Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ynyslas or vegetable colourscapes

Rosie and Olivier's dedication!
So impressed was Ms Tagalong with CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology)  that she took their recommendation to visit Ynyslas, a community garden project a few miles away near Borth on the mid-Wales coast.

Mr Ideasman drove the Bongo into the walled garden. No-one in sight. But before they could go off nosing around, Peter, 'the owner' of the land appeared from the blackcurrant bushes.

His initial reticence receded as Ms Tagalong mumbled and bumbled her explanation of why she was there and summoning his partner, Lynne, they explained more about the garden.

Healthy crops in one of those greenhouses
You have to go back to the industrial revolution really, the start of railway lines coming down from the Midlands. Borth became a holiday destination with no food! Ever entrepeneurial, the railways built this large walled garden with lean-to greenhouses on all sides and many very large ones in the middle. Several still stand today, some repaired, some in disrepair. Not surprising as there are over 600 panes of glass in each one!

Mr Ideasman was jumping up and down with excitement,
'This place is the real beginning of tourism,' he said.

So from 1876 this was a nursery supplying food to the railway hotels in town and the visitors to the railway cafes. Lucky them, their soil was shipped in from Ireland. The local port shipped out slate and brought soil back as ballast.

But enough of the history. What about community gardening? Peppercorn rents have allowed various groups to have a go at community gardening, well, gardening for the community, trying to provide box schemes for locals to have organic produce.

Like Bosavern, in far Southern Cornwall,  distribution is difficult. Chatting to Rosie and Olivier, two of the present Green Isle group, Ms Tagalong bowed down before their dedication.

Patiently picking leaves from cut and come again lettuces, discarding the curled and browned, they had arrived by bike from Borth station.

They said they were relative novices but their credentials seemed pretty good to Ms Tagalong. All four had met at CAT and were using this as a learning experience, what grew well here and what didn't. Not a good Summer to be experimenting really, thought Ms T. What could survive deluge, perhaps?

But it was time for a cup of tea, Ms Tagalong and Mr Ideasman went back to the main house which used to be the office for the railways and spent a happy hour discussing things artistic and Antipodean with Peter and Lynne who are the artists and masterminds behind Colourscape. You never know who you'll meet!

Peter and Lynne's restored greenhouse
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