At the Willow and Wetlands visitors center they farm willow for artists charcoal and a range of willow products that replace non-biodegradable options with a natural fiber. They also have a museum and education area all with free admission!
Beautiful biodegradable coffins
The artisans at work.
Sometimes you ask and you find, other times you just have to relax and let things happen. As rain started the aptly named George and Pilgrim pub sheltered me, where by chance I met the amazing Earl at the bar. He’s been a long time member of the Green Party and has started a local energy cooperative called Avalon Community Energy (ACE Ltd). When I heard that I laughed and said “Wonderful! I’ve been looking for you all day, do you want to sit down?”
Despite a long term disability, Earl has been working with others in his community to bring about a renewable energy park. The plan which they are currently seeking funding for is to combine a number of energy generating aspects that support each other. An anaerobic digestor (converting biological waste into gas), a wind turbine, solar panels and aquaponics (cultivating fish). The beauty of the system is that the different aspects support each other. A modern battery that we are all familiar with is made of acids and toxic chemicals, but a battery is really anything that will store energy. The approach ACE want to take is to use the wind turbine to pump water into a raised reservoir to store the energy. The water an then be released through a turbine when energy is needed. The fish tanks generate nutrients from the fish poo which then flows to feed a hydroponics (growing plants in water) area. Solar panels will be on the roofs of the chicken sheds, who’s waste will feed the anaerobic digestor. It may all sound a little complicated, but then if you tried to describe a foodchain it might sound a little complicated too. In natural systems one ‘waste’ becomes something else’s food, and it is these principles that ACE is trying to emulate.
The group was fortunate to be able to seek out local expertise in finance, energy and organising. There is a lot of support available at the moment for community groups who want to set up an energy cooperative, so if you are interested in the idea find a local energy cooperative to advise you and check out the Center for Sustainable Energy.
Sometimes I know where I’m going and who I’m meeting, other times I know where I am and who I want to find.
In Glastonbury I set about asking people in the town, who’s passionate about the environment in the town? They directed me to Free, a man so passionate about the uses of hemp that he changed his name to Free Cannabis. Other than it’s more well known use for those with chronic pain, hemp is an exceptionally nutritious seed, a fabric, an insulation, a fuel, a building material and an ingested medicine. Free runs the hemp products shop in Glastonbury – Hemp in Avalon.
Maddie Milns works with her local community in Wells to move away from using fossil fuels, in a group called Transition Wells. Maddie explains why she came to do this work.
There are lots of ways that you can work with your community but Maddie came to find that Transition was a really good option for her.
If you would like to see if there is a Transition group near you, or perhaps start one, visit Transition Network.