Welcome message from the Residents.
We are Brithdir Mawr Housing Coop, a low-impact eco community in the Pembrokeshire coast National Park. We provide low cost, rented housing and the resources for our members to be able to live a more simple, low impact way. Brithdir Mawr provides a valuable educational resource where skills and knowledge about how to live more sustainably are shared and actively promoted.
We are delighted to introduce you to our ‘Save Brithdir Mawr’ campaign and thank you for your interest in saving our unique, low impact community.
We have just celebrated our 25th birthday but now we face a big challenge - to save Brithdir Mawr and safeguard this land into the future. Our lease runs out at the end of 2019. Our landlord is now looking to part ways with Brithdir Mawr and wants to sell the property however he is very keen that the community continues and is therefore giving us first refusal.
We need to raise £1m to purchase the 80-acre site and protect it for now and future generations. We want to continue to live a lower impact life, reduce our footprint on the Earth, connect with the wider community and share our knowledge and skills. To continue developing our Welsh language centre, contributing towards the development of a regenerative culture, farming using organic methods and preserving and increasing biodiversity - but can only do so with your help.
By donating and supporting The Brithdir Mawr Community, you will be supporting an organisation which aims to: conserve natural beauty, leave the environment better or at least no worse at the end of our lives and share and exchange skills to help both others and ourselves to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Brithdir Mawr has played a crucial part in promoting and raising awareness of sustainable living in Pembrokeshire and beyond for two-and-a-half decades. We would like you to join us on this journey to build on the previous 25 years of success stories and make the future bright and eco-friendly for future generations to come!
We hope that you will join us and ‘Save Brithdir Mawr’!
Introduction to Brithdir Mawr.
Brithdir Mawr became a community in 1994 when Julian and Emma Orbach purchased the property together with the land at auction. The focus of the community soon evolved to meeting as many of our needs as possible from the land and limit resource extraction. Those of us living here now are simply the present custodians of the land, we all pay rent to be here, but we have the huge responsibility of saving this vital resource for everyone. As custodians of this 80-acre farm, we try to live our lives working with rather than against nature: husbanding goats, ducks, chickens and bees to provide us with milk, eggs and honey; producing organic fruit and veg in polytunnels and large gardens.
At Brithdir Mawr we strive to create an environment for people to: explore sustainable co-operation, connect to the earth, farm using organic methods, access affordable housing and lifestyles and protect the local environment and wildlife. We are completely ‘Off Grid’ for water and electricity. Our energy is generated by Sun, Water and Wind. We currently have 17 community members living on site all with varying skills and backgrounds, however we’re all here for the same reasons: to live more sustainably; to tread lightly on the earth and to share our aims with others.
In the course of our communal and personal lives, we choose to consider our decisions with these three pillars in mind:
SUSTAINABILITY - 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.
COMMUNITY - 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. The sum is greater than the parts as seen in natural systems.
EDUCATION - To share and exchange skills and experience to help both others and ourselves to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle, future proofing with the global challenges ahead in clear focus.
We believe these three pillars are vitally important for the future of this earth.
Since the early day's many people have come and gone, some staying for just a short time, some for as long as 20 years! During this time Brithdir Mawr has welcomed many hundreds of visitors including friends and family, volunteers, course participants, event attendees and students from the Bristol Permaculture Design and Shift courses.
Most went away with very fond memories of this special land and having learnt something new about sustainable living, reducing their carbon footprint or growing food without the use of chemicals. We, in turn, have learnt from them and always seek to improve what we do here.
Brithdir Mawr Community is well known locally, nationally and internationally for it's low key but radical approach to living and it's willingness to share what it does with others. Our policy is to think about a problem presented to us by modern life, decide what would be the ideal solution, and try our best to achieve that, for example......
• Individual, isolated and pressured living? ......live in a community and share resources and have fun whilst doing so.
