The monthly news bulletin from Transition Town Totnes.
Taking positive action together in a changing world
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Welcome to TTT's summer newsletter!

We're halfway through the year already and what a great six months it's been. Our Transition Walks and talks have really taken off, with participants from all over - local, national and international - hearing about them and coming along to find out more about TTT. There will be a Walk every two weeks over the summer months, so please check out the calendar and book in - it's well worth it! We have also seen the start of monthly 'Transition Socials' in the newly refurbished King Bill pub on Fore Street, and it'd be great to see you at the next social on the 18th July, from 6pm.

The Incredible Edible growing sessions continue to run weekly throughout the summer, and fascinating skillshares are being held throughout this month: July sees a wild swimming session and making paper with wildflower seeds. There are also two film night treats this month: 'The Clean Bin Project' on the 8th July and the annual film club film and dinner social. This year's film is 'Spirit of 45' and there is a 40's theme to the evening. (We promise no spam or bully beef...!)

Last month's excitement was being invited to be part of a consortium bid, headed up by Schumacher College, to bid to develop and run Old Parsonage Farm on the Dartington Estate. A packed public meeting on the 19th June heard about the plans from Tim Crabtree from Schumacher and there was resounding support. The bid was submitted on the 27th June and we are now waiting to see if we are invited to present to the panel.
Sticking with the farm theme, another packed public meeting was held at the Civic Hall on the 26th June to raise awareness of the Duke of Somerset's plans to build on a 4th generation tenanted dairy farm, taking away their livelihood. The Friends of Great Court Farm did a great job presenting the facts and reasons why the Duke should rethink his plans and withdraw. More information, including a video of the presentation, can be found on their Facebook page.
We hope you have a great summer and enjoy the sunshine, and we'll be back in September with the next bulletin.

Table of contents

Exciting proposal for Dartington estate farm

Transition Town Totnes is working with the Schumacher Food and Farming Consortium on a bid to secure the tenancy of Old Parsonage Farm on the Dartington Estate for the next 20 years.

This farm would be a living laboratory demonstrating the ecological and financial viability of low input, low carbon mixed farming, horticulture and agroforestry plus land-based processing enterprises, with a programme of research, education and community engagement. This vision would be realised over time and most likely in several phases that create opportunities for regeneration of the soil, capital investment, completion of organic certification and longer term development of a farm-start incubator, processing opportunities and other education programmes.

A public meeting was held on June 19, 2014 to present the overall vision to the community and seek input on what people would like to see happen on the farm. The closing date for tenders was June 27th and the bid process will continue over the summer - we should know by early autumn if the project will go ahead.

For further information please contact Tim Crabtree.

North Devon Transition Forum at Goldcoast Oceanfest 2014

North Devon Transition Forum invited TTT to send a speaker for their venue at the Oceanfest festival on June 21-22. The TTT Arts Network's Dylan Williams shares his thoughts on the event:

"I was very privileged to be asked to go up to North Devon last weekend, to attend a local music and surf-culture festival. This year the festival boasted the musical stylings of Natty, Willie and the Bandits, Ruarri Joseph, Newton Faulkner and many others.

The North Devon Transition Forum, organised by a team of local entrepeneurs located close to the festival site at Pickwell Manor, were a new edition to the festival, hosting their 'Small Talk Big Ideas' venue. Speakers included local musicians, converts from the former city ‘rat race’, a saving local libraries campaign, sustainable food experts, social enterprises, and me – talking about Transition Town Totnes.

Sat in the glorious sunshine, I gave two 25 minute talks about the work that we do in Totnes. This included projects such as the REconomy Centre, Atmos, Transition Homes, Transition Streets, and crucially, how to get involved, how diverse our work is, and the community building ethics behind our approach. Both sessions were well attended, and provided a tranquil place for reflection, and plenty of questions.

It was great to see this Transition forum had the interest of so many local people, and I felt proud to be part of something that was inspiring them."

Big Picnic success in Totnes

For the second year running, TTT and the Network of Wellbeing (NOW) co-hosted a BIG PICNIC on the site of the forest garden being created in the Follaton Arboretum. We were delighted to be joined by so many for the Big Picnic: some 80 people came throughout the day and enjoyed the friendly company, shared food and beautiful views towards Dartmoor. They were also able to appreciate the potential of this site, where we will soon be creating a pond and a landscaped sitting area. The Big Picnic took place on June 1st within the 'Big Lunch' initiative set up by the Eden Project to "get as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours once a year in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.

Some of us had already spent time that morning working on the nursery where we produce edibles – including many fruit and nut trees and shrubs available for the community – and on the young forest garden. We meet at the Arboretum, the popular public park at the back of Follaton House, on the first Sunday of every month from 10 to 1 pm, and usually follow this with a shared picnic. Anyone is most welcome to join us, for any length of time! We provide tools to those who wish to give a hand or learn hands-on gardening, and we're also happy just to chat!

