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Welcome to the Spring edition of our newsletter.


Articles, info and events for the next newsletter to Susan at by end of May 2017 please.

Many thanks for all the contributions for and assistance with this newsletter. Thoughts and ideas expressed in this newsletter are those of contributors and not endorsements by BSG.
Spring has sprung! It's time to get out and about. Your BSG newsletter needs YOU! Have you visited any interesting events, seen any really good sustainable innovations lately? Why not write a bit about them and send them to your editor to include in the newsletter. Photos are appreciated also. Please send to  

    Susan Crowther.   Editor


Sustaining the BSG: a message from the Chair

These newsletters have usually carried appeals for people to volunteer as Trustees, so I am outlining here in more detail why this is coming up again. Generally speaking, people serve for three to five years as trustees, and it is unreasonable to expect much more than that. At the last AGM, David Dickinson announced that he would act as treasurer for another year and would then step down. Treasurers are not easy to find, and we were very lucky that Simon Gibbon came forward as a trustee with the intention of understudying David’s role. Our secretary Jenni Philips has now indicated that she would like to step down at the next AGM, so that would leave myself and Simon, a bare quorum of two to hold meetings and complete any business. The trustees are an executive board without which we could not satisfy the requirements of the Charities Commission and Companies House; we have to keep records and accounts and hold meetings. Beyond that, much of what goes on in the BSG is carried out by people who are not trustees. The food group and the group that is helping to plan the next Positive Living Fair are cases in point.

We have a media group:- Marianne Winfield and Jane Williams deal with facebook, Jane makes fliers and amends the website, Susan Crowther edits the Newsletter and I deal with outgoing messages via mailchimp. It is tempting to think that we’ve got it all sorted but the BSG’s dependence on communicating with followers and the public through these digital channels means that we also need to back up and share skills to provide continuity over time. So we are looking for one or more computer savvy people to come forward and lend a hand.

Currently we have two pressing needs. Firstly we need someone to help Jenni Philips look after the BSG email account and maybe stand in when it comes to taking minutes. At present Jenni reviews and reports on incoming emails while I deal with outgoing publicity via mailchimp. Which brings me to the second pressing need. The advantages of mailchimp to you as email recipient are obvious....colour, pictures, flyers and whole documents can be communicated. But there are hidden advantages; mailchimp stores the email addresses of all our followers, tells us how many opened each message, when people lose interest and unsubscribe, and much, much more. Going back to the old way of emailing is unthinkable now, but our dependence on mailchimp could become an Achilles heel if the knowledge of how to use it is not shared. So, as back-up we need someone to initially explore the mailchimp site and then try it out by sending out Blacksmiths reminders for example. This would not involve any meetings and could in fact all be done from the comfort of the favourite armchair using the handy guide that has been written already. Wow!

To sum up, yes, we are going to need a couple of new trustees come the next AGM, and could even co-opt people before that. But we also need to find a few people, comfortable with computers, who would be prepared to join with others in the media group helping with the mailchimp mail-outs, producing flyers using a system called Inkscape, learning about the management of the website, and chipping in with posting and monitoring the BSG Facebook page . We cannot use mailchimp unless we have a website; all these communication functions are interconnected, and the skills that we have, need to be shared with new people who are prepared to sustain the sustainability group, either as trustees or just volunteers to help.

Angus Winfield Chair            
       Angus Winfield   Chairman 


An update on Bideford’s renewable energy project

Following an invitation from Councillor Joe Day, I and a few other BSG people headed to the Town Hall Council Chamber to hear the latest on the Renewable Energy Committee’s bid to launch a Community Energy company for the Bideford area.

The speaker that afternoon was Jake Burnyeat, managing director of Communities for Renewables   the company that is going to be advising the BTC Renewable Energy committee on the viability of the various projects being considered. This company has already completed a number of similar advisory services for Avalon Energy in Somerset, Tamar Energy Community in Tavistock, and the 4.1Mw Ernsettle Community Energy Project in Plymouth. Websites below:

Mr Burnyeat began his talk by pointing out that the Bideford area has outgoing electricity costs of around £50 million, and that currently most of that money flows out of the region to shareholders, administrators and generators elsewhere. In the past, each region would have had its own power station, recirculating money by employing local people and contractors. Ours was the coal-fired station at Yelland, but the dominance of energy supply from Hinkley Point ended that in 1984.

