So what is permaculture?

Introduction to Permaculture Course, Hull, 26 & 27 February 2011

We had a dozen people attending the course delivered by Suzi High and Stephen Smith, tutors from the Yorkshire Teachers Cooperative.  Suzi is also International Coordinator of the Permaculture Association.

Saturday started with sessions encouraging  us to share our thoughts on what was wrong with the world, and on what sort of world we would like to see. This led into a session on the ethics and principles of permaculture (www.permaculture.org.uk/knowledge-base) with lots of examples drawn from the lives of the tutors.

We split into groups for a walk around the local area (the course was held in the Boulevard Village Hall, off Hessle Road) and came back and shared our ideas about the opportunities for permaculture in various local spaces. In our groups we did an exercise on inputs and outputs in the typical home and garden, and then made the connections that underpin the various cycles and opportunities for recycling.

A video on Global Gardening, exploring societies using permaculture in countries across the world, rounded off the afternoon
( www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/global.html).


For ‘homework’ we were each given one of the 12 permaculture principles to think about (www.permacultureprinciples.com/)

Day 2 started with a discussion of our thoughts on the particular permaculture principle we’d been considering.  Later sessions dealt with permaculture techniques – for example, the advantages of NOT digging – and outlined forest gardens, polyculture, companion planting and examples of plant types for particular situations.

The main part of the day was around permaculture design, with a guide to the design techniques which can be used to good effect, grouped under Survey, Analysis, Design, Implementation, and Maintenance (http://www.permaculture.org.uk/knowledge-base/get-designing). Each group was then given a design brief relating to a particular small patch of land close to the hall. At the end of the afternoon we presented our detailed designs to each other. It was great fun and I think we impressed ourselves with the outpouring of ideas,  and the way we were able to refine them by drawing on what we’d learned and working as a team.

Participants came mainly from the Hull and East Riding area and brought a variety of backgrounds and skills to the course.  About half the participants were involved in Transition initiatives: several in Transition Hull, one in Homegrown Hornsea and another in Transition Bury, so we were able to network during the weekend.

I found it a really productive couple of days and came away with a lot of ideas and plans.

Recommended reading

The Permaculture Way : Practical Ways to Create a Self-Sustaining World. By Graham Bell. Permanent Publications, UK . 2004 (2nd ed.). 239pp.

The Permaculture Garden . Graham Bell. Thorsons, London . 1994. 170pp.

Permaculture: A Beginner’s Guide. Graham Burnett. Land and Liberty , Westcliff On Sea, Essex , England . 2001. 60pp.

Urban Permaculture. David Watkins. Permanent Publications, U.K. 1993. 152pp. *

*  We have this one in our Transition Hull Library

Permaculture in a Nutshell. Patrick Whitefield. Permanent Publications, U.K. 1993. 75pp.

Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture. Rosemary Morrow and Rob Allsop. Kangaroo Press, NSW Australia . 2006 (2nd ed.). 164pp.

Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. David Holmgren, Holmgren Design Services, Australia , 2003, 320pp.

See http://www.permaculture.org.uk/knowledge-base/core-recommended-reading for availability and more suggestions.

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