Ludlow 21

Ludlow 21 is a local initiative, which promotes sustainable living in the Ludlow, Shropshire area. A local voluntary group, with no political or council ties, they’re an independent voice for local environmental interests.

Ludlow 21 participate in local partnerships and forums, they support local food and drink and promote Ludlow’s Fairtrade status to benefit farmers, independent shops, supermarkets, cafes, schools, churches and local businesses and charities.

In their efforts to secure a sustainable future, they instigate numerous community ventures, such as the “Big Food Debate”, a series of events looking at how the world is going to feed itself in the coming years, and they collaborate with many local groups to help them reduce their carbon footprint.

To catch up on the latest happenings, and hang out in this lovely picturesque town, we sneaked over to the Ludlow Green Festival, an annual celebration of all things eco. Coordinated by Ludlow 21, The Festival took place on 26 August, in the town square, next to the impressive medieval castle. Now in it’s 9th year, it brought together 60 stallholders exhibiting and selling their products and services – and there was lots more to see and do.

There was a walk to the Ludlow Food Centre, part of the Earl of Plymouth’s Oakly Park Estate, which extends to approximately 8000 acres of Shropshire countryside. 80% of the food they sell comes from Shropshire and the surrounding counties.  Photo by Derek Harper

The walk also featured the hydro development at Bromfield, which until recently was an overgrown ruin and has been reconstructed using masonry retrieved from the riverbed. Two hydro electrical plants will generate enough electricity to supply the equivalent of around 400 homes.  Photo by Jeremy Bolwell

Plus there was food foraging, a scenic six mile bike ride, or we could have pedalled our way to a smoothie treat, on the Smoothie Bike. We weren’t quite so energetic, but we strode out to meet some of the exhibitors offering fantastic products, info and advice.

This year’s overarching festival theme explored the environmental issues inherent in the production, distribution and consumption of food. An element of this debate is the importance of bees and expert knowledge and advice was available from experienced beekeepers, with educational bee-based activities for kids.

Dave Thomlinson’s tool refurbishing group Tools For Self Reliance in South Shropshire is part of a national chain of volunteer groups who refurbish tools to either sell on Ebay, or send to Africa to help builders, blacksmiths, seamstresses and artisans build their communities.

We liked the look of these Turtle Bags, made from recycled cement bags, plus there’s a great mission behind the brand. The concept of Turtle Bags was inspired by Turtles: Tragically the bigger members of the turtle family are prone to mistaking discarded plastic bags, which litter the world’s oceans, with jellyfish – their only source of food. Turtle Bags offer a range of reusable bags, made by a small number of Fairtrade producers, helping to support and empower vulnerable communities – women in particular.

Myriad Organics is an all-purpose grocery shop specialising in all things organic. They survive, despite their close proximity to Aldi and Tesco supermarkets, by providing a wide range of local food products, including fresh made take-aways, a veg box delivery scheme and an organic catering service. They also have a refill service for household detergents.

The Thrown-Away House, constructed by Colin Richards, head of Conservation & Archaeology for Shropshire Council, shows what can be done with materials normally put in the skip. Colin and a small team of local builders have previously worked in partnership with builders in Romania, with the aim of transferring skills, while constructing simple, low impact housing. Colin says this house made from rubbish would provide better accommodation than some of the homes he saw on his travels.

As the day drew on we crossed the river to the Wigley’s Field Organic Allotments. The people who grow there have committed to no pesticide use, which is not always easy, but the place looked idyllic.

We had a great tour around; the gardeners demonstrated their crops, as well as giving tips and ideas on producing good-looking, tasty food. We particularly enjoyed our chat to the grower of a mini-vineyard. He made it sound so easy…!