• Damage to the environment and our own bodies, and animal cruelty caused by large scale farming and pesticides? ...... grow and preserve our own vegetables and fruit organically, produce our own milk, cheese, eggs, honey and meat by keeping our own animals, and keeping them kindly. Our aim is to be as self sufficient as possible and last year we grew and stored enough potatoes, tomatoes, onions and beans plus blackcurrants and other fruit, to last until the new crops this year ! We produce a continuous supply of seasonal vegetables in our gardens and what foods we cannot grow ourselves, we try to source locally or at least in the UK to reduce food miles
• Depletion of the worlds resources and destruction of the natural environment as a result of feeding the insatiable monster of capitalism? ...... use less, use renewable, recycle, share. Build low impact. Keep it simple. Cultivate a resilient connected local community.
• Educating more people about the damage human activity is doing to the earth and what people can do in their lives to help stop this? ...... we actively share our knowledge and skills with others, through volunteer weeks, student research and courses.
We publicise ways to visit us and have 100s of volunteers, visitors and course participants here every year, we are members of Landworkers Alliance and Permaculture Association and we post regularly on social media to inspire people who cannot visit us .
We regularly host both undergraduate and post graduate students here studying the way we live. Last year we also hosted 50 French secondary school students and their teachers as part of their sustainability course. We planned and delivered a range of age appropriate, hands on activities designed to teach and inspire. We have supported the studies of students from all over the word including documentary film makers and photographers, psychologists, geographers, social scientists, agricultural engineers and many more.
For the last ten years Bristol SHIFT group has held their twice yearly, two day field trip here, as an integral part of their sustainability course.
In order to take back control from a multinational company and to know that our power is produced without damage to the environment, and also to be in touch with what we are consuming, we came off grid in 2000. All our electricity is produced on site from wind, water and sun. When we asked to be disconnected from the national grid they didn’t have the paperwork to do this as it was unprecedented. But they did it !
We do not use any fossil fuel for our heating or cooking. It is all done using sustainable wood supplies from our own land that we process ourselves. Our water supply is untouched by a water company so has no added chemicals. It comes to us straight from the mountain a few hundred yards away. We have been able to get the site disconnected from the mains water supply.
As well as living our daily lives with the environment in mind, we take action to influence legislation and what we feel are unfair or damaging practises.
One of our greatest achievements is being instrumental in getting the planning laws changed in Wales so that people who want to live simply and affordably on the land are able to under a One Planet Development, OPD. We made international headlines as The Lost Tribe of Wales when we were 'discovered' by the council. They subsequently tried to enforce the demolition of a low impact roundhouse on site, but after a 10 year long planning battle, the first low impact development planning policy was passed. This set the precedent for the Welsh Government’s One Planet Development Policy. As a result there are now many legal, low impact homes across Wales and similar legislation is being discussed in England.
When officials tried to come onto Brithdir land to kill badgers as part of the government's badger cull, residents here peacefully resisted their access and the cull on Brithdir land was successfully stopped.
Having the freedom to think creatively, fuelled by close relationships with so many people with different skills and ideas; being in control of many aspects of our lives; a close relationship to the natural world and our roots; affordable housing/living and the security to experiment, produces a melting pot of ideas and possibilities. Innovative solutions to problems evolve.
Several small and ethical businesses have started at Brithdir Mawr including the well known Realseeds company. Our expert tomato grower produced a new variety which is still going strong (named Gardener’s Ecstasy as a joke that stuck!) which has been featured on Gardener’s Question Time.
A simple solution to a building problem regarding fitting chimney flues has been devised by our resident mathematician.
We often attract interest from celebrities and various people have visited us over the years such as Ginger Spice, Ben Fogle and Axel Blake. We hope they have taken away something positive from Brithdir for themselves and hopefully used their celebrity status to make even more people aware that there is another, less damaging way to live on the planet.
We live in Wales and we are proud that Wales has it's own language! Two of us are fluent welsh speakers and several are learning. The Welsh government is actively promoting the Welsh language and aims to have 1,000,000 Welsh speakers by 2050. We are developing our own Welsh language centre here at Brithdir. We have a dedicated class room with a small library, weekly classes, taster sessions, short courses and social events such as Coffi a Sgwrs and Welsh walks.
