Permaculture Design at Brynllwyn
design at Chickenshack
about design courses in general
my permaculture Blog
See details of our design course May '06
the advert for our 2006 course
so what's the difference then? and why is that permaculture.....?
Well its funny you should ask that question, because
I was just about to write about it.
up is say its a period farmhouse, in a national park
etc, there is no preservation order or anything, but
maintaining the same natural character to the buildings
was always important. However, standards of warmth,
insulation and choice of materials has all charged a
lot since this place was built. It was last 'modernised'
in the early 60's, and heated entirely with a series
of wall mounted electric fires. It was an energy efficiency
nightmare. No insulation, single glazing everywhere,
metal window frames that neither close or open properly,
you name it we had it. 'Quaint', 'has potential' would
be the words an estate agent would use to describe how
it was then.
We have never had money to throw at it, but instead
have stuck to our design principles and tried to channel
any surplus and grants we can muster to chip away at
it over the years. Insulate the place first, felt like
a priority straight away, then add solar porch, replace
all the windows, well no, first thing was to lose the
electric heaters, they didn't get turned on once. Then
insulation etc. The heating system getting fired up
for the first time in Dec 03 was a huge excitement for
me. It felt like the pay off for many years of hard
work. We put burners into the cottage and bungalow the
first winter, but the house, even with the rayburn we
installed was always freezing.
the single biggest difference to being heated from an
external souce to having two or three burners going
in the house, was that there was alway a gale of cold
air coming in the back door. The hotter the fires the
more fierce the gale. Personally I am now in the school
of thought that having big fires inside houses is a
really silly thing to do. Aside from all the mess, although
they radiate heat they cool the room down as fast as
they are heating it up by sucking all the arm air up
the chimney if you are not careful.
Design and Chickenshack housing co-op
around the yard.
The plan here has always been to soften the edges, shade and
protect the house a bit, and introduce as much colour and productivity
to the front yard as we can. We have the pushed borders outwards
as far as possible, whilst leaving enough turning space for
vehicles. The island flower bed in the middle there has a magnolia
tree on it that flowers on my birthday. It is also strategically
placed to keep cars away from parking too close to the house,
whilst still leaving enough room for emergency access.
have let ash trees establish in front of the house, but coppice
them every few years, to stop them getting too big. Same with
an elder, we use the flowers and berries and the blackbirds
have the rest. There is wild honeysuckle running everywhere,
figthing with roses to climb the ash poles. The dense bush of
foilage in front of the studio is lovage and comfrey, which
we use as green manure on the rest of the beds. There is a soakaway
under there somewhere and they love the conditions. Behind is
a pear tree which I am trying to tame a bit more than pictured
there, so it stays closer to the wall. Inside the conservatory
is a peach tree and a chardonnay grape vine. At present its
a bit too damp in there to really suit the vine, but we have
had good crops of both, although not every year. There is also
raspberry and strawberry plants coming up all around the front
as well, with wild welsh poppies in season. Its pretty low maintenance
really, bit of weeding and strimming. Norma does lots of raking,
as do the chickenshs come think of it. We have built up the
surface of the yard with granite chip a small quarry at the
other end of our same hill. Which no doubt is the same quarry
the stones for our house would have come from a few hundred
is that permaculture?
in brief I would say its the channeling of energy, nutrients,
revenue, profit, time, effort etc, into developing the place
as a whole. Seeing as whole thing in itself. An interaction
between people, space and nature.
in terms of priorites to focus on big, obvious things like efficiency,
utilising free resources, local resources , communty interactions.
leaving space for nature to take its course. Trying not to rush
but to use lots of observation and feedback from that observation,
really learn about the place for making any too radical a change.
This approach is true in terms of the buildings, the land, the
people, anything really. Economics as well; co-ops are potentially
another way of creating a habitat, an economic habitat. For
me that is also a powerful analagy of how natural systems work;
every component of a natural system, every resurce, helps drive
that system. Helps cycle its nutrients, transports it genetic
material, drive it forward. The more active the components in
a system then more dynamic and potentially productive the whole
we have been doing is trying to optimise those potential natural
harmonies. Remove blockages, make small additions so that nature,
people, life can take its course, and that process in itself
is enrinching to the surrounding ecology.
to me, is permaculture design,