Silhouette of a sleigh

Talking Points

Iain Gerrard reports on topics discussed at Committee meetings and other relevant matters

Barkers' Wood

I should explain that this wood, for those who are relatively new residents in the area (like me!), was planted by the Trust, on land given to the Trust for that purpose by Mrs. Barker, in memory of her husband. It has now been growing for some 8 years and Don Pickis arranged a return to it on the 22nd. of September. The idea was to plant some blue bells to enhance its appearance. The Mayor was invited to participate, along with members of the Trust who had originally been involved with the planting and some of the children who had also helped at the time.

Many had not seen the area for the 8 years it has been in existence and were surprised and pleased at its healthy, semi-mature appearance. It was a pleasant occasion and the bulbs were successfully buried. (I understand that given even half a chance you cannot get rid of bluebells when you don't want them so there should be a nice crop in a year or two). For anyone inclined to have a look at the wood, but who were unable to turn up on the above day, the area is accessed from the end of Starring Lane, off Starring Way. Go and have a look; take your dog!

Photograph: Judith Schofield, a young helper, the Mayor: Irene Davidson and Don Pickis

Judith Schofield, a young helper, the Mayor: Irene Davidson and Don Pickis

Photograph: Iain Gerrard

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The 'Bus Station' seat

It is pleasant to report that after much effort our submission to the Pennines Township Committee for a small grant to repair this seat has been successful. To date we still await official confirmation of this because our submission required that, on completion of the repairs, the seat would be presented to the Township as a gift. This apparent generosity on our part ensures that we will not be responsible in the future for the Public Liability Insurance (necessary where an item such as this is fixed in a public area); nor will we have the difficult task of fixing the seat in place, which must be done to the satisfaction of the Local Authority Highways Department. This is in the process of being arranged by our Township Manager.

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Town Design Statement

The meeting announced in the last newsletter on the 23rd September was held at the Coach House and was a resounding success. Forty three people attended, some of them from the Urban Design Group who kindly funded the day and some from out of town responding to the adverts put out nationally, but most were residents of Littleborough interested enough to spend their Sunday afternoon away from the television.

To some degree we commandeered the day from it’s original intention of promoting what is good in Littleborough’s heritage to announce the start of our Town Design Statement, although hardly an unrelated subject! The Urban Design Group happily went along with this and Chris Standish, the leader of the U.D.G. North West, gave a short speech at the end of the day welcoming the blossoming interest of the residents in their town and area.

The event started, immediately after some lunch, with a talk by the Chairman, John Street, giving an overview of urban design in Littleborough and how the proposed Town Design Statement can preserve and enhance the urban environment and community values for the future.

River Roch from Square

River Roch
View from Littleborough Square
Don't believe it? - Check it out!
Admittedly there will be less leaves about now

Rae Street

The group was then treated to a walk around the centre of Littleborough, particularly for those who had travelled some distance to be with us; the remainder of us were given a talk by the Chairman, accompanied by slides, covering the same items being seen by those on the walk.

At the end of the walk and slide show and following further refreshments, the meeting was opened up to a discussion involving all present to further explain details not fully understood of the T.D.S. and to expand upon the brief suggestions already made as to what might be included in the work and what opportunities the work could open up for Littleborough in the coming years.

One such idea, seized upon enthusiastically by those present, was the introduction (re-introduction?) of an open market perhaps, initially at least, in the area between the rear of the Falcon and the Coach House. It was felt by all those attending that the afternoon had been well spent and would lead to much more in the months ahead.

Since that date the Town Design Statement has begun in earnest, albeit much preliminary work is to do with assembling people and agreeing any organisation necessary. A full public meeting, or maybe more than one, following a letter to each and every household in Littleborough, as well as all the businesses within the town boundary, will be held some time in January or early February to get the project off the ground as far as the public is concerned. Please keep your eyes open for announcements in the local press, and adverts prominently displayed, for this date.

The Historical & Archæological Society has been approached and has agreed to work closely with us on the listing of the heritage of Littleborough: an essential part of the brief we have for the successful creation of the Statement. This has already begun with a listing of the Ealees area. It goes without saying, but is well worth saying, that we are grateful for such help in the task ahead.