Larch Maxey, coordinator of the forest garden project and NOW's Project Manager, feels that "events that help us gather together 'just for the love of it' create a network of friendship and connections that help make our communities more resilient, rewarding and fun! Meeting our neighbours, taking the time to talk, share food and celebrate life together are small acts with a huge impact."

Please see TTT's website to find out more about our monthly sessions, or contact Annie on or 01803 762992. We'd love to show you around!

Tolpuddle Martyrs pilgrims coming through Totnes

The Tolpuddle Martyrs Pilgrimage is happening this month. This 10-day political pilgrimage-of-sorts leads from from Plymouth Harbour, Devon to the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival in Dorset. It is a walking festival connecting the history of the famous Dorset farmer workers with the new co-operative and community-led initiatives that are reinventing our food system and changing the way we feed the future, including our local School Farm CSA. Along the route the pilgrims will be taking part in workdays, including a 'weed and feed' at School Farm, and will share stories and strategies of social change from community to community. They'll be supporting local transition groups’ new initiatives –  energy co-ops, credit unions, community food gardens – that are part of re-localizing our economic systems in response to peak oil, climate change and financial collapse, and finding out about relevant events and local campaigns to support along the route from living wage campaigns to start-up community farms.

If you'd like to walk with the pilgrims along a section of their route, or to offer a bed to a weary walker on July 11th, register via this site, and for more information visit their Facebook page.

'Weed and feed' at School Farm

You can join the pilgrims and come along to the 'Weed and Feed' from 2pm, Friday 11th July, at School Farm CSA. As they say 'One year's seeding is seven year's weeding!' and it's that time of year when the weeds are flourishing and helping hands can make a big difference. You are welcome to come for as long as you like – even an hour of weeding would really help at this time of year. There will be light refreshments available and from 6pm they will light the barbecue. Special guest Jonny, publisher of Stir Magazine, will tell us all about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and share tales of their adventures around the fire. School Farm will provide the veggie based delights if you'd like to bring along any meat or vegetarian options.

The adventures of Hope Activists

The Active Hope group is Some Hope Activists bonding with non-humans in Leechwell gardengoing well and are meeting weekly to share discussions and processes inspired by the 'Work-that-Reconnects' framework and Joanna Macy's latest book, co-written with Chris Johnstone.  On June 19th we started our fourth session outdoors in Leechwell garden, to make the most of nature in this wonderful weather.  We were focusing on 'Seeing with New Eyes' – a shift of consciousness from separation to connection.

We went on a little adventure, feeling how we can view ourselves as dangling up-side-down into the vast cosmos whilst being held in the embrace of Mamma Earth (a process devised by the physicist Brian Swimme), we listened to some wise voices such as Einstein telling us to "look deeply into nature to understand everything better", we went on to ask guidance from non-humans and continued deepening our enquiries into the nature of the self. Next week the intention is to remain spacious but also very practical, entering the 'Going Forth' part of our journey.

Decisions haven't yet been made about the dates and format of a new  'Active Hope' group or workshops, but please contact Annie on or 01803 762992 if you are interested in taking part in any way, and we'll be in touch!

REconomy garden's permaculture makeover

June saw the REconomy Centre garden taken over by eager permaculture  students. The garden had grown a little wild, and was in need of some understanding and attention! On Saturday 7th a dozen people came together, including visitors from as far away as Chile, with guidance from Eloise Rokirilov and Laurel Ellis to learn the basics of permaculture and apply these to the garden.

The first step was to observe the garden, and to think about its purpose - what is growing there, and why? What are the conditions in the garden? How will people use the garden? Having been amazed by how many species can grow in a small space, having identified dozens including abundant wild strawberries and butterfly-loving buddleia, and that even in a small space conditions can vary dramatically, the volunteers then removed some overbearing plants, relocated others, and added new plants kindly provided by Laurel. An area was cleared at the sunny end of the garden, to allow people to sit out and enjoy the space.

Next time you're at the REconomy centre make sure you take time to enjoy the green space!

TTT & Totnes Solar PV offer still open

TTT has a partnership with local company, Totnes Solar, who is offering to install PV to those referred by TTT at a small discount. Totnes Solar  was selected following a competitive tender involving a number of local companies.PV edit

Under the project TTT refers interested households or businesses to Totnes Solar, an experienced installer with an excellent local reputation, for a free, no-obligation quote. Totnes Solar will arrange to visit to survey  and discuss the householder’s requirements with them, before quoting at the discounted price agreed with TTT.

Following any installations under the scheme the householder concerned will receive ‘cashback’ of a brand new 21 Totnes pounds to spend locally, and TTT will receive a small referral fee to support its energy saving work.

If you are interested please email Mary Popham or call 07815 799996.

New insulation offers and great cashback available

Much of Totnes will soon once again be able to get free loft and cavity wall insulation through the Cosy Devon ECO partnerships between the Devon Local Authorities and the energy company Eon.

If you live outside the relevant areas you will still be able get free insulation and boilers upgrades if you are on certain qualifying benefits, and for those that don't don't qualify for free insulation the cost will be just £99 each for loft and cavity wall insulation.

