Visiting the permaculture garden at Tapley Park is a beautiful experience not just because it looks great but because the layers of fruit trees, shrubs and other plants strengthen and add to each other so that they grow better together. The word permaculture come from permanent agriculture, a way of farming that works with the ecosystem rather than in conflict with it. By combining species and not using artificial fertilizers or pesticides, farmers are able to get food whilst building soil and increasing biodiversity. We’ll see a lot more of these ideas during the tour!
Visiting Tapley Park near Instow would be a treat anyway, but meeting Hector Christie is a delight. His enthusiasm for people, the environment, highland cattle, playing football and mischief can’t help but make you warm to him. For several years Hector’s battle has been against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Hector explains to me that the safety concerns regarding GMOs also extends to the system within which they are used. Often the reason for modifying the organism is to make it resistant to a pesticide so that stronger pesticides can be used to remove weeds. The best selling pesticide Roundup is made by agrochemical company Monsanto. The active ingredient glyphosate is safety tested, but the final product is not, yet other ingredients in the product called adjuvants break down the cell walls to enable the glyphosate to enter and kill it. This means that the final product behaves differently to what is safety tested. Following the public outcry in the UK about GMOs they were rejected by many food stores, but they have been quietly creeping into our food. There is no requirement to label them and most of us are unaware. Hector is organising a national demonstration against GMOs later this month on May 20th and demonstrations are taking place all over the country.
Then on May the 24th there will be an international day of demonstrations and marches against Monsanto to Get Monsanto Out.
I am grateful that I am not a crow. However, it does constrain my route options. The fact is footpaths aren’t always going where you want to go, meaning often you do have to use the roads. Previously I would have been a fan of sustainable transport schemes which separate cyclists, pedestrians, motorists etc, and in some cities I still might be, but the bulk of the country can’t accommodate that policy. What happens when you retreat from the roads is that motorists don’t expect to see you there, so they drive faster. People who have no choice but to use the roads then have a more dangerous place.
I’m not suggesting that you go out and walk along your nearest busy A road alone (it’s not fun and rather scary) but if you look on your OS map you’ll find the roads are colour coded. Yellow seems to be quite narrow so cars go a lot slower, light orange might be a bit busy (a car every few minutes), dark orange will probably be stressful and a bit risky and red they’ll be gunning for you. So I would heartily recommend yellow coded roads, light orange too especially when you’re highly visible, to remind people in cars that other types of transport are used on roads.