Monthly Archives: December 2011

December Newsletter

Welcome to Transition Tavistock’s Newsletter December 2011




1.  Green Drinks – come and have a natter each month!

January Green Drinks – come and join our New Year Green Drinks on Tuesday 10th January (19:30 till 21:30) at the Market Inn, corner of Whitchurch Road and Pixons Lane in Tavistock.

2.  AGM

Early warning of the Transition Tavistock AGM: this will take place on Thursday 9th February 2012 from 7.00 pm at the Parish Rooms.  A very short AGM will be followed by a film or films, a talk, a discussion or a combination of those – more details next month!  Only paid-up members will be allowed to vote at the AGM – membership costs just £1 (although larger donations are of course welcome) and you can join on the evening.  If anyone would like to stand for the committee please let our co-ordinator Chris Simpson know on 01822 614917.  We will be looking for at least one new committee member.

3.  Christmas Tree Festival

We were thrilled that our efforts to make wondrously recycled Christmas decorations worked so well and we have received many comments that the tree looked absolutely splendid.  Did you spot the different materials we used to make the decorations? They included Actimel yogurt drink containers, foil takeaway containers and their lids, used cereal packets, wrapping paper, sweet shop ribbon, medicine wrappers, silver foil, milk bottle tops and beer tops to name but a few!  Our star was knitted by Rosie Yells from Wonnacott Farm’s own organic sheep’s wool. We’d also particularly like to thank the local resident who loaned us her nativity scene knitted from leftover and recycled wool.  We’re looking forward to creating an even better tree next year!  Below you can see Transition member Ian Daniels pedalling to top up the battery for the lights.

4.  Local Food by Pammy Riggs

Treading lightly on the earth is sometimes really difficult when you just want to stamp your feet in frustration! World leaders are, at this moment (December 2011), meeting to attempt to put together a strategy designed to help to combat the problems that appear to be exacerbating climate change, they are not actually coming to any positive conclusions fast. Meanwhile…… back at the homestead, some people with their feet placed firmly on the ground are doing the very best they can, with the limited power they have, and within the rules and framework governing the 21st Century food culture of over-packaging, ‘use by’, ‘best before’ and other labelling laws  (or they may not trade at all) to bring nutritious and health-giving food to their locality, thereby making a positive and voluntary contribution to the very problems being discussed ever so far away by ‘the powers that be’.

It takes two sides to make this happen effectively, the grower, producer, processor working with raw materials to produce something saleable and present those goods in the marketplace, and the customer, consumer, patron, punter, what ever you like to call the ones who are willing to part with money for said goods, thus completing the cycle.

Thank you Tavistock for being home to wonderful people who recognise the value of the small producer with unique artisan goods, and time after time return to support them at the Farmer’s Market helping to turn the wheels of this cycle.

Without you this little Providence Farm would not be……

·         supporting rare breeds of cattle, pigs and ducks and their gene pool.

·         making a contribution towards elevating the standards of animal welfare in life and the inevitable deaths we omnivores demand.

·         maintaining the biodiversity of the wild bird population in the area, which in turn acts as pest control in the garden as well as entertainment.

·         creating wild life habitat for butterflies and the insect life that supports the structure beneath the larger fauna.

·         growing woodland and hedgerows for more wildlife to thrive in and as a carbon neutral fuel source

…….as a knock on effect of  providing good healthy nutritious food for you and your families. Hopefully this mutually supportive form of trading will soon be recognised more widely for its world wide contribution to modern climate change problems as well as its local benefits.

Pammy Riggs, Providence Farm (http://www.providencefarm.co.uk/) on 01409 254 421 (Pammy.riggs@tiscali.co.uk).

5. Free Loft and Wall Insulation

This is from Robert Sekula at West Devon Borough Council

Subject: Free loft/wall insulation through EDF – checks out!

In case any of you don’t yet have decent loft (or wall) insulation, or you know of friends who haven’t then this might be of interest.

I had a survey done by Mark Group (working on behalf of EDF) yesterday and will be getting free loft insulation as a result.

Apparently EDF are playing catch up on installations and have to hit a certain number to meet a target/get credits (?) – anyway if you pass their criteria (based on type of house, rather than income/benefits/age like criteria like usual) then its a one off chance for free installation.


6.  Open House Update

Have you reduced your bills by conserving energy or generating it from a renewable source? Yes? Then your community needs you!

