Lammas eco-village

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clv101
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Lammas eco-village

Post by clv101 »

Here is an aerial photo of a 76 acre site in west Wales, little under a decade ago. In 2009 planning permission was granted on this site for nine 'low impact' smallholdings.  At this time this land was degraded, used for sheep grazing and generated an income of the order £2-3000 per year.

Image


Here's the site more recently, winter 13/14:

Image
 
This is the Lammas eco-village. There are nine households living on site, 40-50 people, and in 2015 they collectively derived over £100,000 from the site (around half sold produce/services and half the value of stuff consumed on site). See their latest annual report here: http://lammas.org.uk/wp-content/uploads ... year-6.pdf
They also have a high degree of resilience. No grid connected electricity or water, firewood heating and grow/rear a significant fraction of their food.
 
In the last couple of years three more similar low impact small holdings have been granted in land adjacent to the original site and I believe more land is in the process of being sold.
 
Here's a beautiful photo essay (scroll right) of the site: http://www.joseluisfajardo.com.mx/untitled-gallery#0
There are many videos of the site over last few years on this YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/livinginthefuture/videos
Here's the first one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cakxPwL4uQ0
And here's a '5 year update': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaJ5sgppXwE
 
The point of posting this is to show the untapped potential. Wales is over 5 million acres, more than half that land is below 200m and reasonable quality. That leaves potential for many thousand such settlements. Of course not everyone, of course the UK will remain dominated by cities – but a non-trivial fraction of the population could return to rural areas, we could increase the workforce involved in primary agriculture from less than 1% to 10%+, we could increase yields and reduce dependence on high-input agriculture. Lammas shows vast yield improvements can be made when switching from sheep grazing to small scale mixed agriculture. This is accompanied by significant biodiversity improvements.
 
I think this project demonstrates one small aspect of the adaptation required for 21st Century Britain.
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Post by Little John »

That's very nice for the people living there, I am sure. Putting aside the comparison of monetary income generated before and after, which is immaterial, the important question is whether total food production in caloric terms, on the site, is higher or lower than previously? Additionally, when I come to think of it, I would be interested if the land provides an income for all of the working age adults living on the site because the extent to which it does not is a measure of the extent to which urban economic activity is subsidising this enterprise.

What i am asking is to what extent is an enterprise such as this little more than a wet dream for urban salariats eager to escape the city.

I'd just like to say that one benefit might be the extra space it hands over to urban proletariats I suppose. I'd like to say that, except I can't due to the fact that those same urbane, urban salariats, people such as yourself CLV, seem more than happy for any space whatsoever, both physical as well as economic, that might be had in the city to be taken up with cheap imported migrant labour. but, then, I don't suppose people like you will think you'll be the one's to take up the slack.

That's for the urban proles...eh
Last edited by Little John on Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Catweazle »

Eco dwellings get special consideration for planning permission, it's also worth checking out part Q of the permitted development, regarding converting unused agricultural buildings to residential use.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015 ... ouses/made
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Post by UndercoverElephant »

Little John wrote:That's very nice for the people living there, I am sure. Putting aside the comparison of monetary income generated before and after, which is immaterial,
I don't agree that it is immaterial. That monetary income represents additional use made of the land over and above that required for the occupants to live on, to trade with other communities. There is no reason why, in a sustainable future, trade within (edit: without) communities shouldn't exist. Some chunks of land are naturally suited to producing one sort of thing or another sort of thing, and the residents/owners will therefore naturally end up trading.
What i am asking is to what extent is an enterprise such as this little more than a wet dream for urban salariats eager to escape the city.
Actually I think the real question is whether or not the "urban salariats" would even want this "wet dream" if they understood what it entailed. Right now, I'd have trouble making that transition myself. Why? Because I find myself in a position where I need a reliable internet connection, a computer, a car, etc... I am no "urban salariat", but neither could I just up sticks and go and live in Lammas without giving up some things that are rather important to me. And for most urban dwellers, the amount of things they wouldn't want to give up would be considerably more than for me. e.g. a local pub where they can go and watch the football, that nice Thai restaurant down the road, a housefull of the latest gadgets, a bloody great flatscreen TV....

