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This site has not been updated since 2014 and is being maintained as an archive for now. As time allows we'll be weeding out the dated material and presenting the many useful articles in a new format. We'd appreciate any feedback on what you find most useful on this site via our contact page.

Guest Writers

Permaculture in Context

In recent months MWPN has been approached by several students for help with a thesis on some aspect of Permaculture, We are pleased that Mark Briggs from St Andrew’s University, who put these questions to Roz Brown as part of his research, has given permission for us to publish the exchange.Q: In your opinion is Permaculture likely to be a mainstream or a marginal response to the problems associated with Peak Oil and Climate Change?

A: Through the Transition Towns Movement, many more people are becoming aware of the future problems we are likely to face, especially in relation to locally produced food imperatives. The Transition movement came out of Permaculture and is embodied in it, so I would say it will be substantially more than a marginal response. Transition and Permaculture are also global initiatives, and even in places like India, communities are becoming aware that cutting food miles by growing more local food is a vital part of both tackling climate change and carbon emissions, and preparing for escalating local needs as fuel stocks decline and prices rise.

Q: Are the principles/philosophies, or the practices of Permaculture more useful in obtaining an ideally zero carbon future?

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Cultivating Change

by Dorienne Robinson MSc

As scientists pore over complicated equations and dissect the very fabric of life to find answers to the global problems we will all face through the inevitable impacts of climate change and post peak oil, and as politicians draft motions and amendments to convoluted policies that lose their way and meaning in the very political process that spawned them; there is, just occasionally, a flash of brilliance that comes from absolute simplicity and which happens on the ground and a million miles away from corridors of power.

One outstanding example of such simple genius is Chyanhall Allotments in Cornwall.

David and Kay Hicks run a small family farm, Chyanhall, at Burnthouse, Treluswell, between Truro and Falmouth, with their daughter Carly. Just over two years ago they decided to look for an alternative income from the land and considered such things as off road biking and quad events. Realising that there was a growing demand for allotments, they decided to research this area instead.

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To Bee or Not to Bee

So you think you want to be a beekeeper? Well, whilst it isn't the easiest hobby in the world, it certainly isn't the most time consuming or laborious. You would expect to be looking in on your bees about once every 9 days or so during the spring and summer, and then the odd time during the rest of the year just to keep tabs on them.

Depending on your motivation, you will also spend some time researching bee keeping methods, applying chemicals or herbs to treat pest problems and perhaps even extracting honey. On occasion

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10 Things You Can Do To Help Save The Bees

by Phil Chandler - author of The Barefoot Beekeeper

Bees are in trouble, and it is mostly because of us. We have destroyed much of their natural habitat, we have poisoned their food and in the case of honeybees, we have  used and abused them for our own purposes while not giving enough attention to their  needs and welfare.

Honeybees have been evolving for a very long time – the fossil record goes back at least 100 million years – and they became remarkably successful due to their adaptability to different climates, varied flora and their tolerance of many shapes and sizes of living accommodation. They became attractive to humans because of their unique ability to produce useful things, apparently out of thin air: honey, wax and propolis.

Until the nineteenth century, they were kept in pots, skeps,

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Review of ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ residential weekend at Ragman's Lane Farm, Gloucestershire

I have just been thoroughly inspired by the above Permaculture course led by Ruth O’Brien Ruth (standing in for Sarah Pugh who is on maternity leave). I find it difficult to recommend the course highly enough without sounding like I’m taking a kickback…

I went along to the course for several reasons. First I’m a member of the Transition Hay-on-Wye steering group. As part of the Transition Townmovement (founded by Permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins), steering group members are encouraging to attend a Permaculture design course. Transition itself is of course directly based on Permaculture principles.

Second, I have been reading a lot about Permaculture over the past year, including books by Patrick Whitefield (who I believe is involved with Ragman’s in some way) and David Holmgren. Seeing their ideas being put into practice seemed like a logical next step.

Third, I have been attempting to grow vegetables for the past few

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