‘Permaculture’, as the name suggests, is a form of permanent agriculture. This gardening method goes beyond organic, in that it works with nature to increase diversity, through the use of both perennial and annual crops, which are often integrated with small-scale livestock, such as chickens and bees. Through careful observations of the aspect, soil-type and micro-climate of your garden, you can select suitable trees and bushes to provide fruit, nuts and wood, as well as perennial and annual vegetables, which can be harvested throughout the year. An essential element of permaculture is that it is a ‘closed system’. This means that there should be no waste: everything in both your home and garden should either be recycled or composted, to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energy-saving, through retro-fitting insulation and the use of renewable energy from solar, wind and sustainable biomass, is also integral to all permaculture designs.
The philosophy of permaculture also underpins the Transition Movement. Transition Marlborough was set up in 2011 to work with local politicians to reduce carbon emissions from transport, waste, energy generation and food production. However, before we could be accepted into the Transition Network, we were obliged to begin practicing permaculture at grass-roots level. Fortunately, several members of our group had previously attended permaculture design courses or had practiced organic farming professionally. We were able to pool our skills and resources to offer a 10 session training course: Practical Permaculture for Transition, which takes place in different homes and gardens, in and around Marlborough, throughout the Spring and Autumn. This course offers hands-on training in composting, soil testing, natural pest management, chicken keeping, bee conservation, forest gardening and low-energy living. You can view the whole progamme here… So far more than 30 people have attended this introductory course, and several of them have been inspired to attend more advanced courses that are held in Bristol or Wales.
The next Practical Permaculture for Transition course starts on Saturday 21st March 2015, when we will be discussing the principles, ethics and philosophy of permaculture. The cost is kept low – just £35 for all 10 sessions (including a free permaculture book) because it is ‘not-for-profit’ – all funds go to Transition Marlborough for future projects. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to all the sessions, you are welcome to join us again next year, when the course will be repeated. There are still a few places left on this year’s course, so if you are interested in learning more about urban permaculture, please write to [email protected]
See what participants said about last year’s course, here…