Plants For A Future
Blagdon Cross Plant Research and Demonstration Gardens,
Ashwater, Beaworthy, Devon, EX21 5DF
Tel: 0845 458 4719
News update August 2001
Well its been a very exciting year at Plants For A Future with the
Blagdon site beginning to show its true potential and the St Veep site
receiving a much needed boost of energy. There have been a lot of
successful events and we've also received a major grant for £25,000.
Since winning our planning appeal in June last year work has been
at full pace to develop the site. This has mainly focused around
constructing basic facilities for volunteers and workers and preparing
the site for the next stage of construction. Among the activities
have been carried out are:
· The front hedge cleared of sycamores.
· Coppicing in the existing woodland area.
· Three tree bogs constructed.
· Basic facilities for volunteers installed.
· Area for car park excavated and a large quantity of hardcore
donated for use as surfacing.
· A wind turbine installed.
· Three PFAF-style kitchen garden beds established which are
providing an abundance of tasty salads for volunteers.
· A large number of willows planted with the intention of
harvesting them after a year to sell for basket weaving.
· The children's garden has been marked out with a boundary of
named varieties of willow.
The native woodland first planted three years ago is doing really well
with some of the alders reaching over 20 foot. Wildlife is being
attracted to the site with a good bird population and sightings of
and grass snakes.
If that was not enough there has also been an active event program, in
the three months from March to June we had over 500 people visiting
· The Southwest Permaculture convergence, which ran for two days
and had a wide range of workshops.
· The Buddhafield Buddhist festival catering group have held a
number of retreats on the site including a two-week permaculture
and retreat. We are working along with them to establish a meditation
garden on the site.
· The Small School in Hartland had a weeklong camping trip and
minor riot! They constructed a musical instrument with coppiced
in the children's garden.
We also had another successful show at the BBC Gardeners World show at
the NEC in June. This year we were a show feature and attracted a
of £2,000, which allowed us to present a slideshow of PFAF plants. We
also were invited to give a daily talks on one of the main stages. We
brought along some unusual edible plants people were asked to identify
these from other non-edible plants brought along by other gardeners.
Unsurprisingly many of the plants they brought turned out to be edible
There has also been a number of successful benefit gigs in Cornwall
have raised money for the St Veep site and helped establish a Robert
Hart memorial garden.
The arrival of Frank a long-term volunteer from Holland has provided a
much-needed boost to the Cornwall site. He has done a lot of work
clearing a network of paths through the arboretum and has discovered
some great finds, such as the Japanese Walnut that is bearing nuts
only eight years. The site is now ready for the second stage of the
woodland garden: many of the trees and shrubs are now well established
and it is time to plant the understory; all that is needed is the
manpower to clear the plots of brambles and maintain the plants.
There are also plans afoot to re-establish the catalogue and work has
started sorting the plant sales area. The catalogue will probably
on the Internet with online ordering.
We still have space in our property in Lerryn near the field and we
looking for people who would like to live there and work at the field.
If you are interested drop us a line.
We recently heard that we have been awarded a 25 thousand pound grant
from the Devon and West Somerset Key Fund. This will go to
the infrastructure for the Blagdon site and includes money for
constructing the car-park and access road, water supply and power
supply, equipment for a restroom, an agricultural shed, a computer and
projector for doing presentations and lots of tools. There are quite a
few conditions that need to be met to fulfil the grant which include
training of 500 people and a short time scale to achieve it all.
We have also just submitted another bid to the Charities Aid
This is for a part-time fundraiser who will help to raise the
much-needed funds to cover the cost of the Blagdon site, to employ
workers and also many of the other things we need.
Website and database
The website continues to be one of the best plant information sites
about, attracting thousands of visitors a week. A reader's comments
section has been established which allows people world wide to add
own comments about individual plants. We are also planning to
an electronic mailing list for people interested in the project.
Work is also progressing on developing a new user-friendly version of
database on a CD-ROM. This will include a comprehensive set of photos
and a much easier to use interface. We already have 100 high quality
photos from a Canadian photographer and are working on scanning Ken's
large collection of photos, however we are on the lookout for as many
plant photos as we can get our hands on. So if you have a good
collection we would love to hear from you.