Letters have been sent out to various people to invite them to sit on a Steering Group who’s specific task will be to oversee and guide the events and progress of the whole project but only insofar as ensuring it is heading in the right direction and is on target time-wise. It cannot be repeated often enough that this whole effort has to be run by and on behalf of the whole population of Littleborough. We are not pretending that people already contacted are the only ones needed on the Committee and I would urge anyone wishing to be involved in this venture, in any way they see fit or feel comfortable with, to contact myself or the Chairman or any member of the main committee (names and numbers on the inside front cover of this newsletter).

Iain Gerrard

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Letter From The Chairman

With Christmas nearly upon us it seemed appropriate to write something we can be pleased about. It was not hard to find. On the 28th September I drove up the valley to Todmorden to help celebrate the launch of the ‘Heritage Strategy for the Southern Pennines’.

In terms of enjoyment the first thing was a beautiful, luminous day if rather cold - so the heritage all the way along the valley in terms of the surrounding countryside looked stunning. The second thing was that the meeting was to be in Todmorden Town Hall, which as you know is a really impressive piece of architecture inside and out.

Once inside there were further reasons to smile and enjoy what was going on. For those who had been involved there was the birth of the book outlining the strategy - which, rather like the better known births, is always a real thrill when you hold the result in your hands after a long time a-coming. In the case of the book there was added value in that, not only did you get a free copy, but it was full of superb photographs of the Pennine countryside that lots of us think of as our unique heritage.

The title says it all: ‘A Heritage Strategy for the Southern Pennines’. At last it is written down, is officially recognised and, hopefully, will get the idea on it’s way.

It was between 1940 and 1950 that people saw the need to create National Parks in Britain. We got one in Yorkshire (The Yorkshire Dales), one in Derbyshire (The Peak District) and guess who lost out in between?

Lost out, yes; beaten, no!

Photograph: Front cover of 'A Heritage For The South Pennines

Up and down the valleys people never gave up the vision of the importance and the uniqueness of the South Pennines. Ever since, with growing enthusiasm, they have looked for other ways to preserve the best of this lovely area and to restore its economic prosperity after the collapse of the textile industry. They fought and struggled and slowly growth points emerged. The result was not only the present success but a celebration of 50 years of campaigning beginning to show, on many counts, results being achieved.

There is now momentum, the door is ajar, and with increasing confidence we will get through it.

People from the local area were supported by some interesting guest speakers such as the Chief Executive of the old N.W.W.A. (North West Water Authority), now United Utilities plc, and the President of the National Farmers’ Union. Each speaker talked with authority and it added up to the excitement about what might eventually be achieved in the South Pennines. In the statistics given was the information that this next year more money will come into the South Pennines than will go to either of our ageing National Park neighbours!

For the hungry the buffet provided was of organically and locally grown food, rounding the day of nicely.

It must be one of the best known secrets that a super market place exists in Todmorden!

Stomach full, a new book in my hands and my head whirring with new ideas is not bad for one afternoon!

A Very Merry Christmas to Everyone.

John Street

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone... ?

Frowny face

Littleborough Civic Trust is very short of people who really care about their town or even the area in which they live.

I am quite sure all our members care about Littleborough and we are grateful for their continued support. I am, however, asking for people who care enough to come forward to join our Committee to bring new blood and, if necessary, show us the errors of our ways.

Our present Committee consists entirely of 'incomers', some being residents of quite long standing but even so not life-time dwellers.

The excellent response to the recently formed group - Friends Of Hare Hill Park - consists of 90% incomers.

Why? Where are all the other interested residents - long established or new?

Smiley face

It is so easy to moan and complain about the state of the roads, streets, the lack of care and neglect of certain areas etc. etc. Please don't just moan to odd people: come and moan to us and join the Committee of the Civic Trust and help us to create the Littleborough you want to live in.

Gillian Roberts
Membership Secretary

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New Tree Planting

On Thursday, 6th December, (a slight ‘extension’ of National Tree Week), the Civic Trust, in cooperation with Greater Manchester Police and Hollingworth Lake Country Park, planted a mixed group of trees around and on the bank adjoining Littleborough Police Station, Featherstall Road.

