Weekend of inspiration at Tyfu Pobl All Wales Gathering 2015

Tyfu Pobl All Wales GatheringThis year’s Tyfu Pobl All Wales Gathering was the biggest yet, with over 80 delegates from all over Wales and beyond converging on the Centre For Alternative Technology, near Macynlleth, for a weekend of learning, sharing and celebrating. You can read summaries of all the weekend’s workshops below.

Thank you to everyone who came and shared their time, knowledge, energy and enthusiasm.  By coming together we collectively make the movement stronger.  It’s clear that we community growers have a very important job to do in future years, if we keep supporting each other and inspiring more and more people to join us we are going to achieve some amazing things in our communities and as a nation. Diolch yn fawr!

The future?

Several areas of future work emerged throughout the weekend.  Over the next few months we will progress these and hope that all community growers in Wales will want to be involved.  It’s clear that together we are stronger and although every project is unique there are strong common elements that we can galvanise around.  Two of the strongest themes were:

What Community Growing Contributes to Wales Paper – a briefing paper for policy and decision makers. Making clear the relationship between Welsh Government objectives and how community growing projects can help them be achieved.

Social Return on Investment Research –we know how valuable community growing is to Wales but we need a clear evidence base of the social return on investment.  Being able to provide a pound-for-pound analysis of the benefits provided by community growing will make it easier to unlock funding, service provision opportunities and influence future policy.

We’ll start progressing these pieces of work over the summer months and hopefully further into the future.

Workshops

Actions Not Words, with Pam Warhurst

Inspirational talk and workshop from co-founder of Incredible Edible – Pam talked us through the history of Incredible Edible and its hometown.  By harnessing the enthusiasm of the community and having a can-do attitude the town has been transformed.  The clarity of the message has enabled it to spread quickly around the world, including Wales.  Pam called this the Incredible Spreadable effect!

Introduction to CAT renewable energy systems

Delegates learned about the different renewable energy options out there and about how we can prioritise their usage by weighing their efficiency, risk and cost. Things are often not what they seem when it comes to effective renewable energy options! Low carbon lifestyles and passive solar energy proved to be the most sensible options.

Workshop – Tour of CAT and its organic gardens with CAT head gardener

The Centre For Alternative Technology head gardener of 35 years Roger led a fascinating and entertaining of CAT’s beautiful site.  The soil Roger grows in looks like not very much would want to grow in it, so delegates were left feeling if you can grow at CAT you can grow anywhere.  Roger’s knowledge and experience was tapped into with lots of discussion on use of lime and other specific questions.

The rise of community woodlands in Wales, with James Kendall from Llais y Goedwig

Great talk from James on Llais y Goedwig and the things they’ve found successful in their development – James recommended several funding options for people interested in getting involved in forestry, including FOFF who give grants for chainsaw and forest school courses.

Food Values with Bec Sanderson from PIRC

Bec Sanderson from Public Interest Research Centre gave a presentation of her research carried out for food values project and introduced a proposal for a food manifesto for Wales which will promote the food values we want in the Welsh food system.

Cwm Harry and Cultivate virtual tour, with Gary Mitchell from Cultivate

Gary Mitchell presented the rich and diverse work of Cultivate, including waste reduction, food waste processing, algae production, CSAs, sustainable housing, veg boxes and community gardening.

Green Care with Ian Egginton-Metters, FCFCG assistant-CEO and Care Farm UK Trustee

Ian outlined the state of play of Green Care in the UK and gave details of the Care Farming Network in Wales, as well as further information and examples of research conducted by Growing Health, championing eco-therapy as an alternative.

How to attract pollinators into your garden, with Veronika Brannovic

Veronika gave an overview of her work with Gwent Wildlife Trust and practical advice about how to attract pollinators into gardens.  Simple measures such as providing water for bees and other wildlife can make a huge difference when trying to encourage biodiversity on your growing project.

