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.

Green Shoots #3

I write a short column for the Tanat Valley Chronicle, our village newsletter. I guess my principle aim is to get a dialogue going around sustainability without being preachy and to link that to actually doing things.

As part of my job I have been able to lead on planting a community orchard in the area and wanted to make reference to that whilst making a wider point about mutually beneficial relationships.
Green Shoots
18th April 2014
Steven Jones

Gail, from a farm above Llanfyllin sheared her Jacobs sheep last summer and offered some of the bountiful wool produced to Ian, ex-Mayor of Llanfyllin and one of the trustees and driving forces behind the Workhouse restoration. He offered it to Sue from Llanrhaeadr, another Workhouse regular and local artisan.

Sue spun the thick, dark wool into yarn, some of which she knitted into two beautiful jumpers for friends Bill and Chava, who run the Welsh Mountain Cider apple-tree nursery near Llanidloes. In return for those home spun, hand-knitted garments Bill and Chava gave Sue 30 apple trees from their nursery, which Sue planted in her home garden to mature. Last weekend 9 of those trees were planted in the Bodfach field as part of the new Llanfyllin Community Orchard, a collaboration between Llanfyllin Town Council and Cwm Harry’s Get-Growing project.
With plenty of wool left over Sue decided to offer a weaving workshop in the new village hall in Llanrhaeadr, which 9 people attended and after a busy afternoon of carding and weaving a beautiful rug was made, which this spring Sue gave to Gail.

I must thank the folk from Tan Y Fron housing cooperative, who planted an ‘Apple Tree Guild’ as part of the Cae Bodfach planting. Exploring the idea that plants thrive in relationships not as individuals, they planted an apple tree which they surrounded with bulbs to repel the codling moth and other cyclical pests. They under-planted it’s canopy with comfrey, the deep-rooted, nutrient concentrating companion plant. With the turfs lifted and inverted to suppress the grasses, the guild was completed by surrounding it with a ring of berry bushes to attract pollinating insects and located where they would enjoy the extra moisture from the dip-line from the crown of the tree, once established.

At the heart of all natural systems is a web of inter-linked, mutually-beneficial relationships and therein lies a lesson we can perhaps all learn something from.

Steven Jones



Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability

Short video from IPCC summarizing some of the conclusions of the latest report on climate change.

Though it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.

“We cannot afford to lose another decade,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”


Community and collaborative design processes

We are thrilled to be able to offer this course without charge, thanks to funding accessed by the Llanfyllin Green Hub project. Cwm Harry Skills and Sector39 Permaculture have evolved this course over the last three years and have used it now to design and build 4 different community gardens. It can be a real challenge when a mixed group of people with different objectives, priorities and concerns to come together to try agree about how to manage and develop an asset such as land, farm or small holding.

This is an ideal opportunity for permaculture students working towards their diploma, Transition trainers, managers of public spaces, communards and more.

We have developed a collaborative, consensus based design process, based on the principles of ecology, permaculture and cooperation. Using this informed and ethical based design system we can develop wonderful diverse gardens, landscapes and public spaces that meet the needs of people, nature & biodiversity and are attractive, beautiful and easy to manage. Permaculture is sustainability by design, a conscious informed process that invites feedback and deliberately aims to meet the requirements of all stakeholders. This is a great an practical introduction into this design system for regernation and abundance.



Max Kaiser on debt

No one critique’s the city and the markets better than Max Kaiser. His fury is palpable and righteous as we watch the global economy being filleted by the banksters.


Committing collective suicide

Starting 5 minutes in, some brutal truths and incisive critique of the crazy world we are living in; Christopher hedges talking about his latest book, Empire of Illusion. Accusing an era of US politics and economics to be the product of illusion and self delusion, a generation of permanent children who would rather live in a world of fantasy than confront reality. The rest is well worth viewing as well, but the first 10 minutes or so is incendiary.


