All Year Round Solstice Moth Celebration and Camp

Buff Tip

Join the All Year Round group from 4pm on Saturday 22nd June

…for an afternoon of fun and activities (including wildflower labyrinth, flower identification and a bat detecting walk) followed by a bring and share supper and camp fire. We will set up a moth trap at dusk.


Those who would like to camp over in the wildflower meadows are welcome; otherwise come back early on Sunday 23rd June to help identify the moths that have been trapped and release them back into the wide world.

The moths are amazing and beautiful – if you have never experienced the hidden wonder of what flies at night you are in for a treat!

To give you a taste of what to expect, some lovely pictures of the beauties we have seen in previous years can be seen below or by following this link

All Year Round ask for donations of £3 per child to cover costs, with sliding scale of discounts for families with more then one child. If you would like to camp, a suggested donation of £7.50 per family can be made to Dyfed Permaculture Farm Trust.

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Volunteer Workday, Saturday 18th May

Our next volunteer workday will be on Saturday 18th May.

We will be giving the Forest Garden / Perennial beds around the barn their annual spruce up and carrying out some maintenance on the compost toilets – stabilizing the bases and building some new steps.

If you would like to come, please get in touch for more details and directions. Please bring food to share for lunch.

A warm welcome to all! Creoso Cynnes i Bawb!

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Open Meadow Morning, Saturday 29th June

Dyfed Permaculture Farm Trust will be holding an Open Meadow Morning on Saturday 29th June.

This year we would like to encourage local people and groups to come along and let other people know what they do.

If you have got something that you would like to promote, please get in touch and I’ll send you more information.

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Volunteer Workday, Thursday 11th April

Below are some photos from our last workday

The willow sculpture was given a very thorough haircut in the glorious spring sunshine and a shared lunch was enjoyed by all.

The next Trust workday will be Thursday 11th April.

We will be carrying out annual maintenance on the yurt. Putting linseed oil on the woodwork, waterproofing the canvas, fixing the roof wheel cover and having a most enjoyable social get together :).

The following workday will be Saturday 18th May – activities to be decided

If you would like to come, please get in touch for more details and directions. Please bring food to share for lunch.

A warm welcome to all! Creoso Cynnes i Bawb!

The yurt willow in April last year

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Farm Produce

Lovely things that are grown or produced at Dyfed Permaculture Farm Trust.

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All Year Round – Spring Equinox

All Year Round will be gathering to celebrate the Spring Equinox on Sunday 24th March

Indigo dyed yarn

We’ve missed a few celebrations, so we’d like to make this one really special 🙂

I’ve got an indigo vat bubbling, so we can make tie-dyed bunting flags.

Emily is bringing snacks to cook on the fire. Plus the usual chat, fun and games.

Come and see the newly refurbished barn kitchen. Oh and cwtch the little goat kids!

Parkin the goat kid

All Year Round will meet from 2pm until about 5pm.

If you want to have a go a tie-dyeing, please wear old clothes.

We ask for a sliding scale of donation to cover the cost of the event –  £3 for first child, £5 for two or more

Creoso Cynnes i Bawb!

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Volunteer Workday, Saturday 9th March

You are invited to join us for our next volunteer workday on Saturday 9th March, 10am until about 4pm.

We will be pruning the willow tunnel around the camp fire and reweaving the top to create a good structure. There will be plenty of willow poles created – if anyone is interested, cuttings could be taken home to establish your own willow sculpture.

If you would like to come, please get in touch for more details and directions. Please bring food to share for lunch.

A warm welcome to all! Creoso Cynnes i Bawb!

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Volunteer Workday Saturday 9th February

You are invited to join us for our next volunteer workday on Saturday 9th February, 10am until about 4pm.

We will be putting our collective heads together to create a porch for the volunteer caravan out of recycled / scrap material that we have been collecting over the years. Ingenuity and lateral thinking welcome!

If you would like to come, please get in touch for more details and directions. Please bring food to share for lunch.

A warm welcome to all! Creoso Cynnes i Bawb!

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Hedgerow Management. Annual flailing and wildlife

I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning. As I lay there in the graying morning light, the sound of a tractor and hedge flail crept into my consciousness. My heart sank. I hate the annual flailing of the hedgerows that occurs locally to me, and not only because of the punctures I will be mending on my bike wheels.

Hedgerows for wildlife….and farmers.

I expect people are familiar with the wildlife value of hedgerows. They are important for everything from fungi and plants to invertebrates, birds and mammals. They connect habitats (wildlife corridor), provide shelter, food sources, nest sites and more.

They are also useful to farmers, providing shelter to animals, increasing dietary variety by providing browsing opportunities and could even help prevent the spread of disease. Farming activities benefit from the increased biodiversity that a well maintained hedge can bring (“ecosystem services”)

All hedges are not the same.

But not all hedges are of equal value. I have lived and worked in the countryside for over 15 years. Whilst building my own knowledge and connection with the countryside around me, I have become increasingly aware that many of us have lost a true understanding of what we are seeing. It’s easy to look around, see green hedges and think all is fine. It is not.

