Here and There

Reports from near and far

PDC Bury permaculture design Asmelash Dagne Ethiopia Quinta Da Estrelinha Angus Soutar Peter Fearon Asmelash Dagne

"Certified" at Manchester Road

We had several excellent presentations at the end of last year's PDC at Manchester Road, Bury. Loads of insights and creativity in the design work - the standard was very high, the lunch was excellent and the evaluation very encouraging.

Manchester Road Community Centre Artspace Design Presentation
Bury PDC certificate Bury PDC 2019

Annual Office Party in Manchester

For the second year running, we held our Christmas get-together at The Yard Theatre in Manchester. It was a fitting mid-winter event with lots of "catching up", planning and dreaming together. Also, we're glad to say, we had opportunities to make new friends!

Christmas Party at The Yard Christmas Party at The Yard
In the Deep Midwinter... and all too soon, it was time to go!

Mushroom cultivation trials at Quinta Da Estrelinha

From Peter Fearon

Read more about Quinta Da Estrelinha in Peter's blog Peter and Tineke

On our trip last October, we started the next stage of our trials in advance of implementation and integration into our permaculture systems. Earlier this year we trialled different blends of green manures with our baby kiwi, this time we were starting with mushrooms. As we showed in our last blog post about our food forest, mushroom cultivation is something that we have incorporated into our design to be a passive yield that should deliver a crop over a 7-10 year period without any further input.

The use of different wood types for different fungal crops is relatively well documented and we have ready access to oak although we would rather not cut them down if it can be helped. One tree species that we have more of than we want however, is eucalyptus. An ideal situation for us would be to substitute the oak for eucalyptus as the only other use for the eucalyptus to us is as a wood fuel. Eucalyptus seems to have a mixed reception when it comes to fungi cultivation, partly due to the fact that much of the eucalyptus is regrowth from coppice and the wood suffers from nutrient shortages. Various sources report that shiitake cultivation is variable on eucalyptus for these reasons. In Brazil, Eucalyptus is the most common wood for shiitakes to be grown on, probably due to their abundance and the ease of working with them as they grow fast and straight. The major concern that is noted in various articles is the tendency for mushrooms grown on eucalyptus to take on some of the flavour. With these factors in mind, we decided to trial the growth of shiitake, summer oyster and tarragon oyster on eucalyptus alongside a traditional cultivation on oak. The logs were prepared this October and we hope to see the first spawn run by February at which point the shiitake logs will be stacked and the oyster logs ‘planted’ with up to 1/3 of their length submerged underground. We will monitor the growth of the fungi closely in order to understand whether eucalyptus is a viable wood source for us to attempt cultivation, in which case we will scale up our production.

Mushroom log Logs prepared and ready

News from Asmelash Dagne Datiko

I am glad to see Northern Edge with the updates and what's going on "here and there". I am back in Germany, started the winter semester at Brandenburg University of Technology (near Berlin).

The important news from my side is that always there are lots of different things going on. Currently, while studying I already initiated a project to rehabilitate an old well in rural Ethiopia for a community suffering from lack of water. The well is next to the school which will be a blessing for the school children to access drinking water and reforest the "desert" that is the school compound.

Ethiopia well project
Villagers struggle to get water out of the sand.

The challenge is that it becomes difficult to pull out the old pump to put in a new solar pump. They tried several times with big machines but achieved nothing and we are looking for alternatives. Maybe drilling a new well, but then I have to work on finding more funds. The main objective was to supply drinking water for the community and school children and to establish a permaculture garden in the school and farmers’ training centre nearby.

Well digging Ethiopia field
Getting water is hard work! Farmers need water, too

In my latest trip, I was travelled with a group of students from Germany to make market analysis for Aquaponics and solar fruit drying project which is in the pipeline as the next project. I have to work on improving livelihood and contribute to the establishment of a climate-resilient community.

Asmelash colleagues 1 Asmelash colleagues 2

I will keep you updated with the progress - I hope to visit you all later in February!

// Visit confirmed - see What's On section - Ed

News in brief

Deborah Crook is now teaching in Finland and enjoying the country and its education system.

Maureen Boustred is now in Bournemouth. Although she has a garden to work in, she still hankers after the rolling chalk downland of Kent.

Following his success in New Zealand, Freddie Cannon has promised us more on bicycling in a future issue!

Photo from Freddie Cannon

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