The predominantly oak woodlands stand on the west- and north-facing slopes. We
have been processing the trees that have fallen in the woods and hedges,
including a huge oak by the stream and a large dead oak that was considered
too dangerous to leaving standing. The new planting next to the woodland has
grown well, with minimal rabbit and deer damage.
We continue to redesign and improve the communal gardens. They are now
consolidated into an area near the communal kitchen. We also have our long
Hugel beds that provided an excellent crop of courgettes and squashes for the
community. We have experimented with dehydrating some of the harvest ,
enabling us to still be eating courgettes through the winter. Other vegetables
that are preserved for the winter included some our our home-grown tomatoes
(dehydrated and preserved in oils), squashes, onions and garlic. We continue
to experiment with growing varieties and species to fit the site and our needs
as a community.
In 2013 we built our first indoor growing space. We now have a 30 foot x 14
foot ‘Polypod’. The pod is a combinationof local crafts innovation built with
a locally sourced timber frame that was the inspiration of local craftsman
Rowan Stickland. The design used Permaculture principles and experimentation
in both its concept and development. This space gives much-needed additional
indoor growing capacity and helps feed the community.
In 2015 we redesigned the Mandala beds. These beds had been in use for over 6
years and we felt it was time for a total redesign. We used the pigs to
convert the area to bare ground, made a base map including contours of the
land, and then did a permaculture design of the landscaping and planting of
the new area. In 2016 this area was very productive and a colourful welcome
to visitors as they arrived on site. In 2017 three households took on a
section each growing a range of crops for their kitchens.
The 2 Dartmoor ponies continue to provide diversity to the grazing pattern
and, in tandem with the sheep that visit each year, provide large amounts of
manure for the growing areas.
The younger pony has now been trained to Long Rein – the basis of pulling a
cart, woodland extraction equipment and agricultural machinery should it be
The older pony contracted laminitis so grazing management systems have been
explored and adapted. A boundary grazing system has been introduced. It
reduces hedgerow encroachment and enables the ponies’ weight to be managed by
reducing the amount of grass available.
A male Gypsy Cob has been introduced to balance the mini-herd dynamic. He is
already trained on the Long Rein and will provide an example to follow for the
other horse, as well as eating the majority of the grazing area.
Natural Horsemanship workshops are run occassionally as well as specialist
days, e.g. on the subject of Laminitis. There is a Pony Blog on this website,
which aims to share some of the holistic training methods we are using to lead
the ponies into land-based work.
Landmatters has several groups of different varieties of laying hens. Various
methods are employed for housing the birds, including a chicken tractor,
moveable pens and a chicken house.
Since the spring 2012 we have had a couple of top bar hives (built at LM) in
one of the fields in an area of new coppice. It is off the beaten track of the
main community but the bees are often seen buzzing about in the veggie gardens
and on the land. Some years they get wiped out by wasp invasion, but the
hives remain available for passing swarms.
Subsistence goods and services
We are self-sufficient in electricity generated through renewable energy, in
water (rainwater and borehole water) and shelter. The bulk of our firewood
needs are met through the sustainable management of our own woodland and
hedgerows. Food is grown in communal and individual growing areas, aided by
improved composting, rainwater collection and pumping systems. Social goods
such as shared transport, shared childcare and community activities are also
We continue to run our holding completely off-grid using wind generators and
photo-voltaic panels to produce our electricity. Having been accepted as a
venue for Transition Town Totnes’ Transition Streets programme, we have 15
photo-voltaic panels on the roof of the barn, doubling our overall electricity
generation. This additional capacity has allowed us to run a number of basic
technologies, such as a food dehydrator to preserve food grown on the land. We
have also been able to offer more reliable electricity provision for volunteers
and course participants, and to introduce a more varied teaching provision
through the use of electronic multimedia outputs.
We use a hand pump to collect our drinking water from a borehole, and harvest
rainwater from our structures for washing, irrigation and the animals.