June 7, 2020

Couple wanted for remote land rental

A unique opportunity to rent a large open space with amazing views and good quality land for growing food has opened up in the Welsh countryside.

An ecological group from Brighton is planning to create residential smallholdings in Gower, Swansea, and is seeking long term tenant farmers.

If you are yearning to escape the daily grind in the city, this once in a lifetime chance could be your way out.

The Ecological Land Cooperative – Furzehill site is looking for two tenant farmers who will live in a mobile home before eventually being able – with planning consent -to build a modestly-sized, environmentally-friendly home each, Wales Online reports.

The grassland site has mains water connection but it is expected that the smallholders would live off-grid, using coppiced wood for winter heating.

They’d grow fruit and veg -including in greenhouses and polytunnels -look after hedgerows and newly-created ponds, and could rear animals.

Temporary accommodation would also be provided near the barn for two volunteers.

Normally, development in the open countryside is very restricted, but the ELC has applied to Swansea Council for permission under the Welsh Government’s one planet development planning guidance.

This guidance describes such schemes as low-impact development which “either enhances or does not significantly diminish environmental quality”, and said they must have a management plan.

In a planning statement, the ELC said the chosen smallholders would lease the land but could not sub-let it.

It added that the site would be tied to ecological farming in perpetuity.

The report said: “In addition to their many ecological benefits, the ELC’s small farm developments increase access to local fresh food, benefit the local economy and help to address a lack of affordable rural housing and an ageing rural population.”

The Furzehill site in the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB is just under 18 acres, with five of those already leased to a local food and veg cooperative called Cae Tan CSA.

The ELC said careful consideration had been given to meet AONB requirements, such as low buildings and additional planting to screen them.

Courses and annual open days would be held, it said, with the community benefiting from an extra locally-grown produce option.

In a separate planning document, the ELC said a lot of food consumed in the UK was grown under plastic sheeting in arid areas of Morocco and Spain.

In Wales, most one planet development applications to date have been in west Wales.

Last year, Pembrokeshire councillor Huw George said he was concerned these developments were not being monitored strictly enough, while farmers weren’t allowed to build cottages for their children on their land.

Cllr George told BBC Wales: “Something has to be done to tighten this policy, to make sure there’s a level playing field for those who live and work in this area.”

Sonia Sinahan, ELC operations manager, said: “We monitor our small farms …

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The Off-Grid Solution to Social Distancing (says Reuters)

Couple living alone in wilderness for decades -REUTERS SPECIAL REPORT-

SOMEWHERE NEAR RESERVE, New Mexico, June 5 (Reuters) – To leave society behind was a wedding vow Wendell and Mariann spoke only to each other. It was a solemn one, though, and to save for it Mariann spent only $66 on her bridal gown. Once they were married on that winter day 35 years ago, they just started driving.

Wendell and Mariann Hardy had lived most of their lives in the fast-growing southwestern city of Tucson, Arizona. But each was drawn to solitude. Mariann began distance-running into the mountains on high desert trails. Even before they met, both relocated to log cabins up on Mt. Lemmon, the 9,157-foot peak in the Catalinas range that overlooks Tucson. Still, city types came up to party there on the weekends. It wasn’t isolated enough.

Wendell took a job installing windows at Mariann’s cabin. Shy at first, the two got to talking about how they weren’t made for crowded places. One afternoon, Mariann offered him gin and tonic. Just how far, Wendell asked her, would she be willing to go?

In search of solitude

The question, open-ended and thrilling, marked the beginning of a union between two people who sought solitude – and instead found a life alone together.

Decades later, a pandemic has thrust the concept of social distancing into the daily lexicon and lives of Americans. As the nation’s death toll from COVID-19 tops 100,000, a new reality has set in: With few effective treatments and no vaccine, maintaining distance from others in society is the only sure method of stopping the spread.

Few people are as accustomed to the rigors, or rewards, of sheltering-in-place as Wendell, 75, and Mariann, 69. Soon after their 1985 church wedding in Tucson, they started exploring the wildest reaches of the American West for a place to be on their own.

A jack of all trades, including driving race cars, Wendell had a knack for fixing up vehicles like their salvaged pickups and a 1978 Jeep. They’d load one up and scout out Arizona’s parched borderlands to the south, and its ponderosa pine forests up north.

You can tell something by how couples sit on bench seats in old pickup trucks. Some sit apart, at either window. Others, like Wendell and Mariann, sit close together, behind the steering wheel.

Their search ended in Catron County, New Mexico. It is among the most rural in the United States, bigger than some U.S. states. Elk outnumber people 4 to 1. Traffic is so sparse, the county doesn’t have a single stoplight. Some children wait for the school bus in wood and wire cages. These serve as a precaution, against the wolves.

Miles down a washed-out dirt road along the San Francisco River, they saw 25 acres for sale. The $40,000 stretch of land, 6,000 feet high and zoned …

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