The second Stroud Permaculture Course is underway, and days out are always the greatest fun. The course is well lead by Sarah Pugh and attracts really interesting people, who all come with a wealth of varied experience.

The first visit was locally around Stroud. Learning about how a town size forest garden looks, what’s a medlar and why grow Amelanchiers.

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Up the Slad Valley for Alena’s artful flower and herb garden. Community growing at the Stroud Slad Farm/Farm Garden Project. Amazement at how much ‘stuff and abundance’ can grow in a polytunnel, how very much humans can manipulate growing conditions. How much does a huge polytunnel cost and what are crop bars for?

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Across the Vatch to the Slad side, and finding a hidden ecohouse embraced by the arms of a burgeoning foresty garden in the making. Slopes, views, trees all around.

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Off to the next valley and Hawkwood, an adult education centre and a hub of things growing. Home to Stroud Community Agriculture – more gawping at the size of the polytunnels and the crops inside. Chicory growing for us as a green manure and a packing shed speaking of belonging, where members help themselves to their weekly share of the harvest.

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A woodsmokey fire, courtesy of the Building Skills Action Group (part of Transition Stroud) in their wonderful barn, to sit round for a yummy shared picnic lunch. Complete with courgette buns and convivial conversation.

Finally, up and over across Edge to Brookthorpe to Days Cottage. Helen’s family have  farmed orchards there since the 1600s and the whole place bursts with a renewal of the old ways. They started out growing veg, but soon realized the value of the ancient orchards around them. Now they are juice and cider makers of distinction, with immense expertise which came across with boundless enthusiasm.

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Dave took us around the Forest Garden they have planted and behold, another polytunnel, this one dripping with grapes.

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