Transition Tavistock is teaming up with the Tamar Valley AONB(1)  and the Cordiale Project(2) to run an Open Homes event on a wider scale: ‘Energy Savers at Home’.

The idea is that the public can visit homeowners to see what they have done, talk to an impartial owner about the costs and benefits, and consider how measures might work in their own homes.

The dates are likely to be Sunday 12th February 2012 for Tavistock and villages, with a follow-up covering the greater Tamar Valley on Saturday 10th March 2012. The latter will include an exhibition at the Tamar Valley AONB Visitor Centre in Drakewalls.

Open home events are attended by thousands of people every year in areas like Bristol, Crediton and Stroud. Experience has shown that they lead to action. As many as 83% of visitors are responding, taking practical steps to improve energy efficiency in their own homes. The events are also a stimulus for the local ‘green economy’ of traders and installers.

If you have done anything on the list below, we would love to hear from you. We’re interested in homes new and old, small, medium or large. Please give either Kate or Simon a call or email.

With very best wishes

Kate Royston                                                                     Simon Bates

Transition Tavistock                                                        Cordiale Project Officer

kate.royston@robbeesmole.com                          sbates@tamarvalley.org.uk

07969-569444                                                                     07792-484049

We’re interested in:

Energy conservation measures for the building:

·         Draught proofing and exclusion

·         Insulation including

o    Lofts and roofs

o    Walls – internal or external

o    Windows & glazing (double, triple, secondary)

·         Ventilation and heat recovery

·         Efficient heating & hot water systems

o        Boilers, thermostats, controls

·         Design for solar gain, thermal mass, daylight

Energy reduction measures by the occupants:

·         Behaviour change & energy management

o        Switching it off

o        Energy monitors & measurement

o        Dressing for the season!

·         Low energy bulbs and lighting

·         Efficient kitchen and household appliances

·         Any other electricity saving devices and innovations!

Renewable energy generation

·         Electricity

o      ‘Green’ energy  suppliers

o      Hydro-power

o      Solar PV

o      Wind turbines

·         Combined heat and power

·         Space and water heating

o    Wood stoves and boilers

o    Solar thermal – hot water

o    Air & ground source heat pumps

1. Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty                             2. Cordiale is a European project managed by the Tamar Valley AONB (see http://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/projects/cordiale/)

7.  Community Supported Organic Potato Project and Tregillis Farm

Tregillis Farm, 3 miles south of Launceston, is a beef and sheep farm that needs to think about the future.  It used to be a mixed farm, dairy and all, in times gone by, but for reasons of economy it has streamlined along with most others.  However, the absolute need for local food is on the horizon and so Tregillis is taking steps to become a mixed farm once more: poultry, vegetables and fruit are being re-introduced.

This year saw the first of the ‘community supported’ food production ideas by way of potatoes.  ‘The Potato Project’ set out to meet the following objectives:

o    to try and grow a staple, organically, in bulk and at low cost

o    take on new (and old) varieties and see which you prefer, which grows better on the farm?

o    collaborate with other people to help with sowing, weeding and harvesting

o    fair shares in the harvest, sharing the seed cost, sharing the risk

o    linking in with a farm, linking yourself with your food

Everyone involved must be delighted with the up-take by people wishing to be involved – there were 14 ‘shares’ sold and the cost of 0.15 tons of seed potato purchased was shared.


Harvesting                                                       Monster potato!

o    Tregillis is a biodynamic farm and one BD method of blight prevention is to dip the tubers into ‘cowpat pit preparation’ before sowing.  The team readily did this – we did half and half to see if there was a marked difference …

o    It was astounding to see what effect on a field a group of people had – the field became buzzing!  The rest of the field was down to an arable crop of triticale and peas.  The potato plants went along the headland.  This is one way that farmsteads produced their staple food in the past – planting a few rows of potato, turnip or swede on the headland of corn.

o    The potato seed was lovingly sown, and I used a potato ridger (for the first time) to ridge-up and bury the seed – this could have been more successful – our tractor, which is an old one, was wider than the implement was designed for.  Nonetheless, potatoes got ridged as best as I could (including some mattock work).  The next challenge was the weather.  It actually did not rain very much in April and germination was slow.  On top of this, some germination did not happen at all!  due to harsh temperatures in February in the storage warehouse.  This affected about 1/8th of the crop.

