Lammas Newsletter, November 2007

Nadolig Llawen

Happy Christmas

Comment by Sue Burke
(Current Landowner)

My involvement 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 anyone?

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 is obtained.

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

Lammas News


We are working away on it!

A few members of the Lammas team at a recent terrace redesign meeting

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.”

Cheat Neutral

For a little light-hearted angle on today’s world, visit and watch their excellent film.

Low-Impact News
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 appeal.
More info at

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 60%.

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 ( to book a place. Limited places available.

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