We have also produced 400 fact sheets on medicinal plants that go into
much greater details of the medicinal uses than is currently in the
Its not all a bed of Rosa Rugosa
Despite all the good things happening there are still many things to
sorted out and a lot more work to be done. The stress of the last
years and the explosion of potential in the spring has taken its toll
and Jim and Elaine are both trying to take much needed holidays. Hence
the Blagdon site is currently closed for August.
Our principal needs at the moment are volunteers and money. To fully
develop Blagdon will take a lot more work and we are planning a number
of work parties. We also need long term volunteers to help run the
develop the plant catalogue and visitors centre and establish the
Perhaps the greatest challenge the project faces is financial.
the charity owes a hundred thousand pounds and much of this needs to
repaid in March next year. Hence, we are embarking on a major
fundraising scheme that will focus on attracting more long term loans.
Such loans will enable us to get through our short term financial
problems and proceed to the next stage of the project when the Blagdon
site can start generating its own income. If we cannot raise the money
the future security of the Blagdon site is in serious jeopardy. It
be a great tragedy to lose this site, especially as its true potential
is shining through at last.
Renewing your subscription will greatly help the project, and there
many other ways you can help us:
· Interest free loans, this is the most helpful for us. A
long-term loan to the charity will help secure the long-term future of
the Blagdon site.
· Gift Aid donations, if you a UK taxpayer then we can get the
back on any donations you make to the charity.
· Regular donations through the Charities Aid Foundation. A
of people have opened accounts with the Charities Aid Foundation money
deposited in such an account plus the tax will be paid direct to the
· The Phone Co-op - a phone service company which offers good
discounts on calls and also gives 5% of the value of your calls to
· Care4Free are free Internet access provider that donates money
· Tree sponsorship we have a list of trees we would like to
· Donation of Interest here you deposit some money in our high
interest account, the money remains safe and the interest is
into our current account.
If you would like any information about any of these schemes then get
touch and we will send you our funding pack.
The Continuing Soil Association Saga
As some of you will know in March last year we applied for Soil
Association certification. After much deliberation over the pros and
cons we paid our £467 annual license fee. We eventually received
certification in conversion in August/September 2000. One would assume
that this was when the annual license fee would start from. We then
received an invoice in December requesting a further license fee to be
paid from March 2001-2002. We telephoned and queried this and were
the fee runs from the date of application. We expressed our shock that
they could justify charging us this fee for just half a years
certification and stated that we did now want to renew. We then
receiving further invoices, threatening letters and finally a court
summons for the 2001-2002 fee. The bill has now risen to £680 and for
We have quite a few plans in the pipeline. We hope to offer a wide
of courses and workshops throughout the winter months. We are also
thinking of having a big party for all our friends, which may well
happen at the Winter Solstice. We are meeting with the planning
department to discuss the steps needed to fulfil the conditions for
further planning consent. Plans are also afoot to construct and edible
maze featuring all our favourite edible plants plus musical
a viewing tower and a children's play area. We are on the lookout for
any wood/stone carvings to help decorate the maze.
You have probably noticed that the newsletter is very out of date for
which we can only apologies. I'm sure you can appreciate that due to
the work carried out over the last year that some tasks, such as the
newsletter and general admin have been neglected. We will try to
that you won't have as long to wait for the next newsletter.
A big thank you to all the people who have helped the project over the
last year: Frank, Phil, Leslie, Linda, Pearce, Ken, Addy, Buddhafield,
Matt, Mike and Frog, Nick and Helen, Jay and Clara our departing
trustees David and Guy and new trustees Julia, Simon and Paul, all
who have helped us financially and everyone else who has given love
support. But most of all to the two superstars Elaine and Jim.
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Please make cheques payable to Plants For A Future and send them to
Plants For A Future,
Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee,
registered in England and Wales.
Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567,
Reg. office 131 Spencer Place, Leeds, LS7 4DU, England.
Trustees: Dr R. J. Morris, J. Darby, P. B. Gauntlet, S. H. Money
Supported by Devon and West Somerset Key Fund and the Naturesave