The Middle Wood Charitable Trust was set up in 1984. "To advance, research and provide education for the public benefit in those techniques of farming, forestry, wildlife and countryside management, building, energy utilisation and human lifestyle, which are in tune with the natural cycle and which do not upset the long term ecological balance."
It is based on an organic hill farm of 115 acres and 120 acres of native woodland and lies at the northern edge of the Forest of Bowland. The farm is typical of those in this area, and originally kept beef and hill sheep. The need to diversify has led this project to run courses for adults on subjects ranging from organic gardening to green building and full permaculture design. Recently the Trust has completed a study centre, an example of ecological design using environmentally friendly materials, passive solar heating and alternative energy sources. This is phase 1 of a group of buildings which will act as a focus for sustainable development.
Middle Wood has been chosen as a Centre of Environmental Excellence (BEE) by the Lancashire Environment Forum. LEF is a partnership of voluntary organisations, local authorities and businesses working together to establish environmental awareness and action in Lancashire and to promote the Lancashire Environmental Action Programme. At present eight other CEE's have been proposed. A strong network is being developed between these centres. The intention is to link them via computer based systems to enable a full exchange of information.
In addition Middle Wood has strong links to the American Farm School in Greece, Europe Conservation in Italy and world wide Permaculture network, all of whom are working towards sustainable solutions.
The Middle Wood Study Centre
The Middle Wood study centre has been built as an example of an environmentally friendly building, moving someway towards a sustainable building system. It will be used as a venue for "green" courses. Local materials such as sheep's wool are used for insulation and recycled timber for the main structure. Use of solvents and other polluting chemicals has been minimised both in the building and in the furnishings. Energy input comes mainly from passive solar gain and windpower, while the use of composting toilets and a grey water reed bed system helps to save water and minimises ongoing pollution.
The 50 by 30 foot building contains an entrance lobby, a sitting/dining area, a lecture room, two shower and compost toilet rooms and a small kitchen. Two bedrooms contain five bunk beds each.
Hire of the Study Centre
If you'd like to run or set up a course at this beautiful location, let us know and we can make a booking.
The Two New Proposed Buildings
We are seeking funding to help with expanding the facilities at Middle Wood as a centre of environmental excellence. The plan includes the construction of two new buildings which will complement the study centre in being environmentally friendly buildings with innovative energy systems.
The Straw Bale Building
This will be on the site of the derelict barn, next to the study centre, and replaces the earlier proposed rammed earth building. There will be a sitting room, two offices, two student study rooms and a bedroom for visiting lecturers. Two composting toilets of Swedish design and showers accessible to disabled persons will be in a further room.
The Embryo Building
The embryo building will be based near the farm buildings. The portacabin and attached sheds will be removed. The "egg" shape of this building will reflect its function, as a birthplace of new ideas for a sustainable future. its larger size will allow it to serve as a centre for one day seminars and workshops for up to 50 people. These activities will be concentrated in the main downstairs room. Upstairs there will be a combined interactive room for schools and information service on all aspects of sustainable development. It will contain computer technology to access full information exchange and networking. Within this building there will also be practical displays of sustainable systems. Rain water collected from the roof will provide the water supply, which after use will be treated as grey water in an internal reed bed, and then used finally for irrigating vegetables grown organically. All these functions will take place between the inner and outer walls of the building. Water returned to the ground will be cleaner than when it landed on the roof! Further to this, electricity will be provided sustainably by means of an innovative photovoltaic panel and a "Thermotron". The Thermotron, brain child of Roger White, is a batch fed, wood fuelled cooker set up to produce steam, which in turn runs a generator. At present the prototype is based at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales.
The building will be constructed of a combination of local materials and waste products. It will combine many features based on experience throughout Europe; the construction technique from Gaia Architects in Norway; the photovoltaic system, modelled on photosynthesis, developed in Switzerland by Institut Chimie Physique, Lausanne; expanded clay insulation blocks as used in Portugal and Denmark; the Clivus Multrum composting toilet developed in the USA and promoted in Britain; a British waste newspaper based insulation (also used throughout Scandinavia), and British developed solvent-free "ECOS" paints. The technical details will be designed by ECOS building design of Kendal, and will be constructed by volunteers, and by the Lancaster City Council unemployment work scheme as a training experience. Adjacent to the embryo building will be the organic demonstration garden, coppice wood for fuel and a recycling display (to be provided by Lancaster City Council).
The Embryo Building
Middle Wood Study Centre