Permaculture voices: Kamuli

Here is the first of a series of videos taken from interviews with some of the participants from the May PDC in Kamuli.

In conversation with Grace from Sector39, teacher Connie talks about the 10 girls she acts a patron for at Busoga high school. Moving and inspiring talk, using permaculture ideas to support education for otherwise economically excluded people.

The woods have been destroyed, they have gone away, how can permaculture help respond to this challenge?  Wilbur

We must replant, using local resources and by propagating the few trees  we have around. They will grow.           Connie.

What are you taking back to your community and home from the permaculture course? Wilbur responds to Connie’s question with a full and inspiring answer. He hopes to become a model for his village, by applying what he has learned.

He responds with a challenging question,

What can we do about the illiterates, those who do not understand the environment? Wilberforce, Dolen Ffermio, Kamuli

which Connie replies to begin by doing it.

Let them see you put these things on your land, if you cannot talk to them, let your actions speak. Connie, Kamuli 2016

Critical mass is coming

I am excited to see this latest initative from the Permaculture Association, recognising now is a critical time for engaging with the wider public to create real alternatives.

I have agreed to attend the Convergence and contribut to the talks on how we can use our permaculture networks to accelerate change. Permaculture economics, might bring togehter such things as crowdfuneing, PDC courses and projects to create a criticl mass to accelerate proejct development.

More on this soon, lease help share this post far and wide.

Economic illiteracy

Economic illiteracy

It’s the economy stupid!

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Change works on a feedback loop, fixing the economy comes with the requirement to channel resources towards more desirable outcomes. As players in an interconnected global market each of us has considerable power, our collective decisions shape the future. Spending and investment matters!

Our monetary system is driving us over the edge but how can we reform it?

Our obsession with GDP growth shows nothing less than we don’t understand  economics. The word Oikos, meaning hearth and home in ancient Greek also represents the basic building block of civilization. Oikos forms the root of both the concepts of ecology and economy and the decisions we make at the hearth side shape the world around us with far-reaching consequences.

The solar economy is a steady state, a constant we cannot change but can only plan in relation to. It is only through continued and expanding exploitation of firstly ancient woodlands, then trapped carbon deposits in the form of coal, gas and oil that we have been able to live beyond our means. Our shopping mall lifestyles aren’t going to run on a solar economy and expanding consumption puts us on a certain crash course with the environment. Ecological problems require economic solutions, and economic theories must obey the laws of ecology.

The transformation that is required of us to transcend the ecological crisis is an economic one. We have to find a way to a value-driven, steady-state economy, leaving the biocidal, growth-driven monster far behind us.  Steve Jones

Here in conversation with Max and Stacy is the amazing Dimitry Orlov       in the Keiser report’s summer solutions series discussing the possibilities for a human scale society. The vision of a vibrant, highly connected and  re-localised economy he outlines resonates with the permaculture vision.

This post forms part of a theme we are currently working on, to incorporate an economic framework into permaculture design teaching. What we might want to see as a restorative economy, an economy with teh ojectives of restoring community and natural systems to abndance.

This idea is beautifully imagined in the graphic i spotted on the net. Sustainability is only a mid point between on going desstruction and inravelling, and some thing that uilds positively in the other direction.


Permaculture takes us beyond sustainaility to regeneration.

A picture from Uganda


Dolen Ffermio member, artist and photographer Cordelia Wheedon sent us this wonderful picture she took from the design presentations at the Kamuli PDC in May. Depicted is course particpant Helen making her final presentation, mapping out a joined up vision for sustainability and abundance for the Busoga region.

We hope to be back in Uganda before too long as teaching there was such a positive experience for all concerned. Here in the UK, to a great proportion of people permaculture is still an interesting ‘idea’, whereas in Africa permaculture students are really doing it, applying it to the fundamentals of daily life. The learning and sharing tht is going on is truly inspiring.

Here are some words from Johnnie, a Rwandan in origin but someone who has grown up in Western Uganda and now is a grower for a comunity project in Kabale, who also attended the Kamuli PDC.

The PDC helped a lot in educating about land use in my community. One thing I learned is that even the useless land can become useful coz we had a land with bare rocks that no crop would grow on it, but applying organic compost from manure which I made by myself has made it useful,  I know this because I have some growing potatoes there and they are really good.


Johnnie, contemplating growing his irish

The PDC has done a lot more than teaching me about growing because it brought more knowledge about controlling soil erosion, becoming self-reliant and how to make change through slow and small solutions, that end up as big solutions!

