Sustainable Haltwhistle Newsletter January 2024

Free film screening

Fri 19th Jan, 7pm

Comrades Club, Haltwhistle

FINITE: The Climate of Change is a raw, authentic and emotional insight into the David and Goliath battle between frontline communities, activists and fossil fuel corporations. Concerned citizens in Germany form an unlikely alliance with a local community in Pont Valley, Durham.

We'll also screen Snow in July a short film made by Haltwhistle's own FilmAble. The name was chosen months before the Italian town of Seregno suffered ice-laden floods in July last year.

In partnership with:

Advance notice - on Feb 16th, 7pm, we'll be showing: A year in the Field

Six Inches of Soil
Special Preview Film Screening, Q&A and Panel Debate
Rheged, Penrith, 21st January, 2 - 5pm, Screen 2.

Full details and tickets £12 online, £10 conc. from

Our current food system is both a miracle and a disaster. Six Inches of Soil is an independent British feature film which follows the inspiring story of British farmers standing up against the industrial food system and transforming the way they produce food - to heal the soil, benefit our health and provide for local communities.

Following its UK Premiere at the Oxford Real Farming Conference on 4 Jan, Rheged is one of a handful of preview venues for 'Six Inches of Soil'. This event is a unique opportunity to see the film with an intro and Q&A with Colin Ramsay and Claire Mackenzie - the film's Director and Producer and hear a Panel discussion on 'Can my individual choices drive change?'

This film follows the highs and lows of three new farmers on the first year of their regenerative journey to heal the soil and help transform the food system - Anna Jackson, a Lincolnshire 11th generation arable and sheep farmer; Adrienne Gordon, a Cambridgeshire small-scale vegetable farmer; and Ben Thomas, who rears pasture fed beef cattle in Cornwall. As the trio of young farmers strive to adopt regenerative practices and create viable businesses, they meet seasoned mentors who help them on their journey.

The screening will be followed by a panel debate: 'Can my individual choices drive change?'
with guests:
Mike Berners Lee - leading expert on sustainability, author of several acclaimed books, including 'There Is No Planet B', Professor in practice at Lancaster University & Director of Small World Consulting
Maria Benjamin - of Dodgson Wood which is a diversified part of Nibthwaite Grange Farm. Maria finds creative and environmentally sustainable solutions by making the most of natural resources on the farm and produces and retails knitting wool, tweed, wool products, and soap. Maria is an advocate for sustainable fashion
Garry Miller - runs a family farming business in partnership with his wife Hazel, which includes 6000 free range hens, 420 lambing sheep, 15 cattle, some pigs. 15 beehives and a farm shop.
Colin Ramsay - Director of Six Inches of Soil, award winning film maker and passionate about nature-based solutions to climate change.
Neil Heseltine - Fourth generation farmer of the 1100 acre Hill Top Farm at Malham, member of the nature friendly farming network and Chair of Yorkshire Dales National Park and National Parks.
Caz Graham (of BBC's 'Farming Today') - host.

(I hope to go do contact me re lift sharing)

Get ready for The Big Garden Bird Watch
Lunchtime talk 12 noon, Friday 19th January at Hillside, Haltwhistle
Gill Thompson, Northumberland National Park's ecologist, will talk about the birds we can expect to see in our gardens at this time of year. There'll be a chance to practice identification skills looking at birds in HGT's garden at Hillside. Have a go at making a fat-ball - a great nutritional supplement for many birds at this time of year. Free nutritious lunch will be provided for participants too!

Sign up to the Big Garden Birdwatch, the world's largest garden wildlife survey. Every year, hundreds of thousands of nature lovers take part, helping to build a picture of how garden birds are faring.

Sustainable Haltwhistle presents:
- A people's conference looking at river health and community action across the Tyne Valley and beyond. This one day event will present data on the effect of sewage spillages on river health and biodiversity. We will learn what some local groups have been doing about it and discuss what actions we as a community can take. As a follow up to the event we will be passing questions to Northumbrian Water and a further community event may be organised.

Nick Morphet will present data on sewage spillages in the South Tyne catchment and comment on how effectively Northumbrian Water are dealing with the problem. He will present data on the South Tyne's health, focusing on elements which are affected by sewage pollution and suggest actions which could be taken to put a stop to sewage pollution and make the river healthier.

Ceri Gibson, CEO of Tyne Rivers Trust, will share a presentation looking in detail at the effect of river health on biodiversity and wildlife.

Prof. Mike Dibb-Fuller, Wylam Clean Tyne group, will describe their journey of attempting to get bathing water status for the Tyne at Wylam, developing faecal bacteria monitoring, and their results, as well as wider engagement to clean up the river. The Wylam project is very advanced and there will be an extended Q&A allowing audience members to explore the detail of the project as well as understand how to replicate it. We will also be hearing from Felton Clean River Group regarding their work on river health in the Croquet Valley. They have set up a coalition of local community groups including the Women's Institute.

Discussion, Shared Learning and Next Steps will be key to this community event

Tyne for Change Thur 29 Feb 10am - 4pm
Haltwhistle Community Hub (Mechanics Institute) NE49 0AX
5 mins from train and bus stops. Please consider coming by public transport

FREE EVENT including simple locally sourced vegan lunch and refreshments

Sustainable Haltwhistle co organiser Cllr. Abigail Cheverst is leading on:-
Climate Change and Sustainability Issues for Haltwhistle Town Council.
A working group of counsellors is being formed. Please get in contact if you have concerns, comments or ideas around sustainability in the local area

One of Abby's first initiatives is to look at increasing the biodiversity of road verges in the town - something we've worked on successfully with the A69 management and, to a limited extent, with NCC highways. Abby has set up a meeting with the Town Council's Grounds sub-committee to consider changing the management of the verges along Avenue St Meen to encourage more wildflowers.

Podcast recommendation: Tree Amble

After 30 years working to restore nature in forests and on farms, Pete Leeson takes time out to revisit the people he's met along the way. Throughout the series, Pete discovers how land managers are adapting and responding to the nature crisis we all face, while navigating the economic challenges within farming today. People are at the heart of this podcast, holding the potential to do some incredible things.
We meet farmers, ecologists, rewilders and more to find out how communities are building a future together which respects and supports nature.
Pete Leeson is the Woodland Trust officer who provided the trees and guards for the planting volunteers helped with at Moss Peteral last year and in series 2, episode 5 he talks with Ruth Dalton who spoke about regenerative farming at HGT's Lunchtime talk here last year.

Defend our juries - the right of jurors to acquit a defendant according to their conscience
On the 4th December a handful of Sustainable Haltwhistle members were outside Carlisle Crown Court again. We were joined by others from Penrith and the South Lakes so were a significant protest. The News & Star sent a journalist to report on our action. I recently spoke to Trudi, who initiated the movement by standing alone outside the Old Bailey with a placard reminding jurors of their absolute right to acquit, and was charged with contempt of court as a result. No date has yet been set for her hearing but she is strengthened by the support these protests evidence; 'Bring it on.' she said to me!
Background info:

Noctalgia - an exhibition celebrating the ecological importance of the dark night skies.
Beautiful and illuminating!
At The Sill, Landscape Discovery Centre, until March 2024.

Please support this community initiative if you can - pubs are such important community assets for rural villages.

Get in touch
Any questions, comments or contributions to this monthly e-newsletter?
Please contact 07935 259416

Sustainable Haltwhistle aims to reduce the impact of the community of Haltwhistle and surrounding villages on our environment. This will help individuals, families and our community save money and resources and ensure a more sustainable future for us all.

To join SH contact Sue Seymour, 07935 259416