1. School Farm gardening course

2. Velwell Orchard News

3. The Fertiliser Factory

4. Pizza!

1. School Farm gardening course

Jenny from School Farm sent me this:

“We’re running a Level 1 Organic Vegetable Gardening course at School Farm CSA, starting this September and running until June next year. It’s almost entirely practical and participants will learn about everything to do with growing, from sowing seeds to harvesting.  It’s free for 18 and under, and those on ESA and JSA. It’s an ideal course for those looking to gain a qualification, get back into work, or who just want to grow their own veg.”

If anyone wants more info please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Jenny.

2. Velwell Orchard News

The rain has been falling, gently feeding the soil and watering the plants. I love the summer rain when it’s vertical, I just don’t like it horizontal! I think when you work on the land you develop a different opinion of weather. It’s difficult to see a rainy day in summer as “bad weather” when you know your crops depend upon it.

There are always jobs to do in the polytunnel on wet days, things to repair… And lots of tea to drink and blogs to update.

The toilet is coming on really well now, just about to put the window sills and frames in… Daragh and Meghann donated a brand new double glazed window unit which John expertly cut in to two!

Building with mud and straw and wood and stone is always such a joy. Especially when there are home grown peaches fried in butter with cream and tea to keep the workers happy!

Laying cob blocks

To make space for the new loo the bees were moved to a lovely site at Buckland in the Moor where they have been really busy, if a little grumpy. Victoria and Arum (collectively known as Victorium) have been looking after them and, along with Kate, they’ve managed to get lots of honey. The are only so many jars so come and get them while they’re hot!

The biodynamic course is getting booked up fast now so if you want a place, book now. More info on the courses and events page. You’ll also find updated information on the autumn gathering for the local biodynamic group and a workshop and talk with Mark Moodie.

Anthony and I have also been busy creating a new Aikido website. Click here to have a look.

3. Fertiliser factory

I thought it might be worth sharing a few things about compost toilets seeing as this seems to be the focus of our activities here at Velwell Orchard this summer.

Far from being new fangled inventions, compost toilets have been around since nearly the beginning of time, or at least since Adam began eating and felt the call of nature. God had quite neglected to invent the flush toilet, despite having had the foresight to create practically everything else under the Sun.

Therefore Adam was left with little choice but to find a secluded location and to relieve himself of his burden.

A year later or so, Adam came upon the spot whilst out jogging his dog, and was much surprised to see that an beautiful apple tree now grew there, festooned with fruits of all colours, and complete with a serpent hanging  from a branch. Adam rejoiced happily and thenceforth merrily set to creating the garden of Eden.

What Adam had discovered was that all of the waste products from our bodies are actually valuable fertilisers for plants. The air we breath out is rich in carbon dioxide which plants use during photosynthesis. In turn they supply us with the oxygen we need to breathe.

Our urine contains nitrogen, phosphorus and pottassium (NPK) in much the same ratios as found in bags of chemical fertilisers. These are the three main nutrients that plants need to grow.

And in the solid waste from our bodies is contained many of the important trace elements that plants need as well as bulky organic matter that helps to improve soil texture and structure.

This is just one example of the symbiotic relationship that can emerge between animals and plants when the correct balance is realised upon a given area of land. When this is achieved, a real garden of Eden can be created where diversity, complexity, beauty and harmony are ever increasing and where the relationship between human beings and the land becomes mutually beneficial. This was what Steiner was talking about when he spoke of the farm as being an individuality.

The exploitation of the land through our farming practices is wholly unsustainable but it is inevitable unless we return the nutrients that we take out of the soil. Compost toilets offer one solution that tackles multiple issues. Why do we think it is normal to take the valuable fertilisers that come out of our bodies, mix them with good quality drinking water, and turn it into a stinking mess that requires vast amounts of money and energy to sort out?

We’ll be separating out the urine for use to feed a comfrey patch. The comfrey will then be used for mulching and composting. The poo will be rotted down into compost and used around our fruit bushes and trees.

If you want to learn more about how to build a compost loo, come on up to Velwell Orchard and get stuck in!

Or maybe you’d prefer to wait until we’ve finished and then come and make a deposit in the knowledge that you are helping to build the fertility of our little garden of Eden.

There is much more to be learned about the value of human manure in “The Humanure Handbook” available online here.

4. Pizza!

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention, Kate is going to do a trial run with gluten free pizza bases next Monday 24th of August. So if you like pizza from a bread oven be here at 1pm sharp. Bring some toppings and an empty stomach.