats require routine interventions in order to maintain bio-diversity. One marsh which hosts globe flower (trollius europaeus), sundew (drosera), spotted orchid (dactylorhiza fuchsii) and bog asphodel (narthecium ossifragum) among other species, is subject to encroaching molinia grass (molinia caerulea); this is regularly cleared in order to preserve the habitat and related species (the material is utilised as livestock bedding). This is approximately one days work per year.
3. Forestry and timber operations.
The site contains a significant number of trees (over 1000 planted by the applicants) of a wide variety of species managed during the winter for an equally wide variety of uses including timber, energy, chip, mulch, fodder, soil improvement and conservation. Heavy summer and autumn prunings provide additional animal fodder. For fruit and nuts, see above. A variety of techniques are employed including routine high pruning (for high value, long term, fine timber) coppice (on a variety of rotations from one to twelve years) pollard (on similar rotations) hedge laying, live willow weaving and felling.
Surrounding land contains a variety of invasive species (Rhododendron ponticum, western hemlock, ragwort). The holding requires regular attention in order to remove invasive species. This is a legal requirement in some cases (eg. ragwort).
4. Permaculture Courses, visits, volunteers and apprenticeships
Both applicants are trained in Permaculture Design, one being a qualified diploma holder and widely recognised in this field (both contributed to the WWF funded Permaculture Design: The Teachers’ Handbook). The site provides regular Permaculture courses (introductory, intensive and specialist, such as horses). All teaching is carried out on the site which provides the educational materials and resources. On average 12 small, (up to 6 people), weekend courses per year and two main courses, (10-15 people) are provided each year, generally during the summer months. Small courses require an additional day of on site preparation. Large courses require three days on site preparation. Please see previous supporting documents for further details (particularly 1994 and 1998).
Accommodation for courses is a combination of local B&B and on-site camping for those without transport. Courses involving campers require round the clock supervision by the applicants in case of emergencies.
Due to its good reputation within the Permaculture Association and recognition at a national and international level, the site receives an average of twenty visits per year, generally during the summer months. Visits vary from two hours to half or full day for groups of up to seven at a time (though occasionally more have been accommodated by employing an additional tour guide). Visits in the form of educational guided tours are charged for.
For similar reasons, the site receives many requests to take volunteer workers. On average, volunteers are on-site (camping) for two weeks per year. They are often young and inexperienced and require supervision and round the clock residence of the applicants in case of emergencies.
For similar reasons, the applicants receive many requests to take apprentices. The national charity, the Permaculture Association (Britain) supports an apprenticeship scheme. In general, one apprenticeship is offered each year for one summer month. The apprentice is either resident on site (camping) or local B&B. Apprentices require supervision and if camping on site, round the clock residence of the applicants is required in case of emergencies
5. Horse livery and training
Please note attached copies of "Securing the future of farming families." (Leaflet no. 6. Farming and Rural Conservation Office. The Welsh Office.) and MAFF information ?
and the following, (from TAN6; our emphasis)
"Small farm-based or related operations
25. Small on-farm operations such as food and timber processing and food packing, together with services (eg workshop facilities, equipment hire and
maintenance) to other farms, sports and recreation services, and the production of non-food crops and renewable energy, should be encouraged."
(Horse livery and training. Continued.)
There are a maximum of two clients’ horses for training on site at any one time. Clients’ horses for training are permanently stabled while on site, in the timber stable block and trained within the round pen. Clients’ horses have individual values of up to £5000 and require 24 hour supervision for security and insurance reasons. One of the applicants is highly trained in Intelligent Horsemanship (one of only twenty four in the United Kingdom at present) and routinely retrains remedial or problem horses. Such horses can be extremely dangerous and require considerable expert attention.
As an adjunct to the horse training and as publicity, the applicants hold regular (annual) demonstrations of the training methods and techniques involved; this serves as valuable publicity for the holding. Demonstrations are half day, draw an audience of up to fifty people and require a further two days of on-site preparation.
Compost and worms
Animal manures are composted in large quantity in support of the food and plant production activities. Hot heaps are utilised requiring routine turning in order to aerate the material. Regular attention is needed in order to optimise the efficiency of the heap and encourage worm production.
We are firmly committed to this area and the holding and believe that we have demonstrated this over the past fourteen years. We consider that what we practice is morally and ecologically sound and has many things in common with the multiple yields and integrated communities of the original traditional farming in this area. Our aims and actions are in line with the ideals and commitments of the Rio Summit, Local Agenda 21 and sustainable development as described by the Welsh Assembly. Rural depopulation has placed severe strains on small communities over many decades and this application can be seen as a genuine opportunity to reverse that trend.
Many thanks for your time.
Lyn and Chris Dixon
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