Welcome to Brithdir Mawr Community
We are a collective of people working towards sustainability who wish to share our aim with others.
We take care of the land, recycle and conserve resources, garden and farm according to organic principles and are off the grid for electricity and water.
We are 10 adults who choose to live here: working, eating, meeting and laughing together.
Being a community is a large part of what we do.
To sum up the rest; we are striving towards a life in which our footprints are as light as they can be.
In the course of our communal and personal lives we choose to consider our decisions with these 3 principles in mind:
to work towards a lifestyle that leaves the environment - both local and global - better, or at least no worse, at the end of our lives.
to live such that the benefits of collective living outweigh the difficulties; so that working together is easier and more enjoyable than working separately; so that we will all flourish and feel at home.
|EDUCATION||to share and exchange skills and experience to help both others and ourselves move towards a more sustainable lifestyle.|
Whatever decision we come to in the end, we have arrived there conscious of the ethical implications of that choice and that action.
Community life is centered around the farm yard.
Each person/family has a private living space either in the farm house, or in one of the converted farm building round the yard. Each unit or flat has its own kitchen, sitting room and bedroom(s), but the bathrooms are shared.
Downstairs in the 'big house' we have large communal areas where we may cook, eat, meet, relax together, store food and make cheese and preserves. We have shared evening meals together several times a week, and work together part time to run the farm.
Those who live here put in both time and money to make the place work: we all have a monthly bill for the rental and upkeep of the site, and we all contribute our labour round the farm and buildings doing all the varied things needed to keep an 85-acre site running.
As well as doing community work each week (which is very varied and ranges from milking to book-keeping), everyone also has their own part-time paid job locally to provide their personal income and pay the rent. So living here is a full-time occupation.
We all try to take on a mix of things that are suited to our skills and interests, as well as things that just need to be done. For things like milking, the milkers have a rota, so no-one has do it every morning.
Legally, we have a fully mutual housing cooperative to lease the buildings and land, and a limited company to manage our business/farming activities. The housing co-op provides affordable housing services for it's members in an ethically and environmentally sustainable manner.
We consider these legal structures merely as tools that we can use to interact with the outside world; allowing us to communicate more clearly with official bodies and giving structure to our financial affairs.
We aim to grow as much of our own fruit and vegetables as possible (West Wales weather permitting!) and we have two main garden areas of about 1/2 acre each, looked after by different people, with lots of help from volunteers and other community members. We have goats for their milk, bees for honey and eggs from chickens and ducks and geese. The geese will be the first animals that we raise specifically for meat.
We also have four polytunnels, and a chunk of land set aside for growing field-scale crops such as potatoes.
It's fantastic having fresh vegetables all year round, and following the seasons as different things are harvested.
We don't have fridges or freezers so we do a lot of bottling and preserving, not to mention brewing, to last us through the winter and spring, too.
We also forage, both from the seashore and from the surrounding land, and sometimes go fishing.
Click here to read more about The Gardens
Other dry goods, such as rice, pasta, tea and coffee, we buy from the ethical wholesale supplier Suma, or from the local wholefood shop in Newport as we feel it's important to support our local businesses, particularly those which have similar principles to us.
It can be a dilemma though, trying to select products that tick all the boxes which help us to live more lightly on the planet - organic, fair trade, minimal packaging, minimal transport, local, seasonal, etc; whilst bearing in mind that these principles can cost more and the majority of our members are trying to live on lower incomes so that they can spend much of their time helping to run the farm.
For electricity, we are off-grid, and make our own mains from a wind turbine, photo-voltaic solar cells and a micro-hydro generator. We have plenty of power almost all the time, and have most modern appliances like DVD players, laptops, and powertools - but we are very efficient in our use of them.
By not leaving things on standby, and using big things only when there is surplus power, each of us only consumes a fraction of the electricity that the 'average' person uses each day. (That makes it much easier to generate enough for our needs.)
For heating the houses, and domestic hot water, we have solar water heaters, and wood-fired boilers. We use a lot of wood a year - the wood is from coppice woods and woodland maintainance, so it is endlessly renewable and nearly carbon-neutral.
In 2008 we planted a 4700-tree coppice onsite, for fuel and other uses.
Click here to read a bit more about The Woods
For cooking, we use wood, and a bit of gas. It varies depending on what sort of stove each flat has fitted. We would like to use less gas in the future and are currently looking into practical ways in which we can achieve this.
