Most months I go up to Dyfed permaculture Farm Trust to help with their workday. The trust owns a 20 acre smallholding in a small village just outside Drefach Felindre. Whilst their tenants Phil and Michelle manage the fields, traditional wild flower rich hay meadows and a large vegetable garden, and the allotments are rented out, the Trust is responsible for the infrastructure and for maintaining the planted areas round the barn. You can read more about the Trust, Permaculture, and the scything courses Phil and Michelle run here.
Since one of the aims is to demonstrate sustainable living on previous workdays we have worked on the water supply which is pumped from a spring by ram pump to tanks in and near the barn, then gravity fed to the cabin where Phil and Michelle live with their children Eva and Fergus, as well as to the fields where they graze a couple of cows, some goats and a small flock of sheep. Other days we have painted the barn, erected the yurt which is rented out for meetings and events, weeded the gardens, repaired the compost toilets, maintained fences and laid hedges.
The most recent day was spent felling laburnum trees beside the track which runs through the holding. The shade from these trees was preventing grass growing on the track which was making it muddy. Whilst there is only occasional vehicle traffic through here to the old farmyard which is separately owned and has another vehicle route in, it gets a lot of foot traffic as it is the access to some of the fields where the animals graze and Phil keeps his bees. We did a stretch a year or so ago and the track then recovered well and the trees have begun to re-grow. In line with the sustainability aim we work with hand tools so Phil, Michelle and I set to work with axes to fell the trees whilst the others, who did not feel competent to use big axes, sneded (dismembered) them and sorted the wood into piles for different uses. Laburnum is a very hard wood so when, by lunchtime, we had still got several stems to fell, we were not sure that the job would be finished in the day. But fuelled by our usual excellent ‘bring and share’ feast we set to again and got the job finished before dusk.