Creative Communities, with Dafydd Davies Hughes

Dafydd presented the story of Felin Uchaf, a social enterprise on the Llyn Peninsula, and how they engage and sustain volunteers and the community in the creation of eco-projects and green buildings. We can safely say many delegates were wowed by Dafydd and his project, and took home what change a small group of people with a common aim can achieve. Delegates learnt how to bring people together successfully and how to get people on side to make a project a success.

Seed saving, with Susan Stickland from Get Growing

Susan Stickland gave a thorough overview of seed saving, why you should do it and what the easiest seeds to save are. Why? Because it’s cheaper than buying, you’re recycling, you can access rare and heritage seed varieties. Beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, rocket, land cress and radish – all easy varieties to save!

35 years of the FCFCG – our history and our future

‘The Fed’ celebrates its 35th birthday this year, and assistant CEO Ian Egginton-Metters has been there almost from the start! Ian gave a presentation on how the FCFCG got started and has changed over the years, as well as what the future holds for us.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act Policy Session, with Emma Williams, FCFCG

Emma Williams led this session in breaking down the Welsh Government’s new Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and what it means for community growers. In short, it’s very good news for community growers as WFG act’s goals, like creating a healthier, more resilient Wales and a Wales of cohesive communities, are exactly what community growing achieves! The session involved discussion on what community growing does and how it fits in to supporting the Act, and how we can demonstrate this to Welsh Government.

Acquiring land for community growing, with CLAS Cymru and One Planet Council

Lucie from CLAS Cymru gave interesting examples of how groups who’ve struggled with planning permission and succeeded with CLAS help – specifically a group in South Wales whose appeal for ponds was accepted on the grounds of them being essential to sustain productive agricultural use. Jodie highlighted how Monmouthshire Council have come on board with the Incredible Edible movement, by producing a license agreement for groups. There are similar challenges for individuals and groups looking to develop sustainable housing sites through OP development and for groups looking for land for community growing.

Community Supported Agriculture in Wales

FCFCG’s Rupert Dunn led this workshop on CSA in Wales and the importance of consumers sharing the risk with producers to create a better, fairer and more collaborative food system, “we need to capture people’s imagination with the possibility of producing food through connecting with the land, each other and providing sustainable livelihoods in a Welsh context.”

Nikki Giles from Flintshare CSA fed back on the FCFCG commissioned CSA scoping study and the strong appetite for more CSAs in Wales, and the need to keep momentum going and to create a CSA support programme in Wales.

Foraging and wild food walk with Bruce and Sara Stanley

This was a very entertaining and informative session in the bountiful grounds of CAT. Bruce and Sara showed delegates the amount and variety of wild plants that can eat, and talked through their medicinal effects or how they can be used to flavour food. Bruce and Sara explained dandelion root’s use for the increased production of bile for better digestion, using plantain as an anti-inflammatory inside and out, and wood avens being used as a chilli-like flavouring!

Achieving change, with Pat Gregory

Pat Gregory led a quick group discussion to ascertain current challenges groups are facing – appeared that most groups are struggling with interpersonal skills, effective communication, conflict resolution, defining a common vision and identifying clear roles. Pat produced the attached notes from the session for delegates.

Mushrooms for the masses, with Nicki Wilkinson

This workshop saw Nicki Wilkinson from Mushrooms for the Masses talking us through the wonderful world of mushrooms and how we can all get growing our own oysters and shitakes easily and cheaply. Nicki explained the process and gave delegates a hands-on demonstration of preparing a log for the spores. Everyone went away with a mushroom growing kit of their own to take away and have a go at growing mushrooms themselves. ­­­

Getting a better deal for organic growers with Tony Little from Organic Centre Wales

Tony gave an overview of the next Rural Development Plan priorities.  Delegates identified the  key activities of community growing groups and Tony mapped those to current Welsh Government strategies such as the Community Grown Food Action Plan.  The session provoked lively discussion and ideas for the future.

Environment funding changes in Wales with Katie Trent, FCFCG Funding and Enterprise Officer

This session saw Katie go over the Welsh Government’s recently launched environmental funding streams for core work and small and large scale project work. Katie broke down the different streams and went into the detail of what Welsh Government will be looking for in project applications in alignment with Miniserial and Wellbeing of Future Generations Act goals.

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