We have always had working horses on site. At present two are retired and training has recently begun on the other three so that thet can help us with carting, wood extraction and other jobs. We also have dairy goats, and good flocks of chickens and ducks as well as three rowdy geese.
There are compromises involved in any animal-farming system, and we try to meet these in an ethical manner that everyone can agree with.
We have cats to keep the rodents in check and some of us have dogs.
We have several beehives in the orchard and are almost self-sufficient in honey. The land is also fantastic for wildlife, we have a huge range of residents including badgers, foxes, dormice, bats, buzzards and newts.
Click here to read more about The Animals
The 180-acre farm was originally bought by a couple, Julian & Emma Orbach, who restored it & set up a community on site. Several years later they separated and left, splitting the property in half. The current community now rents the farm buildings and 85 acres of land from Julian.
The ethos has remained similar, but the structure of the community has changed at times over the years, so if you visited in the early days you might find some differences now. And when the owners of the site separated, then quite a lot of things had to be rethought.
In 2003-04 the new legal structures were set up, and our formal principles worked out, and since then things have been quite stable, with things working really pretty well most of the time.
Click here to read a more detailed History of The Community
Our 85 acre site is really varied, from ancient woodland to newly planted coppice, grazed fields, a lake, streams, gardens and orchard areas. The place is beautiful, with green lanes, quiet spots for picnics and even a stone circle. It is a working farm so there are also less pretty things like old tractors, machinery sheds and barns dotted around too.
We keep the farm yard vehicle-free, which is nicer for everyone, especially the children and free-range ducks.
Some of us have been here for years and years, and others are more recent arrivals. The "community" itself simply consists of those who are living here at any one time, and so changes slowly as people come, and sometimes later move on.
There is usually a mix of members (both old and new) plus volunteers and visitors. We are WWOOF hosts, so people can come and stay, volunteering half-days for half-board. It's nice to have new people visiting with new ideas to share with us.
While working together on our common aims for the site, we each have our own personal ideals and reasons for being here. Here are some pages where people can say their own personal bit about living at Brithdir (to be linked soon)
If you're looking for a community to join, then check out the Potential Applicant pages.
We are aware that transport is the area in which we find sustainability the hardest to acheive and it is an ongoing topic of discussion and debate. For now, our approach is that we try to keep down our car use by walking,using bikes, public transport and lift sharing wherever possible. Individual members fly either not at all or rarely and only in exceptional circumstances. As with all aspects of our shared vision or a sustainable lifestyle, the Community does not impose rules on individuals' private lives: instead we choose to trust each other to act according to our own consciences and always with this shared vision in mind.
Please take this into account if you are thinking about applying for membership.
Lots of people would like to visit us, but for different reasons.
We've worked out four different ways you can come - click on each to get the details of how it works.
You can come:
WHAT TO BRING AND EXPECT - ALL VISITORS
You'll definintely need wellies, work gloves, a torch, and some slippers or indoor shoes ( the slate floors are cold). It would be really wise to bring waterproofs, too, as it can be quite rainy here sometimes. Please bring only eco-friendly toiletries.
Accommodation is fairly basic. It can be anything between a private bedroom in the farmhouse to a mattress on the floor in a dormitory depending on the event and the circumstances.
Course accommodation is usually in our loft dormitory with four beds, segregated by curtains. Please note this is a mixed-gender dormitory. If this causes problems for you please let us know; an alternative may be available.
This is a working farm so conditions are often pretty basic & muddy in places (both indoors & out!) - but most people love it.
GETTING TO US
We are on the west cost of Wales, near Fishguard. Click here for information on getting here, with detailed info for public transport. (Some courses have discounts for those arriving by public transport.)
|June 2016||Campsite open; Volunteer-free week Gypsy Caravan available||Campsite open; Gypsy Caravan available|
|July 2016||Campsite open; Gypsy Caravan available||Campsite open; Gypsy Caravan available||Campsite open; Gypsy Caravan available||Campsite open; Gypsy Caravan available|
|August 2016||Campsite open; Gypsy Caravan available||Campsite open; Gypsy Caravan available||Campsite open; Gypsy Caravan available||
Campsite open; Gypsy Caravan available
|November 2016||12th-19th Dry stone walling work week|
|December 2016||Volunteer-free week||Volunteer-free week|
Are you looking for
information about the Roundhouse or Tir Ysbrydol?
These projects by our neighbours have their own websites at
www.thatroundhouse.info and Tir Ysbrydol
Part of the Brithdir Mawr Community website at www.brithdirmawr.co.uk