About us.....

Abingdon Carbon Cutters is a Community Action Group formed to help reduce the carbon footprint of Abingdon in response to climate change, and to promote a sustainable and resilient lifestyle for our town as fossil fuel stocks decline. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month at St Ethelwold's House, which is here.

At some meetings, we have guest speakers to present various topics, and at others we discuss our own personal actions to address climate change. The group has a focus on encouragement, both of one another, and of the town community.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Robert Longstaff Workshops and the Oxford Garden Project

This weekend, 24-26th April and 23-25th May we are holding special free open days where you can come and browse our gift shop, see the making of
the new kitchen garden and view the courses we are offering.

Our workshops have been making wooden toys and puzzles, dolls houses and miniatures, gift items and garden obelisks and screens for nearly 30 years and running courses and talks for over 25 years, including organic gardening, composting, cooking, woodwork, practical skills, dolls house
and miniatures, folk and early musical instruments and corn dollies to name a few.

From this week and running throughout the year we shall be offering a new range of courses, working with Garden Organic, the WI and Oxford adult education centre, some are free, other cost between £25-75.00 and
groups are welcome.

Full details can be found on our website:
www.longstaff.co.uk under news or by phoning 01865 820206.

Appleton Road,
OX13 5EF
... Read this ...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Poster for 20th May, and more on Permaculture

Please find attached a poster for our next meeting on 20th May. Can I ask you to print out a copy and put it up somewhere in your neighbourhood and/or ar work, in your church or school? We are hoping for as wide a representation of Abingdon area residents as possible.

Below is an email from Cliff, recording the very fruitful and wide-ranging discussion prompted by Sophie and Martin's talk on permaculture last Wednesday. Turns out that permaculture is not only about forest gardening but is a way of looking at all sorts of self-regulating systems, including whole towns! And the first essential is to look at what you've got now, before trying to change it!

Ideas from last night as I recall them (from the talk, the discussion and from conversations going on):

It is important to try to achieve integration of activities as we seek to achieve a more sustainable life for the town.

We need to begin to develop a vision of what Abingdon could be in a 40, 60 or even 80% reduction of carbon emissions world and one which is losing its reliance on fossil fuels (an energy descent plan?)

We need to conduct audits of such aspects of town life as:
* shops - location, products sold, provenance
* people - occupations, commuting patterns, vital skills, craft skills and other community skills
* homes - surveys of heat loss from homes, fuller information on solar energy use across the town, othe eco-novations
* businesses that are already taking initiatives locally to reduce emissions and contribute to sustainable practice
* buildings with roofs that could be utilised to generate solar power, rain water harvesting
* existing organisations/activities that could contribute to the sustainabilty aim - allotments, farms producing food for local consumption, shared garden schemes, community associations, environmentally committed clubs and societies, schools and youth organisations, church groups, etc.,
* the amount of land available within the town / Vale, other than private resident's land, that might be usable for food production when the need comes In order to be able to make a case for any proposals we might wish to make in the future, we might try to quantify the size of the need in terms, say, of local land necessary to be under cultivation to achieve a more sustainable food supply for the town.
... Read this ...

Nuclear Power Stations, and Woking leads the way!

Dear Carbon-Cutter,

Following some discussion on Wednesday about how Abingdon could reduce our carbon footprint (maybe by generating power from the Thames?) I thought you might be interested in the article below, especially the info about Woking!

A book we have mentioned before at Carbon Cutters meetings, "Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air" by David MacKay, is at http://www.withouthotair.com, and gives several scenarios for covering UK's energy requirement, not all of which include nuclear power. It's worth looking at the 10-page synopsis which is available on the website and very clear. We plan to get a couple of copies for our Eco-library for those who don't fancy reading the whole book on-line!

Sizewell Nuclear Power Stations-‘3 times a nuisance!’

The government has announced that Sizewell is one of the sites nominated for a new nuclear power station, Sizewell activists head to court and a demonstration against new build at Sizewell is planned.
What a week!