The PDC has turned us into big permaculture teachers with a strong desire to share our knowledge from the training we received. There is so much to be talked about from the PDC.. I really hope Sector39 can work with us here in Kabale next year and offer a PDC for the region. I need more allies and more people thinking the same to make better progress.

John, potato farmer and permaculturalist, Kabale, Uganda

New life at Chickenshack

My co-operative journey began with the inspiration of working in rural Zimbabwe in the early 1990’s, where I first learned about permaculture and the possibilites of people working together towards common goals. Inspired by that and more when I did finally return to the UK I was determined to do something along those lines myself. I craved the opportunty to have my fingers in the soil, to contribute directly to the global transition to sustainability but also to crate a home, somehwere safe, somewhere to roost. In late 1994 Chickenshack was born as an idea and in 1995 with the support of a great many people, friends, investors and Radical Routes we moved in on August 1.

I spent 13 fantastic years there, learning much of what I now draw on in my permaculture teaching and running our first 3 PDC’s there before moving to Llanrhaeadr in 2009. Since then I have ben involved at the Workhouse, Cwm Harry Permanent Housing Co-operative and eventually Dragons co-op, where I now live. The co-operative journey continues!

Really thrilled to see this lovely video from Chickenshack where a new generation of members are making way for a brand new member! Good luck to everyone there for a continued bountiful future. !

Full Permaculture Design Certificate courses, Autumn/ Winter 2016-17


Sector39 are taking bookings for two full PDC’s running over the coming autumn/ winter period. An intensive, residential course in the Mid Wales hills with cmping or bunkhouse accommodation, in the second half of September

The 6 part course, runs every other weekend spread over three months, at RISC Reading, start in January.

Please get in touch to find out more about these fantastic opportunites to study permaculture and make connections and contacts to help you in your own ambitions. Studying permaculture is a big step towards a saner and more rewarding life, building solutions and responses to the challenges of the modern world.

£600/ £450 for the residential course (low price for those on <£18k pa)

or £225 for the 6 part course in Reading

A deposit is required to secure a place, please see the booking form

Turning rainforest into sugar, is this the best we can offer?

Working with Dolen Ffermio in Uganda, Steven Jones, Sector39.

It was a wonderful opportunity to work with Dolen Ffermio in Uganda last month, meeting many new friends and I hope future colleagues on the 2 week permaculture course held in Kamuli by the Sector39 teaching team.

Uganda is at a pivotal stage of its evolution as a nation, with an average age of under 18 and with a whole generation of the population now emerging from education, Uganda is all about the future. The people there are hungry for opportunity and the choices they make now will shape the emerging nation for many decades to come.

permaculture students

Uganda’s troubled history is now fully in the rear view mirror as the equatorial nation slowly emerges from the trauma, stress and mayhem of that period into a rapidly changing world. Economically they are still caught in the primary-producer economic stage, witnessed by the huge sugar cane plantations currently gobbling up the remaining rainforest at a frightening rate in a race to generate revenue for the government and their corporate friends.

Contrast the breathtaking ecology of equatorial rainforest, with its 200 species of birds, 100 of butterflies, without forgetting the massive canopy of huge and diverse trees and climbers that is the core of the forest to that of the sugar cane field. Whole ecologies are being consumed to please foreign markets; the price being paid is absolute destruction of pristine habitat. Never has the economic paradox appeared more clearly as a stark choice between ecology and economy?


Hauling sugar from remote parts of central Africa for global markets, the impact is absolute!

You know there has to be another way! There must be an economic model where ecology and economy are intertwined, where economic transactions create positive environmental and social benefits, where one is not at the cost of the other, well there is and we call this permaculture. At the heart of permaculture is a set of values and design tools that steer outcomes towards those which are mutually beneficial, ones that mimic nature, rather than consume it. Nature is diverse and interconnected, constantly changing and responding to new opportunites, it is dynamic and self steering; permaculture takes this a model and uses it as a design template.

The Sector39 team of 4, all from the Llanfyllin and Llanrhaeadr area delivered 120 hours of training over 12 days to 15 full time students and numerous guests and visitors during their 3 week visit to Uganda. Those completing course were certificated and can now progress towards becoming permaculture teachers in their own right as they gain experience and develop insight working with the ideas themselves.

