Adrian Pickles, Cathy Preston and Steve Jones at Llanfyllin Wetlands.
We have just returned from a great meeting at the Wetlands in Llanfyllin with Cathy Preston of the Field Studies Council’sGrowing Confidence Projectand Adrian Pickles, Head of the Preston Monford Centre, seeking to build links between our projects.
The One School One Planet Programme Proposal.
We talked through our work with Llanfyllin High School and our proposed programme for bringing permaculture themes and ecoliteracy into mainstream education. The aim is to bring about a shift in thinking about our collective responsibilities as global citizens facing the challenges of climate change. We think education has a vital role to play in this!
We are very hopeful that we will be able to work together to make connections between the goals of the FSC, the One School One Planet project and Llanfyllin High School. We discussed possible field trip days, residential courses for young people with an interest in ecology, opportunities for interdisciplinary study and much more.
A view of the Cae Bodfach Community Orchard from the Wetland.
Keep your eyes peeled for future developments, and we look forward to more collaborations in the coming weeks and months.
Charles Mugarura from Permaculture Research Institute of Uganda with the president and leadership team of the Busoga Permaculture Club.
June 3rd 2017 saw the first meeting of Busoga High School’s new Permaculture Club!
Students at the school have been working with members of the ‘Saving the Planet, One School at a Time’ team to develop a permaculture design for their own school and wider communities.
Permaculture design always starts with a plan.
These are precisely the same initiatives we want to introduce to Llanfyllin High School. Permaculture design principles can be applied whether we are living in the temperate Welsh hills, or the humid tropics of Uganda.
Chapter 10 of Bill Mollison’s permaculture design manual covers the humid tropics and is full of ideas of how to work the land in Uganda in line with natural principles, using what is already available to us.
We hope to be able to foster closer links between Busoga High School and Llanfyllin High School. One project we have in mind to achieve this is our ‘Tree Guild Project.’
Students at Busoga High School have been designing their own tropical tree guilds, making use of permaculture principles. We want to help students at Llanfyllin High School to do the same!
It doesn’t matter that the climates and plant species of Uganda and Wales are so different, the principles are exactly the same!
This project captures the essence of the positive message we want to share – through adapting to our local climatic and ecological conditions we can live more productively, responsibly and sustainably.
Keep your eyes peeled for developments as we seek to roll out this project to students at Llanfyllin High School!
On Saturday afternoon, April 22nd 2017, members of the Llanfyllin Transition Project team and recent Sector39 permaculture graduates from Chester and Reading launched a new leaflet in Llanfyllin in celebration of Earth Day and in solidarity with the global march for climate science.
The leaflet gives some basic information about the Paris Climate Agreement, which we feel is a great incentive for local communities to come together to plan their own futures.
If you would like to distribute some leaflets yourself, a PDF version is available from the link below. Please feel free to share widely:
In other news, we were extremely pleased to see that the Advertizer(April 18th 2017, p. 18), featured a short write-up about our work with photography students at Llanfyllin High School. We are really looking forward to seeing the images that the students produce to communicate the need for a cultural shift towards ecocentrism if we are going to meet the challenge of climate change!
Wales based educational enterprise Sector39 are teaching permaculture design in Uganda, building on the success of their 2106 course an with support from the Wales Government via their Hub Cymru Africa programme
The course will also coincide with a visit from a group of teachers from Llanfyllin High School who wil be visiting the area with Dolen Ffermio, a Llanfyllin based farming support charity. We are excited to be meeting teachers from our own community while we are out in Uganda running our permaculture design course
as it presents an excellent opportunity to develop links between this project adn the work of the school.
We hope to raise funds to support participants on extremenly low incomes attend this ground breaking course. Any support is welcome! Steve Jones
We are working in partnership with the Permaculture Reseasrch Institute of Uganda, PermoAfrica and Dolen Ffermio to create new opportunities for farmers, teachers, project leaders and social innovators.
We have just received some more photographs and a little write up from Louise Bass, Photography Teacher at Llanfyllin High School:
My year ten Photography class have been working with the Llanfyllin Transition Project to produce banners and a booklet cover. Very kindly Jack Hunter came in to introduce the project to help fuel ideas to do with Permaculture. Students spent time discussing environmental issues and ways of encouraging cultural changes to work with nature to help support green practice and ways of working.
