Monthly Archives: May 2011

May Newsletter

Welcome to Transition Tavistock’s Newsletter

May 2011

Here’s something about our next Spring Into Summer event
Taking a lead in the local Big Society? The latest event from Transition Tavistock
Everyone of us has something of value to offer to our wider society. The big question is whether we have the courage or inspiration needed to step forward to give it – or whether we prefer a comfortable yet numb routine.

Embercombe is a social enterprise on the edge of Dartmoor dedicated to inspiring action for a sustainable world. Suzy Edwards, Director of Development at Embercombe will talk about the ways they are currently working to touch the hearts and stimulate the minds of hundreds of people and the keys to this success.

Suzy is well qualified to talk about the need for authentic leadership – she has been immersed in the life of Embercombe for over 3 years and was previously a board member for Friends of the Earth as well as personal development coach to aspiring leaders. As a mother of a one year old she also has firsthand experience of the balance required to nurture our inner lives as well as our public.

Embercombe welcomes visitors and runs open programmes. Anyone is welcome to their free monthly ‘Friends Working Weekends’, where people stay in the yurt villages, cook and eat together and work in the organic garden and woodland.

The Embercombe website provides more information:

The talk will be held at the United Reformed Church in Russell St, Tavistock, on Wednesday 11th May. Entry will be by donation and refreshments available. Doors open at 7pm and Suzy’s talk will start at


West Devon Borough Council needs more tree wardens. The national tree warden scheme was originally set up by the National Grid and needs local people who would like to keep an eye on local trees – if like me, you sometimes wonder whether that tree really should be felled and whether the correct permission has been obtained, this could be the role for you! If you are interested in finding out more about what this role involves, contact Don Johnson on 01822 614 246 or

Making the Links

There was discussion at the GrowTavi meetings about the sustainability of food production in the Tamar Valley. The question of fish production in the Tamar was raised and it was pointed out that pollution from the nuclear submarines stored at Devonport has caused nuclear pollution which severely limited our options of promoting local fish production. A related issue came up at a meeting of the Tavistock Peace Action Group later in the day when it was pointed out that it is not possible to eat shellfish from the Tamar because of contamination from the release of tritium into the waters. Not only are there more submarines being stored at Devonport awaiting dismantling than are legally permitted but it is not only those living near the dockyard who are having our waters and food production adversely affected by the government’s proposal to store and cut up nuclear submarines in our nearest city.

Examples of Good Practice

It has been suggested that in addition to beginning to collate instances of good practice of installing solar water heating, photovoltaic panels, use water harvesting, wind turbines, ground water collection, etc it would be useful to arrange for these examples to be opened up for visits on a set day when people can arrange their “tour” of sites and gain close up experience of the systems and ask questions of those who have carried out the installations. If you have a scheme which others might be interested in and are willing to share your experience with others, do let Mike Dennis know and we can explore whether this is a viable option.

News from Europe

In another busy week in Brussels Graham Watson, MEP, was occupied in tabling and seeking support for amendments to Parliament’s proposals for the future funding priorities of the EU. Unless the budget reflects the greening of power generation which environmentalists seek, it simply will not happen. He is trying to secure some government pump priming to encourage private investors into renewable energy. The European Commission helped by announcing on Wednesday a EUR 42 million investment from research and development funds into electric car technology.

This announcement came hot on the heels of Monday’s launch by EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas (Estonia, LD) of a new White Paper on transport policy, in which he proposes banning fossil-fuel powered cars in cities by 2050, sourcing 40% of aviation fuel from non fossil sources and cutting greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 40%. Half of road freight for journeys of over 300 km would be shifted to rail or waterborne transport. Since demand for transport is forecast to grow by over 80% by 2050, this will not mean a huge cut in CO2 emissions, but it is laudable nonetheless.

On Thursday 31st March the Commission adopted a Regulation specifying when waste is no longer waste. Sounds strange? It is to deal with legal problems arising from the EU waste directive and will give a huge boost to recycling schemes.

Things to Do

1. Ask your MP for a better energy bill

The Energy Bill is going through Parliament now and your MP has the power to improve it. We need an Energy Bill with the ambition to deliver on the

Climate Change Act and create green jobs whilst making our homes warmer and healthier and reducing fuel bill. At the moment, though, it is currently

unclear what the Bill, which introduces the Green Deal, will actually deliver in terms of energy saved and emissions reduced. You may wish to Email your MP message asking him to support the Warm Homes Amendment.

2. Big climate change reconnection lobby

This April and May there is the opportunity to get involved in the Stop Climate Chaos initiative to

lobby local MPs on three things:

— The government must accept recommendations for delivering on the Climate Act targets

— It must make amendments to strengthen the Energy Bill currently going through parliament.

— It must also provide the right climate finance to poor countries.

Possible actions are 1)lobby your local MP on these three issues, 2) Go to for more information.

