Transition News

Investing in Ecological Agriculture

The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) is the only organisation in England to offer affordable residential smallholdings for ecological land users.

Working alongside Ethex, a positive savings and investment company, the ELC has launched a share offer to fund the development of two new starter farms.

Looking to raise between £120,000 to £340,000 investment is open to all and can be anything from £500 to £40,000. Investors are offered 3% in interest on share capital annually. As a co-operative the work of the ELC would not be possible without investment from the public.

A small organisation with big ambitions the ELC work to access land for future farmers whilst ensuring land is managed ecologically. With their first site in Greenham Reach, Devon supporting three smallholding, and the recent purchase of land in Arlington, East Sussex, the ELC plan to roll out their 'starter farm' cluster model making ecological agriculture a reality in today's countryside.

To find out about the share offer, please visit:


Can We Really Stop Climate Change?


Citizens' Climate Lobby members Ed Atkinson and Guy Tanner were speakers at a Skeptics in the Pub evening at Elephant and Castle on March 22nd.  In "Can we really stop climate change?"  potential policy options were outlined by Ed, who argued that a revenue neutral carbon tax such as CCL's Carbon Fee and Dividend would be the most popular and effective mechanism to bring down CO2 emissions.  Far simpler than Cap and Trade, it would avoid complicated regulation or hefty subsidies from the tax payer and would help shift fossil fuel lock-in. Read more by Judith Knott...

A Carbon fee "dividend"

   A Carbon fee "dividend"

Call for Letters of Support for the Ecological Land Co-operative

  The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) is a social enterprise and not-for-profit community benefit society set up in 2009 to address the lack of opportunities for new entrants to ecological farming and horticulture. Please support our current planning application to create three affordable residential smallholdings for new entrants to ecological agriculture, in the village of Arlington, East Sussex. Read more

As a Sussex resident, it would be very useful to have your comments as a potential customer to the smallholdings. Would you welcome the production of more ecological food? Would you be a customer of the produce if it came to Lewes? Are you already a patron of the farmers market? Is there demand in Lewes for more ecologically produced food? Your support would be hugely appreciated and the deadline for letters is April 27th.

Please go to the ELC web page with instructions of how to submit a letter of support here... Thank you!


Farming, caves and capitalism

Dirk Campbell
  Dirk Campbell

The funny and perceptive series Simon Evans Goes to Market is currently being repeated on Radio 4. In the programme on grain, Jim Rogers, American commodities investor, says 'Over the last ten years or so the world has consumed more than it has produced, and when you consume more than you produce, the supply has to come from somewhere. So we've been whittling down our inventories, our stocks, so that now inventories of agricultural products are near historic lows. Agriculture has been such a horrible business for thirty years that we're now running out of farmers. Nobody wants to be a farmer. In America the average age of farmers is 58, in Japan it's 66, in Canada it's the oldest in recorded history, in Australia it's 58 – nobody wants to be a farmer. In America more people study public relations than study agriculture.' Read more by Dirk Campbell...



The Lewes Pound Celebration Pack


      When the Lewes Pound first launched 9 years ago our aims were to support local traders, keep money circulating within Lewes and help reduce CO2 emissions. We were surprised that there was so much outside interest in our project and amazed to discover that there were collectors far and wide who wanted to acquire our local currency. We put together collectors packs priced at £10.00 and £50.00 (postage extra) and have done a steady trade in them over the years, with the income helping to support our ongoing work supporting Lewes. Read more...

The problems with climate change

I suppose that by now most people will understand - well, most people outside the White House - that one of the most serious problems that climate change will bring is unpredictability. How do you grow crops, if you don't know when to plant them? Though of course this only a worry for those of us who actually eat food.

A few days back I was talking to someone who grew up on the banks of the Winterbourne. If you don't know it, it's the stream that runs (occasionally) between the town of Lewes, and its extramural suburb, Southover... 

Jon Gunson
Jon Gunson



Jill's talking rubbish

December 2016

A team from Lewes (see photo of us all kitted up) took up the offer noted in the TTL newsletter of a tour of the Hollingdean Materials Recycling Facility, operated by Veolia as are the Newhaven and Whitesmith sites. Hollingdean processes the recycling from Brighton & Hove District; they, Lewes and Wealden Districts all have different recycling regimes, so here are some notes on the differences and on what happens to the recycled materials. Read more by Jill Goulder...