Meet some of the Members
Nick Ward - I have always had a passion for nature & the great outdoors . After completing a biology degree I was lucky enough to find work in conservation, followed by roles in local food, community & gardening. I briefly lived on a community farm in Glastonbury & witnessed my daughter thrive there. After a visit to friends in Pembrokeshire I fell in love with the area & was also very aware that communal living was a great way to reduce our footprint on our precious planet. Brithdir Mawr was therefore the obvious choice. My family & I moved here three years ago and I still feel wonder at the beauty of my surroundings.
Drew - I trained as a zoologist originally and have had a lifelong interest in taxonomy (that's not taxidermy!) and animal behaviour. I am a primary school teacher. I have had nearly 20 years experience of community living and was attracted to Brithdir 5 years ago due to their no nonsense approach to trying to live sustainably.
Lea Trainer - I moved to Brithdir for a change of lifestyle. Having been working 14 hour days in the corporate world I began to feel a huge disconnect between where I was and where I wanted to be. I now feel my family and I benefit enormously from the stronger nature connection and a life closer to the land. We are simplifying our life and in doing so, having a lower impact on the earth’s resources.
Eve Mathers - I am passionate about the natural environment and our place within it; my life, studies and work have led me to believe strongly that as humans we need to see ourselves as part of nature rather than separate from it. Living within the housing cooperative at Brithdir has given us the opportunity to live on, learn from and work the land together with others, it allows our children to develop their own nature connection and learn valuable skills to take them into the uncertain future.
Throughout my career I have seen first-hand the positive response that people have when accessing nature and outdoor projects. I work locally at an amazing Care Farm which supports disabled and vulnerable adults using meaningful projects as tools for learning.
I am currently planning and developing the educational facilities at Brithdir to encompass the care farm movement as well as providing weekly outdoor education groups for local children. It is an exciting time – please come and visit and get involved!
The Community & The Future
We need to save the Brithdir Mawr Community. The freeholder, and founder member, wants to sell but it is not currently on the open market as he would like the community to buy it and to continue. However the lease ends in December 2019 and after that we have no guarantee that we can stay. Brithdir Mawr is the home of Brithdir Mawr Housing Co op which provides affordable homes for many families and individuals, but it is much more than that. It is a long standing, functioning community that over many years has demonstrated that living off the land is still do-able, low impact living is possible & co-operation works! It provides a space for anyone to learn about living sustainably and actively encourages people to visit and to do that. The land has been managed organically for many years and is therefore safe and with lots of bio-diversity. Our vision for the future rests on our three pillars of sustainability, community and education. Moving forwards – we want to see how we can effect change outside this group by supporting more people and skill sharing and cultivating even stronger local links. Building strong local communities builds resilience and aids future proofing at a global level, working together to find solutions to climate change and the unsustainable destruction of our planet's finite resources. Brithdir Mawr is a valuable local resource. We habe asked the local community what they want and how we can help. Some ideas are;
• Community Supported Agriculture/Allotment spaces – supporting young families to have space to grow produce
• Shamanic bush camp for kids / environmental education
• Providing livelihoods/employment opportunities to better support people
• Care Farm – support through social services/local council
Our Proposed Plan
1) The first stage would be to raise £150,000 via Crowdfunder donations to form a down payment to the Landlord. This will give us an extension to the 31st December 2019 deadline and we can then plan for the Trust.
2) Open out Community shares in 2020 to form another percentage of the purchase price.
3) Lastly would be to seek other funding options like grants, loan stock etc.
What do you get in return?
In return for your donations you will receive a thank you that connects you to this wonderful land. Some of our rewards include a weekend camping trip, stone circle picnic, a week in our bed and breakfast, or a tree planted in your name (more rewards in our rewards section). You can even sponsor a square meter – or more – of the Brithdir Mawr land. Everyone who donates will receive a seasonal newsletter letting them know what is going on and keeping them in touch as friends of Brithdir Mawr.
So please, help protect Brithdir Mawr Community for generations to come. Every donation no matter how small or large is valuable to us.
Our vision is for Brithdir Mawr to be one day held in a Trust so that it may remain a thriving place for future generations to learn about living with others in a sustainable and nurturing way.
If this vision speaks to you, please contact us for a chat and please donate!
Let’s all pull together for the future of Brithdir Mawr and a carbon neutral future!
Another Video of Brithdir Mawr
Welsh Language S4C news report: