New Llandrindod Permaculture Students
Over the weekend of 12th and 13th September, the Llandrindod Transition Town group held a course introducing the principles of Permaculture Design. The course was led by Steven Jones and Abi Price of Sector39. Steve has been involved in Permaculture since 1991 and has worked on projects in the UK, Africa and India, and with the Centre for Alternative Technology between 1995 and 2002. He writes an eco-blog for Channel 4 and has just finished filming a 6-part documentary with BBC Wales on Going Green to be broadcast this autumn. Abi works with the Transition Town group in Machynlleth and in particular with community gardening. Over a packed weekend, they did a brilliant job of introducing the fundamental concepts of Permaculture to the 18 participants.
We were lucky to have wonderful weather, and were able to make the most of this by having a number of sessions out of doors, including introductions, and discovering the diversity of skills within the group.
The first indoor session explored what we as a group thought Permaculture might be about, and introduced a few definitions. One that went down well was "a revolution disguised as organic gardening"! What came across clearly in this session, and throughout the weekend, was the idea that Permaculture provides a model for living that is much broader in scope than just a sustainable approach to food production.
Steve then talked us through a number of examples of Permaculture principles being put into practice, and we watched an inspirational video showing the work of Sepp Holtzer whose 45 hectare upland farm (between 1100 and 1500 metres above sea level) is a world class example of Permaculture in practice.
The main topic for Saturday afternoon was to introduce the 12 Permacuture design principles set out by David Holmgren who, along with Bill Mollison, is one of the co-originators of the Permaculture concept. Following a break for a walk and an evening meal, we wrapped up the day with Steve showing pictures and talking us through a number of UK projects with which he has been involved to show how the general design principles can be applied in practice.
Sunday was another glorious sunny day and after starting with some gentle aerobic exercises to wake us up, Abi led us through a "Web of Life" exercise. This examined some of the components of a hedgerow and how the various elements interact with each other. The exercise underlined for us the complexity of these interactions, and how changing just one element can have catastrophic implications for other elements in the system.
Our next session looked at "Zones and Sectors", another cornerstone of Permaculture design. Then before lunch we had a talk from Roz Brown who told us of the amazingly rapid progress she has made in setting up the Mid Wales Permaculture Network. From initial ambitions of putting local people in contact, this has grown to become a regional initiative and has attracted funding to help set up this new web site.
After lunch it was time to switch to some hands on activity. We tried out scythes and planted an apple tree, picking up some practical tips on planting, mulching and pruning. The tree came from Bill Bleasdale who has a tree nursery near Llanidloes and who is promoting growth of cider apples in Mid Wales.
In the final session of the afternoon we talked about what we might do next asa group. Steve does a full 2-week course on Permaculture Design, and we talked about the possibility of doing this locally but spread over a number of weekends so as to make it accessible for people for whom a 2-week course away would not be possible. We also talked about holding some follow-up evening meetings, maybe to look at more of the Permaculture videos that are available. We also agreed we should take advantage of this great web site and use it as a focus for discussion, announcements, activities, etc. We all left the course fired up to learn more and put the ideas into practice. A big thank you to Steve and Abi for a wonderful weekend!
Trawsnewid Llandrindod Transition: www.transitionllandrindod.org.uk
Sepp Holzer: www.krameterhof.at/en/
David Holmgren Design Principles: www.permacultureprinciples.com