Visit to Caenhill Countryside Centre

On Wednesday 25th April a group from Sustainable Devizes visited Caenhill Countryside Centre and were kindly shown round by Chris & Helie Franklin, plus a kid called Lucky and a lamb called Snowy - both born during the cold snap in March.

Lucky & Snowy  Group from Sustainable Devizes at Caenhill Countryside Centre

Based at the farm where Chris grew up the Caenhill Countryside Centre is now bringing agriculture and horticulture to children and young people by providing courses and hands on experiences. In particular they are able to provide an engaging environment for those who have struggled within a more academic institution. There is however much that we could all learn from what is going on there...  

Two things that struck me were:

a) How such a wide range of animals were living together peacefully. In the pen with the young lambs there were chickens, cats and turkeys, whilst a line of geese wandered about the barn. All the animals there seemed really calm and at ease living with each other.  This seems contrary to the narrative of 'survival of the fittest' and competition. Clearly they do not need to compete as their needs are being met.

b) Chris and Helie run the centre on a charitable basis with a very low budget and this directly leads to a very sustainable approach to running it. Clearly nothing is wasted and 'waste' from other people is given a new lease of life there. As one example a newly erected section of post and rail fence was constructed from the remains of a fence that another farmer had removed. This wood was going to be burned, but with time and effort from volunteers it is once again serving a useful purpose. In economic terms the effort to salvage the fencing didn't make sense to the original farmer, however once the cost of labour is removed the true value of the material was evident.



Musings on the 'Beast from the East'

The cold and snowy weather that hit at the beginning of March was a poignant reminder of the challenges that Sustainable Devizes are trying to tackle, and of the resilience that comes from people in a community helping each other out.


Photo from Wiltshire Police Twitter feed

 We have all seen winter weather before and this wasn’t so extraordinary. However to those concerned about climate change the causes of this particular event are interesting. For some days beforehand climate scientists had been posting on social media about the extraordinarily high temperatures in the Arctic. The temperature at the North Pole was above 0°C on 25th February.

This video explains a little of how warming in the Arctic can cause cold air to move to lower latitudes.

 Essentially the reduced temperature difference between the Arctic and mid latitudes gives less energy to the jet-stream, which then slows down and begins to meander more. These meanderings push lobes of cold air further south than normal and allow lobes of warm air to push further north than normal. This is likely to get more frequent and severe as the Arctic ice dissapears.

 Regardless of the cause the temporary paralysis of our transport systems highlights just how dependent we are on this for our everyday lives. Within two days farmers were having to throw away fresh milk, whilst stocks in shops were exhausted. For such a short while this is a minor inconvenience to most of us – perhaps less so to the farmers who have lost valuable income? However it gives cause to ponder how we would cope if supplies of fossil fuels were to be suddenly disrupted for a long period.

 What was heartening is the way in which the community pulled together in this difficult time. From farmers helping to clear roads, to 4x4 owners offering to take healthcare workers to hospitals, to neighbours offering to collect shopping for those not able to get out. This points the way to how we may be able to transition to a future where fossil fuels are not widely available, or are made hugely more expensive as efforts to tackle climate change become more serious. Perhaps such community spirit could be harnessed towards transitioning away from fossil fuel dependence, thus reducing the future shock?



Meeting with MP Post Brexit

Since its inception as a Transition Town group, members of Sustainable Devizes have been meeting our local leaders and others of influence.

In July 2016 a small delegation met Devizes MP Claire Perry to introduce ourselves and quiz her views post-Brexit.  Did she agree with Our Five Ambitions? What was she prepared to do to help us become less reliant on fossil fuel?

Meeting MP 9 Jul 2016 web

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