Tree planting ceremony at the police station

The Tree Planting Ceremony at the Police Station. From left to right: Rae & John Street, Sergeant Chris Lees, Councillor Peter Evans, Eleanor Dale from Hollingworth Lake Country Park, Superintendent Sweeney, W.P.C. Janice Parrott, Chief Inspector Greenhalgh, The Mayor, Irene Davidson, Councillor & Mrs. Kieran Clarke and Elaine Gerrard.
Also present but not in the picture were Andy White from the Hollingworth Lake Visitors’ Centre and Iain Gerrard.

Photograph: Iain Gerrard

This initial 'ceremony', to inaugurate what we hope will be a continuing process, not only this year but for the years ahead, was attended by the Mayor, Councillor Irene Davidson, senior members of the Greater Manchester Police and representatives of the Civic Trust and the Country Park. The saplings, which included birch, alder, rowan and oak, were provided by the Country Park, the 'ceremonial spade' by RMBC and the digging by Civic Trust labour.

The police estates department have proved to be willing and interested partners in this initial venture and we hope to plant more trees in this presently rather barren area, particularly as it is, we believe, one of the few sites adjacent to the main roadway which will not present any problems with respect to buried mains and cables etc.

After the launch of the Tree Project in July, several people have come forward with suggestions of where groups of trees, or individual trees, could be planted. We will be having more plantings in the spring. If you can help in any way with the Project, with suggestions, offers of young trees, sites for planting, or, and very importantly, ‘arms and backs’ for digging and planting, do get in touch with any member of the Committee. Donations for the Tree Fund to the Treasurer, Peter Jackson will be gratefully received.

Rae Street


Trees along Carriage Drive

Carriage Drive - April 2001

Photograph: Rae Street

We have written to British Waterways to propose some form of planting along the length of the Canal. They have replied favourably and we are to meet them to discuss where planting would be appropriate and with what types of trees. They have reminded us that the whole of the Canal is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and as such some care is necessary not to upset the ecological balance of the water.

You may question the choice of the canal for such attention when it may be felt that there are other parts of Littleborough in greater need of trees. We feel that we should attempt to achieve planting anywhere we can to increase the overall tree cover of the area. We also feel that as we hope part of Littleborough’s future and prosperity lies in tourism and the canal is going to be a big part of the attraction to the area, it is essential that it is made as attractive as possible.

It is also worth reporting that a group of councils and agencies has been set up to organise a ‘Pennine Edge Forest’, similar in concept to the Red Rose Forest covering much of Lancashire to the west of the Manchester conurbation. This is composed of the Councils of Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport and Tameside along with Groundwork Trust, United Utilities and the Forestry Commission. We are making contact with them and hoping to put them in touch with local farmers and others who have already offered us land for tree-planting.

Anyone interested in this, apart from joining in through us, can get more information from the Environment Department, Telegraph House, Baillie Street, Rochdale OL16 1JH. Their telephone numbers are 01706 864369/373621.

Iain Gerrard



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Died: 13th November 2001

Photograph: Betty Pickis

I have just stopped short as I was about to pull on my gloves to go for a walk. Wonderfully warm knitted gloves. These were the special 'Betty gloves' which our family have been wearing for two decades. Somehow it was just typical of Betty that she should hand knit gloves that were not only useful, comfortable to wear and also raised funds for one of our many projects.

And she has supported so many projects for Littleborough, in every way. She was a founder member, along with Don Pickis and Keith Parry of the Civic Society/Trust in Littleborough in 1971 - almost exactly 30 years ago. This was part of the new movement of Civic Societies: voluntary amenity groups which had been started by Duncan Sandys. Shortly afterwards the name was changed here to Civic Trust because the word was preferred and it marked us out as different!

