Permaculture Plan

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A group of people washing up outside a field kitchen tent.

Permaculture Retreat, Broadhembury 2009 | Image © Buddhafield 2009

What is Permaculture?

We know that many of our current ways of using land is damaging and unsustainable. You could say permaculture — permanent agriculture — is a way of looking at things, looking at the relationships between elements in a situation and how they affect each other, whether it’s your back garden, a farm, or a planet.

The ethics of permaculture take into consideration care of the earth, and care of people, asking not “What can I get from this land, or person?” but “What does this person, or land have to give if I co-operate with them?”

Permaculture Principles

A good definition is from Bill Mollison, regarded by many as the ‘guru’ of permaculture:
“Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural systems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.”

  1. Work with nature, rather than against it
  2. See the problem as the solution
  3. Make the least change for greatest effect
  4. The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited
  5. Everything makes its own garden.

What is the Permaculture Plan for Broadhembury?

In 2009 we held a second Buddhafield Permaculture Design Course/Retreat, on our Broadhembury land, with permaculture teachers Steve Reid and Dharmamrta. The design task within that course focused on ideas for developing the Permaculture Plan for Broadhembury.

The ethos behind the design is to provide at least some of the food and fuel we will need in the future by planting trees and edible plants now. We have already planted over 200 trees on the upper slopes of the land, and some own-root apple trees.

To extend this we intend to plant a ‘forest garden’: a planting of fruit, nut and fuel-giving trees and shrubs that will grow naturally like a forest — we more or less leave it to get on with it. Buddhafield was awarded £10,000 by the Lottery fund in January 2011 to plant and develop the forest garden. The project will take place next winter (2011/2012) and volunteers will be very welcome. (More details will be on the website as plans develop.)

The priority on the ‘hearth’ area, a flat area at the bottom of the site, is to make it safer, more accessible and more beautiful. There is plenty of wildness on the site, but the Hearth needs to be a place where people can relax and be comfortable. To do this we composed the following plan.

You can see some photographs of the work in progress taken on the February 2011 Tree Planting Retreat at Broadhembury.

Year One

  • Start work on Forest Garden. Remove some areas of gorse, plant the trees. The Forest Garden would be established over the next few years.
  • Fill in various ditches with stone or pipe.
  • Establish pathways around the Hearth (possibly using woodchip made on site) mainly using existing trackways.
  • Plant more trees on the ash pasture (coppice for firewood).
  • Planting on the Hearth — particularly on the newly reclaimed area next to the ponds.
  • Harvest willow for use at the Buddhafield Festival.
  • Improve the ponds by the entrance to the hearth (year two also) and remove willow and bramble in that area.
  • General tidy up of earthworks including adding topsoil to nearside of the terrace we created this year, tidy spoil from ditch behind..
  • Remove bender cage from central terrace — growing veg on site would be stopped since we are not there enough.
  • Flatten terraces with roller.
  • Establish area for wood chopping and pallet/gas bottle storage behind hot tub. Plant hedge for cover around this area.
  • Create compost bays above the turning circle using festival poo and adding gorse and bracken.
  • Trackway from hot tub area to shrine through carr.

Year Two

  • Possibly lay small section of hedge to south of hot tub to let in more light.
  • Removal of some of Douglas fir.
  • Further work on Forest Garden, ponds and beautifying the Hearth.
  • Walkway through willow connecting (using living willow?) Hearth to gorse area.
  • Remove a few more trees (build a surplus of Firewood) from ash pasture and plant more trees.
  • Level the back terrace (i.e. nearest to willow compound) and solve the waterlogging issue.

We will review the plan after this point.