o    The dry weather was a set-back for the weeds too!  I took the decision that weeding wasn’t needed in July but this could have been because of other work pressures, because really, weeding is always a good idea.  And the smaller the weeds the easier it is to weed.  So we’ll weed next time!

o    Harvest time saw another special show of hands and as much enthusiasm for the project was seen now as at the beginning. It was wonderful – over 350kg of potatoes were dug out and equally shared out to all.  They were of good quality, which was a relief because the yield was lower than could have been.  The varieties were Valor, Ambo and Lady Balfour.

o    There appeared to be no difference between ‘dipped’ and ‘undipped’ seed – I suppose this was because of the close proximity.  Difference was seen in the varieties however, such as Valor having the strongest foliage that was green for the longest time.  One action we took to avoiding blight was to place a horse radish plant at each corner of the plot/field.  This we did but our badger (I think) population liked the idea as a tasty treat and each plant was dug up, and disappeared soon after.

Anyway, at the end of the day, Tregillis Farm had a tonic from all the land workers who came, and the field soaked up the enthusiasm and energy. It produced, against all the conditions, some fine potatoes, enough for everyone to have a good share of the harvest, get digging in the soil, and save money at the same time.

We now wonder if anyone would like to do a potato project again next year?  on a bigger scale perhaps? The future of our food is to reduce food miles and use more sustainable methods. The success of this potato project really highlights that people are ready to take this on, and have the commitment to make it work.  The next step is to increase the yield of food per visit, or develop a wider variety of veg to take away.  Many options are there for the coming years and comments and ideas are most welcome.

Special thanks to Pammy Riggs of Providence Farm for coming up with the whole idea!

Laura and Jim Wallwork (laura@tregillis.co.uk)

Tregillis Farm

Tregillis Farm, as mentioned above, is situated 3 miles South of Launceston. It is a mixed farm that is in Demeter conversion and has been organic for over 30 years.

One premise of biodynamic food is the link with people and their food, and on this we hope to continue building food-links with our community.

We supply animal feed, meat boxes, and we are increasing the amount of veg and fruit production in the coming years. 

Sustainable methods and high environmental standards are always in our work.  If you’d like to contact us our email is laura@tregillis.co.uk

8. Car sharing schemes

We were recently invited to attend a meeting to discuss the opportunities for a car sharing scheme in Tavistock. Jeremy Farr introduced us to two organisations who could support this locally. E-cocars.com (http://www.e-cocars.com/) and Moorcar (http://www.moorcar.co.uk/). Moorcar can help small communities or groups of individuals set up their own car sharing scheme with the help of Moorcar.

More on this next month.

9. Community Design Workshop

The community design workshop held in Tavistock to enable members of the community to provide ideas for the design of the new development areas off Callington Road and Plymouth Road was well attended and very interesting. The consultants running the process and West Devon Borough Council received many ideas from us. We look forward to their inclusion in the design brief and into the eventual developments!  The design brief process continues to develop through January and February. We’ll provide an update next month.

10.  Additional ‘Snippets’ (from Mike Dennis)

According to Sir Graham Watson MEP, leader of the European Lib Dem and Reform party, at the end of November, the European Investment Bank announced a long term low interest loan of one hundred and fifty million pounds to the Thanet Offshore Wind farm which, with 100 turbines, will be the world’s largest.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a recent publication has reported that the risk from extreme weather events due to climate change is likely to increase.

The International Energy Agency has announced that it will not be possible to stop global temperatures rising 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels without a rapid decision to reverse the growth of the current fossil fuel infrastructure.

The focus of this year’s national Climate Justice March on 2nd December was the 7:50 percent injustice divide – where 7 percent of the world’s population produce 50 percent of the world’s emissions and 7 percent of the world’s emissions are produced by 50 percent of the world’s population.

11. Forthcoming Dates

January 2012

Green Drinks                                                                      Tues Jan 10th

Food & Energy Group                                    Date to be confirmed

February 2012

Transition Tavistock AGM incl.                                 Thurs Feb 9th

short film / speakers on Food & Energy

Open House energy event

In Tavistock & Area                                                        Sun Feb 12th

Green Drinks                                                                      Tues Feb 14th

March 2012

Open House energy event & exhibition

Tamar Valley & Tavistock                                            Sat Mar 10th

Green Drinks                                                                      Tues Mar 13th

Tel: 01822-618715

c/o Westden, 20 Plymouth Road,Tavistock , PL19 8AY