December 30, 2016

Green as green could be!

We recently travelled to The Cotswolds, England to spend time with cousins and, knowing my interests, my cousin John took a detour to one of that area’s most interesting shops, The Green Shop. Almost hidden behind a service station and mini grocery store which sells all the non-green stuff, The Green Shop is a kaleidoscope of solar, wind, methane power kids and equipment, cleaning solutions, bulk supplies, information for all alternative energy ideas plus a massive array of V.O.C. paints, ideas for ethical Christmas gifts, cards, decorations, compost bins and starters, water recycling and collection systems, home heating kits of all kinds, feeds for all kinds of animals, products made from recycled materials and much more.
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It is an astounding example of how the nation has embraced and monetized the green movement as every article on its shelves has a green back-story which was fascinating to read.

The address of this store is Cheltenham Road, Bisley, Stroud in Gloucestershire.  The owner told me that his business is going well and he appears to be perched on the tipping point of expansion, a tricky place to be for any enterprise.  People in the U.K. are very recycling conscious and it seems that the original English always have been, shortages through depression and war in the 20th century, rationing over the years and inclement weather making this necessary rather than an option.

The notion of a Green Shop is interesting: after all, all shops probably should be thinking this way by now!

We also ventured to Prince Charles’ High-grove store which is the shop-front for his permaculture farm.  Not just selling farm produce, the store is a collection/distribution point for some of the area’s artists and craftsmen.  There are beautiful goods for sale for gifts and that luxury nibble.

The Royals get a lot of flack, particularly Charles who is an honorary Aussie by virtue of the fact that he spent time at Timbertop in his school years.  However, this enterprise is quite impressive as is the story of how the farm came to be developed. Charles is very devoted to the pursuit of sustainability, has lived that way for many years and passed down the practices to both his boys.  The locals did tell me that the Duchess of Cornwall, his first love, shares his interest in the environment and supports him in this farming venture.  I would love to visit the farm, having seen it on TV, as it uses natural composts, pest control, breeding and foraging techniques and crop rotation, things that are vital to maintain.

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The old 3-field system certainly keeps the paddocks free from viruses and pests allowing the third one to lie fallow and rest between cropping.  The preservation of copses and fence divisions made up of hedges keeps the bird and insect population high so it seems that there would be no need for the transporting of bees that is required in the USA.

One of my cousins has a deep hands-on knowledge of permaculture and manages to grow produce all year round using those techniques.

We had a marvelous peek into the worlds of horticulture in England and also spent a day at Kew Gardens where there were some incredible vege patches.  The streets were also lined with the most extravagant hanging baskets I have ever seen.

The Brits are not so much a nation of shopkeepers as a nation of garden-lovers and super-impressive.  Perhaps it is time for J.K. Rowling to write a permaculture loving gardener hero into her books!

Check out the thriving business at: http://www.greenshop.co.uk

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