Offshoots Permaculture Project

LAND Region: 
EnglandNorth West
LAND Project Type: 
LAND Centre

The Offshoots project is a community project based on permaculture ethics and principles. It is managed by the social enterprise Newground along with its own committee consisting of all local people who are actively involved with the project.

The project tries to involve everybody from the community, either through the composting project to visitors to the site, from volunteers and colleges and schools doing training courses. The Offshoots project is there for people of all ages and of all abilities. The project has solar and wind powered buildings, a kiln for making it's own charcoal, a wildlife pond and reed bed, compost toilet, cob building with oven, organic vegetable production, tree nursery, community composting project, backyard demonstration and bee keeping.

Member Project known date: 
Friday, 13 January, 2012
Number of people text: 
Contact Name: 
Phill Dewhurst
Telephone number: 
01282 450270
Earthcare - The wildlife value of the sward will be restored through management to remove the dominant bracken and bramble. Chemicals will be used in the short term as this is the most practical method. 3 acres of coppice with standards will create habitat diversity and ultimately reduce reliance on fossil fuels. The beekeeping helps retain the honeybee population in an area devastated by the parasitic mite varroa. The production of local honey reduces food miles (honey is often imported). the honey is used as a vehicle for environmental messages. Peoplecare - We produce local food without adulteration or harmful residues sometimes found in imported honey or the exploitation. We are keen to share the site and our skills with others eg the local schools and other permies. We find working at the site is good for us. The site is used as a venue to follow a Buddhist path. Fairshare - We provide good local honey to both locals and tourists. We enjoy sharing the site with others. The site provides for both people and wildlife. The principle PROBLEM with the site is the steep gradient. It feels more like 45? than the actual 25? when you are walking up it. Applying simple concentric zoning from a notional Zone-0 in the middle of the site would not work as it would mean too much walking up and down the slope. Even walking along the slope is ankle-twistingly awkward. The SOLUTION is terracing with the zones stretched out along the contour. This means very little going up and downhill other than the zig-zag access tracks. And of course, the footing is level whist going along the terrace. The terraces also make for great aspects and microclimates with reduced shading of plants by those downslope. We employed a contractor to create the 1000m or so of tracks and terracing. The total cost was ?5500 (eek!) (most of which went into digging a large hole for a future barn). However, the land was relatively inexpensive by today?s standards in North Devon where every nice middle class parent wants a pony paddock for Tarquin and Tabitha?s horses. Luckily (?) the land is too steep for livestock grazing by anything but hardy breed sheep. This also means that the fields have not been improved, which makes for more wild flowers. We are going to build a barn to facilitate equipment, produce and potentially livestock. It would have been easier in the short term and possibly cheaper to build the barn at the top of the slope, next to the road. However, we have decided that it is probably easier in the long run to move final harvested produce down and along slope to the barn. This is also visually less obtrusive to nestle the building against the wood and hedge at the bottom of the slope where it is also less windy. There are also advantages for water harvesting. This is Zone-0 for the site. Zone-I will consist of woodland garden and annual crops along the length of the three main terraces. The elongated terraces also make for easy maximising of edge effect without the need to make everything squiggly. Squiggly is fine (and probably better for a flat site), but it?s easier to visualise and manage nice neat strips, especially as we plan to mix both woodland garden and annual food crop areas. Most of the middle of the site that is un-terraced constitutes Zone-II orchard, sheep and poultry. Here the slope does not matter. It won?t bother the trees or livestock, and we won?t need to work on this land that often. The sward will be managed for wildlife value; indeed grazing is the main function of the sheep. A woodland coppice strip constitutes Zone-III providing shelter, wildlife and firewood. This was the main dilemma for the site as to how much land (potential orchard) to give up to firewood production. We have decided on 3 acres of coppice with standards. Mainly ash and some alder coppice with oak and sweet chestnut standards. However, a few other species are included in the mix for interest and diversity. Zone-IV / V is the existing alder along the stream. It is managed mainly for wildlife. I have thinned/coppiced the competing 30 year old alders to allow the remaining trees to fill out. Sectors, The advantage of the slope is its south-east aspect which will create some great microclimates along the terraces and on the slope generally. One of the main reasons for choosing the site is its proximity to the sea. We are 5 miles from the sea meaning that we benefit from the stable maritime climate. However, we are not so near that we get the salt laden winds. The wind that we do get comes along the slope, ie. cold north-easterlies and wet south-westerlies. However, a lot of the time the site is sheltered by the hill behind and the hill opposite. The wildlife planting in the outer zone will add to the existing poorly managed hedges, creating a permeable wind break. Similarly, wildlife/windbreak sectors are being created by the expanding of the existing hazel coppice strip and the reinstating of the old hedge line as shown on the 1880 OS map and 1841 tithe map. In order to take advantage of the available solar energy we have cut a large platf Beekeeping, forest garden, vegetable garden, poultry, sheep, orchards, terracing, coppice with standards, composting.
Offshoots Permaculture Project
c/o Townley Art Gallery & Museum Towneley Holmes Road
Burnley, Lancashire BB11 3RQ
United Kingdom
Lancashire GB