Comment by Sue Burke
really started when I went to study architecture and came away
thinking that the real problems of housing revolved around how
people relate to each other, never mind the style of architecture.
I did some basic housing in Bangladesh and Greece making blocks
out of earth and roofs of tin and concrete and worked with Shelter
for a bit in London. I found out that the way people relate
was dealt with by following the teachings of Jesus, which I
have been doing ever since. So when through a divorce situation
I was left with half a farm to keep and half a farm to sell
I prayed for a solution and two days later saw in the local
paper that a group called Lammas was looking for 200 acres which
was exactly the acreage I needed to shift. And they had this
truly eco friendly plan and lots of people to help make it happen.
I’d felt a bit like a lone voice in the wilderness in the local
farming scene preaching organics to people who saw the whole
things as some insane hippie pipe dream. Especially when the
local system is mostly based on one and a half men and large
amounts of expensive machinery and fertiliser and chemical treatments
for the resultant overcrowding of animals required to make such
an expensive system financially viable. The pain of watching
the suffering of the dairy animals overfed so their feet hurt
[something like gout] from a high protein diet to maximise milk
production and the way the calves had to make do with a bucket
of either milk powder or even at one point pre BSE, pig’s blood
for a milk substitute, and then go on to a life like their mother
producing milk at an udder- busting rate on a precarious health
basis. How could the milk from that process be good food for
I also had the spring water from the land to think about. We
are still in negotiation with the Soil Association about designing
the criteria for organic water production. Another pray resulted
in turning up at bible study and sitting next to a man who upon
enquiry turned out to be recently retired from working as a
water scientist for Welsh Water. Talk about ask and ye shall
receive. He pointed out to me that I could really only sell
the land to people who would treat the land with care if I wanted
to go on selling the water. Selling to a “traditional” farmer
would not be an option.
Which is why the locality has reacted in the way that they have
..anyone who has been farming “traditionally” goes into shock
at the idea that a whole family could live on as few as ten
acres when their methods don’t produce a living for their families
off under three hundred acres. It’s unbelievable for them, but
what they don’t understand is how radically the eco- life style
differs from their own. The kinds of comments I get locally
involves queries about sewage systems poisoning the river and
children and dogs wandering loose and dope being smoked by people
living off the dole. The local farmer feels pressured from all
sides but can see no way out, but some more open minded ones
have seen that Lammas actually does model a way forward. Opinion
is fairly divided along these lines.
I think that when a couple of years have passed and children
and dogs haven’t “gone feral”, and the river is running clean,
and fine locally produced food has started to become available,
and the planners concede that business plans are proving viable,
the whole atmosphere will change.
Currently my involvement with Lammas is to keep the land available
to them by whatever means I have at my disposal until planning
I think Lammas is important because it is the first step to
creating in reality what people have been thinking and believing
about the right way to live on the planet and with each other.
Many people have tried in the past but each time the experiment
is buried or looses touch with reality. Maybe this time…
Over time, as long as the kids pick up and improve on what they’ve
been shown it should stay real and grounded. It is after all
a very pragmatically based concept- trial and error based -
and not designed in the head of someone who has never personally
grown a cabbage or milked a goat.
My inspiration is the words of Jesus where he says “as a man
thinks in his heart so he is”. I think this is a good plan and
that we all working together can make it
We are working away on it!
A few members of the Lammas team at a recent terrace redesign
Brian Waite’s Straw Bale House Design
”Strawbale houses need to come out of the realm of committed
radicals and into the mainstream of buyers if they are to contribute
to more eco-friendly housing. This is in no way a detrimental
comment on the pioneering hard work done by others in promoting
the use of straw in building.”
”To try to overcome this reticence I have devised a more solid
“engineered” design for a house that uses straw-bales as the
main form of heat and sound insulation yet has a robust exterior
that will cope with harsh weather and exposed locations. It
is an attempt to overcome the “insubstantial” impression most
straw houses give to the unconverted buyer. The quaintness of
the usual straw house is indeed part of their charm to some,
but my design is intended to give a more reassuring appearance,
thereby extending the advantages of straw to a wider spectrum
of buyers who find that roughness off-putting. After all, however
much we all want to be ecologically sympathetic, in the end,
we have to be convinced that our purchase is sound.”
For a little light-hearted angle on today’s world, visit www.cheatneutral.com
and watch their excellent film.
from around The UK
Changing the Policy - UK
Matthew Taylor, Lib Dem MP for Truro & St Austell, is to
lead a major independent review of planning and land-use policy
in relation to rural and affordable housing for Gordon Brown.
If you would like your voice heard then visit his
website where you can make your points:
Bender-community permission runs out.
In 2002 Steward Community Woodland won a 5 year temporary permission
for their low-impact settlement of 6 benders and associated
structures in the Dartmoor National Park. Their recent attempt
to renew their planning permission has failed. They plan to
More info at www.stewardwood.org
One of the dwellings at Steward Woodland Community
Barratts turns to “eco-villlages”
The new “Ecosmart Alderney” model
Barratts are planning a 200 unit eco-village development on
the site of a former hospital, Hanham Hall, near Bristol. The
village is expected to be built in three years' time, ahead
of the government's 2016 target, when it wants all new homes
to be zero carbon. The onsite biomass combined heat and power
(CHP) plant will deliver energy to all homes.
The village also aims to create eco-friendly lifestyles. It
will capture rainwater and include sustainable drainage, farmers'
shops, a car club and bicycle storage.
Barratt, which is best known for its anonymous suburban "Barratt
boxes", last year opened an eco-smart show-village in Lancashire
to test small-scale renewable technologies including rooftop
wind turbines, solar thermal panels and CHP boilers.
Barratts claims that this will be the first large-scale zero-carbon
community in the country and it will enable a family occupying
one of these homes to reduce their entire carbon footprint by
Straw/ Clay Building visit Opportunity
There are still a few places free on the visit to a low-impact
new build project in Hay on Wye, January 25th?
Contact Paul Wimbush (email@example.com) to book a
place. Limited places available.