I suspect even many of those who are actually inclined to think they'd like it would not like it if they tried it.
Last edited by UndercoverElephant on Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by vtsnowedin »

UndercoverElephant wrote:
Little John wrote:That's very nice for the people living there, I am sure. Putting aside the comparison of monetary income generated before and after, which is immaterial,
I don't agree that it is immaterial. That monetary income represents additional use made of the land over and above that required for the occupants to live on, to trade with other communities. There is no reason why, in a sustainable future, trade within communities shouldn't exist. Some chunks of land are naturally suited to producing one sort of thing or another sort of thing, and the residents/owners will therefore naturally end up trading.
What i am asking is to what extent is an enterprise such as this little more than a wet dream for urban salariats eager to escape the city.
Actually I think the real question is whether or not the "urban salariats" would even want this "wet dream" if they understood what it entailed. Right now, I'd have trouble making that transition myself. Why? Because I find myself in a position where I need a reliable internet connection, a computer, a car, etc... I am no "urban salariat", but neither could I just up sticks and go and live in Lammas without giving up some things that are rather important to me. And for most urban dwellers, the amount of things they wouldn't want to give up would be considerably more than for me. e.g. a local pub where they can go and watch the football, that nice Thai restaurant down the road, a housefull of the latest gadgets, a bloody great flatscreen TV....

I suspect even many of those who are actually inclined to think they'd like it would not like it if they tried it.
If you had a loving wife that wanted to be in and raise her children in the country, that tucked you in properly at night, you'd give a rat's pa tout about the pub and the flat screen TV. :wink:
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Post by UndercoverElephant »

vtsnowedin wrote:
UndercoverElephant wrote:
Little John wrote:That's very nice for the people living there, I am sure. Putting aside the comparison of monetary income generated before and after, which is immaterial,
I don't agree that it is immaterial. That monetary income represents additional use made of the land over and above that required for the occupants to live on, to trade with other communities. There is no reason why, in a sustainable future, trade within communities shouldn't exist. Some chunks of land are naturally suited to producing one sort of thing or another sort of thing, and the residents/owners will therefore naturally end up trading.
What i am asking is to what extent is an enterprise such as this little more than a wet dream for urban salariats eager to escape the city.
Actually I think the real question is whether or not the "urban salariats" would even want this "wet dream" if they understood what it entailed. Right now, I'd have trouble making that transition myself. Why? Because I find myself in a position where I need a reliable internet connection, a computer, a car, etc... I am no "urban salariat", but neither could I just up sticks and go and live in Lammas without giving up some things that are rather important to me. And for most urban dwellers, the amount of things they wouldn't want to give up would be considerably more than for me. e.g. a local pub where they can go and watch the football, that nice Thai restaurant down the road, a housefull of the latest gadgets, a bloody great flatscreen TV....

I suspect even many of those who are actually inclined to think they'd like it would not like it if they tried it.
If you had a loving wife that wanted to be in and raise her children in the country, that tucked you in properly at night, you'd give a rat's pa tout about the pub and the flat screen TV. :wink:
I do, and I don't. :-)

http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/vie ... highlight=

One day, when the next book is finished...

But the majority of British townies? Maybe not so much.
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Post by Little John »

I suppose the thing the bugs me is that whilst places like these could be, in principle, sustainable for the lucky few who have the money and circumstances to allow them to do it and, truth be told, if my circumstances and money allowed for it I would be someone who would certainly choose to live like that, I just don't delude myself that this could ever scale to accommodate anything more than a tiny fraction of a population that is rapidly heading towards 70 million.
Last edited by Little John on Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by UndercoverElephant »

Little John wrote:I suppose the thing the bugs me is that whilst places like these could be, in principle, sustainable for the lucky few who have the money and circumstances to allow them to do it and, truth be told and, if my circumstances and money allowed for it I would be someone who would certainly choose to live like that, I just don't delude myself that this could ever scale to accommodate anything more than a tiny fraction of a population that is rapidly heading towards 70 million.
It could accommodate quite a lot of them in theory/principle. In reality I don't think it is money that is the major obstacle, on the scale of the whole population. I don't want to just pull numbers out of the air, but we are certainly talking tens of millions of people who could live like this if the land was made available and they really wanted to do it. In reality, to make it work you need a certain set of skills, knowledge, motivation and the genuine will to make it work (rather than it just being a fantasy where all the plus sides are seen/exagerrated and the negative sides are not really faced up to).

