Tir Penrhos Isaf
Tir Penrhos Isaf is a seven acre holding situated in Coed Y Brenin near Dolgellau. The land forms a small, well-sheltered hanging valley, opening to the south, between four and five hundred feet above sea level. The holding features a surprisingly wide variety of land types and conditions, well suited to the development of a diverse permaculture system. There are no mains services on the site and the only existing building is a rough stone barn. When we purchased the land in 1986 the site was best described as sheep lawn, divided into three fields, containing a good number of mature trees but no understory at all. Since then, through a combination of regeneration and planting, we have encouraged the growth of a complex, rich ecosystem, capable of supplying most of our needs.
In designing and developing a sustainable system an approach is required which minimises the chances of damaging landscapes, communities and individuals and provides an integrating or holistic framework by which we can arrange and connect elements within a complex system. We have used the ethics, principles and design tools of Permaculture Design as the foundation of our work as we believe it represents the most complete and rational approach that is currently available. Our interpretation of permaculture design provides us with three main areas of attention, as follows:
The person: the site occupants as individuals, each with unique needs and skills.
The place: the land with its own environmental needs and opportunities.
The people: the community in which we as a family group are embedded.
By giving attention to each of these areas we can be hopeful that we have not missed anything vital out. Due to limited resources we have practised rolling permaculture, concentrating on getting small systems up and running and then rolling on to the next bit as more resources become available. We have always intended the site to support three or four or five small, interrelated, mutually beneficial businesses; at the moment these include education, horse training and produce. There is always more that we can do and the design will never be completed.
We've lived here in a temporary, low impact dwelling since 1992 and are now in the process of beginning a barn conversion, a compromise solution with the Snowdonia national Park who have consistently refused us permission for a permanent low impact eco building.
Although only seven acres, the site gets bigger every year and has a wealth of stories running through it. Further details can be found on our web site konsk.co.uk and we are happy to show people round.