GRAFT February

Josh David-Read, 21 March 2024

“There are no Gardening mistakes only experiments.” Janet Kilburn Phillips

February too early to begin planting? Now this is a debatable topic in the gardening world… But we thought to give early planting a try.

At the end of January and early Feb we direct planted some Onions and Parsnips (seeds), planted out some Broad Beans and sewed early Tomatoes, Aubergine, Chillis, Peppers and Sweet Peas. We also planted a Bay tree in a pot by the Kitchen and 2 Blackberry stems in the Forest Bed. Starting early gives slower germination but also means an earlier crop. 

We will sew a later variety of all the above to ensure we have more crop later in the year. [TOP TIP] Only start early if you have a heated propagator or a windowsill above a radiator at home. 

We led a workshop in making your own potting mix. What we have gone for this year is 2 part compost (our own), 2 part Coir (Coconut Husk), and 1 part Perlite. This gives a good chance to all new seeds. Only downside to using your own compost is the weeds… we have found that germinating with your own compost has encouraged them to grow. Do you have another potting mix you swear by? Let us know! 

Later in the month Ian set about repairing the wooden beds, teaching two of the GRAFT Volunteers the process. We also assembled 6 more raised beds out of corrugated iron which will line the glass edge of the Museum. As this is a shadier part of the garden, we are going to have to plan carefully what to plant there. Next time you are in the museum have a look, they look great! To fill the beds we added cardboard and a lot of cuttings and branches to pack out the base then added Top Soil on top. When this organic matter breaks down it will give nutrients to the soil.                        

At the end of February, we sewed Spinach, and a selection of Herbs (Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, Basil) in the Polytunnel. We also ‘chitted’ (Bless me!) our potatoes, this means placing them in egg boxes with the ‘eyes’ face up. When they sprout they are good to go in the ground. Alternatively, you can just chuck them straight in the bed without chitting. [TOP TIP] Grow potatoes from home! Ever gone to make some mash and found sprouting potatoes? You can cut them in half and place them in soil to make a big crop of Potatoes right from home. Give it a try and let us know how you get on! 


Roast Crown Prince Squash with whipped tahini


Serves 4



1.2 k Squash of your choice, deseeded and cut into chunks

3 tbsp oil

1 red onion, finely sliced

Glug of red wine vinegar

200g tahini

Squeeze of lemon juice

Handful of mint leaves

Salt and pepper



Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Roast squash in oven with oil and season with salt for 40 mins, turning half way

Place onion in a bowl with vinegar and pinch of salt and mix well

In another bowl add 125ml of cold water to the tahini and whisk well

Add lemon juice and salt to taste

To serve put the tahini on the plate, top with the squash, pickles onions, torn mint leaves and salt and pepper


I will be updating readers every month or two months with the general work we have done in the garden. We will pass on information we have learnt, things we have done well (and not so well) and any tips for budding gardeners (or experienced gardeners) out there to take to your own green space. I will also include a seasonal recipe from The Shared Plate using ingredients from GRAFT. 

Lambing During Climate Change: What are the Challenges at St Fagans?

Ffion Rhisiart, 20 March 2024

On a wide scale, climate change has made us all aware of just how unpredictable the weather year-to-year can be. But how has it affected lambing at St Fagans and farming in Wales as a whole? Speaking with Emma from the St Fagans farming team, I learnt how climate change has impacted Lambcam 2024. 

In good news, this year has been easier in comparison to 2023! This is down to increased rainfall over the summer in comparison to 2022 which meant that there has been an ample amount of grass to feed the sheep. The year prior had been the opposite, according to Met office data the rainfall in Cardiff in July 2022 had been just 13.0mm, whereas 2023 saw a staggering increase to 185.6mm. A dry summer means that the farm has to rely more on hay and reserve feed over natural grass, leading to the ewes being in poor body condition and subsequently lower birth rates. Ewes require constant monitoring in both the lead up to and during pregnancy. having high mineral and vitamin levels is essential in ensuring they have high fertility and conception rates when being sent to the rams. Meeting their nutritional needs can also ensure that they are not using any of their reserve energy in the peak of their pregnancy. In 2023 we saw 342 lambs born, and this year 444 lambs have been born so far (up to 19 March). This includes a significantly higher number of triplets than average, as well as one set of quadruplets!