People who post on this board are a non-representative, self-selecting example. I personally don't know many people who would choose to live in a place like Lammas, even though the people I know tend to be reasonably well-educated, "progressive" types. It's not just the "chavs" who like their BAU world. Most people who are interested in this sort of thing only actually want to dabble in it. They don't want to go the whole hog.
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Post by woodburner »

There is no possibility that tens of millions of people could life like this in the UK without enormous external inputs. It is WAAAYYYYYY off being self sufficient in the large scale, and will need huge subsidies (probably hidden) for the lucky few to benefit.
To become an extremist, hang around with people you agree with. Cass Sunstein
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Post by clv101 »

One other important point about the planning permission of the Lammas site is that there is an ecological footprint calculation requirement. The footprint of their consumption has to be 'one planet' as opposed to the Welsh average of around three planets. This policy is the first time that personal consumption has been limited/controlled.

Economically speaking I think the households at Lammas bought their plots for around £30,000 and their house builds will have come in under £20k... couple that with no electricity (they actually get paid for elec generation), gas or water bills, no rent, reduced food bills, reduced need to travel/commute etc. and we see that economically speaking, this approach is available to many.

As UE says, land availability is the major sticking point at the moment. Whilst this approach will always be a niche, it could be a niche of many thousands of people rather than a niche of many tens.
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Post by clv101 »

woodburner wrote:There is no possibility that tens of millions of people could life like this in the UK without enormous external inputs. It is WAAAYYYYYY off being self sufficient in the large scale, and will need huge subsidies (probably hidden) for the lucky few to benefit.
Tens of millions, no. But many thousands, I think so.

There are no claims of self sufficiently. What Lammas represents is a way of living where personal consumption has been cut by two thirds and the productivity of the land increased significantly, both from a biodiversity point of view and economic.
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Post by UndercoverElephant »

woodburner wrote:There is no possibility that tens of millions of people could life like this in the UK without enormous external inputs. It is WAAAYYYYYY off being self sufficient in the large scale, and will need huge subsidies (probably hidden) for the lucky few to benefit.
What would be those external inputs?

I think it depends on exactly what "like this" means. The problem is that the more sustainable/independent it becomes, the less attractive it becomes to most people. It is those "external inputs" that make it an attractive choice to the lucky few, I think. That iPad, for example.
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Post by UndercoverElephant »

clv101 wrote:
There are no claims of self sufficiently. What Lammas represents is a way of living where personal consumption has been cut by two thirds...
...and my point is that I don't know many people who are remotely interested in cutting their personal consumption by two thirds.
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Post by Catweazle »

woodburner wrote:There is no possibility that tens of millions of people could life like this in the UK without enormous external inputs. It is WAAAYYYYYY off being self sufficient in the large scale, and will need huge subsidies (probably hidden) for the lucky few to benefit.
Can you give an example of the inputs needed ? Especially long-term inputs ?

I don't think the Lammas approach is feasible for the masses, the people there are educated and motivated above the norm. However, a compromised approach could work for more people.

For example, a mass-produced static caravan is cheap to build, well insulated and comfortable. Add some solar panels and solar water heater, small solid fuel stove for Winter, place it in 5 acres of decent land and you have a home. Add £3000 for stock fencing / housing, tools, seeds and a polytunnel and you can be growing loads of veg, rearing chickens, ducks and pigs.

I'm certain there are thousands of people who would swap work / benefits and social housing for a chance to own their smallholding.

A 10 year old 35' x 12' caravan can be bought for £1000 or less, reasonable land is £7500 per acre, a well might be needed if mains water isn't close by.

If planning regs were relaxed for a while we would learn if this lifestyle is really attractive to modern Brits.
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Post by UndercoverElephant »

I don't want to cut my personal consumption by two thirds. I already don't fly, don't buy consumer goods unless I really need them, grow quite a bit of my own food and forage for quite a bit more.

But, for example, I did just spend a week on holiday in (ironically) Pembrokeshire. I drove there, we ate out in a nice restaurant three times, a drove quite a bit while I was there, visiting many beaches at low tide in search of photos of edible seaweeds for my second book (on edible wild plants). I used a £500 camera to take the photos. Right now, giving up things like this means giving up on a fledgeling career - the first time in my life I've got a prospect of earning decent money doing something I really enjoy. I also can only realistically do what I am doing because at the moment I am being supported by my wife who does a "normal" job and needs a proper holiday from it every now and then.

It would not be possible to do what I am doing now from a plot of land at Lammas with my consumption cut by two-thirds from its current level. I need my car, my camera, my computer with its internet connection, and my wife.
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