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Stroud Farm Hack News 1/9/15

A few things to report.

  1. Decided not to hold a gathering this Sunday. This because the weather seems to have taken a turn for the worse, and I'm now rather busy renovating my house. So probably the end of this format for now. Thank you to all those that came to the sessions, and to those that didn't, what on earth were you waiting for? Only joking, sort of. For anyone that didn't see (probably everyone) it there's a write up I did before our very expansive last session at the bottom of the wiki.

  2. I had a meeting with Stuart, the manager at Gables Farm (Ruskin Mill) a few weeks ago. He told me that it would definitely be possible for us to get access to the fabrication workshop at the farm, which has a forge and welder, workbenches, and possibly other things I'm not aware of. He also invited me to attend their weekly Monday meetings, as he is keen for more people from outside, such as us, to get involved in the farm. I hope to attend next week, and will find out if it's OK for others to come in future (or Stuart, if you're reading this, please let me know). Therefore, now that there is a real opportunity for things to be made, what do you want to make?

  3. I'll be attending a session on Thursday organised by people from the Centre for Agroecology and Water Research at Coventry Uni discussing potential funding avenues for Farm Hack. Seems like it'll be possible, will let you know more once I know.

  4. There will be a Farm Hack session near London on 26th September 2015, at Forty Hall Farm, Enfield. See here for more details:

  5. I recently found out about Practical Farm Ideas magazine ( Haven't seen a copy so can't say what scale they're focussing on, and their information isn't open source (yet!) but seems like there might be some good stuff on there.

  6. Some of you will have seen this on the Stroud permaculture list already, but for the benefit of those who haven't, this is very relevant to what we have discussed:

Building Skills Action Group Workshops September 2015

Please note: Places are limited and must be pre-booked….these are taster events designed to find out what existing members as well as newcomers would like BSAG to offer:

Haybarn Events (£5 to book, payable in advance)

Tool Sharpening, Use and Maintenance

Saturday 5th & 12th Sept 1.30-4pm with Peter Simon First session will focus on Chisels and Blade Tools (Bring your own or sharpen ours). Saw sharpening and other tools are options for the 12th.

Saturday 26th September with Brian Williamson 10.30am-1.00pm Tools sharpened by Brian 1.30- 4pm DIY Tool sharpening, bring your own

Also Introduction to Greenwooding Sunday 27 Sept 10am-4pm (£5 to book a place and £5 min. donations on the day) This is an all day event at The Woodyard nr Tetbury, with Brian Williamson of West Country Coppice. Bring Lunch/food to share. Car share/transport will be arranged ; Basic skills and tool use, along with spatula and tent-peg making.

Forthcoming events (Everyone has a project): Dates t.b.c

BSAG DIY Roadshow no. 2

Upcycling at the Haybarn

For more information or to book your place contact:

Shawn Jarrett by email or phone: mob. 0789 0098144 Tel. 01453 757645

BSAG is supported by Transition Stroud and Hawkwood College

  • Finally, likewise relevant to Farm Hack is this farm tour being organised by RegenAg. I will be going. Lots of interesting ideas to be found there, it would appear.

Farm Hack Stroud Report

After attending the Farm Hack launch at Ruskin Mill earlier this year, myself and Zhenya decided to start a regular local event in Stroud. Because it was unclear to us what direction FH would take locally, we decided to set up a relaxed social space as a way of inviting people's ideas on the subject. As we're not aware of other local groups forming, and there was a huge amount of interest in the FH launch, we thought it might be useful for people to learn how we've gone about it.

We were able to get use of a room and facilities (including the lawn) at Hawkwood College on a Sunday evening in exchange for donations, and so far have held 2 monthly sessions there, from 5pm – 8.30pm, which seems like a good time, with a food-sharing dinner in the middle of it. Attendance was good the first time, not so good the second time, but inadequate promotion and a clash with a permaculture event was likely to blame for that.

We emailed round local food-related networks and did some flyering at the farmers' market. More flyering and getting it out on newsletters such as that of Transition (and this one!) is probably needed. However despite this I feel we're already starting to get somewhere; even with small numbers we covered a lot of ground, and in some ways the discussion was more focussed.

So far we've been looking at what people would like to produce. Ergonomic hand tools came back as one major theme – we discussed having an event where people brought their favourite tools for others to try, so that we can start to get ideas for what would be useful to us; skillsharing on sharpening tools (especially scythes) was also popular; meanwhile a local yurtmaker told us about his ideas for producing felt covers. Other themes were learning more about irrigation systems and other 'engineering' skillsets, as well as building biochar stoves and compost tea brewers.

We have also been considering how to go about getting access to workshop space; there are a number of leads that we're working on. It seems to me that once enough interest crystallises around a particular idea, the momentum will gather to organise an event where practical things are worked on. In the meantime, we're learning how to work with a group decision making process that at the same time encourages individual initiatives.

We've likewise found ourselves looking into broader questions of access to land, something it seems that the hacker mindset badly needs applying to. I've personally found that the open-source way of working has a relevance to much more than just technology where the broad theme of land based livelihoods are concerned. Subsequently we haven't been afraid to address both the current obstacles to people being able to work the land and potential ways in which this situation could be improved locally. At the last session we discussed innovative business models in depth, and self-build housing.

Obviously one reason we've been able to do this is that neither of us is currently engaged in producing food full-time. However it hasn't taken us a massive amount of energy to organise. Probably though this is a good role for someone in our position to take on. It is proving a good way for fulltime landworkers, craftspeople, allotment holders, and others to interact and find common interests. Hopefully come winter we'll have done a few skillshares and will be set up with access to workshops to start making things, and other local groups will have started popping up all over the country...