Posted by: lensweb | August 31, 2015



Mon Aug 10  Whistlewood Common, Melbourne –  an exciting community venture. A small group bought an arable field, which they are developing using permaculture principles, which stress natural methods and biodiversity for  maximum socio/environmental/economic benefits.

Meet 7pm on the Common site if dry enough, otherwise park over the road at Dovesite Business Park. Take the Ticknall road out of Melbourne. After leaving the B587 Whistlewood Common is quickly on your right.

Grid ref SK372 247          Nearest postcode DE73 8HS

Leader   Graham Truscott
We left Long Eaton under a black cloud and tractored past haymakers and harvesters bathed in golden yellow sunshine, to Whistle Wood Common

Graham, Clare and Christian welcomed us to a pow wow and we sat on cut logs around  hungry wood stoves with flames licking the sides of 2 merrily bubbling kettles seated on top.


We were introduced to the concept of permaculture and sustainability, collective responsibility towards future generations, community involvement and, as they proudly unfurled a meticulously drawn  chart we saw the future vision for Whistlewood Common. Not just preaching to the converted, everyone is invited to join in, schools are involved in projects and demonstration gardens, local wood bodgers are building an education centre with plans for an octagonal performance space and a thatched roundhouse to be funded by grants and another share issue. Our eyes feasted on honeyed homemade banana and nut cake.

The historic common land was identified as a suitable site for Permaculture as botanical doctors Chris and Henry Wilkins (well known vegetable stall holders on Long Eaton market) were retiring. After the purchase of the land in 2013 by 150 shareholders matched by a grant from the National Forest, the big works started by diverting a field drain into a swale, a ditch dug around the contour to prevent run off, to catch water to percolate into the ground.

Then all hands on deck,  regular Saturday work parties, open to all,  planting a forest garden, 3000 mixed fruit and other trees such as Italian alder and currant bushes planted in a hedge of fruitfulness for all to share.

Walking around the arid terracotta prairie coated with tough Timothy grass taller than the brave fruit trees, cherry, walnut, apple, elder clinging to the clay, the vision held. It was quite difficult to push through the tough, dry grass stems to the 4 shallow specially constructed amphibian ponds in the field corner, all dry. The plan is good, reality is. Hard.

flower meme
A splash of colour on a buff canvas pink yarrow, poppies, corn marigold, chamomile, and larkspur. This oasis in the desert was a wildflower garden created by mechanically removing a meter of topsoil, getting rid of the leathery Timothy and the over abundance of nitrogen, the scything challenge a measure of the task ahead.

Seated once more in front of the yurt we admired the fine view to the Oxford-Derby Ridgeway and St Brides, possibly the oldest building in Derbyshire.  We ate the cake thoughtfully. Was this peace and love in the setting sun?  We know the sixties are a distant dream and this is a business aiming to be sustainable in environmental and economic terms.

sun (2)

Marion Bryce August 2015


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