Students also benefitted from a visit from a past textile student who is now studying at university. Marianne Terrill spoke about her project using digital images of green foliage inspired by environmental issues. Her sketchbook showed the digital manipulation of images to produce beautiful printed fabric designs. Bringing the outside inside on soft furnishings.
On a damp Thursday morning Mr Hunter and Steve Jones kindly agreed to show the students around the Wetlands and Community Orchard. Here students had the opportunity to photograph the environment in detail. Steve spoke very inspirationally about using nature to heal the damage we have done. The space is a beautiful location providing fun for all the community and a real environmental mini ecosystem. My favourite comment was that there is no such thing as waste in nature only another resource!
In lessons students plan to use their new found knowledge to combine with images captured to produce real banners, posters and a booklet cover. I look forward to seeing what they produce.
We have a limited number of preview copies of our Llanfyllin Transition Project Handbook available for just £3 each. Come along to our climate change event at Llanfyllin High School, this Thursday at 7pm to get one! The aim of the handbook is to inspire positive community change, no matter how small or how large, to help tackle the challenge of Climate Change using ideas from permaculture, the transition movement and deep ecology.
“It is exciting to discover a Welsh community that has already done so much to pioneer these practical solutions using permaculture design and the power of the Transition Movement: influencing school curriculum, creating local community orchards and gardens, establishing a housing co-op and associated enterprises, storytelling, offering cutting edge training to spread this knowledge far and wide, and grounding all of this with an understanding of our deep interconnection with all species as humans alive at this critical time in our history. Reaching out, Llanfyllin Transition Project have gathered stories about their approach and shared it in this book. Prepare to be inspired.”
– Maddy Harland, editor of PermacultureMagazine and a co-founder of Permanent Publications.
“The Llanfyllin Transition Project (which embodies both pragmatic daily wisdom, and myth inspired storytelling), is a vitally important means to invite our participation toward eliminating the variety of eco-crises threatening all life on planet Earth. I encourage all of us to support this project and read this book.”
– Mark A. Schroll, PhD,author of Transpersonal Ecosophy, Vol. 1: Theory, Methods, and Clinical Assessments.
Jack has been at Ysgol Uwchradd Llanfyllin High School this morning discussing climate change, permaculture and the Llanfyllin Transition Project with Year 10 Photography students. They are going to be creating posters, placards, banners and a book cover for our World Earth Day event in April, communicating the message of our collective responsibility to care for our local and global environment.
Many people have been attracted to living in Wales by the promise of a greener, less fraught and less material lifestyle. Even if they haven’t thought through the whole sustainability challenge, instinct draws people away from the intensity of urban life towards something a little gentler and potentially more rewarding.
Brynllwyn farm in 1995
I have to confess I was one of those people. I was born just over the Welsh border in Shropshire but as I like to say, I came here the long way round. Via Montreal, Reading, Chandigarh, Nairobi and Chimanimani in Zimbabwe before I ended up back in Reading in 1993. Somewhere along the line I had decided that I wanted to live a different kind of life. Closer to nature and less complicated but also by then I had discovered permaculture design, something that had really taken off in Zimbabwe since Bill Mollison had delivered the first African permaculture design course in Botswana back in the ’80’s.
Permaculture is about designing from nature, understanding that the natural world is the template for sustainable systems and also in understanding how deeply unsustainable most modern practices are.
The house in 2006: insluated, windows replaced, solar thermal water heating, solar porch, district biomass central-heat and with literally thousands of trees, shrubs and herbs planted all around.
Coming to Wales for me was more by accident than design. A happy co-incidence shall we say. When I was living in Zimbabwe in the late 80’s and early 90’s I had met a series of people who led me firstly to the opportunity of care-taking a permaculture designed farm and then the chance of applying what we had learned on the first farm to the neighbouring property which had sat derelict fo 10 years or more. It’s a long story and I will spare the details but we opened it up as a traveller’s lodge, in a place that received few visitors but somehow it worked and it still thrives today 25 years later. Heaven Lodge, Chimanimani it is called.
In my time there I kept two cows and grazed them on the land and made cheese from the milk. Local villagers keen to be involved set up their own self-help job schemes and before long the house was stocked with fresh bread, vegetables and we were offering full meals that contained many self grown ingredients to our visitors. The formula worked and the lodge became successful, one of our early visitors was a young outward bound instructor from Shrewsbury and whose first job after school had been at the Challenge Outdoor centre, based at Llanfyllin Workhouse in mid Wales.