During all those loyal years with the Trust, Betty served in every capacity from Knitter Extraordinary to Minutes Secretary and Chairwoman

The projects which got off the ground in that time were the Hollingworth Lake Country Park; the preservation of the Steanor Bottom Toll House; the conversion of the former joiners' yard to the Coach House - the Littleborough Heritage and Information Centre; many tree and garden plantings and, literally, off the ground - many litter picks. For the latter I can picture Betty now in her wellies making some joke about 'the nastythings people leave about'.

During Betty's time as Chairwoman of the Civic Trust, there were many other examples of the completion of lasting contributions to Littleborough and its environment. These included the siting and wording of the 'blue plaques' and the opening of the large upstairs room, the Harvey Room, at the Coach House, now extensively used for social events and public meetings.

As Minutes Secretary, Betty had a fine way with words. I really enjoyed browsing through the minutes' books, which are now a valuable archive of Littleborough history in the latter part of the 20th century. Writing ofa discussion of making a garden and building a wall on Station Approach, she recorded that we were going to need a 'lot of man strength'. When the late Geoff Wilson (local dentist and great friend of the Civic Trust) complained of the polluted river running beneath his surgery window, Betty wrote of Geoff's 'Rainbow River'. Always ready to make fun of everyone, even her nearest and dearest , when she minuted a response to aquestion about progress on the preservation of the Toll House, she wrote, 'Mr Pickis filled in the story but the solution (was) vague.'

Betty loved the theatre and was an active member of the Littleborough Amateur Dramatic Society. Many remember her special interpretation of the role of Madam Arcate in 'Blithe Spirit'. We laughed and laughed and it gave us great enjoyment. She also took a lively interest in other local groups - for some years she was Chairwoman of the Townswomen's Guild.

For the work of the Civic Trust, for Littleborough, the community has lost a loyal worker and committed friend. Anything she started she always wanted to carry out to the best of her ability and finish. And she did, so there are many lasting tributes to her dedication over the years round about us.

She was also the most loyal and most kind personal friend; we will miss her keenly. Our sympathies go to Don and her family.

We should end with Betty's own words. Here she writes in the Winter Edition of the LCT Newsletter, 1979, about the world's waste of natural resources. Note the date. It is just as true today

"I had intended to vent my feelings about the waste of natural resources via a parody of Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" and, in fact, it began as follows:

"If you can keep your cool when all about you
You see the folly of our human grab and greed…
The way we've squandered all our world could offer
And for our children's children took no heed...

If you can justify your lack of action
In speaking out against the wrongs you see
Yours is the earth and everything that's in it
And it won't amount to much, I'm telling thee!"

"But the muses left rather hurriedly and I felt it was really an insult to Mr Kipling to use his efforts to help me express my feelings on this question of waste of natural resources and how we are going to try to overcome the problems which loom ahead.

"I have no ready made solutions. Perhaps this might be the opportunity we have been waiting for, for people to pool their ideas and talents to try to ease, if not solve, the problem. It will be no usesaying, when we use the last drop of oil or put the last lump of coal on the fire, 'If only …'"

(Betty Pickis 1979)

Rae Street November 2001

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Strange Visitors to Littleborough

Alpacas in field

The Family on Holiday

Have you really thought whether Littleborough could be a holiday destination? Earlier this year two small fields at Bent House on Halifax Road (opposite the Leonard Cheshire Home – Honresfield) had some rather delightful visitors who had travelled from Yorkshire for a “short holiday”. They were ALPACAS.

Alpacas are a South American member of the camel family that is closely related to, but smaller than, the Llama. They stand only 35 inches high (approximately) at the shoulder and weigh 121 to 143 pounds (55 to 65kg). Both were apparently domesticated several thousand years ago by the Indians of the Andes mountains in South America. They are slender-bodied animals with a long neck, long legs and a short tail, which it presses close to its body rather than holding erect like the llama. They have small heads and large pointed ears. It is a really “bonny” looking animal.

They adapt very well to marshy ground and altitudes ranging from 13,000 to 15,700 feet. In adaptation to the reduced oxygen content of the air, their red blood corpuscles are exceptionally numerous. Their normal life span is 15 to 20 years.

An Alpaca

"A Grand Fellow..."