Potato Project 2011 at Tregillis Farm, South Petherwin

A Share In The Harvest scheme is running this year using 90kg plus of seed potato sown using blight resisting techniques. Anyone interested can join in:

initial contribution towards seed costs, then help weed and harvest, for a fair share of the yield. We can store the potatoes at the farm, for collection at your convenience.

What we produce will be Soil Association certified, and we aim to re-learn storage techniques etc for sustainable staple crop production for the future. An easy way to be part of where your food is coming from.

For more info please email


April 26th – sowing 11am

July – weeding – morning to be arranged

Oct – harvest – morning to be arranged

Cost? Seed potato = £114 but added to this will be tractor diesel … 3hrs total? if we collectively buy the seed, then the crop is divided according to how much labour and/or help with expenses each person has contributed, i.e. your bag of locally grown organic spuds might cost you a bit more in effort, but less in cash, and each potato will glow with the pride of the personal touch!

We’re seeing a rise in wheat and rice prices. Perhaps the potato may make a come-back as a daily carb? Last year a 25kg bag of organic potatoes cost about £17, there were equivalent sized bags of conventionally grown spuds for a fiver. The huge differential in price is partly due to the amount of work it takes to harvest the organic crop. It’s easy to pick potatoes by machine when the halmes, (the green tops), have been sprayed off leaving the ground clear for the harvester but the area terribly devoid life. Cut out the chemicals and you have wildlife but need more man power. And can we fight blight with organic methods? Let’s try.

It is still not too late to join in with the scheme even if you were unable to help with the sowing on 26th (see below for some helpers).

Save Water and You Might even Improve Your Health!

A few years ago there was a program by a female journalist who was alarmed by the number of chemicals in the form of shampoos, soaps & conditioners etc. that she had been applying to her body over the years. She decided to go without washing to see what happened.

The program showed that cleaning products weren’t actually necessary and could in fact be counterproductive. You might like to go to this link ( )and read the full text of “Six Weeks Without Washing: The Soapless Experiment”, as it appeared in The Daily Mail. The BBC3 program was called “How Dirty Can I Get?”. The trouble I have is that I can’t find the one reference that came from the TV show that is fairly important It wasn’t reported in the Mail and the BBC program is no longer available so you’ll have to trust me on this. I reveal what this reference was at the end.

It is now fairly well known that that vitamin D offers us protection from many ailments and you may know that we can only manufacture it in our skin with the aid of sunlight. Over exposure to the sun is a bad thing but no exposure at all is also bad. We are all suffering from vitamin D deficiency, partly because we don’t get that much sun in this part of the northern hemisphere. If we’re lucky to get some sun, we plaster sun screen all over our bodies which prevents the sun’s rays essential for vitamin D production from getting to our skin. Only recently has it also been realised is that the vitamin D production also requires the oils secreted by the skin. Continually washing these oils off is also preventing vitamin D production which can take about 3 to 4 days for the Vitamin production to complete the cycle.

So how can we save water, not end up unpleasantly smelly and still be able to make our own vitamin D. (Being fat soluble, vitamin D supplements are not assimilated very well if you don’t eat enough fat. Whole milk at the very least, raw if available and butter, no spreads) One way would be to treat yourself to a shower only every 3 to 4 days rather than daily, instantly saving as much as 75% of your shower water. “Six weeks without washing” showed that not washing does not increase the number of bacteria on your body and it’s that bacteria that creates the smell. Wash those hidden places whenever necessary and try to be sparing with soaps etc. Washing in water alone might be all you need to get rid of the dirt.

That one reference that I can no longer find was a discovery made by the journalist’s children towards the end of the experiment. While there was a certain odour attached to the helpless journalist, this mainly emanated from her clothing. Human skin is continually being replaced as new skin cells grow and the old one fall away, taking much of the bacteria with them so if, as with this experiment, the clothing is not washed either, it’s not surprising that it can become smelly.

However the bacteria need a suitable surface to grow on and some clothing is better than others. Next month you might learn how to get down and dirty and help save the planet by carefully choosing the fibre your clothes are made of.


Dates for your diary

11th May. Talk by Embercombe community at the United Reformed Church in Tavistock at 7.30. ( see article above)

5th June. Steam Fair. Look out for the TT stall. If you can help staff the stall do let us know via .

17th June. Next energy/food group meeting. It is proposed to meet in Bedford Square at 7pm for a walking tour to a) view locations for a community notice-board b) consider sites for the edible traffic barriers in the Bedford car park and c) look for a possible site for growing edibles in a section of the Meadows. If you have any ideas or want to find out more all are welcome to join the tour.

29th June. A visit is planned to the Maristow Walled Garden. If anyone is interested, please contact Kate on

12th July. Grow Tavi forum will meet at Maristow Garden during the afternoon. All welcome. Do look out for more details next month and be prepared to share transport to keep our carbon footprint down.

24th September. Moving Planet – a day to move beyond fossil fuels. Do share your knowledge of any local activities on this day.


Have you looked up TT on our Facebook page?