Permaculture lectures@ Llanrhaeadr, Economics and the future of money.


Do’t worry about the details, just come along if you are interested, its very informal

An ambitious subject to tackle I agree but it is the economics that underpins our society that reinforces our destructive behviours so that makes it an essential area to consider from a permaculture prespective.

For my sins I started out as an economics teacher, I was always fascinated how we make decisions about resources and population whilst also appalled at the way we tend to externalise the costs of production onto the natural world. It seems like there is always an economic justification as to why we are allowing ourselves to carve into yet another pristine environment as we talk about brown field sites as if they posed no value or importance to our embattled wild life.

The permaculture magazine have talked to me about developing this narrative into a article for the magazine, keen as they are to explore permaculture from its every angle and perpsective, so I am offering this as an open lecture to help me build the threads of this important story. We will be in the hall having supper from about 7 pm tonight, please feel free to come and join us and help make it more of an occasion.

Just how are we going to get ourselves out of this mess?

earth surface temps

The next 50 years are going to be one hell of a ride! That is the time lag between todays emissions and when we will feel their full impact on the climate system. Yes folks, even if we stop everything today we are still set for a very bumpy future.

Today’s inactivity is tomorow’s nightmare. As much as we all know this to be true, each day we get up for work and repeat the actions that brought to this point. We all need to make a living it is true, yet the way most of us make our living is driving the climate problem.

“Just because you are on a well beaten path doesnt mean you are on the right track”. Permaculture principle number 11 challenges us all to explore alternatives, to look to the edges for new opportunites and ideas. We cannot fix our problems using the thinking that created them and for that read: we need a new economic paradigm, we need a different rationale and a different set of goals. Consumption, short termism, economic growth for its own sake, waste, pollution, war, militarism, do you need me to go on… ? Yet we seemed locked in step in the march to our own self destruction.

Today I am inspired by the Lakota people of the central plains. America’s original inhabitants who reverred nature as sacred, rivers, mountains, wildlife and more were regarded as true value and the loyalty of people, friendship, (apparently the meaning of the word Lakota is friend) the thing that binds us all together and creates common cause and society. Yet we have never treated these people as friends and still they are persecuted for standing up for all us in their battle against the ceaseless expansion of the oil industry.

Across the globe there is a waking up of people realising the terrible truth of today’s society and economy, where everything other than profit is regarded as an externality, people, land, whole ecosystems even are seen as expendible. Permaculture is part of that wake up call, for those of us who have empathy with the natural world, permaculture is common sense, it is a guidebook and an inspiration. I am guessing many Lakota people don’t need to study permaculture, as their instincts steer them in that direction with their every thought yet for the rest of us it remains a pathway we are yet to choose.

Each and everyone of us needs to think how they can break their reliance on the destructive economy and align themselves with the forces of positive change and we won’t be able to do it alone, we will need each other, we will need friends and allies, Lakota.

I am writing this with a sense of dismay, I have had a couple of students drop out last minute from our upcoming PDC, work commitments etc. and of course I get that, we all have bills to pay. It takes months of planning and networking to build the momentum for a PDC, time is always precious and money a barrier but there’s always a way if we try. I am not out to critiscise anyone here, I do totally understand limitations, indeed working to limiting factors in central to permaculture design,  but I do keep asking myself how do we create the changes we need in the time we have left?

I would love to hear from people on this subject and certainly this is a theme we will be exploring through the Sector39 school project launching soon. I am not ready to give in yet, we can still head off the worst scenarios of run-away climate collapse yet each day and every decision we take at this critical time will affect the trajectory of that change and with that in mind I urge everyone to think again about their own role in this rapidly unfolding drama.


Due to late cancelations there are a couple of places available on this course, contact me for details

Job opportunity, more info

Here is some more information about the job opportunity

In conversation with our funders, it looks like the work will be self employed, we have 2 posts each at 1 day a week as a guideline, but once we are up and running we can go after more funding and broaden the scope of the project.

I teach permaculture design, both here and in Uganda, via a Llanfyllin based charity. This is my passion and a process which which I think offers communities a powerful way to shape their own destinies.

We want to work through our local schools and community to co-ordiante a group of pupils to run a permaculture design process on the school and the surrounding  community, the idea is to build a comon vision for a low carbon society, something commensurate with the Climate Change targets emmanating from the IPCC.

The intention is to present change as an opportunity, something to be embraced and seen as positive and exciting. We will work out of the Dragons office in Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant on Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays mainly, with a strong focus on building links through schools to the surrounding community.

I am looking for people to help, a project administrator who can teach and write and someone with  with web/ video editing skills, both will need to be great communicators and understnad environment, climate and permaculture design.

Feel free to ask more questions, I hope this gives a good understanding of what this project is about.


Please send an up to date CV and a letter of introduction about your interest and approach to the job, sent to Contact

Exciting donation for permaculture and Sector39!

The renoun and collectable artist Dale V Marshall has stepped forward and nailed his colours to the mast by making a stunning donation to Sector39.

