The push for great volunteers..
Inspired Intern/volunteers wanted for a wholesome, veg growing, dirty finger-nailed, summer between the mountains and the sea at a permaculture inspired, ecological farm and campsite in North West Wales.
This year we want to take growing veg more seriously, and we want a lovely fun person or couple to be around to make sure that we put lots of effort into this. We have grown enough food to feed the small farm population for the past few summers, but this year we want to grow enough to create a surplus.
Each summer we set off with this intention, but each summer animals, campers and the need to make some kind of income get in the way.. You will be our veg champion, defender of the dirt and caresser of cabbages.
In return for your efforts you will get to spend a healthy summer outside, have a cosy place to live with woodburner and sea views, healthy food, permaculture library, outdoor woodland baths, get to learn about permaculture, animal care, natural and traditional building and running a campsite.
This post would ideally suit a couple, and ideally people who can commit to spending a good proportion of summer here.
In the shorter term if anybody fancies the above for help putting in fences to create small wildflower meadows and edible hedgerows and are available now(ish). let me know..
We've just launched a new string to our bow here at
Henbant to try and pay for all the trees and edible
hedgerows and forest garden that we want to plant this
winter we need to raise some money.. and I think as a way
of remembering Bill Mollison who said he wanted people to
remember him after his death by planting trees.. We're
going to sell permaculture inspired t'shirts, with our new
brand name Wear the Change.. PLEASE have a look and
consider buying one (or tell somebody else who may do) here.. we'll
plant a tree AND donate to the UK permaculture association
We've had a brilliant summer here at Henbant, thank you so
much all of you that were part of it.. Lots of lovely
campers and yurtlings, lots of busy animals and a team of
Brilliant volunteers.. We are still busy working on
sorting out the veg garden for next year, sorting our
fencing and planting 1000's of hedgrows.. So we can start
planed holistic grazing in spring. Thank you..
Meet Meryn Emily Swarbrick
We are so so very excited to introduce our new staff
member here at Henbant.. Meryn Emily Swarbrick was born
on the 25th April and all are healthy and as happy as
Ready for camping 2015
We have our yurt finaly up and running, and to say we
made it from a log and roll of canvas we are really
pleased with it, it also seems to be popular with lots
of booking straight away (thank goodness!).. We are also
working on a new toilet and shower in the farm yard.
Lambing 2015, all went really well. We lambed inside which
is unusual for us, but it was surprisingly easy and we
wanted to lamb earlier to have the lambs safely here by
the time we have our own lamb in April (which as of 23
April, we are still waiting for)
August ' 14
Make Hay whilst the sun shines
We thought we would get 300 bales of hay, our neigbour
thought 400, we got 800! and we had a brilliant weekend
of campers helping, sore hands, campfires and BBQ's and
making vintage tractors work.. Next year we will run a
traditional hay making weekend, where you can come and
do all of the above with us and feel part of a time gone
by. We will also cut our hay meadow by scyth! P.S.. we
have more hay than we need, if you want to buy some high
quality small bale meadow hay let us know...
We have some lovely volunteers from Italy who have
helped us wih the decking for the yurt and we also
managed to get in our winter fodder crops such as swede,
kale and potatoes, it feels brilliant to have bigger
areas of veg growing, Matt loved casting is seed like a
We have had a glorious June. We had Reem and Shaun as
volunteers and managed to get the woodwork of our yurt
all beautifully finished (now just a lot of sewing and
the decking to follow). We also had our polytunnel
really come into production, to have ripe tomatoes and
cucumbers in June has been brilliant, and we are still
finding new recipes for our courgettes!
We had our last lamb delivered this weekend, on the
same weekend we also ran (shockingly successfully) our
first Introduction to Permaculture course taught by the
inspirational Steve Jones.
October '13, the last addition to our large
mammals, we finally have our Shetland cows.
Cattle are a key part of the biodynamic farming system,
and the Shetlands will help us a great deal with
conservation grazing of our woodlands and wetlands and
they are less discriminating in what they eat than sheep
so should help us a lot in our grazing management..
eventually we will milk them, but for now they are busy
exploring our tree lines and wetland.
September '13, Henbant goes scaffold less
Just within a year of it going up we took the scaffold
down and revealed Henbant properly with it's new roof
(it now almost looks as good as they day we started
pulling it apart!)
September '13, bringing home the bacon
With lots of land we want to plant up with trees this
winter veg in spring we need some help with the digging
we have some new volunteers, they are Oxford Sandy
Blacks and we may keep the ginger one as our sow.
August '13, Green seeding our hay meadow
We are VERY excited to have just green seeded one of
our fields as a wild flower hay meadow. Hay meadows are
an essential part of the UK's biodiversity and over 97%
of them have been lost since the war. Henbant's
no-inputs over the past forty years means that our
grassland is already low nutrient and high-diversity but
this green seeding is the next step on a longer road to
re-establishing this hay meadow. It's part of the Coronation
Hay Meadow Project and you can read a lot more
about it here
We have had some brilliant help from Hilary from the
Wildlife Trust and Lleyn Landscapes Partnership and a
little bit of money from the Gwynedd Biodiversity team
to whom we are very grateful.
August '13, We get some new sheep
We have just brought home some beautiful and diverse
new ewes. They are native breeds, but quite a mix of
Jacob, Shetland and Welsh mountain, they should thus be
able to cope outside here through the whole year, they
shouldn't need much in the way of extra food and they
should be able to lamb without our assistance. The other
big advantage for us is that they are all friendly!
help us make some more progress on the house, August
We had a lovely day lime plastering with some of our
campers whilst they had a day out of the rain and their
children enjoyed a day on the sofa watching TV.. not
quite what we meant to be teaching campers, but they had
lived in the field for three weeks!
for our family cows, July '13
We are looking for a
cow (or actually a couple of cows).. We have been
talking to neighbors, visiting folk with different
breeds, and I think we are going to buy Shetlands.. they
were bred as the crofters cow and are perfect for what
we are doing here, they are small (but not silly small),
they are friendly and rare native breed, they can out
winter, they are 'milky'.. all in all they are perfect
Here are the two
Shetland cows that we are thinking of buying..
