Introduction to Permaculture at Maiden Lane – April 2013

Back in April, I returned to Maiden Lane Community Centre to present an Introduction to Permaculture (ITP) weekend course. This was great opportunity to build on my first solo ITP course, spread over two weekends at Glengall Wharf Gardens and it turned into a wonderfully rewarding experience.

I enjoyed the course immensely. It was the exact introduction to permaculture I was looking for, balancing theory, design, and practical work into a great weekend – student quote

With full control and responsibility the opportunity gave me the chance to develop my own teaching philosophy further. I like to engender an inclusive atmosphere with a sense that everyones contribution is valuable.

loved the positive, encouraging approach so that everyone was valued – student quote

Attila faceshot

Attila, my capable assistant

As part of my commitment to growing the next generation of teachers, I invited one committed individual from the PDC I was supporting to be my assistant for the weekend.
Passionate, dedicated and a self starter, Attila proved himself to be a great help and thus I was able to stay focused on the learning needs of my students while supporting his journey into permaculture to deepen further.

modelling the final design

 

 

Permaculture is an “applied” design science, and my personal journey has been greatly influenced by making many small experiments and then assessing the results. My courses are designed to challenge with real life design problems to equip students with new knowledge and build confidence in their own design skills, all in a weekend!

I enjoyed the activities where we applied theories to practice – student quote

 
 
Patrick Whitefield once advised me to teach from personal experience, it also helps to be passionate and for me the fundamentals of soil and water are subjects I have built up experience and knowledge in and I just love to share and build an appreciation for the building blocks of all life.

….the wealth of personal examples given to clearly explain certain components of the topic – student quote


I am curious about who is drawn to come and take a course with us. People who through their passions and their work are questioning if there could be another way to solve the problems we face and how can to integrate this into everyday life. As a colleague of mine put it: “Knowing something better leads to demanding something better and action!

This crop of students included an owner of a yoga and wellness centre, a raw food chef, retired folk who garden, student architects and even a group all the way from Devon on a unique study programme. A Year in Transition is the brainchild of the Education Co-ordinator, Transition Network – Isabel Carlisle. The programme is presented as an alternative to university aimed at young people to develop a set of skills to equip them to be change makers in their local community. My ITP course was chosen as the permaculture component in their programme. Read more about the students experiences here.

Thinking through problems together

Thinking through problems together

I’m keen to steer away from the traditional “chalk and talk” style of teaching. Instead I encourage students to trust their own observations, analysis and conclusions. In a supportive environment, students share their findings in a group settings to the benefit of everyone involved.

making connections

 

I particularly liked cards and questions game to analyse what we saw; very clear diagrams and explanations; excellent presentation skills and communication – student quote


So for me, all in all, this was a positive experience and I was well supported by the team at the venue Maiden Lane Permaculture Project. Here we have arguably the best example of how permaculture design thinking can influence and build resilient inner city London community. The site has recently become part of the permaculture association’s LAND demonstration network.

I enjoyed doing the course in a place where permaculture was being practised and was visible – student quote

I consciously integrated the course into the venue setting using the core permaculture principles. We always incorporate some outdoor activity with useful learning potential, which is a useful service to the host site – a great way to obtain a yield.

final design plan

final design plan

As an additional outcome, one of the more motivated students, Jan who is finishing her degree in architecture has taken the initiative to build a team, work with the estate community management to translate her group’s design into reality. I’m facilitating this link up, as I see the importance of capturing and storing the energy generated on the course. I will write a blog update as and when the Springfield Community garden takes off in 2014.

If you are interested in taking a course with us, you can get in contact from here. If you are interested in engaging us to teach your programme or a variation on the themes of permaculture design, I would be delighted to hear from you. I’ve attached the course curriculum for your perusal ITP typical course programme.

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