Veolia visit

3 Jan 2017.

A takeaway - without the side order of polystyrene


Could we do this in Lewes?

Transition Town Hastings are starting an initiative to encourage local takeaways and food outlets to use more eco-friendly packaging than plastic or particularly polystyrene. This is part of a wider campaign to reduce litter on the beaches and in the sea, and they hope to get support from the local council and possibly the Foreshore Trust. And it will tie in with another marine litter project to create artwork from litter on the beaches.

They’re at the planning stage currently, and wondered whether other Transition groups in coastal areas would be interested in mutually supporting, sharing ideas etc.

They plan a scheme of community recognition and support for food outlets that move to more sustainable packaging, perhaps through awarding certificates or at least stickers for them to put in their windows. They also hope for press coverage to encourage local engagement. They’re targeting independent take-aways for now as retailers have less control over the packaging they sell food in. But their hope is to raise awareness more generally about the environmental effects of food packaging, and then move onto bigger things.If anyone is interested in starting an initiative in Lewes or has some expertise or ideas that they are prepared to put into practice, do please contact Julia

3 Dec 2016.

You have it in your power to help our local shops

As an individual, YOU do make a difference – Shop local and show your power!

shop local   Our local independent stores and traders NEED you. YOU can make a real difference to their survival – you can save them from going under; you can help them to thrive! We now know that a single individual’s spending makes a real difference to a Local independent shop. If you value them being here, use them and take a New Year pledgeRead more...
5 Jan 2017.

Lewes for a Living Wage

Lewes for a Living Wage are a group campaigning to bring the real Living Wage to the town of Lewes, East Sussex. They have conducted a series of interviews with local employees and business owners to find out about the potential benefits of becoming a Living Wage Town. Here's what they had to say:

Read more here...

2 Dec 2016.

Finding the Bright Spots

Climate Talk


When four Lewes societies paraded figures of Donald Trump on Bonfire Night last month, his election to The White House had still seemed unlikely; unreal.  But in a matter of days the recently ratified UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change was looking vulnerable under a future President who had previously talked of "scrapping" it.  He has since declared he has “an open mind” on the deal, but could a single administration manage to sabotage a worldwide agreement that had taken decades to reach?  Read more here...


Help fund local solutions to global problems

Transition Town Lewes (TTL) is a voluntary organisation with many dedicated people offering their time, effort and knowledge to help make Lewes a thriving and sustainable community. As with any voluntary group, we do have regular costs to meet so that we can keep taking local action to address global problems like climate change and resource scarcity.

Invest in a sustainable future
Lewes can thrive with the collective energy and support of the people who live in and love this amazing town. Your donation will be used to support projects and ideas that can help assure sustainability - from renewable energy and green transport to local food-growing and new enterprise.

We produce a monthly email newsletter sent out to 1,000 people, maintain a website that acts as a hub of information, and put on numerous talks and events. With your help, we can do even more.

Give what you’re comfortable with, and know that your support makes all the difference.


Ovesco and Ringmer Community College launch solar energy share offer

Solar energy share offer...

    Parents and members of the local community in Ringmer are being invited to invest in new solar panels installed on Ringmer Community College’s roof. This is a joint initiative involving the school and Ouse Valley Energy Services Company (Ovesco). The College has strong eco-credentials, around 180 students are active eco-representatives and some have helped to plan and deliver the share offer. Ovesco has installed community-owned solar panels on the roofs of three other schools as well as on Harvey’s warehouse in Lewes. Read more - including information on share offer...

Eco Reps Enjoy Sun Powered Break Time at Ringmer College.

16 Nov 2016.

Join Keep It In the Ground Lewes

Keep It In the Ground Lewes is looking for more people to re-launch the group. There are now groups all over East Sussex asking the county council pension fund to divest, and hopeful signs from other pension funds. And 43 UK universities have pledged to dump investments in fossil fuels. More: The Guardian


There is still a great need to keep up the pressure on fossil fuels, so please contact Arnold Simanowitz on 01273 480011 or email if you can help.

Background information here...


One of the most important men who has ever lived...