The “Bent” in the name Bent House does not relate to anything crooked. A “Bent” is a form of rush which grows in boggy ground. Hence the names “Bent House”, “Bent Meadows”, “Bent Fields” etc. In fact the Littleborough area is an ideal holiday resort for Alpacas.

The Alpaca coat ranges in colour from the usual black or brown through to light grey and tan and pale yellow. Occasionally you may get a pure white. The wool is remarkably lightweight and strong, also very high in insulation value, with good resistance to rain and snow, therefore making it very good for parkas and sleeping bags. It is often combined with other fibres to make a lighter weight material for dresses and suits. The Alpaca are normally sheared every two years which yields a fleece approximately 2.5 to 3 kg.

I recommend you keep a look out for further “unusual tourists” in and around Littleborough. This particular party came as a family group of 7 adults with 1 youngster. However during their stay a further 2 babies were born. I for one was absolutely besotted and wanted to take one home with me, however Iain, my husband, drew the line at the 2 dogs and 1 cat we already have.

The family left Littleborough at short notice to take up residence at an undisclosed destination in Yorkshire. Their Application for asylum in what we are told is “Gods Own Country” having been granted and the foot and mouth restrictions having permitted their movement.

All we are left of is the memory of this lovely family and a few holiday photographs.

Elaine Gerrard & John Kay

Photographs: John Kay

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The C.R.O.W. Act

Cartoon of a crow reading a book

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act was passed over a year ago but no one seems to have noticed because, up to now, it has affected us only slightly or not at all. We are lucky to live in these northern hills of ours where almost all our high land is registered as Urban Common where pedestrians - not motor or mountain bikers, usually not horse riders although there are some exceptions to this, and definitely not motorists - are allowed free access for fresh air and quiet recreation. The new access which we shall gain will mostly be to water catchment areas, particularly over in Yorkshire where they are opening land around their reservoirs in advance of the public consultation process. There will be new access to much Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust land because as they say, “people and trees mix well”.

The mighty fortress of Boulsworth Hill should fall at last, but if you have ever tackled this tough territory you will know that you really need a path to take you safely through the tussocks of coarse grass and rushes and keep you out of the awful bogs.

So what have we gained?

The fact that once these rights are properly established they will last forever and not be altered by changes of ownership. There will be maintenance grants for owners who agree to dedicate their land to this sort of use.

The first draft maps showing the proposed new areas of open country have just been published. They are on view at most Town Halls and libraries and also at Tourist Information Centres like Hollingworth Lake Visitors’ Centre and The Coach House.

A series of road shows is being held to explain the detailed proposals. You could see one at Skipton on the 9th. of January or at Haslingden (not Hasslington as on the Countryside Agency leaflets) on the 10th. or at Losehill Hall, Castleton (in the Peak District) on the 11th.

Everyone has the right to comment whether they approve or object to the suggestions. Time is short because the public consultation period ends on February 11th. 2002, so take the time to look at what is planned and see if your favourite spots are included, but don’t put your mountain gear on yet!

At the end of the consultation period all comments will be considered, maintenance grants will be available to those owners willing to dedicate their land, the final maps will be issued and then walkers can set off.

Cartoon of a running crow

This won’t bring about a revolution, just a pleasant change. In the meantime, you can walk with the Littleborough and Whitworth Footpath Groups and, while enjoying a pleasant walking experience in good company, help to keep all the rights of way open each Sunday throughout the year.

This C.R.O.W. may fly slowly but it knows where it’s going!

Betty Taylor

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This Couldn't Happen in Littleborough... Could it?

During our lives we all come across some ‘characters’. Let me tell you of one.

During my service in the fire brigade (now fire service), around the mid seventies, the usual Saturday morning work was known as ‘station routines’. This involved all manner of duties for the daily running of a fire station.

An example would be cleaning the engine house and this particular Saturday was no different except for one occurrence.

At the 9 o’clock parade we were given our individual work orders - I, for instance, was given the task of driving the 1st pump and to assist with the cleaning of hoses from a fire fought during the previous night. Along with the other drivers, I reversed the appliances into the yard where they received their clean and polish plus their weekly check of radiator water level, oil level and tyre pressures, known as the WOT routine. A little later the fireman nominated to do the WOT came and asked me to reverse the machine a little. I did this without question even though the said fireman was Irish.