Global actions are planned in support of the scientific community and the dangers of ignoring the dire climate warnings coming from their research.
This was my first link to the Mid-Wales dispersed community of creative, independent people who worked in emerging areas like alternative technology, permaculture, renewable energy, co-operatives and all sorts of new and interesting areas I had never before seen as realistic options. I remember saying to myself that would give Wales 6 months, what did I have to lose? I moved to near MachynlIeth in 1994 and have never looked back since. Wales instantly became my home and I recognised the possibilities and potentials of living here and set about realising my own dreams. I consider it an honour and a privilege to live in this amazing country but that does not mean I don’t have my criticisms.
Chickenshack co-operative in 2015, 20 years into the project. An evovling community of people exploring new options and still building on the foundations laid in the early years.
Much of Wales, although it looks so beautiful and natural is actually nothing of the sort. It is a landscape laid bare by industrial farming. Heavy sheep stocking levels and the use of nitrate fertilizers to improve pastures has led to much of the natural diversity disappearing. Wetlands and bogs have been drained, forests cleared, soils exposed to give way to a green baize of pasture ideal for fattening stock but at the expense of just about every other living thing.
Don’t believe me? Well look no further than Mid Wales’ own famous naturalist Iolo Williams. When he spoke at the Senedd in Cardiff in 2013 on the launch of the State of Nature report his anger was palpable, pointing the finger at the beaurocrats and legislators who had allowed the decimation of the natural world in Wales to happen almost unabated.
What I have to come to recognise is that we all need to question almost every aspect of our lifestyles and habits and find new and different ways of behaving that benefit both ourselves, our communities and the natural world. The third part is the big one as much of what the western economies have done is to sacrifice the natural world to extract minerals, fossil fuels and to clear the forest for intensive farming. This short-term wealth has come at a great cost and it is now clear that if we carry on this path then only war, eco collapse and worse await around the corner. This is our chance to learn and make this transition to another way of behaving.
view over Chickenshack in 2005
Chickenshack co-operative was created in 1995 as a permaculture community to explore how we might live together differently and to have a different relationship to the land and resources. Bigger, older properties can be shared, greatly reducing costs, allowing tenants to invest these savings into insulation, renewable energy, planting productive trees, taking care of the land and restoring damaged ecosystems. When you look at this view over the property, even back in 2005 when this picture was taken it is apparent by the sea of green in the centre of the picture that the landscape has already changed significantly.
What was once primarily bare, sheep nibbled grass has given way to a diverse, richer and more mixed landscape. The land holds more water, is more productive and varied in its outputs, it is teaming with birds and wildlife in a way it demonstrably wasn’t 10 years previously and is far more attractive a place to live in. Just imagine the impact if millions of people started to apply these same ideas to their own homes and lives.
Permaculture design has the potential to steer human ideas of development in different and new directions, the possibilities of this reality is what motivates me to get out of bed every day!
In 2009, when I first moved to the Llanfyllin area I became involved in a project to renovate and save the old workhouse in Llanfyllin, the very same one my travellers lodge visitor friend had told me about back in Zimbabwe in 1991. One of the many projects I did there involved making a 6 part TV series for BBC Wales called ‘Changing Lives, Going Green.‘
I saw it as a chance to share some of the insight and inspiration I had gained from my own personal experiences and I started conversations with the production company to try to steer their ideas of what being green was all about towards a more permaculture informed viewpoint. In the end they offered me a part in the show as the host and guide for the chosen family’s green journey.
Filming whilst trading off the needs of the TV people, our guests and our own ideas and convictions was a lot of hard work and ridiculously long hours but we were proud with the resulting series. We had to fight hard not to allow the TV people to trivialize what for us were really serious and important issues and to a large part we just about managed to keep it on the right side of serious whilst being genuinely funny and fun at the same time. All credit to the family we worked with, they were such great sports.
All of this leads me back to Llanfyllin Transition Project and my continuing mission to open up debate and challenge people to see new possibilities where they might otherwise see problems and limitations.
I now live in Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant, at Dragons Co-operative, the 4th co-op I have helped found and I am still working hard for permaculture, community and sustainability.