Just as there is a world of difference between the wildlife value of a species rich hay meadow and a (green, lush) high intensity silage pasture, management can drastically alter the wildlife value of the hedgerow. Annual flailing of hedges is an especially destructive part of modern hedgerow management.

Over-management of hedgerows is one of the biggest problems facing species that live in this habitat type. The practice of annual cutting using a mechanical flail creates a uniform and species-poor hedgerow that is of little value to wildlife.

Why is annual flailing an issue?

Whilst it looks “tidy”, annual flailing creates a hedge with a fairly open structure. Have a closer look at one next time you are out for a walk. At this time of year it is easy to see that the hedges are not nearly so dense as they appear when in full leaf. This open structure decreases the opportunities for, say, hibernating hedgehogs or nesting birds.

Another issue is the removal of food sources. Many hedgerow plants flower on two year old wood. If hedgerows are cut annually, there is a lack of branches of the correct age to flower. Think about it – have you ever noticed many trees flowering in a flailed hedge? And yet blackthorn is often a major component of such hedges, which should be providing an valuable nectar source for our native pollinators in the spring. And if there are no flowers, there will be no fruit to feed birds and mammals in the autumn

Annual flailing can disrupt the entire lifecycle of some species. Brown Hairstreak butterflies lay their eggs on 1-2 year old branches of blackthorn. The eggs overwinter and hatch out the following spring. Annual flailing removes potential egg laying habitat and destroys any overwintering eggs. Brown Hairstreak butterflies are one of the target species in Carmarthenshire County Council’s Biodiversity Action plan. The detailed action plan for butterflies states that:

Carmarthenshire has roughly 60% of the recently (since 1995) recorded sites in
Wales. Its known range runs roughly north of the line of the main A40 road, with a handful of sites marginally to the south, mostly in Tywi valley. The best-known concentrations are in the Tywi and Teifi valleys and their tributaries.

The principal factor thought to be affecting the species is the annual flailing
of hedges and trimming of young and sucker growth inside field boundaries,
changes in woodland management, including loss of woodland edge habitat.
The Tywi valley population has diminished significantly – likely due to
loss of egg laying habitat because of hedge flailing.

Butterfly Conservation volunteers have undertaken annual egg surveys for more
than 10 years and work with landowners on management of sites for this butterfly.

I have memories of a successful project that was run in our local area. Brown Hairstreak butterfly numbers were increased by working with local landowners to change management of blackthorn. On searching, I couldn’t find any references to it. If you know anything about it, please do get in touch.

I have highlighted some of the issues associated with annual flailing. There are many others, including worries about the longevity of flailed hedges and the lack of promotion of new hedgerow trees to become the full grown trees of the future.

Managing Hedgerows for biodiversity by flailing less

An especially frustrating aspect is that it is well known that annual flailing is a problem. Wildlife charities, NGOs and Government bodies such as DEFRA and local councils have produced a wealth of advice on good hedgerow management, including recommendations such as flailing a hedge no more then once every two to three years, except where access is an issue and rotating flailing such that not all of the hedges on a farm are trimmed in any one year.

Proper management of hedgerows to ensure their longevity and enhance their wildlife value is a complex issue, of which if and when to flail is just a part. Hedgelink have a very useful 10 Top Hedgerow Management Tips on their website and a useful leaflet about hedgecutting.

We have an ongoing program of hedge laying here at the Trust. While traditional management by laying is great for the wildlife value of a hedge, it is time consuming, and therefore expensive in terms of labor and may not attract a busy farmer.

I am becoming increasingly aware that carrying out “best practice” on the smallholding where I live has limited value if the surrounding countryside is seriously degraded. The 20 odd acres of the Trust just isn’t large enough to provide a refuge for wildlife on it’s own. We need to encourage good practice from our neighbors in what ever way they can manage, create links between habitats and trying to recreate an interconnected countryside for our wildlife.

We need to be aware that there are many different solutions and we need to use the most appropriate one in each circumstance. I am not, at the moment, advocating abandoning the flail altogether.

What can we do?

I don’t know all the answers, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Here are some suggestions to be going on with.

Get educated. Learn about the flora and fauna around where you live, what is there and what SHOULD be there. A surprisingly large number of people can’t name common wild flowers. If we don’t know about our wildlife it is easy to miss the decline. In my experience, learning about the natural world gives a great deal of pleasure and a greater motivation to halt the decline.

Walk the talk. If you manage land yourself, do some research into best practice hedgerow management. If your land is out on tack, talk to the people managing your land about hedgerow management

Raise awareness. Do you know the people who own land / farm in your area? Would you be willing to open conversations with them about how they manage their hedgerows?

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Volunteer Workday 12th January 2019

Our first volunteer workday of the year will be on Saturday 12th January, 10am until about 4pm. We will be laying a new water supply to the volunteer caravan and working on the Red Barn after the refurbishment work that has been carried out on the kitchen

If you would like to come, please get in touch for more details and directions. Please bring food to share for lunch. A warm welcome to all! Creoso Cynnes i Bawb!

Shared lunch on a workday
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