The company accepts that any development has to begin with PV solar generation but that, in time, other forms of generation such as wind power, biodigestion and tidal power will be needed to produce a more balanced energy mix capable of supplying in all seasons and times of day. So, the PV solar sites they are looking at are on a number of Bideford schools including Westcroft, East-the-water and Kingsley (which have already begun feasibility work) as well as the notable municipal buildings  Northam Leisure Centre and the Bideford Pannier Market. Many local businesses with exciting potential for rooftop solar PV have also been approached so the list may be considerably extended. Communities for Renewables has managed to raise over £25million in investment over the past 10 years, so it all begins to seem very possible.

The Renewable Energy Committee have now come up with a name for this venture. With the the acronym ACE, the company will be known as Atlantic Community Energy, and Joe says "Watch this space"!

Well done Joe et al. We look forward to doing ‘ just that’.
  Item from Angus Winfield


Natures nutrition

Pete Yeo has been very much involved with the formation of a co-operative to take over and run the health food shop Nature’s Nutrition in Mill Street. This has entailed a lot of hard work and Crowd Funding. Pete wrote on this subject for our BSG page in the Gazette’s My Town supplement. Not everyone will have had a chance to see that as the Gazette’s free distribution range is rather patchy. However, this is his latest up-date.

Nature's Nutrition update:

We're now officially registered as a Community Benefit Society! This key step allows us to progress some of the practicalities associated with re-opening, like initiating a bank account (with the Co-op naturally), signing over the lease, setting up supplier accounts, etc.

We don't yet have a re-opening date - there's more to this process than we thought - but we're progressing as fast as we're able. In these challenging times capacity is often an issue and we would welcome further support from the community, especially from anyone who has experience with book-keeping and Community Share Offers (CSO, a feature of our type of co-op).

Due to missing out on the sizeable Santander match-funding linked to our crowdfunding campaign we're fast-tracking our CSO; this will allow local people to invest in our enterprise, in the spirit of 'patient' capital, in order to ensure we're sufficiently capitalised moving forward. Many local folk are already eager to do this and we will have details on the terms Until we re-open we'll be hosting coffee mornings every Saturday (10-13.00) in order to keep the community informed of progress, and the energy and momentum alive. Do pop in for a chat or to meet - perhaps even join - the Nature's Nutrition team.

Pete Yeo | On behalf of Nature's Nutrition Wellbeing Limited. Registered in England as a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (Reg No. 7495).
  Item from Pete Yeo


Cycling in Bideford

Anyone who enjoys travelling on two wheels, knows that its the best way to travel around our town and appreciate the lovely North Devon landscape. Unfortunately much of Bideford, as with most towns in the UK, is adapted primarily for cars, making it feel unsafe for any but the most confident to cycle. Whilst cars are necessary for most, and a useful way to transport people and items, many car journeys cover short distances that could easily be cycled. This where the North Devon Cycling Forum members are trying to make a difference.

I’m Tim Mytton and I have recently taken over the running of the NDCF website. There was a bit of a hiatus after Eric van der Horst gave up on 24 June 2016, but the work goes on, looking to see well-designed and properly implemented bicycle infrastructure, encouraging and enabling everyone to ride safely. If you are a cyclist and have no idea what the NDCF are about, have a look at our website at or see us on facebook. What you will see is that our logo depicts a view of a rather homely bicycle with a shopping basket. Read on and you will find that its about cycling for everybody: mums, kids getting to school, seniors getting out for a bit of exercise.

Much of what you see on the NDCF website is centred on Barnstaple, but I live in East-the-Water, and not that far from the Blacksmiths Arms. So I am in a great position to talk with BSG people about what needs doing in Bideford to support cycling (and pedestrians) and can use the NDCF website to promote what we are doing. I say we, knowing that at present there is no BSG cycling group, but there is no reason why we as individuals should not get together to talk about what could be done, and maybe something will happen. So if you have any ideas about fun cycle rides, workshop days or pressurising local councillors to do things, get in touch with me at and maybe we can arrange to meet at one of the Blacksmiths evenings.

 Item from Tim Mytton                   

Preparing Firewood for Next Winter

By the time you read this I hope you won't be cutting firewood from the woods or hedgerows any longer as the birds' nesting season will be upon us; however it could be a very good time for scouring the coastline for driftwood which is often very clean and dry after having been washed around in the sea for a long time. The equinoctial spring tides of February, March and April usually leave a good deposit of driftwood that has been floating up and down since the winter storms and those fortunate enough to have saltmarsh land accessible to them are likely to be able to obtain useful supplies once they have located the corners and inlets where the best logs end up.

