The Attwood Project

LAND Region: 
EnglandWest Midlands

Permaculture small holding producing food and fuel, encouraging involvement of others by co-operative land use, sharing produce and knowledge.

Hobro Lodge is a permaculture house and smallholding of 6 acres in total. Over the years the old house – part was built in the 1600's – has been retrofit and redesigned to try to minimise on heat loss. This has been achieved by adding conservatories, double glazing and improving insulation. 10 years ago solar water heating was added and photovoltaics were fitted to the conservatory roof in 2011. This was good from a permaculture perspective in a number of ways – it shaded a too hot conservatory, it capitalised on the southern aspect and it provided extra insulation in the winter. In addition we can no produce some of our own electricity and receive a feed in tariff for the next 25 years to offset costs. Investigations are now underway for biomass heating to replace the old oil system inherited with the house.
The conservatories are of course unheated and are used only when the natural temperature is ambient. In the winter this means they act as a log store and incubation and brooding room for chicks.
Having been here for 15 years a number of different ways of doing things have been tried. Initially no food could be grown because the rabbit population was so high they would even eat holly leaves! However employment of a lurcher, a couple of cats and a Jack Russel terrier pushed the rabbits up the field so we can now grow veg and fruit. The land is poor so we need quite a lot of animal manure (and well rotted human from the composting loo) to enable us to grow very much, but we have persevered and now produce potatoes, artichokes, onions, spinach, salads, carrots, parsnips, herbs, plums, apples, raspberries, black, red and white currants, chestnuts among other things.

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The key words here are sustainability and smart working – meaning try not to kill yourself for your principles but make your principles work for you. Permaculture is all about smart design and working with systems not against them. For several years volunteers and more recently special need students (behaviour) have been involved in Hobro Lodge – it has grown organically and is now moving into a new and exciting phase. Permaculture ideas permeate the plot for example, the use of the pigs to protect poultry from predators has proved quite successful so far but is still in the research stage. Dexter cattle are kept on poor land and under the trees planted for timber for the wood-burner. Once a year a steer is sent off to provide beef and the pigs go off on a more regular basis. The pigs keep areas of land tidy that have gone beyond all human control! Tamara the Tamworth sow is particularly good at this. Bees are kept to increase plant fertility and provide honey and associated products. Geese and ducks keep the grounds nearer the house tidy and provide eggs and meat. Volunteers come and participate in work required and learn about bee-keeping, animal husbandry and other permaculture principles employed here as well as sharing in the produce.
In the garden at The Attwood Project
The Attwood Project, Hobro Lodge Wolverly
Kidderminster, Worcestershire DY11 5SZ
United Kingdom
Worcestershire GB