Letter to Glyn Davies MP

Dear Mr Davies,

There is no logic or sense what so ever In the Government’s current energy policy, a matter I have raised with you on several previous occasions. Is that you have simply given up on facing up to the climate chaos that is now enveloping the World? The Next IPCC report will tell us how we are all completely unprepared for what is coming.. with severe weather events across the World increasing.. while your government is suggesting tax breaks for shale gas extraction. There is already 80% more carbon reserves declared by oil and gas companies than we will be able to safely extract and stay within 2 degrees of change – there is no excuse to trying to extract even more.

Encouraging investment in fossil fuel extraction at this time is insanity, when we know for sure that this causing havoc around the world. Your ministers, such as Osbourne and Patterson who seem to fail to understand the science of global warming are arrogant and wrong to claim they somehow have a better perspective on this than the IPCC.. and Lord Lawson has made a laughing stock of himself with his out and out denial. These people are not qualified to talk on this subject, they are not scientists and provide no evidence to support their statements.

Please speak out on this subject.. it is fallacy to think shale gas will be cheap energy, it won’t and it is a fallacy to think that politicians are better informed on climate than the actual climate scientists.

Like a great many of your constituents I am deeply concerned about climate chaos, driven by fossil fuel use and feel strongly that we should be advocating carbon tax to divert investment into clean forms of fuels as well as energy saving measures.

Steven Jones

Meanwhile here is an important and brave presentation from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Time to wake up to the Climate Change denial Beast


$40 Billion dollar drought hits California


Village Farm Orchard

For the last two years Sector39 have been involved with a project in Stockbridge Liverpool with Squash Nutrition. The aim is to turn an urban green desert into something abundant and beautiful – bringing permaculture to the city. Here are a few resources that give a flavour of this excellent project.

This is jsut a trailer for the Real Food Festival. Screening food related videos, movies and documentaries in interesting locations all over Liverpool.

This is a slideshow of my photos from the project, and they give a really good idea of what we have been up to.

This is a short radio interview from BBC Merseyside we did in Feb 2014, talking about the project


Monbiot on the floods

Excellent footage and comment on the floods and how land management strategies have made it much worse. George makes the links to Climate change an asks what can we do to protect ourselves from the worst of this.

My first post for the Tanat Valley Chronicle, our local newsletter.

i am thrilled to be offered a regular slot in this much loved and widely read local paper. Not sure how it will be received but I have risen to teh challenge and goe with what I wanted to say, and will look forward for a reaction.

Green shoots?
I am keen to get a conversation started along the lines of community responses to the environmental changes that we can see going on around us. As food and energy prices climb ever higher and unsettled weather challenges us, it does beg the question of what, if anything should we be doing at a local level to insulate ourselves from these changes?

So what to do? Llanrhaeadr has just been host to its first permaculture design course, which culminated in an open public meeting in the village hall last weekend. Permaculture is a design system based on ecologic al principles to build sustainable and robust alternatives to the fragile energy hungry systems we have evolved during the age of climate naivety and energy abundance.

Permaculture uses an understanding of ecology to mimic nature in a way that captures is bounty and resilience. Nature is much more local and interconnected than the globalised systems of delivery we have built over past decades and we might benefit from a more localised system to at least compliment the other. Features of a more sustainable and resilient systems would include a re-energised local economy with much more production and resource use at the local level. Renewable energy schemes could add to the energy mix and provide excellent investment opportunities for local savings, more localised food production and localised distributions networks could energise farming and retail and car clubs and car share schemes might help reduce exorbitant transport costs that are also serving to strangle rural communities

All around the country communities are beginning to grapple with these problems, and in my work or Cwm Harry I get to visit and see examples of these schemes nationally. More locally there is a ‘Green Hub’ project emerging in in Llanfyllin, connecting the dots between various community actions and local food growing initiatives, and I know that more and more people are looking to get more active locally in responses to these challenges and opportunities.

I look forward to profiling and promoting community action in coming months and I hope to hear from anyone involved or interested in such schemes.

Steven Jones, is a community gardener, founding director of Sector39 permaculture design practice and a project manager for Cwm Harry: specialists in waste reduction, local food and energy from waste.


Designed ecologies

Thanks to Han Rees for sending me this link