I want to support permaculture with my art, thinking about the environment in this way has inspired me to begin a new phase of my own work. Dale Marshall

Dale who made his name as a street artist in Bath and Bristol, trained in Los Angeles and is currently in the process of relocating from Wales where he has been based recently to Ireland. Before leaving he wanted to suport some of the local people and groups that he had drawn inspiration from. This winter Dale attened three weeked long permaculture workshops at Dragons Coop in Llanrhaeadr YM with Sector39. Insights into both the workings of the natural world and the pressing need for a change of economic paradigm  convinced Dale of the power of permaculture.

I really wanted to support Sector39 directly and use some of my artwork to create opportunities in permaculture education. Dale Marshall


Dale V Marshall 2012


Speaking up for real change


On Fire in Cienega (Coast to Coast)

These two canvasses, part of series Coast to Coast and entitled On fire in Cienega have been donated to Sector39 for the purpose of supporting permaculture education. Each one is priced between  £3,000 – £5,000 and we would consider selling them as a pair to a collector or singularly.

July was hotter than any month globally since records began, Guardian

Permaculture is design system that models on nature itself to build resilient and regenerative systems for food, housing, energy and meaningful work. It offers many solutions to the challenges of a failing globalised economy, climate change and energy descent.

Many people are simply asking the wrong questions when trying to understand the chaos of our current times, permaculture provides a deep frame work of understanding that allows us to channel our fears and concerns for the futue into positive and meaningful action.

Permaculture provides hope by empowering people to work together as communities to address the challenges they face.
Steve Jones permaculture tutor, Sector39

Please get in touch if you are interested in the artwork, or in supporting permaculture education in any other way.

We offer a 2 week intensive permaculture design course in September in Wales and another spread over 6 weekend in Reading during the winter.

Sector39 are also currently developing a community transition project for their home region in Mid Wales.

Sector39 win project bid for Llanfyllin!

There are still hoops to be jumped through, boxes to be ticked and performance targets to met but Sector39 have won the opportunity to lead on a community transition and resilience project based in Llanfyllin over the next three years.

The premise of the project is simple:


Climate change science is decided, it is time for action.

We are already at a state of emergency!

This is a disaster for young people, we can no longer pretend that we don’t know. We need a fundamental change of direction.

James Hansen, NASA,

The Paris climate accord signals that the race to the low carbon economy is fully on. This needs to be led by the rising generation who can see beyond the current economic paradigm, leading us all to a  clean energy economy as fast as possible, this is now essential.

Here is James Hansen of NASA explaining what we have to do.

This project wants to listen to the voices of the science commnuity and work through school and commnunity to create new options for food, employment, education, economy and more. To visualise and plan for a truly sustainable future that meets our local needs as well as our global responsibilities.

The project itself is a plan to use the permaculture design model to re-imagine a school and community fit for 2040, 2050, a time when we will all be required to be living a net carbon neutral lifestyle.

  • What will our low carbon economy look and feel like?
  • How will we communicate the ideas, challenges and rewards of this amazing transformation?
  • How will we shape our common sustainable future?
  • How can we turn this challenge into our greatest opportunity?

We want our commnuity to be LEADERS in responsing to this challenge and to put both Llanfyllin and Wales on the world map as pioneers!

The World is hungry for inspiration,
Monica Araya, Costa Rica

Help us reinvent the future!

Join us!

A small country with big ideas

Here is Monica Araya from Costa Rica asking “How do we build a society without fossil fuels?”

Using her native Costa Rica as an example of positive action on environmental protection and renewables, climate advocate Monica Araya outlines a bold vision for a world committed to clean energy in all sectors.

Here is an interesting piece on how the TV weather readers are reacting to increasingly frequest weather events.

Letter from Gambia


Hi Steve..

We believe that  permaculture is  essential for sustainable development.
Buba, Gambia

Our aims are to create a central permaculture resource center as well
as build a strong permaculture network across the country by gathering
as much training materials and information on permaculture and organic
farming as possible. We would then aim to bring the information to the
rural communities in the upcountry regions and create a permaculture
revolution in our country.

We believe that by developing a permaculture movement here, we will help the government’s aims to make the Gambia a 100% organic and food self-sufficient country.

The challenge is that although we are a nation of farmers, as yet we don’t have any permaculture experts in the country. We were wondering
whether you could help!

We need help with finding some excellent permaculture experts who
might be interested in either becoming skype mentors or coming to the
Gambia to work with us. We can also feed people who come to
work with us.

In addition we’d be very grateful for any help in building a
permaculture resource center by finding all the training videos
and education materials.

Please let me know whether this is something you could help with.

Buba Jawneh
permaculture Gambia.

Hi Buba!

Great to hear from you. Some really useful ideas there, yes building up and sharing permaculture teaching resources and offering mentoring  are great ideas and essential to help spread permaculture.

I really agree with you that the potential for permacultre in Africa is huge, I sincerely hope we can find useful ways to support each others work, going forward.

Thanks for writing and please keep in touch,


Sector39 are currently working to support a Kenya permaculture tutor to complete his diploma and qualify fully as a permaculture teacher. He aims ot lead his community in Kenya towards fod security and we hope to share his learning and experiences across the network.

If anyone can help this campaign we would be really grateful.

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.