Permaculture adventures in Sector39

Trying to make sense of living in a crazy time

Commentary on permaculture, networking, courses updates, news and related info
Cwm Harry Land Trust, Treflach Farm, Permanent Housing co-operative, S39 work with several different projects, gardens and farms
Links and discussion on wider sustainability issues, news and opinion

Sector39 is a partnership of gardeners, teachers and rural craftsfolk, working in persuit of a saner, more sustainable world.

Permaculture Design Course, September 2014


Our up and coming PDC this September is going to be a really special one. It is to be the first in a series of courses which we will be running at Moelyci community owned farm in North Wales over the next three years. We also have a wider ambition to create a North Wales Permaculture Academy at Moelyci to create a platform for long term study and enable us to build on the achievements of each successive course.

Being a part of this course will give yo the chance to shape this exciting project and to make a lasting impact on permaculture education opportunities in the future. We are also developing a volunteer and internship programme as part of this ambition and want to create many more opportunities for people to get directly involved.


Permaculture is a Revolution, of sorts… a revolution of perception!
It is hard to argue against the notion that there is a profound need for change in the world currently. Governments are failing to grapple with the realities of climate change, the old development models simply won’t take us to where we need to go  and the global economic system is an edifice of lies and duplicity.

To avoid environmental catastrophe society at large is required to model on the rules and lessons of ecology. We urgently need a design system or an economic model that delivers long term sustainability and understands that as a priority.  To have any chance of achieving that  people will need  to have a far greater degree of control over their own essential services and commodities: education, water, food, housing, nutrient cycling, credit, people care all needs to be localised and brought under democratic and an informed management. It is a bottom up process, frustratingly slow at first but one that is accelerating as increasing numbers of people realise this to be the case.

Be a change maker!

It all about making personal changes, being an active part of the solution.. permaculture teaches us we can only start from where we are and work with what we have got, so where ever you are currently in your own personal development now is the the time to commit to helping bring about that change and taking an active role in a self created democracy.

More info and booking here

Talking about a revolution?
We are certainly not the only ones thinking along these lines,  permaculture is the fastest growing grass roots movement around the world and attracting the attention of more and more people. Nothing less than a fundamental shift in our thinking, values and long term goals is required to bring about the kind of change required to be able to face the 21st century with confidence and optimism. Perhaps the world revolution sounds over dramatic and conjures up images of guillotines etc. what we mean is a revolution in in thought, in our understanding or our relationship with the living planet, the biosphere.

In the video below see ex Wall Street broker Max Keiser chatting with Russell Brand about change and revolution. Although not directly mentioned in this episode I have heard both of them talk about permaculture and their understanding of it’s growing importance in bringing about the kind of profound changes required.


Village Farm Orchard, Stockbridge Liverpool

This was a 2 year project conceived and led by Squash Nutrition and for which Sector39 took the role of leading horticulture consultant as well as leading on the practical, planting sessions. Using an empty shop as a project base the idea was to create a drop in centre that ran little workshops and sessions to generate interest in food and food growing. With sessions on art, cooking, propagation, planting, permaculture and crafts the project engaged with people from the Stockbridge estate and introduced the idea of growing especially fruit trees in public spaces. The residential estate of 7,000 people has about 30 acres of open green spaces between shops, housing etc. and presented an excellent opportunity for urban growing. So far we have planted over 200 fruit trees, started a series of forest gardens and worked with the community find suitable spaces as well as developing the skills to do the work.

Post Project review I really hope this project can carry on indefinitely. What we have achieved in the first two years is only the every beginning of what is possible. my vision would be to see it through to the establishment of a community owned and run cafe and catering service largely supplied by local produce. Stockbridge has the potential to be an exemplar community in developing a strong local food economy as a community development tool. I also have to say it was hugely challenging and very rewarding working with this community.

I feel really grateful for everyone from the community who was involved with the project and who made me feel really welcome there. Participants created a genuine enthusiasm for the project and made it really warm and human experience.  I think it would be fair to say Stockbridge has had a troubled past, it has not flourished as an example of inner city redevelopment. It was one of those ’60′s urban redesign projects where a brand new dormitory town was created as a satellite of Liverpool to house populations being moved out of the cramped inner city. Significant new investment has gone in to the are to try and remedy its woes and it is now finally finding its feet as a functional place. All of this is of course very fragile ad it houses many low income households and vulnerable people with many heath issues resulting from lifestyle choices associated with that reality. For all those reasons this project could be very powerful indeed, in both contributing to the social cohesion that has always been lacking as well as making fresh wholesome foods much more available. By growing in public spaces and using the produce as a community development tool the scope of the project actually has to potential to transform the whole area and link in closely with the many other social initiatives in the area.