Cartoon of a fire engine

Having done so, our own work finished, we stood talking together and idly watching ‘Paddy’ (we’ll call him) only to suddenly realise the comedy of the request when one of us asked him why he’d wanted the machine reversed.

He replied (think of an Irish accent here), “Well, you see, the tyre valves were all at the bottom of the wheels, so the full weight of the machine was resting on them”.

I’ll leave you to imagine our response to this!!!

Peter Jackson

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Poem from a School

Earlier this year my godson proudly boasted to me that he and others from his school had written poems which were to be published in a book of Lancashire childrens’ poems.

When the book was available I ordered a copy and keenly read it from cover to cover. Bearing in mind the eldest contributor was only eleven years old I found it quite entrancing. Despite finding my godson’s contribution to be extremely good (well I would say that wouldn’t I?) I found the following poem hilarious, especially as it was written by one of my godson’s friends at his school. Knowing the father about whom the poem has been written I was amazed at how different the description is to the reality! Believe me, it is not an accurate description and I presume has to come under the heading of artistic licence.

Elaine Gerrard

My Dad

Hair like sheepskin
Head like a toy box
Eyes like a forest
Nose like a black hole
Lips like a chilli pepper
Voice like a lost dinosaur Breath like cow dung
Teeth like blunt knives
Ears like leaves
Neck like a pipe
Body like an army tank
Heart like a bird
Arms like window wipers Hands like tools
Legs like pencils

Philip Williams (10)
Fairfield Primary School,
Bury, Lancashire

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Puzzles Answers

Although my inclusion of some lateral-thinking questions in the Summer edition was only included as a filler - in the absence of copy from you lot, I have been asked on one or two occasions to provide the answers.

Well as no one else could or would here they are:

  1. Two.
  2. All of them.
  3. One hour.
  4. 70
  5. Half way.
  6. All of them.
  7. White.
  8. One.
  9. Cartoon of polar bear
  10. Unless you’re a sadist, because he’s still alive.
  11. 10p & 1p.
  12. None.
  13. The match.
  14. In this day and age I suppose the answer would have to be yes - if you were a necrophiliac.
Cartoon of a ghost

If you didn’t get the Summer edition or you’ve lost it and so can’t remember the questions - Life’s a bitch isn’t it? Extra copies of that issue are available from our Secretary at £50 each! Har, har!

And while we’re on questions and answers and no one seemed to know the answer to the photograph in the Autumn edition, remember it?:

Photograph: Cooperative Carving

It is a wood carving presently fixed above the entrance to the old Co-op shop at Durn. I do not know if it originated there, although it undoubtedly was designed and executed for the Littleborough Cooperative Society at some time.


The impolite English!... Two tourists were motoring through the English countryside along one of the tight country lanes when the squire, in his Rolls, came in the other direction.

As the cars drew close the squire wound down his window and yelled: “Pigs!”

The tourists were taken aback and were still getting over the shock when, rounding the next bend, they ran into a herd of pigs.

Iain Gerrard

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Even More Trees Information...

We are pleased to publicise the work of organisations like the Henry Doubleday Research Association which is helping to provide the organic approach to farming and horticulture. H.D.R.A. is based at Ryton near Coventry, just of the Fosse Way. Members of the Association can enjoy visiting its own gardens at Ryton Yalding and Audley End and gain free entry to a number of other gardens in the United Kingdom, including Barnsdale developed by Geoff Hamilton, the Brogdale Collection of fruit trees and bushes, Harlow Carr Gardens at Harrogate and the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley.

Silhouette of palms and an elephant

Anyone wishing to join should contact: HDRA, Ryton Organic Gardens, Coventry, CV8 3LG. Telephone number: (024) 7630 3517. Web address:

HDRA is currently promoting tree planting schemes in Africa hoping to create 200 African tree nurseries and to help African farmers improve their farming systems with increasing use of organic methods and empowering the people who already live there to do the job themselves.

Don Pickis


Editor: Iain Spencer Gerrard