Permaculture @ Chickenshack

All the ducks are swimming in the water



External Permaculture Links

See the Wikepedia definition of Permaculture

The Permaculture Association (Britain)

The Roof Garden permaculture project at RISC

Robert Hart

Permaculture Primer

Permaculture a Beginners Guide- a 'pictorial walkthrough'

15 pamphlets based on the 1981 Permaculture Design Course given by Bill Mollison

The Permaculture Research Institute, AU

Permaculture in Salzburg, Austria

Permaculture and Sustainability in Brazil

Permaculture in Indonesia + IDEP

'Unwelcome Guests' 2x1 hr downloadable radio broadcasts explaining permaculture

Naturewise, a London based permaculture project

Permaculture Project in Northern Thailand

Permaculture Activist, US Permaculture Portal

Link to Yeoman's Keyline Site

Crystal waters Permaculture community Aus

The Farm, Tennesse Pc community

Crystal water Permaculture College

Applying Permaculture Design at Brynllwyn

permaculture menu

Permaculture design at Chickenshack

More about design courses in general

Read my permaculture Blog

See details of our design course May '06

See the advert for our 2006 course

Ok, 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.

First 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.

Interestingly 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.

Permaculture Design and Chickenshack housing co-op

Plants 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.

We 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 yearsa go.

Why is that permaculture?

Well 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.

Then 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 system becomes.

All 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.

That, to me, is permaculture design,