Transition Dursley is starting a pop-up shop to sell local people’s crafts and goods and being involved with the project is a great source of pride for Laura, as is the creation of a community permaculture garden. Laura attended a permaculture course a few years ago but now has the chance to use her skills and practice them in her community.
The garden sits at the rear of a community building and is currently derelict, awaiting the volunteers who will be working on 45 small projects to transform the design into reality over the next year.
“We’re just starting, creating our garden in Dursley as part of Dursley Transition, so what we’ve got at the moment is a lovely large footprint of a space but with a big concrete slap in the middle and we’re going to make a garden out of it. We want it to be a community garden and for everyone so we’re starting with consulting all different community groups and asking them what they’d like to have in the garden, using mood boards and example pictures. We’ll have permaculture ideas flowing through it with the design and the overall design will break down into lots of smaller sections so that people and groups can take ownership sections for themselves and bring in different skills. Dursley in bloom is planting some of the flower beds. A local secondary school is helping to make the furniture. We want to use rain capture to channel the water through the garden. It’s having a staged approach with a plan for each.”
The next day I waited by the car for Laura. The chickens wandered loose, with no fence.
“Don’t they wander off?” I asked gesturing, as Laura locked up the house.
“No, they seem to know where home is.” she said with affection. “And it’s a good way to get to know your neighbours, if they do venture there occasionally.”
“Do you have difficulty getting them into their coop at night?” I asked.
“No, they take themselves to bed. Sometimes they don’t want to go to bed and it means there’s something wrong with the coop. Usually it’s red mites, they bite the chickens and it’s very uncomfortable, so I have to clean out the coop and get rid of them. It’s really useful, they can tell me what’s going on. They know what they’re doing.” she said smiling.
The irrepressibly positive Laura took me into town to show me the start of their permaculture garden and the pop up shop in Dursley.
Afterwards Laura made us packed lunches and walked with me out of Dursley. Along the back of the houses then along the edges of an orchard, and elderflower. “I’ll have to come back with a bag for that.” she said.
Then into the hedge edged fields. She pointed proudly at the flowering hawthorn.
“They used to call it bread and cheese.” she said. “The children would eat the leaves with the flowers on their way to school.” We made ourselves some ‘sandwiches’ and I was pleased to find that the hawthorn flowers took away most of the bitterness of the leaves. I still looked forward to my real cheese sandwiches that Laura had made.
Laura showed me that I could eat new beech leaves, when they are still very thin and a little fluffy on the edges. I found I liked the taste very much, like a tart green apple. For the next week they were to be a frequent snack.
The rain began very heavily in a sudden squall. Laura headed home and I hoped she would not get too wet on the way back.