Day Fifteen of the Brecon Beacons Advent Calendar

Day fifteen of the Advent Calendar celebrates two great innovative villages in the Brecon Beacons  that have been reinvented by the community.

One village has regenerated itself by showcasing its unique history and using a bit of  innovation.  The other has created a green template for the whole of the UK to follow by making itself a fully sustainable and green place.

Situated in West of the Brecon Beacons, Myddfai has managed to use some local entrepreneurialism to raise money to help maintain village buildings and build community spirit.
Llangattock, south of Crickhowell, on the other is hand is a village we’re proud to say is the greenest village in the UK.

The small picturesque village of Myddfai, is a place that is soaked in history which can be traced back to the twelfth century.  The earliest evidence of the village history is the “Physicians of Myddfai”.

Myddfai was a place that flowered as a consequence of new knowledge of herbalists. In about 1177 AD.  Myddfai was a village of great natural interest, where physicians would have acquired a lot of their practical skills of herbal medicine.

During the thirteenth century, so the records say, Myddfai was much frequented by physicians and a collection of medicinal remedies was compiled. A study of these recipes shows that Welsh medicine was far in advance of most of Europe at that time, with directions given as to the quantities and methods of preparation of the ingredients.

Now in the twenty first century the people of Myddfai have recognised how special their village once was, with it’s remarkable heritage and history.  Through hard work they have managed to get funding from the National Lottery Village SOS. Due to the place having no school, shop, pub, post office, or mobile phone signal, the place was in need of finding a new way of improving community spirit.  So a year or so ago the villagers came together, they built a new website where they sell a variety of things made locally such as crafts, herbs and home accessories.  Their key objectives were to reduce isolation, improve local economic growth by encouraging local enterprise and also to showcase why Myddfai is such a special place.  So here in the Brecon Beacons just like all of our villages we’re certainly very proud of Myddfai and its great history, community and beauty.  So why not this Christmas show your support a buy some great gifts from the village website:  http://www.myddfai.com/

Our second village, Llangattock was recently awarded British Gas Green Streets Award. The village has built their own widespread use of renewable technologies.   Not only does it rely on it’s own self-sustainable supply of energy it’s also a very clean place.  The village has set up a numerous groups where the villages take up different roles to keep the place ticking over. It’s a village that saves considerable amounts of money due to their initiatives, which is perfectly suited for these hard times.

Their projects include:
Allotments – So far they’ve managed to install a boreholes and solar-powered pump for irrigation, along with growing a large amount of produce.
School and community hall –  They’ve provided a professional energy assessment to identify ways to make these buildings more comfortable and cheaper to run. As well as installing photovoltaic (PV) panels on the school roof to generate electricity. Initial forecasts suggest this could provide an income of c.£2,000 a year for the school.
Woodlands group – Whilst many local woods have been neglected, Llnagattock are brining local woodlands back under productive management, to provide a sustainable supply of cheap wood fuel for residents. British Waterways, one of their supporters, has given them permission to use the lime kilns on the canal as a community wood store.
Biodiesel club – Llangattock villagers are working with Sundance Renewables to bring quality biodiesel to Llangattock. Fuel is supplied at cost – currently just over 91p/litre – and because it’s made from waste vegetable oil, recycled from restaurants and fast food outlets, it’s turning waste to good use while reducing carbon emissions by up to 90%. Bio heating oil is also on the way!
Litter picks encouraging everyone to take pride in their community by helping to make Llangattock a cleaner, more beautiful place.
Micro-hydro their most ambitious plan: will be to install a community-owned micro-hydro scheme within the village. The electricity generated will be fed back into the National Grid, producing income to fund other sustainable community projects.

Llangattock offers monthly tours of the village and people can also participate in local group activities.  It’s a really inspiring village where the local people don’t need to worry too much about the economic woes of today, because they know their bills will never be a big setback! For more inspiration on this great village please visit: http://www.llangattockgreenvalleys.org/

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