Tomorrow ( Friday 17th , 10 am) the group calling themselves the ‘Sizewell Blockaders’ Rebecca Dale 33 from Bungay, Mell Harrison 37 from Geldeston, Nicola Stikles 39 from Saxmundham, Irene Willis 60 from Essex and Pete Lux 44 from Beccles, are again appearing at Lowestoft magistrates court for taking direct action against the what they say are ‘unlawful activities’ at the nuclear power stations at Sizewell in Suffolk. The group are hoping to have restrictions on their right to protest lifted so that they can attend the two-day demonstration and camp planned for 25th and 26th April. The reason for the planned demonstration is two fold- one to commemorate all those who died and are still affected by the radioactive fallout from the disaster at Chernobyl and two- because the government has announced that sizewell has been nominated as a site for not one, but two new nuclear reactors.
Local campaigners are concerned about this choice. Mell Harrison , who works for Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and lives in Suffolk said, “The flood risks of the sizewell coast are clear, the maps given with the site nominations show just how high risk it is. 10 years of waste are in a fuel pond at the site now- it seems very irresponsible to build here,” she continued “ everyone knows the risks involved with nuclear power but we are being told it is a necessary evil to bridge the energy gap- this is not true. Models such as the Borough of Woking show just how decentralisation of energy supplies can work, not just at delivering energy but cutting CO2 emissions too’
Woking Borough has a population of 100,000 and has the largest domestic combined photovoltaic/ combined heat and power (CHP) in the UK and is home to the UK’s first small –scale combined heat and power/heat fired chiller system. Woking borough council have developed these projects, with Allan Jones at the forefront, through its public/private joint energy service company- Thamesway Energy Ltd, again the first of its kind in the UK .The council is now recognised as the most energy efficient local authority in the UK having
* Over 80% CO2 cuts
* 51% reduction in energy consumption
* 44% reduction water consumption

More Info:


Sizewell new build nomination, including flood map-

Sizewell Blockaders

Mell Harrison 07760161755 08453370282 www.easterncnduk.org
... Read this ...

Friday, April 17, 2009

New gardening classes at Peachcroft Farm!

Bridget Thurley, Master Composter has sent
this, and asked for volunteers ...

Grow your own Vegetables at Peachcroft Farm
Contact: gyoveg@hotmail.com

Time: Thursday 9.30-11.00 am (please ask if interested in a Saturday
afternoon class)
Place: Peachcroft Farm www.peachcroft.co.uk It has the convenience
of a cafe and toilet! There is also a plant stall and 'pick your own'
to try the vegetables we do not grow (asparagus should be appearing
very soon).Cost: £6.00 per session Equipment: All gardening equipment
provided but please bring wellies, gloves, and refreshments.

The Classes: Week by week basic techniques in vegetable growing are
covered using theory, demonstration and practical work as various
tasks are undertaking on the vegetable plot. The focus is on crops
that are easy to grow, tasty and productive and that gave year round
produce (not just those that yield during the holiday season!)
Labour-saving tips are covered in detail.
The information given and experience gained should suit all gardening
situations. Those who have less experience have the opportunity of
cultivating the Peach Croft Farm plot in a supportive group, others
may choose to use their newly acquired skills at home or on their
Within the first few weeks a beginner should have enough knowledge to
be harvesting their own container-grown salad leaves and herbs and
also growing-on tomatoes, cucumber, potatoes and climbing beans. Other
crops will be sown on the Peach Croft plot.
In general, class members should leave each class with some knowledge
gained, a problem solved and a new idea to try out.

Jobs for April:
April 23. Crop rotation, digging and seed-bed preparation; the
’no-dig’ system; container-grown salad vegetables.
April 30. sowing seed, pricking out, potting-on. Weeds and weed control.
May 7. Compost, fertiliser and liquid feed. Looking after tomatoes.

Future classes: Pests, diseases, moisture conservation and other
problems; growing veg. in the poly tunnel/greenhouse; no-dig gardening
(i.e. raised bed systems and permiculture); storing & preserving
produce and recipe ideas; low cost propagation: saving seed, growing
from cuttings and dividing plants etc.
... Read this ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Forthcoming dates

The calendar to the right hand side of your screen has been updated. Here's a brief summary of the upcoming events not posted previously:

The next Carbon Cutters meeting will be in the Roysse Room at the slightly later time of 7.45pm. The Roysse Room is part of the Guildhall complex. The meeting will be chaired by Jo Hamilton of ClimateXchange. The objective of the meeting is to look at how to move Carbon Cutters' activities from individual actions to wider town based things. There will be representatives from most of the neighbouring community action groups.