Welcome to the Green Blob

Out going environment minster Owen Patterson has expressed his frustration at us small-minded greens who oppose everything and stand in the way of progress and prosperity.He has lumped all us petition-signing, flag-waving, letter-writing annoyances under a single heading, Green Blob. The Times came out with an article this week saying he is basically right. Between greens and NIMBY’s we are consigned to return to the dark ages. It is time to get fracking, to break out the GMO’s and get busy building on the green belts, our economy needs it.

I have no doubt that there is plenty of well meaning but ill-informed and misdirected campaigning going on and plenty of NIMBYism to boot.. but lumping the whole environmental agenda together as a green blob is really unhelpful and actually is pretty revealing about how people like Patterson must actually think.

So we have been told that during his period in office Mr Patterson declined to be briefed by the Government advisor on Climate Change. Let’s say that again, declined to be briefed. Words fail. Anyway maybe from that we can deduce that perhaps those outside the Green Blob are more motived by political outlook and inner conviction then they are by science, debate and academic rigour (see video in previous post).  If we are to be charitable with our judgement lets say that the view is one of pursuing short term economic objectives rather than looking at the bigger and rapidly changing bigger picture.  Very short term objectives indeed as we rush headlong into the post peak world of uncertain energy futures and teetering global economy.

From where I am sitting the Green Blob isn’t about resisting progress and change, it is in fact the very opposite. We have a vision of economy that measures service provision, food security and biodiversity, not the simple throughput of materials ,as does GDP.  The growth model rewards the destruction of natural capital and rewards polluters, the exact opposite that is required to value and protect the biosphere. We have a vision of vibrant local economies that produce a majority of our food and energy and absorb and cycle most of our waste.  A largely localised system sharing heat, composting waste, building wildlife friendly low-embodied energy, affordable housing from natural materials like straw, mud, wool and lime that would actually add biodiversity to where ever they are located.  International trade will still have its place but the low carbon world will be a wonderful mix of high tech and low tech, a people-centric system that values nature and society as well as the freedom of the individual.

Unfettered capitalism is essentially a race to the bottom, a race to externalise the costs of production onto society and environment, to avoid social and ecological responsibility.  It is our values as expressed by economic indicators that need to change, rather than a growth based system driven by corrupt bankers seeking fat bonus to enable them to escape the mayhem the have caused. The scope for change required is well beyond the brief of an individual minister, and I for one am certainly not waiting for the government to articulate these ideas. But I am certainly getting on preparing and building for the post carbon world. Somehow we do need to find people brave enough and with the right profile to begin to frame the future in front of us honestly and positively.

Killing a few badgers wont solve the woes of intensive factory farming Mr Patterson sir and fracking the country side for the remaining pockets of natural gas smacks of desperation. In a world about to go fully digital we are investing in VHS players, in a world of renewable energy with the potential for a thriving and super energy efficient re-localised economy,  we are planning to burn tar sands and borrowing a load of money we don’t know how to pay back to buy everyone a new S.U.V.

Wake up Mr Patterson the Green Blob is more than a figment of your imagination, it is here to stay and it is a world of new opportunity.







Senator Inhofe destroyed as climate denial gets a kicking

The insanity of denial that is the US Senate got a good kicking from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Senator Inhofe. a stool for the oil industry is a leading US climate change denier and anti-science spokesperson met his match as the stark facts were spelled out for him by his colleague. US politics seems to be operating in an alternate reality where by the science of climate change is framed as a collusion between all the major agencies from NASA, the military, the weather service to the insurance industry and increasingly big business. I for one would like to see the deniers put on trial and held accountable for their deliberate obfuscation and misleading of the public, it is an abuse of the trust put in them and an outright lie!


Shock doctrine and free market: Naomi Klein speaks some sense

I really admire Naomi Klein, she is a brilliant communicator with a clear narrative to offer on the global development. If you don’t know of her then here s a great short clip of her talking on the theme of neo-liberalism, or free market capitalism

Meanwhile back on Wall Street the madness and fraud continues… Sub prime loans have not gone away.. just shifted.. this time to car loans and its another huge loan fuelled bubble ready burst. Max Keiser provides a brilliant commentary and critique of main stream economics, we are being robbed blind and he points exactly how and by whom.


The secrets of food marketing

Very powerful talk on how we are all complicit in what is essentially a massive act of animal cruelty. Marketing may deceive and present a partial and rather shiny picture.. but we allow our selves to buy into this deception. Worth a watch.


Green Shoots: Monthly piece for Llanrhaeadr Chronicle

Green Shoots

July 2014

It has been an interesting month for the environment.  We are saying goodbye to Government minister Owen Patterson who we now understand declined to be briefed by the Government advisor on climate change; it’s a sad day when politics doesn’t have the time for science or to fully consider the long term implications of the decisions they are making.

As someone with a long term background working for the environment I have long held with the view think global, act local, so I think it is locally where we can often have the most impact with our own actions. That said it is deeply frustrating when our own government ministers refuse to review the startling information about the negative impact that development is having on the environment. We are fed the idea that it is a trade-off between the two objectives; it’s either development or the environment and this is simply not true.