Henbants volunteers, May 13
We are really lucky this month to have two really
experienced gardeners join us here at Henbant, amongst
other things they are helping us establish our main veg
Holly and Wilkie creating a beautiful garden from a
If you're interested in volunteering here, please get
Henbant has a permanent population of three!
tour of North Wales
Since settling here we
have found an abundance of inspirational Permaculture or
sustainable living projects and peoples around us, its
taken me a while to find them all and we are now going
around to visit as many of them as we can so I'll share
what I have found..
Busy Wednesday Oct '12- Jenny
Woke up to a stressed boyfriend
- where are we putting the windows
- what do we do about this thermal bridging
- do we have to put in concrete
- are we going to have to wheel barrow a whole ton bag
of sand down from the to field
- how does this sarking board fit?
Little did we know stressing was worthwhile as by
10.30am little Henbant was is chaos. The joiners and
van were on on putting the wood in for the roof. Then
2 vans from Scottish power turned up to reconnect us,
just as we thought nothing else would fit in the yard
our neighbors giant tractor turned up carrying a the
dumpy bag of sand. And then to cap it off BT turned up
with another van and a cherry picker to do the phone
line. Why why do you wait 4 weeks for something to
happen and then everything happens in the same
It was great though to have so many people here doing
things it made the place feel alive.
By the end of the day we have a very mashed up drive
way, a BT socket in the field, a full new roof of
rafters and a condemned power supply.
Tue 7th Oct - Jenny
It was fine weather today but we are not ready to get
on with the roof which is frustrating as we know this
good weather can't last for long so we built things
instead which. Matt spent the day building a work
bench. It's massive big enough for several people to
get inside but it will be very useful as at the moment
we use the picnic bench for everything.
I helped with the bench and built a bird table for
outside the caravan, very simple three lime rods cut
from the nearest bit of woodland and tied in a tripod
with a slate hung between. (we have a lot of spare
The bird table is a complete success bar the minor
detail that the birds don't want to go anywhere near
Carried away with the fun of making tripods we then
made a bigger lime tripod and stood it in the wetland
bit below the house. I can hear what I have decided
are barn owls at the bottom of the hill so maybe this
tripod will work as an owl stand but we will have to
be patient if we are ever to notice it in use.
Spent the evening talking to a new friend called Keith
about woodlands chainsaws and vegetable oil as diesel,
took the poor chap for a walk all the way round the
woodland, first time we have known the paths well
enough to get all the way round so satisfying all the
same. Still sorry Keith know it took ages.
Caravan electrics -Jenny
The caravan is randomly half way across the field a
good 150m from the house (paranoid we put it far away
from the falling ash tree despite the fact the tree
probably has another 100years left in it. We have
piped water to the caravan straight across the field
so it will probably freeze solid in a few months time.
So next things next and that's electric, we can't keep
putting the generate on every evening it's noisy and
smelly. So we have installed two solar panels by the
caravan they are pointing east and west so that they
can't meet their full potential as we fear they may
blow the inverter. The panels are attached to three
second hand batteries, and so far these are running
all the lights in the caravan and is enough to charge
laptop's etc. which is brilliant makes life much
Just a little technicality although we love the simple
life we are not hermits and we are not trying to cut
ourselves off from the real world we plan to do this
as sustainability as possible but i still want to
watch a bit of TV every now and then and check what
friends and family are up to on Facebook. We do this
via 3G. New phones provide a wireless hotspot ie you
can connect the laptop to the Internet via your mobile
3G coverage. I know this sounds dull but it is a life
saver to have the internet when you you don't know the
answer to things, and on the 3 network it is free and
fast enough to watch live TV.
A note from Matts mum
I arrived at Henbant the day after my
61st birthday. My thoughts the day before had been on
the next chapter of my life…
what will this bring what will I do how will I feel etc.
you know like ‘ones’ inner thoughts the sort of thoughts
one only really shares with their therapist.
I had been intrigued by a researcher I had listened to
earlier in the week about how she had spent time with
individuals in the last few days of their life. What
were their thoughts and more importantly their regrets
in life I pricked up my ears at that point could I learn
anything here, I asked myself, what could be gleamed
from their experience if anything?
‘live life for yourself’,'do what you choose to,” don’t
delay’… that was the comment that resonated with me the
latest mindfulness CBT in a nutshell I told myself just
get on with it, get on and strip the roof slates.
We worked as a team and got the majority of the job done
in two days. Short breaks for tea and biscuits Matt and
Jenny appear to be believers in good quality biscuits
for their workers ‘look after the workers’ maybe their
motto at Henbant!
Well roof stripped the heavens opened the rain poured
down as only it can do in Wales strong gusts of wind and
driving rain. All spiders webs will be removed with this
downpour I thought lets always look for the positives.
Sadly Sunday afternoon comes too soon my muscles are
aching but my face is smiling Henbant is off …. I smile
as Matt whispers to me I think I am beginning to live in
one of those Enid Blyton novel’s from my childhood. Yes,
I thought your dreams are really happening ‘in the now’
only one better than that was to see the excitement in
Jenny’s eyes too as we wave goodbye to them in the
caravan. (Or was that I offered to take and return the
washing next week!) I think it was the former.
My message to you two is enjoy the now for in the now
are your memories to enjoy make them good ones.
Lynne visited Henbant on September 30th 2012.