The outcome of that meeting will definitely have a bearing on the first ever Carbon Cutters AGM which will be held during June, to reconfirm the group's purpose and to set its' direction for the coming months. The AGM will be an open meeting, so do watch this space for date and time details.

The many events that are taking place to mark National Cycle Week won't run smoothly withut volunteers If you think that you could help to man the Saturday-stall in the town centre, or to act as a marshall for the Sunday afternoon treasure hunt, please contact carbon.cutters@gmail.com
... Read this ...

Notes from Carbon Cutters - 15.04.2009

The topic of tonight's meeting was "permaculture" and Sophie & Martin spoke about how Permculture is a matter of working with, rather than against nature "an integration of ecological design principles, ethics and values".

Sophie suggested that we look to some of the patterns in nature for design inspiration. We were also challenged to consider our land use: are plants grown for ornamental purposes, or as food for sustainable living?

Following on from last month's talk about gardening (for food), the Permaculture way of thinking challenges the crop-rotation way of gardening, favouring combination planting.

Much of the background to the concept of Permaculture comes from Bill Mollison: more about him can be read here.
... Read this ...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Free book

"Sustainable Energy - without the Hot Air" is the title of a book by the Cambridge scientist Prof. David MacKay.

The book is for sale from Amazon here.

The author, however, is so keen that the message of his book is spread - you can download a copy of the book to your computer for free, from the book's website http://www.withouthotair.com/. The sections I've looked at so far are certainly very readable.
... Read this ...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eco-kitchen workshops

SEED-Group and COIN are delighted to announce Oxfordshire’s first, public eco-kitchen design and build workshops.

The five hour workshops are on Saturdays 18th and 25th April, from 10:30 - 16:00. The sessions are open to already eco aware or recently inspired people interested in making major or minor sustainable adaptations to the most carbon intensive room in our homes – the kitchen.

Developed in partnership between COIN and SEED-GROUP, the workshops will give people access to expert eco knowledge, design and skills. The sessions focus on providing attendees with a fresh and inspiring approach to design, and an insight into innovative materials that can be used.

Sally Harper, Founder, SEED-Group commented: “It can be really difficult for the eco aware consumer to get good advice and support, on the design and build of an authentic, sustainable eco kitchen. The workshops will help people make more considered, and confident, green living choices in the future. We’re really excited to showcase our demonstration eco kitchen and hope people leave inspired and better informed.”

Eco Kitchen Workshops: Saturday 18th and 25th April 2009
Time: 10.30am to 4.00pm, a light lunch is included
Location: Great Haseley, Oxon (for detailed
directions and car sharing
opportunities, please contact Toni below...)
Tickets: £35.00 must be booked in advance
To reserve: Contact COIN on 01865 403334 or email
For more info see http://ecovation.org.uk/htmldesigns/kitchenws.html

SEED-Group is a multi-knowledge team of designers and expert advisors
who design, advise, publish, lecture and exhibit on innovative
approaches to eco design and materials. Co-founders include Professor
Susan Roaf, Sally Harper, Eco-consultant and designer and Tony
Williams, Green Construction Expert.
... Read this ...

Eco-renovation survey.

This is a request to Carbon Cutters from the ClimateXChange Coordinator at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute:

To enable us to evaluate the activities that we’ve been doing, on a
local and national level, we’d really appreciate just 5 minutes of
your time to fill in a survey. We’d like to know if you’ve been to
events on energy efficiency, micro-generation or eco-renovation, what
you thought of them, and what would help you take your next step. It’s
all online, anonymous, and we’ll be picking 1 person in every 10 from
Oxfordshire and send them an eco-renovation goody as a thankyou. You
can do the survey online here.
... Read this ...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How to live a sustainable life ...

As noted in the diary on the right hand side, the forthcoming Carbon Cutters meeting on April 15th is on the topic of Permaculture.

If you'd like a copy of the poster to print and display, please contact carbon.cutters@googlemail.com
... Read this ...