chickenshack view 2004

Permaculture @ Chickenshack

All the ducks are swimming in the water

External Permaculture and organic growing Links

See the Wikepedia definition of Permaculture

The Permaculture Association (Britain)

The Roof Garden permaculture project at RISC

Robert Hart

Allotment Growing Allotment diaries, photographs, advice about growing vegetables, fruits and herbs with a forum for chatting on the plot.

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

Sustainable Agriculture in Bahia Brazil, with Marsha Hanzi


Patrick Whitefields great book on Forest gardening, it was the first one of its kind written for our temperate climate
Robert Hart of course is attributed to have invented the Forest Garden and pionnered it in his garden in Wenlock Edge
Mollison and Holgrew's designers manual is still the definitive text - the Permaculture bible, although its mainly about Australia the principles are the same everywhere - its a must have!
Ben is an inspirational forester and I really recommend his work
Graham Bell is a stalwart of Permaculture in the UK and has loads to say about it, well worth a read
We have known Simon for years via Redfield community and Permaculture association here is his pc plot - actually I dont think Chickenshak are in it, I must talk to him!
More from Robert - Robert died a few years ago, but he has left an amazing legacy


Permaculture Design and Chickenshack -

Permaculture is a common sense and practical approach to sustainability, integrating together themes like organic growing, local resources, waste minimisation, energy efficiency, community action, ethical trading and taking responsibility for your own environment.

At the heart of permaculture design and practice is a fundamental set of ‘core values’ or ethics which remain constant whatever a person's situation, whether they are creating systems for town planning or trade; whether the land they care for is only a windowbox or an entire forest. These 'ethics' are often summarised as;

* Earthcare – recognising that the Earth is the source of all life (and is possibly itself a living entity- see Gaia theory) and that we recognise and respect that the Earth is our valuable home and we are a part of the Earth, not apart from it.

* Peoplecare – supporting and helping each other to change to ways of living that are not harming ourselves or the planet, and to develop healthy societies.

* Fairshare (or placing limits on consumption) - ensuring that the Earth's limited resources are utilised in ways that are equitable and wise.

It is a design process with sustainability at its heart, concentrating on learning from nature, developing ideas from observations, turning patterns into principles and applying those principles to achieve robust, productive and sustainable outcomes. It is an internationally recognised curriculum, delivered via the 72hr design course.

Like nature, permaculture unfurls in a gradual rolling process, driven by simple common sense. We have had the privilege to work on this site for since 1994 and these pages are the log of that experience.

Permaculture's appeal is that is a very positive and deliberate approach to problem solving, it carries an infectious yet challenging message that has won many converts the world over.

menu for this section

Permaculture design at Chickenshack

More about design courses in general

Forest Garden

New section on forest gardens, plant list

Read our permaculture Blog

Permaculture's essential message is this: The bad news is, whilst development has brought many material benefits it has also brought the planetary system to the brink of collapse. Huge and devastating environmental and social damage has been done to the planet and ourselves in the name of progress, But... There is good news: nature is incredibly adaptable, dynamic and robust. By conscious application of permaculture principles those same forces of destruction can be channelled into bringing about positive susainable outcomes.

global footprint

If you want to learn more about permaculture there is a UK national association, and an excellent magazine, and some great examples of projects like this one in Reading.

Permaculture is an approach that invites us to study and learn from nature; natural systems are robust, diverse and productive. Nature recycles absolutely everything, creates no waste and is 100% powered from renewable energy. Nature is super efficient, has set unbendable rules, yet is fluid and responsive to any new opportunity.

The proposition is that if only we could distil the essence of natural design, so that we can apply its rules to any designed system, then surely any system thus created will inherit the dynamic, robust and most importantly, sustainable qualities of natural systems.

Permaculture helps you penetrate nature's own pattern language, and gives you the tools, concepts, skills and ideas of how to tackle big complex problems. From a model for gardens, farms and homes comes a design approach that can be applied to business, to learning, to life.

Holmgren's 12 design principles

These restatements of the principles of permaculture appear in David Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

1. Observe and interact - By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
2. Catch and store energy - By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
3. Obtain a yield - Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback - We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
5. Use and value renewable resources and services - Make the best use of natures abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.
6. Produce no waste - By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
7. Design from patterns to details - By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
8. Integrate rather than segregate - By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
9. Use small and slow solutions - Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes.
10. Use and value diversity - Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
11. Use edges and value the marginal - The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
12. Creatively use and respond to change - We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

Come on our course;
2 weeks in late May that gaurentee you an unforgettable, possibly life changing experience! I am posting more information about it all the time, so make sure you come back, but its never too early to book your place, there are only 16 places in total and the clock is ticking.......

