Permaculture design, training for a sustainable world


Understanding compost is an essential skill in building sustainable alternative to the current way of doing things.


View over the community micro allotment plots at the Pen Dinas garden in Newtown. Home to the Get-Growing project and deliberately set up to demonstrate the key principles of organic horticulture and community growing

Understanding how the natural world works and building an economic system that understands and respects those processes is at the heart of what permaculture design is about.

As global leaders wrestle with Climate Change policy, resource depletion and the like what is perhaps being overlooked is the potential of working with the wider community to incorporate a much wider and more fundamental way in which we do things to reflect these changing priorities.


Inspecting a batch of compost from food waste. Between 30 and 50% of food produced is wasted, turning this into a stable organic compound, i.e. compost means it is no longer wasted can help build soils and food security going forward

So part of our work towards a secure food system, and finding ways to contribute to the global change to sustainability we have developed a series of courses and projects that communicate the ideas of sustainability in a clear and meaningful way.


Compost worm, or brandling worm: a key alley in turning food waste back into useful soil

The core ideas behind the Get-Growing project has always been to demonstrate the potentials and techniques necessary to start a local food revolution. It is our contention that we will never have food security until at least a third of what we consume is being generated from local resources and from with the community. The idea that we have food banks here in the UK in 21st century seems untenable  and also should be sending signals and making alarm bells ringing, something about the current system is obvious not working.

Cwm Harry as an organisation made its name from food waste composting.. but really this is only the first step in  a series of things that needs to happen to make food security real on a local level. Towns and suburbs are full of unused spaces, verges, lawns, dead spaces between things.. all of these could be bought into useful production and could contribute to developing a vibrant local food economy.
img_6918 Of course gardens produce a lot more than food plants and there is another whole new area of opportunity around growing and working with natural materials, such as willow, rushes, wool and the like. Good management of soil can also sequestrate carbon dioxide, locking it up in the soil in the form of humus. No one is pretending that such measures are going to be some magic bullet to our Climate Change problems.. but if people across the world were to switch to these kind of measures then the impact would start to accumulate. It is this kind of thinking that is going to be required.img_6920
Permaculture is a design system that has triggered a grass roots movement around the world. It is the application of the principles of ecology to design systems that also have the properties of natural systems. Self regulating, made of local and natural resources. The more we can learn to work within the principles of nature the more we can create resilient and abundant systems.

Our energy hungry world is ripping its way through the carbon fossil reserve at an alarming rate, and the onset of Climate Change is sounding alarm bells around the World.

img_6923 To my mind this also heralds a new way of thinking, of planning and of using resources. Permaculture gives us that framework to begin to frame the kind of responses that are going to be required for society to respond to the on going challenges it is facing. Rather than seeing this as a whole lot of doom and gloom, the fact is we are entering a new paradigm, and with that will come a whole new range of opportunities.

Relocalised food supply, working much more with local and natural resources, moving away from making everything out of plastic

img_6935 and instead moving away from the consumerist throw away society will create numerous new opportunities.


Craft barn above Llanidloes, where the June PDC will be held next year

Up until this point agriculture has been geared up to produce large quantities of cheap food as an over riding objective. This whilst beeing successful has come about at a significant cost to the environment, in terms of habitat loss and more. Furthermore, it has underpinned our whole food production system with the need for endless supplies of cheap oil, diesel and petrochemicals to power it. The green revolution has essentially been a system for turning petroleum into food, and for turning biodiverse landscapes into rapidly growing populations and a consumer economy.

There is a huge journey of exploration before us as we are compelled firstly to wean our-self off this oil addiction and secondly to find ways of farming that restore habitats and biodiversity.

Regenerative Agriculture

This is going to be the main driver going forward. Climate Change is set to prove itself as the overriding issue of all. Unless we can find ways to respond this crisis there wont be a future worth having. As we have just witnessed in the Philippines these highly charged super-storms cause such horrendous amounts of damage that avoiding ever more frequent occurrences of this kinds of thing is going to be an imperative.


Local Grower Emma Maxwell is someone leading the way in re-discovering a locally focused food economy using organic techniques that help build soil

Managing landscapes in a way that captures carbon and stores it as humus becomes the over riding importance in everything we do. We are starting to call this regenerative agriculture and this is gong to be a key theme in our work going forward. Building soils, sequestrating carbon, restoring damaged habitats, reconnecting with local markets and producers and moving away from fossil fuel based agriculture. It is going to be a huge and exciting journey!.

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About admin

I lead on the Cwm Harry Skills and training enterprise, am a qualified teacher and permaculture design tutor and garden designer and project consultant. I write several blogs and am an avid networker and communicator on the subjects of sustainability, transition and co-operatives. I have written an occasional column for Channel4/green and have worked for Channel 4 on their 'Dumped' seriesworked as well as for BBC Wales as a green advisor on their Changing Lives- Going Green series, Nov-Dec 2009. I have been working in sustainable development, on project management and development, teaching, growing and small business development all my life really. I also grew up living and working on farms and have a broad experience working in Britain and Canada and Zimbabwe on sustainable agriculture, grass roots permaculture projects, micro business development and housing and worker co-ops. I have been based in Wales since 1994 and currently live in the Welsh borders.