Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Permaculture course?

maybe you are wondering about the chickenshack permaculture course, two intensive weeks examining sustainability, pulling the very idea apart into all its constituent components and putting them all back together. All very interesting I am sure I hear you say, but 2 weeks! come on guys we have got lives to lead as well you know. Well yes, admittedly fair point it is a big investment of time but lets look at it from another perspective. Why would anyone want to take time out to study sustainability.......Maybe people are still not quite getting this, so I shall explain; all the world's climate scientists are now in agreement, the last few contrarians are really only lobbyist from the oil industry, climate change is here, its big, its bad and it is already causing devastation and its affecting the poorest people first; people who live closest to the land, like pacific islanders, Bangladeshi coastal farmers and Inuit and other tibals living in the polar regions. It is this simple, we have to reduce our co2 and other emissions by up to 80% over the coming century if we are to stop the greenland ice cap melting. This ice sheet, over 1 mile thick constitutes 10% of all the planet's fresh water, an average global temperature increase of 2 degrees will be enough to melt it, raising sea level by 7 metres, stopping the gulf stream amongst other things and generally making life pretty unpleasant for most of the worlds' people. So have I got your attention now? To be able to effectively and meaningfully work towards sustainability we need to develop the language, concepts, tools, experience, working examples and so much more to give ourselves a chance of knowing what we are doing. This is nothing less than the challenge of our life time, this is not some utopian fantasy but the emergence of a hardened and tested science of sustianability.

Permaculture is wonderfully positive, its all about solutions, and realising the earth has incredible restorative powers, potentially. Rather than claiming to have all the answers, permaculture provides a frame work with which to understand and tackle big complex and dynamic systems. It makes links from personal to biological, from economic systems to appraches to gardening on almost scale.

Graduates and students of permaculture or indeed any other sustainability discipline are needed the world over, right now, so get active, get involved. Change is a land of opportunity, be part of it!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Some background and thoughts on co-operatives

By the way Chickenshack if you dont know is the name of the housing co-operative that owns the hill farm/ small holding where i live. its a company that a nominal group of 8 of us registered in December 94. Since then we bought a hill farm that had lost most of its land and had been half turned into a kind of holiday let business. the co-op has always been insipred by permaculture and the idea of firstly building a solid base for ourselves, and secondly oh i dont know, to hopefully make a positive and active contribution to formation of a concious, global and sustainable society.
So we are now into the 11th year of the plan and I guess the stable base has been built, and now the challenge of taking it onto the next level as it were lies before us. That being to me, making more of a living using the land and other assets, and realising that there has been and continues to be a very interesting process unfolding here that can become an important learning resource. ANyway, thats the permaculture side of it, well I guess it all is, but the thing I am considering now is the possibilty of what comes next.

From its inception just over 10 years ago i was never able to see any further ahead than the first 10 years, the establishment phase I guess. During that time there have ben 40 different co-op members we have all undergone huge life changes and developments etc etc so its not like it has been continuous project, like a job. except well, that it has. it has grown consistentely and we have slowly scrimped and saved, and bodged and borrowed and got grants and gifts where possible and worked the mortgage to get over £70k worth of work done on th place. all of this is not bad for bunch of people who have never had any cash to work with. so here we are, it is slowly coming together, it has been loads of work, and of course there is still loads more to do, but we are finally getting a chance to think about the more interesting bits, like the land and gardens and livlihood.

My other line of thinking though is this, that although we haven't actually paid off any of the loans, the property has of course grown in value through house price inflation and all the work we have done on the place. Which leaves me wondering if we should try and work with that equity and grow the co-op by buying a second place. Now i would not ever do this for the sake of it but I have spotted a property in Machynlleth that is potentially ideal and there is an interest group forming around that notion, so folks watch this space for details of what happens next!

Lil' Red Rooster


This is a medlar, a fruit that was very popular in Britian in the middle ages. One of my favourites and fun to grow, i just happen to have the pic handy so I thought I would upload it to try out my blog. There is one growing on the Risc roof garden in Reading and which where I got to know it, and i am thinking of planting one here in Wales in the orchard/ forest garden.


Hi folks this is the frst posting on my new weblog