Permaculture is empowering, positive and all about solutions

15 years working to a permaculture design at Brynllwyn
chickenshack 1994

chickenshack 2005
view in summer

house and cottage 1995
house and cottage 2004

Permaculture Design and Chickenshack housing co-op

Top view Dec 1994: The 'before' picture of our place, looking North West from the hill fort opposite. taken the winter before we moved in, before the neighbouring farm put in their first new barn.
Second from Top: The same view in Feb '06

Top house pic; June 1996
Lower house, May 1995

See Notes on Permaculture design at Chickenshack, Where I try to answer the question: "what is significant about the different between the two pictures above, and why is that pemaculture?"

On the left: As it was, grazed flat all over, the hedges almost entirely gone, few trees except the pine copse behind the house and some more recent plantings of willow and hawthorn. The wetland was drained with a low diversity of plants and little shelter.

The site has always looked promising and always was beautiful, but the
inspiration was always to try and make a lot more of its potential, in terms of produce and as a natural resource.

[click on image to enlarge]
On the right: the outline design we have been working towards since '95. Clear zoning, lots of shelter belts protecting the veg garden and tunnel, with lots of saplings planted for coppicing and relaying as hedges. Water table returned to original level and pond excavated. Much more diversity and wildlife coupled with an enhanced productivity in all areas was the aim.

forest garden

Forest garden in summer 2008. Elacampagne, yarrow, mints balms and sages. We have built up a herb understory with layers of fruiting shrubs, to support in increasing diversity of fruit trees.

Deep and shallow rooted plants mixed up, to compliment each other and rejuvenate the tired, ocergrazed rainwashed soils of Snowdonia.

veg garden

Vegetable garden, also summer 2008. A think hedge of Willow on the outside and raspberries on the inside provides shelter for the veg garden. It is surrounded by forest garden, to build shelter and build a diverse environemnt around it. If you campare to the bare grazed field at the top of the page its quite a transformation.

Permaculture design has proved to be a useful focus for the housing co-op, in terms of coming together as a group initially as well as in terms of developing priorities for the development of the buildings and land and their often conflicting needs and priorities.

Obviously in terms of our approach to the land is where it has been most useful. The broad aim has been to enhance what is already there. We have planted about 1,500 trees, nearly all of which are locally sourced saplings of common local species; considerations for planting were wind shelter, we are close to the sea, coppicewood and habitat creation. Continous grazing here for just about ever has meant there was very little ground cover, so the first decision taken was to exclude all grazing animals fo the purpose of observation as to their impact. Then to add ones from the smallest upwards. We still only have chickens (only a few as well) after 10 years, and even their impact on the land is noticeable.

The next step was Zoning, especially important as there have been up to 8 or 9 people living here, so clear zones means everyone has a clear idea of what goes where. Placing the veg garden and related services came first and the decision to keep the rest of the field as a meadow and open space. We have sought to plant hedge trees on all the field edges, much of it thicker to improve wind shelter and privacy.

the view from the opposite side to above in summer 2005
The wetland and paddock fields are the 2 centre most,
defined by the prominate hedges and wooded edges


  Permaculture Design Courses


Chickenshack Courses
latest course details here

It took the combined energies and experiences of 2 years of attending Radical Routes meetings and holding open housing co-operative meetings to get the orginal plan for a co-op together. All this whilst saving some deposit money to start it off by running the 'Shoestring Wholefood cafe' in The Rising Sun Arts centre in Reading. Diven by Steve and Sue's original insipration and determination it took the input of lots of people too many to mention here to lay the foundatons for a co-op, but it took a permaculture design course to light the touch paper for Chickenshack housing co-operative to be born. We will always have Mike Feingold, Peter Haper and Chris Dixon to thank for providing the spark that turned an idea into a reality on the CAT permaculutre design course of 1995. (To date the only one they have run so far.)

A good permaculture design course can be transformational. It is a potentially very powerful experience to go through with a group a people and strong convictions can be formed and new ideas and projects hatched. Inspirational. Based on that experience I remain an enthusiast I regularly hold and run permaculture related course, or work on projects.

So far the Co-op has hosted 5 2-week permaculture design course. In 1996 and '97, as well as 2006, '07 and '08.

See Steve Jones' Sector39 site for details on permaculture courses.