The new Cosy Devon scheme is due to launch on the 7th July. TTT will be able to refer households to the scheme and will receive a small a small referral fee if any installations take place. Contact Mary Popham on 07815 799996 or email for more details.

In addition, the government has launched the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund through which you can get back up to 75% of the cost of installing solid wall insulation, up to £6,000. In addition, you can get up to a total of £1,000 towards the cost of installing any two of the following:

  • a condensing gas boiler on mains gas
  • double or triple glazing as a replacement for single glazing
  • secondary glazing
  • replacement doors
  • cavity wall insulation
  • floor insulation
  • flat-roof insulation
  • insulation for a room in the roof
  • a replacement warm air unit
  • replacement storage heaters
  • flue gas heat recovery units
  • a waste water heat recovery system

More information about the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is available here. Please contact Mary with any queries regarding energy efficiency in your home.

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Upcoming Events

TTT film night special

July sees a double bill of film nights, including a special '40s themed evening. On July 22nd, the Civic Hall will host a community supper followed by 'Spirit of '45'.

Spirit of ’45, by Ken Loach, is an inspiring film documenting the accelerated rise of the UK welfare state in the five years immediately following the second world war. Determined leadership and a strong sense of civic duty brought about nationalisation of the railways, the NHS and nationalisation of utilities for the benefit of all citizens. Excellent vintage footage throughout. The screening will be preceded by a delicious local home cooked community supper, and a glass of wine, in the Civic Hall with a 40’s theme (40’s dress welcome). £10 for a great night out. Booking is essential, and tickets are available from the TTT office.

Poetry in Motion

September sees poet, performer, activist and luminary Drew Dellinger coming to Totnes. Inner Transition and the Arts Network group have arranged two exciting events involving Drew.

Poetry Writing Workshop - Tuesday September 16th, 10.30am- 2.00pm at Dartmouth Inn, The Plains, Totnes, (£5-£8 donations) A rare opportunity to work with this leading poet to write your own poetry focussed on our relationship with the natural world and the cosmos.

Poetry Evening - Wednesday September 17th, 7.30pm at Methodist Church, Fore Street, Totnes (£7/£4 concessions) An inspiring evening of poetry reading with Drew Dellinger and our own Matt Harvey. Not to be missed! Click for more about Drew and Matt.


All events are open to all, so just turn up unless it says booking is required (marked *). Please see the calendar for more information on events and skillshares. August is a quiet month at TTT due to the holidays, but there are exciting events in the diary for September!

July                     Please click the link for more information
Thursday 3rd          Building, housing & energy group: Erica Lewis of Land Society, TTT 8pm
Friday 4th               Free marketing surgery*, REconomy centre 10am-12
Sunday 6th             Bud grafting workshop, Follaton Arboretum 2pm
Tuesday 8th           TTT film night: The Clean Bin Project, Methodist Church, 7.30pm (reschedule)
Friday 18th             Transition Walk, meet at TTT office at 2pm
Friday 18th             Transition Social, King Willam pub, 6pm
Saturday 19th         Summer pruning workshop, Follaton Arboretum, 10am
Tuesday 22nd         TTT film club special: Spirit of '45, & community dinner*, Civic Hall, 6.30pm

Friday 1st               Free marketing surgery*, REconomy centre 10am-12
Friday 1st               Transition Walk, meet at TTT office at 2pm
Thursday 7th          BHE group: speaker Chris Baulch on neighbourhood planning, TTT office 8pm
Friday 15th             Transition Walk, meet at TTT office at 2pm

Thursday 4th           BHE group meeting: Adrian Porter on reclaiming building materials, TTT 8pm
Saturday 6th               TTT at Totnes Pride, Civic Hall
Friday 12th              Free marketing surgery*, REconomy centre 10am-12
Tuesday 16th           Poetry workshop with Drew Dellinger, Dartmouth Inn, 10.30am
Wednesday 17th      Poetry evening with Drew Dellinger & Matt Harvey, Methodist Church, 7.30pm
Friday 19th              Transition Walk, meet at TTT office at 2pm
Friday 19th              Transition Social, King Willam pub, 6pm
Sat 20th/Sun 21st    Open Eco-Homes weekend
Saturday 20th             Edible Gardens open day
Saturday 27th             Eco-Homes Fair, Civic Hall

Regular events
Every Thursday       Incredible Edible, Steamer Quay, 5-6.30pm
First Tuesday          Edible flowers & fruit, Rockery by rugby club in Borough Park, 1-2pm
First Tuesday          Play group meeting, REconomy Centre, 6.30pm
First Wednesday     Food group meeting, TTT office, 7.30pm-9pm
First Sunday           Forest gardening, Follaton Arboretum, 10am-1pm
Last Friday             Skillshare meeting, REconomy Centre, 10am-11am

Transition Town Totnes, 43 Fore Street, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5HN.
Tel: 01803 867358
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