My own riverside meadow beside the tidal river Yeo was converted to saltmarsh in year 2000 as a habitat scheme, by cutting a breach in the flood banks that used to keep the salt water out. A side product of this action is that the incoming tides often bring in logs and tree trunks such that a daily inspection enables me to tether ropes to the best ones and on the next high tide I can float them up to the bottom of the lane ready to cut up at leisure as they dry out in the summer.

A good feature of driftwood is that, having spent some time immersed in salt water, it seldom contains any wildlife in the form of fungi or invertebrates which would be destroyed when used for firewood. This is in contrast to forest deadwood which is a valuable biodiversity resource when left to decay in situ, although dead elm trees form a very hard wood that sheds its bark and dries out while standing and can be cut down for firewood before decay sets in and its biodiversity is enhanced. 
Item from Chris Hassall


A donation would be welcome, but free to good home more important.....looking for a creative potter/ceramicist out there being held back because of start up costs for a kiln, the furniture, slips, turn table and more. Sadly, lack of space means it all needs a new home. Give me (Cathy /Mrs Recycle) a call on 07 748 748 007 just near Barnstaple.


Small lockable top-box. Fits on the rear carrier of a bicycle or moped. Contact or 01237 475375 (Northam) Get more from your bike!

  Top  Box

Orchards and Allotments

The Food Group is a very active sub-group of the BSG that engages with the local community through the running of an allotment and two orchards. 

The allotment is situated on the North West side of Clovelly Road in Bideford, accessible by going up Waterloo Terrace and taking a footpath to the right. A large harvest is produced each year. This year we have seen a bumper crop of runner beans and also potatoes, courgettes, strawberries and raspberries!  Once picked, the goods are partly shared between the volunteers who have given up their time to make the crops a success and put forward for donations at local markets. However, any left over food that has not been taken up is given to Harbour, a local shelter who provide meals for Bideford's homeless. As you can imagine, to maintain this plot takes hard work and green fingers so if you would like to get involved please contact our Food Group chairman Fred Brown at   

The two community orchards are situated a short distance from one another on the Tarka Trail opposite Wooda Surgery, East-the-Water and are open to all members of the public to help themselves to what they need. Recently we have been maintaining the orchards through scrub clearance and clearing up unwanted grasses at the bottom of the trees to allow the roots to breathe. Similarly, we have been clearing the surrounding vegetation away from the tops of the fruit trees, allowing more sunlight in and space for the fruit to flourish. The next step involves pruning the trees, typically undertaken at the end of Autumn, so if you are interested in having a go do not hesitate to get in touch with Jon at or a member of the BSG who will be happy to point you in the right direction! 

The Food Group continuously welcomes and encourages new members to lend a hand within the community, either as part of the allotment management or orchard maintenance days. We also encourage new ideas and can support you in a sustainable community project of your choice! So if you have an idea in mind please contact Fred, Jon or Angus, the BSG chairman and put forward your plans! We look forward to hearing your ideas and hopefully seeing you getting stuck in at one of our next meetings!
  Item from Sophia Craddock


Repair and Reuse
Back in December, Emma croft, DCC Reuse Project Coordinator reported that the ‘ Repair It’ event that we had helped to set up had helped 13 people reuse...."26 items (in the main because one person brought 9 things but this averages to 2 items per person)

73% / 19 items were either fixed, improved, diagnosed or signposted which are all positive results.

When looked at in weight terms (as waste is always quantified this way) that becomes 61% of the total which equates to 56kg of goods (out of a total of 92kg) were diverted from the waste / recycling." 

The good news now, is that Emma has been granted finance for the reuse project to continue for another year, so we will probably be asked to help again. Also with this news Emma sent details of other community events which might inspire us to do something similar. Click the links below for more details, and if anyone out there is so inspired, get in touch. BSG has funds which could support any such initiative.

Exeter Repair Cafe

Dawlish Fix-Fest

Item from Emma Croft

Torrington has a newly planted woodland area of native trees. Named Jubilee Wood, the land was bequeathed to the local council by the county council. It is adjacent to the already wooded commons and will provide futher 'lungs' for the town. Trees include: Quercus robur (English Oak); Tilia cordata (Small leaved Lime); Acer campestre (Field Maple).       Editor



BSG meetings at The Blacksmith’s Arms, Torrington Street,
East-the- Water, EX39 4DP, every first Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm.  

Next Blacksmiths meetings: 4 April, 2 May, 6 June, 2017.

And if you can't attend the Blacksmiths evening meetings, there are always our morninng meetings in Green Goose Cafe.  These are held on the third Thursday of each month, starting at 11am.

Next Cafe meetings: 16 March, 20 April, 18 May, 15 June, 2017.

All welcome, especially new members                                          




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