Going forward it is essential that we embrace development models that speak to both agendas and this is why I dedicate a great deal of my time to the study and practice of permaculture design. The rules of ecology are non-negotiable and we ignore them at our peril and continuing to do so will lead us into sudden and violent economic collapse. Currently witness the crop-lands of California, withering under yet another serious drought or the disastrous top-soil loss in the Mid-West. We simply cannot afford to squander our ecological assets in this fashion and expect there not to be dire consequences. Now we witness the geo-political positioning over access to the remaining fossil fuel reserves rather than seeking realistic low carbon solutions.

As a local community our priorities should be around using our collective voice to lobby for more sensible approaches whilst also working hard to protect our own biodiversity, reducing our energy use and securing our own local food supply. The last decade has seen an explosion of grassroots social and environmental projects as people worldwide come to realise the predicament we are all facing. This is also driven by the increasing realisation that meaningful change will come from the bottom up, rather than top down government led initiatives which are so closely defined by their intimate relationship with the existing status quo.

So our greatest hope comes from the actions of individuals and communities; to collectively explore and develop alternatives to the resource intensive system of capital that we currently enjoy.  As Cwm Harry and Sector39 and as members of this community we are active running courses, building community gardens and supporting the development of grassroots responses and we invite anyone interested to get in touch to find out more.

Steven Jones


Follow my blog for up to date discussion on sustainability issues as well news on eco-business development, community owned farms and ambitions for a significant expansion of permaculture education in North Wales.


Please Circulate + Stop Press + General interest: Permaculture News

First Full Permaculture Design Course to be held at Moelyci, a community owned farm in North Wales

View at Henbant farm, one of the places we will be visiting on the PDC

View at Henbant farm, one of the places we will be visiting on the PDC

Moelyci, the 390 acre hill farm in North Wales was saved from development as a holiday park by the local community to help preserve its rich cultural and ecological heritage and established as a centre for conservation and environmental excellence in 2003.

Recently they have teamed up with Cwm Harry, an environmental service and training provider from Mid Wales to expand the vision of Moelyci to encompass Environment, Education and Enterprise as its core mission statement.

The first potential tenant in this new partnership and with the intention of developing a coherent framework for sharing and building on its core message is the Sector39 permaculture design team. Permaculture is a well-established and rapidly-maturing design approach informed and driven by the application of a deep understanding of both ecology and community.  Steve Jones and Sector39 have delivered numerous permaculture courses and built a reputation as one of the leading permaculture teaching groups around.

Sector39, Cwm Harry and the UK Permaculture Association are currently collaborating to develop the North Wales Permaculture Academy. We want to extend the provision of permaculture education, to create opportunities for volunteers and internships as well as for long term research and demonstration. The potential for collaboration with the community owned farm is vast, with its organic horticulture business, allotments, upland grazing and community composting facility, green wood working and more, the possibilities for innovation and collaboration are endless. We intend to use a series of permaculture design courses to help shape and deliver this aspiration.

A permaculture design course equips you with a practical design approach to attempt complex problems. It is the way in to systems thinking, a frame work for collaboration and it is the best tool-kit we have to facilitate a rapid transition to a re-localised, low-carbon and resilient economy. Completing this course is a powerful step in one’s own personal transition, putting convictions into practice, to bring about positive change and to become an active part of the solution.

We are looking for people who want to be part of the process, to help shape the Academy and build productive links with Moelyci and the surrounding community, whilst gaining practical skills, knowledge and connections at the same time.

Course fee is £600, however a discounted price of £490 is available for early bird bookers on low income (<£18k).

This includes camping accommodation, food, field trips, practicals and certification. The Permaculture Design Certificate is an international recognised qualification, authorised by the Permaculture Association.

Find out more about this and other courses at:

Follow @misterjones2u @cwmharry


Alice Friedemann of talks to JHK

Strongly recommend you listen to this.. Peak Oil, collapse and preparing for change..

Alice Friedmann has studied the evidence and is the sudden collapse camp of possible future scenarios. She doesn’t hold out much hope for for the never ending growth model. This is a fascinating and well informed conversation with journalist and writer James Howard Kunstler.


Nafeez Ahmed.. is a fascinating interview on ‘how the Pentagon is bracing for collapse’

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is a clear and sane voice, often writing for the Guardian and presenting his analysis that links economic turmoil, energy descent, climate change and political turmoil into one coherent narrative. In this short interview for RT he outlines what the 1% are planning to protect their hegemony and how even scientific reports such as the latest IPCC summary document are doctored to suit the perspective of the powers that be.

If you have not seen the documentary Crisis of Civilization then I suggest it is well worth watching, it is a brilliant essay on the state of things today and helps frame the wider long terms issues we are facing.