So, is more rain always a good thing? Yes and no, both wet and dry scenarios bring their own unique challenges. Too much rain results in the ground becoming waterlogged, making the grass less likely to grow well. The farm at St Fagans in particular is on a lower ground level, so rainfall is slower to dry. Ewes can end up developing footrot in poor underfoot conditions, who then won’t want to eat, ending up weaker on their legs and potentially not able to conceive during mating. 

As you may have noticed, lambing is very high maintenance! Even a slight change can impact how lambing is carried out each year, so farmers are already prepared for the bigger changes. In the words of Emma: “you just have to be”. Farmers have always had to be in touch with how the land is changing, and freak weather years, while becoming more common, have always been an occurrence. In short, being prepared for every eventuality has always been part of the job. While the factors always change, the team at St Fagans have the inherent farmer’s attitude to keep going. 

On the other hand, livestock are temperamental in nature. The dryness of 2022 led to some of the rams going infertile which could be sensed by the ewes, prolonging the lambing season. The lambs of course are vulnerable too, food shortages during drought impacting their growth rates or the mother’s capability of caring for her lambs, in some cases prioritising their milk and leaving out one of her lambs. The general mood of sheep can decline, they get just as fed up with all the rain as we do! Last summer during periods of constant rainfall, they’d refuse to leave the shed even when the doors were open. 

All in all, we know that the world is ever changing, but so is lambing. It’s always been up to farmers to adapt and make the most of what they’ve got. Thank you so much to Emma for taking the time to talk with me, we hope you have enjoyed watching Lambcam 2024!


By Lowri Couzens, Amgueddfa Cymru Producer



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Tŷ Hafan Family Saturdays

Antonella Chiappa, Learning Facilitator, 15 March 2024

Amgueddfa Cymru has partnered with Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice to engage children and young people with life limiting illnesses and their families with our museums and their collections.

As part of our family learning programme we hold Family Saturdays at National Museum Cardiff and St Fagans National Museum of History. As part of the Family Days, Ty Hafan families can engage in play, sensory activities and experiences, trails and crafts. For many, museum spaces can seem inaccessible and daunting places to visit but our Family Saturdays aim to engage families and show what the museum can offer everyone.

Family Saturdays occur bimonthly and are themed around the museum’s collections, from Impressionist artworks that hang in our galleries and entomology specimens in the Discovery Centre at National Museum Cardiff to bug hunts, birdsong and Iron Age roundhouses at St Fagans. Some examples of recent activity days include ‘Under the Sea’, ‘Autumn Adventure’ and 'Dino Discovery Day’! 

Sensory elements are at the core of all our family days, to make sure that the whole family gets the most out of their visit, to make memories together and to offer them a safe space to chat, meet other families and explore the museum. 

Thank you to all of the Ty Hafan families and staff and their amazing, positive energy.

The Sustainability of Wool for Sustainable Sheep Farming

Gareth Beech, 12 March 2024

As we welcome our new lambs at Llwyn yr Eos farm into the world, I’ve been watching the Welsh farmers’ protests and thinking about their future. 

A significant and contentious part of the Welsh Government’s current proposals for the future of agriculture in Wales are measures to promote environmental sustainability and the restoration of biodiversity. This could mean that in the future there might be far fewer sheep kept in Wales. Sustainable sheep farming using environmentally sensitive methods, producing high value products might be the way. How to create added value would be the challenge, though.

One current aspect of sheep farming that has been the cause of frustration for farmers for many years is the low price of wool. The price of a fleece is often not enough to pay the cost of the shearer to shear it. Some farmers have been known to burn or bury their wool rather than pay to have it collected from the wool depot. St Fagans’s wool goes to the British Wool depot in Brecon, whose mission is to drive demand for the product. There is a real need to find additional value from Welsh wool beyond its conventional use for clothing and textiles. This has led to new research into its possible uses in innovative, and sometimes surprising, new products.


