The Paddy Fields at the front end of Lawson Park were created as a site for Grizedale's ongoing trials with experimental farming methods, inventive land use, and creative approaches to ecology. In 2006 a group of farmers from the Japanese village of Toge visited the site as part of the Seven Samurai cultural exchange project to remodel the slope into terraced fields. The project was then seen as a test to ascertain whether it was possible to achieve productive workable soil without the use of artificial additives and fertilisers. The two acre area which is now the paddies, was completely barren unworkable soil able to sustain only bracken and grass, has spent the intervening years being cultivated - through entirely organic means, with green manure, mulching and endless weeding. Despite all common sense, they are becoming reasonably productive and, although it has been a slow and drawn-out process, they now have decent and regular yields of relatively hardy vegetable and soft fruit crops such strawberries, potatoes, lettuce etc.
The paddies have become an important resource for use with group outings to Lawson Park, allowing the wide cross-section of people who visit the site the simple opportunity to work the land, an activity which has become disturbingly absent from town and city living. In a very direct way this can be seen as an implementation of Ruskin's long held belief that everyone should be able to use a plot of land to sustain themselves, and that people should work both with their hand as well as their minds in order to maintain a healthy character. In practice the experience of working on the paddies among such picturesque scenery can be liberating for many visitors, and on occasion just the chance to find out exactly how chips actually grow in the wild can be enlightening.
In line with the Lawson Park model, the paddies are constantly evolving as a project, altered with the changing season, each new plant trial, and person who works them. The recent addition of a poly tunnel will greatly improve the diversity of plants able to be grown, and a turf roof shed-come-shack should significantly reduce the number of tools which the wind runs away with, as well as providing a possible base camp for dissident factions with an interest in sheds.
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