The team concentrated on a design project focussed on the 30 acres of land on the banks of the Nile, funded by Dolen Ffermio that serves as a training and demonstration farm. It was tremendously exciting to be able unleash permaculture design thinking on such a place and the resulting presentation was witnessed by local teachers, the head teacher from Busoga high school, the regional environment minister anda range of community members. We hope to be able to return to deliver a series of courses in the area over the coming years. Strong friendships and working relationships have already been formed and we look forward to building on them.

Anyone interested in finding out more about permaculture please contact Steve Jones via sector39, we are planning to offer a full 2 week PDC course this September as well as a 2 day introduction weekend at Dragons co-operative in Llanrhaeadr.

See our Africa course blog here, as well as news on future courses and events.

Steven Jones

June 2016



Getting involved in permaculture


I am not used to quoting the Pope but on this matter he is correct, the climate crises demands our attention

Permaculture is something you do, so much more than something you talk about; it is an active process. Much of the ‘doing’ may involve thinking and planning but that is still active and in turn can bring about long term change. I believe permaculture is the most powerful tool we have in formulating our response to the challenges of the day.

The global response to the rapidly unfolding climate crisis requires a co-ordinated effort, we are all going to have to pull in the same direction to bring about the changes required in the increasingly limited time remaining. Permaculture design is that frame-work of understanding, a broad embrace of peraculture could be of use to evolve our collective thinking into a set of beahaviours that can have net positive impact on the biosphere. The rates of damage and depletion are such that we are required to repair and regenerate the natural world to enable us to avoid the worst excesses of the climate de-stabalistion bought about by the concined effects of agriculture, deforestation and carbon based fuel burning.

permaculture_introductionThere are tons of permaculture resurces freely available on the Internet, but still the best way to ignite your own interest in the subject is to take part in some kind of course, activity or open weekend; see it for yourself!

We are offering such a weekend this August in the Welsh mountian village of Llanrhaeadr at a hosing co-operative and craft shop, within that community. We will have a practical look at how nature works and what we might be able to learn from that in ways we can apply it to our own lives. Permaculture is psotive, informative and fun and by invovling yoruself you will meet likeminded people whilst having the chance to expore this amazing area and its community.


If that really intrests you then you might also consider undertaking the full 2 week PDC, an immersion in permaculture design over the course of 2 weeks, whilst covering the internationally recogised curriculum.

These can literally be life changing experiences and less dramatically they do offer a chance to put things into perspective and to allow yourself to focus on your own personal priorities for once. Permaculture teaches us that change is inevitable and that design and evolution present useful strategies and models of how to deal with change and turn it to an advantage.

Labour policy consultation

Hey Guys, I fully support Corbyn at the healm of Labour and am pleased to see you opening your doors to ideas but I am not sure this is the forum I want to engage with you, but I will try.

I am responding to a tweet inviting contribtions.


Here goes, more than policy you need a new vision. A vision the transcends the neo-liberal/ BBC spectrum of debate. You need to set a new agenda not respond to the current one.

Our Economic paradigm is at odds with the ecology of the planet. Tweaking your economy and erecting some wind farms is not enough, we know this, we need a new vision entirely. It is coming, it is evolving and mainly still exisits under the radar as it is grass roots, decentralised, dispersed and leaderless.

It contains a great many innovations and is hugely challenging to corporate power and centralisation. Are you Labour as a politcal party brave enough to take this on? Can you evolve as we all need to.

1. Take control of food out of the hands of corporates. Help us unleash a food revolution of millions of small farms, organic community led schemes and an opening up of the countryside to a new wave of entrepreneurship and innovation. You just need to remove the planning barriers preventing this from happening and to invest in start up businesses to accelerate the process. This gives us food security and a reinvigorated lcoal economy. It also creates a million new pathways for social inclusion and rehabilitation.

2. Create new economic tools. You might ask how to fund this, but you are missing out on the biggest inovations of the era if you are thinking this. Crypto-currency. Community led and managed currencies the enable local exchange and investment. Bitcoin and block chain technology give us new peer to peer models to create and dstribute wealth outside of the banking system which is corrupt and self seving.

3. Wage peace with force. Our ecological destruction is almost complete, tipping points are being passed almost every week as the CO2 rises and species are destroyed. A vision that empowers communities locally but unites us all in common cause transcends conflict and allows us to channel resources to mutual long term benefit.
Its nearly to late, many activists feel this, yet we could overturn the global
mess before us if we were to choose to do so.

Its time for new ideas, Einstein is attributed to saying you can’t fix problems using the same thinking that created them, well here goes….

Steven Jones, Lead tutor Sector39 permaculture
Dragons co-operative, Haulfre, Market Street, Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant, SY10 0JN