Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Green Gathering

It's been a while since our last blog post, and we've been very busy since then. 3 festivals a big birthday bash, job prospects and job offers. Not to mention some pedalling in between.

Our first event, alluded to in our last blog post was the Green Gathering, just outside Chepstow in South Wales. So a relatively close event... but unfortunately pulling a trailer around in Wales is never easy and there were many hills along the way. Having said that, about half of the route follows the river Wye, which is always a joy, especially for a lover of trees and woodlands such as myself. I was a little wary at first of the fact that the festival was being held on the racecourse. I had expected a flat area, with the only features being white barriers and the viewing stands. In fact the racecourse gives way to rolling parkland and a derelict stately home, and this was where the festival was held - a beautiful and enormous site. Unfortunately for the organisers, the number of festival goers didn't match the size of the site, and it was populated largely by crew. This made for a fun festival but did leave the Green Gathering out of pocket.

Pedallers Kitchen had a good festival though, with a nice pitch in the campaigns area, and all the food we cooked was eaten with relish.

We were blessed with weather that was... at least changeable.Lots of short showers followed by bright sunshine. This resulted in an endless show of epic skies and plenty of double rainbows.

For us, probably the most interesting part of the festival was a talk and demonstration from Ed Revill of Swansea Biochar. This was a fascinating hour during which he turned upside down perceived ideas about charcoal use and production and exposed the folly of current methods, gave a great critical rant against modern agricultural practises ("using soil as a substrate for hydroponic growing") and gave a comprehensive introduction to wood gasifer and biochar producing stoves and the use of biochar in agriculture. He had a good selection of these stoves on display including his own hybrid creation, crossing a rocket stove and a biochar producing Anila stove.
Ed Revill's hybrid Rocket/Anila stove

To illustrate his points, Ed had a wood gasifier stove with a vented cast iron hotplate to create a BBQ, that instead of using charcoal to cook, produced charcoal at the end of cooking. This was accomplished by burning off the toxic wood gases that during conventional charcoal production are just sent straight up into the atmosphere. The charcoal in the form of biochar is then buried in the ground to act as a home for mycorrhizzal fungi, a sponge for keeping water and nutrients in the soil and a way of sequestering carbon (that's the theory anyway). All this was absolutely fascinating and all those who attended seemed rapt. We left the talk with the intention of at some point incorporating a wood gasifier into Pedallers Kitchen or our lives in general, and with lots of new ideas to further research. The ideas behind wood gasifier stoves and biochar are too much for me to go into in more detail here, but I recommend that readers look into them both.

Another stall at the festival that grabbed my attention was this trailer. Clad in scraps of inner tube and aluminium and with a living roof.

All in all a really lovely and interesting event. I leave you with this photo, the night time scene from our stall.

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