One of the most important men who has ever lived has recently died. He is up there with Gandhi, Mandela, Churchill and Krishnamurti. Unlike them he was not widely acknowledged during his life, being so far ahead of the curve, but his ideas have been adopted by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world at all levels, from the rebuilding of Cuba’s economy to farming in drought-stricken Africa to spiritual ecology at Findhorn. He is Bill Mollison, inventor of Permaculture.


Most people involved in the Transition Towns initiative will know that it is based on Mollison’s ideas: do what works, don’t keep putting effort into what doesn’t work, use natural processes to model solutions, co-operate rather than control, value small successes, take the long term view of everything. Rob Hopkins’ Transition idea came from applying Permaculture principles as a community-level response to global resource depletion and life beyond cheap oil.

Read more here...


A light bulb moment...

Jon Gunson, TTL:

     I was sitting in the living room the other night when a bulb went. Took me a minute or so to work out what was going on, because modern bulbs last for ever, don't they? Well, near enough. Now in terms of embodied carbon, this is, of course, a jolly good thing. However, it has a downside, as you don't have to think about changing a light bulb for years on end, and by the time you do, you realise that you have been missing out on some very interesting developments. As a reader of this you are, I suppose, way ahead of me in this field. Just in case, though, here is a report from the front line...

Down the Drain: Help us create a Flash Flood Map of Lewes



A huge thank-you to everyone who came to our event, Down the Drain: What can we do to stop surface in Lewes getting worse?

We'll be carrying a full report in our December issue and thoughts on next steps. In the meantime, we're looking to keep building our Flash Flood Map of Lewes. If you're aware of any location in Lewes that floods after heavy rainfall - including places that have only just start to flood recently - let us know. Email



Lewes Eco Open Houses record-breaking attendance


The Eco Open house event finished on Sunday 23rd and most of the householders and volunteers gathered for a celebration at the Lewes arms that evening. Final attendance figures were gathered together and we were able to announce a record breaking attendance of over 1200 house visits! More than 50% up on the last event in 2014.

We all shared our experiences and it was great to hear that the majority of visitors came seeking information and shared expertise, to get their own eco house projects under way. Giving inspiration and confidence to others is definitely the way forward.

The new booking system also seemed to work well and helped regulate numbers and make householder presentations more manageable. Lots of ideas were shared to make the next event even better.

We would like to thank all the householders who took part for generously opening their homes and giving up so much free time to help others. Similarly we couldn’t have done it without the army of volunteers working at the houses and the team behind the event. Finally, we should acknowledge the very generous backing from the Big Lottery and the very useful grants from  Lewes Pound and Lewes Town Council. Neil Williams

For future reference, and for those who couldn’t make it, Neil has produced a leaflet going ideas on how to make your own home more energy efficient, with particular focus on high impact/low cost measures.


Move our pensions out of fossil fuels

Campaigners from around East Sussex have launched a new brochure and web tool to help members of the East Sussex Pension Fund (ESPF) lobby the County Council to reinvest the £172 million it currently has invested in the coal, oil and gas industries. See Fossil Free Hastings


Members of the East Sussex Pension Fund can use the new web tool to contact the chair of the East Sussex Pension Committee, Richard Stogdon, and urge the Committee to divest the Fund from fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas). A printed brochure with a tear-off slip addressed to the Committee chair, suitable for Pension Fund members to share with their colleagues, is also available free on request from Fossil Free Hastings, c/o Ore Place Farmhouse, TN34 2RA or

Read more here...


Cycling to solar in West Sussex

Jill Goulder visits an Ovesco project

An imaginative extra was added to the official opening on 4 September 2016 of a newly-built community-funded 5-megawatt solar farm at Merston east of Chichester. Directors of Meadow Blue Community Energy (a partnership including Ovesco in Lewes) offered to guide a group of attendees on a bike-trip to the farm from Chichester station. I and another Lewes resident Ann Link managed to dodge Rail Replacement Buses and join a dozen Chichester cyclists for the 4-mile ride to the farm. The proliferation of solar farms in that region is a revelation to those of us facing the opposition to them in the SDNP and Weald: with the Downs far to the north here the farms in the flatlands don't 'spoil the view'. Read more...

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