Lammas eco-village

Lammas Hobbit House

This was something of a double-edged sword, as Melissa explained, because the grant came with conditions. The work was to be completed within a limited period of time, and the building had to conform to exacting building regulations, whilst being at the same time low impact, zero carbon and off grid. To build such a large structure to such stringent standards would have been a major undertaking in itself, but it came at a time when the members of the budding community were already stretched by building their own homes, setting up businesses, planting gardens and caring for children. In the end, after a long struggle, with the help of neighbours, (especially Tom Clare and Jacqui Banks) friends, an army of volunteers and the persistence of many, it was finished, and a beautiful, light, airy space it is.


The hub is almost entirely constructed using local materials, which as far as possible are natural and/or recycled. The frame was constructed using locally grown Douglas Fir, filled with straw bales, and finished with lime render. More bales provide insulation within the turf covered roof, one single entity curved to cover a terrace and passage connecting gardens at the rear with open space for gatherings to the front. Heating is supplied by a combination of electric underfloor heating, powered by the hydro system, passive solar gain, and biomass, from the community woodland, via a masonry stove. The building is entirely run on renewables. The Community Hub’s main purpose, and the one for which the money was originally intended, will be to provide a centre, and a demonstration project, for the research, education and promotion of low-impact living. This is already being achieved through the provision of hands-on courses, tours, presentations, visitor and volunteer opportunities.


As part of the educational conditions imposed when the government grant was received, the community had to provide regular open days, with tours of the site and talks about permaculture and low impact living. Melisssa said that after the first year, they discovered from studying the visitors’ book that over 50% of the visitors came from within 10 miles, and gradually the suspicious, and in some cases hostile, local population came to accept and even appreciate them, an unforeseen but welcome spin-off from the mandatory tour regime. As the project becomes better known, and increasingly successful, numbers of visitors have gone up, and tours are now held once a week. A small charge is made, which is proving to be a useful additional source of income.


The hub also provides a meeting and social space for the Lammas residents as well as facilities for processing their land-based produce (such as drying seeds) and exchanging goods. The building is also intended to provide a focal point for the wider local community, functioning as a hall, seasonal shop (part-time) and seasonal café (part-time). The building is already assisting local land based livelihoods by providing an opportunity for producers in the Glandwr area to sell their goods, in other words, it will act as a depot for a local ‘farmers’ market’. It is also available for hire as a venue by outside organisations, providing such use does not adversely impact on the Lammas residents.
Olwyn Pritchard

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