I spent a lovely weekend at Graceworks on an Introduction to Permaculture course. I actually did this same course this time last year, and hoped it would lead to a full Permaculture Design Course (PDC). But there weren’t enough folk interested to make it viable. But this year there are, so I’ll finally be doing my PDC.
I say finally because, when I’m asked why I want to do this, I’m not sure I can remember! I think I first became aware of permaculture in the early or mid 90s, and have long wanted to do a PDC – but back then they were usually 2 week residentials and I simply couldn’t justify the time or expense. Now there are lots more that run on weekends, and this is the only one I’ve found within a reasonable drive. Last weekend was 2 full-on days from 9.30am to 5.30pm, so I don’t want more than an hours drive either end of that. The rest of the course is on Saturdays – one each month until October. But with 2 longer weekends in May and October. I’ve already booked leave around these dates so I don’t have to work full weeks either side of a PDC weekend.
One man on the course seemed to have fallen very lucky – he came across permaculture on a TV programme just 2 weeks ago. He googled for a course and found this one just 5 minutes from his house! And I’ve waited almost 20 years and still have to drive for 2 hours a day. There’s no justice!
But having said that, I think I’m in a better place now to take on board a lot of what is included in the course. It can be quite touchy-feely, and in the past that might have put my logical, science-minded self off a little, but I’m getting more open to that as I get older. But 20 years ago …
There’s a permaculture expression about trolls and fairies – trolls being logical scientific do-ers, and fairies being the other extreme of thoughtful navel-gazers. It’s a spectrum and I think I’m moving away from the troll end a little, and embracing my inner fairy.
The introduction weekend was pretty full-on and covered loads of things. It included a whistle-stop tour of the ethics and principles. Actually, I’m not going to go into what all this is here – if you want to know the detail check out the Permaculture Association’s knowledge base or join a PDC yourself. It also looked at a design methodology and included some practical design exercises. We wondered about in the park you see in these pictures, to practice our observation skills, and also had a tour of the Graceworks gardens in the rapidly fading January light. Oh, and we looked at their forest garden too.
You may have noticed that I changed the subtitle of this blog to ‘a permaculture garden’ about a month or 2 ago. I’m hoping to write something eventually about why I believe my garden should be called that. Finding the time to write is often a challenge for me and I feel pressure to be doing other ‘more productive’ things. I’m not really sure why I think writing this isn’t productive! Anyway, as part of the PDC we are invited to produce a design or two – I have numerous ideas for parts of my life that need some permaculture design. Keith and I are planning to plant a forest garden, so there’s that. Moving away from land-based designs, I need a writing discipline that works. I also need a design for what to write – all I currently have is an incoherent list of ideas. Back to the land, I have a space designated to be a small herb bed/garden – I think I want medicinal plants here, with the edibles in pots in the knitting garden.
So, next PDC weekend is at the end of February. Before then I need to get some more fruit trees pruned (4 done, 24 to go), there’s HEOG Potato Day and Seed Swap (the seed swap bit is my baby), and I’m planning to go to Seedy Sunday in Brighton. And I also have to go to work 5 days each week (actually, I rather like my job and don’t want to give it up but there’s so much interesting stuff to do).