This year has been a relatively quiet one in Cambridge though we did run a course, "Getting tot he heart of Permaculture Design." Cambridge permies also attended both the International Permaculture Conference and Convergence as well as the London Festival of Permaculture. This month here is the Permaculture Association AGM at Cecil Sharp house.
Many of the sessions from the Conference including all the ones in the main hall are available to watch/download from youtube.
In August we saw Rob's greenhouse, (calling it a greenhouse is a bit like calling a small garden an allotment site) where after being shown around we ate a shared lunch including a fruit salad made from nectarines, strawberries and blueberries among other things from the greenhouse. Rob makes use of composted woodchip on an industrial scale! - He is a tree surgeon! It is put into heaps and rotted for at least two years before being added to the beds in the greenhouse. He does not use any other fertiliser (though the heaps do get some liquid nitrogen added from time to time). It was clear that the crops flourished under this regime. A most enjoyable day. Photos to follow when I have looked at them and shrunk them for the site.
In July, there was the London Permaculture festival, probably the largest permaculture event in the country in terms of numbers. Do look out for the details of this event next year as there is always a wide range of workshops, discussions etc.
The following week was the Eastern Regional Permaculture gathering where Deano gave a presentation on his experimental work with grains interspersed with other crops. This is a smallholding sized project and Deano's knowledge is a vast source of information for those interested. The children had a full programme of their own and in one session, the girls all added their own choice of essential oils to a beeswax and olive oil handcream. Meanwhile the boys decided they wanted to make something that smelled as bad as possible to use as a, "girl repellant." Interestingly this did not seem to work! Food and beer were both excellent. We also had a scything workshop and much much more. Photos to come.
In June, Claire hosted a well attended meeting for which the principle was, "observe and Interact." We did this and used another of Claire's passions to provide our feedback in the form of art. This worked well drawing out information that might not otherwise have come to light. You can see people walking around her garden in this timelapse sequence. https://vimeo.com/70396841
April, we visited Charlotte and Richards house where we looked at the principle, "Use small and slow solutions." We Charlotte's garden which is one of her designs for her diploma in advanced permaculture design. She is obtaining a yield with predominantly herbs, fruit trees and bushes in the back garden and a polyveg bed in the front, built from hazel that was coppiced from one of the places she works as a gardener. The garden is designed to grow items that can not be sourced easily from her veg box or local shops. We then learned about Richards bread making business and also how to make soda bread and took some of this away with us.
March: We visited Vicky and Simon at the Cambridge Sustainability Centre We looked at both the new and old orchards, the old one being the start of a forest garden. Water management was a particular issue last year and we thought about how to design in the new orchard for both flood and drought while enjoying cakes and tea in Vicy and Simon's Yurt.
February:we visited Margueritte's garden that she will be leaving shortly when she returns to South Africa. The theme for this visit was, "Obtain a Yield." We looked not only at fruit trees and bushes but also at salad crops that are resistant to slugs! In a year like 2012 dark green salad crops and herbs were vital to achieve this!
This event was also an ideal opportunity for networking with a visit from three permacultureists from Walden in Transition. Two of whom spent many years, involved with permaculture projects in Brazil, an opportunity for a future permaculture meeting or café night!
January: We visited The Missing Sock to look at the Forest Garden that has been created there. We also planted some fruit bushes and trimmed the conifers that would reduce the light available for the fruit trees and understory. Despite being in it's early stages, the structure of the forest garden is becoming clear and the fruit trees are well established. These were pruned, at this stage, pruning is mainly for shape with specific pruning to maximise the crop coming later.