Wool as an alternative insulation material in houses is becoming more widely known, but the range of new products and uses being developed include interior fittings for cars, a specialist ingredient for cosmetics, and insulated covers. Other products have been more ‘home-grown’, developed in gardens and on farms, as a means of finding alternative uses for wool and additional income.

Bangor University’s Biocomposite Centre has been working in partnership with Menter Môn’s ‘Gwnaed â Gwlân - Made with Wool’ project to develop new ideas.  They have identified five products with the potential for creating high value. The number one product with the highest potential earnings is Keratin, a fibrous protein which can be used in cosmetics, hair products, medicines. Keratin from wool is a viable alternative to conventional sources such as human hair and feathers, now ethically debateable, or using petroleum-based products.  

Wool’s insulation properties and natural moisture and temperature controls could also be used in covers for trolleys carrying refrigeration products in supermarkets. They could be a sustainable alternative to using foam materials such as polyurethane.

The Product Design course at Bangor University has produced prototypes for gym equipment handles, and mouldings for car interiors, as sustainable alternatives to foams and plastics. Wool is used with bio-resins made from renewable and biodegradable sources such as plants and wood pulp.

The ‘Solid Wool Company’ is already using the method to produce their ‘Hembury’ solidwool chairs using Welsh Mountain wool, described as creating ‘a striking marbled effect, showcasing the unique layering of textures and tones found in this incredible wool’.

At Gwinllan Conwy Vineyard, Conwy County, mats of wool are laid on the ground at the foot of the vines, deterring pests and weeds, reducing the need to spray chemicals. The fleeces also reflect the sunlight on to the grapes.  Significantly, the quality of the wine has also improved.

In a similar way, wool mats are also effective in vegetable gardens. Repairing footpaths using wool as a base is being tried on Anglesey. It’s a way of trying to find a more sustainable method using a locally produced product, instead of a man-made membrane.


With such a range of new and sustainable uses, l hope the lambs we see being born today will have their fleeces put to good use in the future in sustainable sheep farming, in a sustainable environment.

For more information about the story of wool, visit our National Wool Museum in Dre-fach Felindre, Carmarthenshire.  

National Wool Museum 



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Lambing Challenge for Schools: Win free workshops at Amgueddfa Cymru!

Ffion Rhisiart, 4 March 2024

We are delighted to launch an upcoming new Lambing Challenge for Schools hosted by Amgueddfa Cymru. The winning school will be able to book up to 2 workshops either in person at one of our sites or virtually, from the advertised list on our museum website.

We believe Lambcam sessions are fun and insightful for students, but also an opportunity to foster their curiosity about the world around them.

We want to know how you are using Lambcam in your schools - show us your best moments in class using our Lambcam sessions with the students!


Challenge Details

  • Age Group: 5-14 years
  • Date: 4th - 22nd March 2024
  • How to Participate: Share photographs, videos and artworks on X (formerly Twitter) and don’t forget to tag us using @Amgueddfa_Learn and #Lambcam #Sgrinwyna. If submitting multiple entries from the same school, please mention your class details in the post as well.
  • Prize: The winning school will be able to book up to 2 workshops either in person or virtually, from the advertised list on our museum website.  


Terms and Conditions

  • Entry through X (formerly Twitter) only – please share your photos by tagging @Amgueddfa_Learn and using the hashtags #Lambcam #Sgrinwyna
  • No limit on the number of entries. Schools can have as many classes as they like to participate.
  • Winners will be randomly selected and will be notified by Wednesday 10th of April.
  • The prize is valid for any Amgueddfa Cymru site, subject to availability.
  • The number of pupils must not exceed 60 and is the equivalent to 2 workshops either in person or virtual, from the advertised list on our website.
  • The prize is valid until the end of summer term / end of July 2024. 
  • Workshop dates will be based on availability at the time of arranging a trip. 


Should you have any questions or need further information, please feel free to contact us at


We look forward to receiving your creative and insightful submissions!




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