Mountains above Corris

Centre for Alternative Technology

Making a better world.

Centre for Alternative Technology

The Centre for Alternative Technology seems a strangely New-Age place to visit on a Cistercian pilgrimage: in fact, there are lots of connections. The emphasis on self-sufficiency is of course very Cistercian. It results in sustainable mixed farming, with animals on poor land and crops on the better soil. Like the Cistercians, the team at CAT are not totally vegetarian but they emphasise animals which eat up scraps, such as poultry and fish. Their gardens are a mixture of vegetables, herbs and flowers, with companion plantings and a use for everything. The superficially scruffy look of the experimental farm is probably as near as we can get nowadays to the appearance of a Cistercian grange, or even the outer court of a monastery in its early days.

Again like the Cistercians, the Centre makes great use of water power. The site, in an old slate quarry, was chosen partly because it had a fast-flowing stream and a reservoir which had been used by the quarry. Where the Cistercians used water power direct, to run corn and textile mills, CAT uses it to power two turbines and to run the railway up to the site. CAT is however some way ahead of the Cistercians in sewage technology. The Cistercians were pioneers in their day, but their drainage systems simply used water to flush sewage into the nearest river. CAT has an array of practical solutions, from composting lavatories to the reed-beds which clean up the outflow from the whole site.

More on the Centre for Alternative Technology web site.

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