Permaculture & Produce
Above: Japanese 'Kyoto Market' bunching onions, 'Cherokee' purple climbing beans, Yellow carrots, thyme, marjoram and rosemary in the dome. Below: Purple 'Congo' potatoes (thanks Chris!), Japanese 'Mibuna' greens, courgettes and radishes.
Above: Garlic harvested August 2012, lovingly planted by Rachel and Josh. Below: Raspberries
What is permaculture?
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison (from the permaculture.net website)
Graham Bell, in his book 'The Permaculture Way' describes it this way;
"Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way."
Above: Onions, lettuce, beans and corn salad (with a cheeky tree fern for a 'joy' yield thrown in) Right: Elijah picking and munching berries.
Below right: Goose, chicken and bantam eggs
For me, when I did my permaculture design course 20 years ago with 'Naturewise
', the overwhelming feeling was that it just 'made sense'! It represented a turning point in my life, and I had no idea why folk might choose to close down so many wonderful options by doing things any other way. The passion had taken hold.....
Above: 2001 issue of 'permaculture' magazine with an article about one of my former projects. In the heart of London, 'Plot 21' was created on an allotment that no-one would take on! Our primary focus was to promote community cohesion, resource and information sharing and understanding through the universal medium of growing food together. Years later, it still plays a vital role in courses for the North London permaculture group. Right: Globe Artichokes looking magnificent despite surviving 18 inches of snow cover winter before last!
Above: Tomatoes, lavender, squash, cucumber and artichoke seedlings in the Gazebo (and delphiniums for extra happiness)
Producing food in upland Wales with late frosts, strong winds, acidic and poor soil, an almost biblical plague of slugs, voles and rabbits and the sheer enormity of the whole thing is quite a different set of challenges to the fertile warm micro climate (and micro plot) of my London days however..... much learning to be done!
Since coming here four and a half years ago, much of my time has been devoted to bringing neglected buildings up to scratch. This has been an arduous yet unavoidable necessity to ensure that a project of this scale is sustainable in the long term, as without income, we cannot re-invest into running or developing the site.
Despite these commitments, over 200 soft fruit bushes have been planted as edible hedging, with a further 200 growing in the nursery bed for next winters planting.
Right: August 2012, Spinach, Leek flowers, Onions, purple sprouting broccoli, yellow cherry tomatoes, purple climbing beans and peas for tonights salad Over 24,000 native broadleaf trees have planted in the pastures to form the start of the Wild Wood, hard landscaping completed, and a 2.5 acre orchard of 90 fruit and nut trees is now in its second summer and doing very well! Many thanks to Martin Crawford at the Agroforestry Research Trust for selecting varieties that will flourish in our difficult circumstances... the skeleton of the magnificent creature is in place - and we will slowly build the meat onto the bones of our young forest garden.
Above: Woad, weld and rocket seed saved, and oodles of worcesterberry jam. Below: Redcurrants and apples