Published: 28 July 2014
Sue's Views: Week 24
Sue has a varied week looking at pests and diseases, lawn mowers and the stunning views from the gardens at Dartington.
Our penultimate week at Schumacher. It’s been a long year in some respects but over so quickly in others. I am quite relieved to have finished all my assignments but will truly miss coming in three times a week to see everyone. I’ll really miss the banter and crazy conversations about everything from land tax to wizardry. We had a good week this week as Liz Turner came in from Beesands agroforestry project to talk to us.
We covered forest gardening which was great for me if I’m going to create my own forest garden. We also talked about agroforestry, with alley cropping of cereals or vegetables between lines of trees and shrubs. Silvoarable systems look at combining trees with animals on pasture. The main other area, which I must explore more is forest farming: growing ‘high value’ crops under a forest canopy. This could be herbs, coppiced wood, mushrooms, who knows what else. I shall have to get googling!
Liz has her own project, Trees for Health, down near Beeson. Its a few acres of land, with a beautiful view of the sea, where she has a forest garden and some alley crops. It sounds wonderful. She does educational visits there so has received some funding for her project from Awards for All and other organisations. It sounds a little like what I would like to do. Anyone in the area I’m sure would be welcomed if they are interested in seeing what Liz is doing and can provide her with some voluntary assistance.
Patrick did a great session this week on pests and diseases. The snails were a pretty easy ID but there are some weird and not so wonderful diseases out there. Fireblight was an interesting one. Apparently the plants look like they’ve been scorched with fire. Anyone seen this? I’d be interested to see any pictures.
Melinda has been attending her School for Startups course in Torquay. It sounds like it will be great; lots of information and interested tutors and mentors to encourage you on your way. I’m due to go on it in October in Exeter with Pete so it’s helpful to get some advice, such as ‘Do your homework as you’ll get even more to do when you go back for your second day!’ Hopefully it’ll get me started on the basics of running a business. 
On the practical side, we had a relaxed afternoon with Jane, using the hand mower in Brian’s garden and doing some weeding. I’m still not sure if I’m pulling out weeds or proper plants half the time. I’m really going to miss Jane’s advice. We had our last practical at Dartington too, weeding mostly on the edge of the meadow. It’s my favourite part of the garden, almost wild with stunning views of the countryside around. 
I think next week will consist mostly of celebrating our completion of the course. A trip to Beeson, my final assessment (lawnmower maintenance) and a party Friday afternoon in the Chicken Shed. So much to look forward to!
Reported by Sue  

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