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.

Community growing job near Llangollen

Here is the JD fora  part time job at the Garth community garden in Glynceiriog. This is one of the best examples of a small rural community garden and the potentials for community growing and needs a highly motived and multi skilled person to help drive it forward and build on the incredible work that has been done their already.

Ideal for PDC graduates looking for something to get their teeth into!



Wattle and clay daub structure in Ceiriog valley

Community Grower-2

Community Grower (Garth Hillside Organic Garden)1


This Video Dispels the “Nature VS Nurture” Myth . The Implications are Profound.

This is a very well presented and thoughtful presentation with far reaching consequences. It is a segment of the Zeitgeist movie. part 3.. the first 2 parts of which I can’t say I really liked as they mixed fact and speculation to closely.. but this is a very factual and focussed segment.

Next Up. Intelligent conversation of climate change comprehension
An interview with George Marshall, one of the founders of the Climate Outreach and Information Network, and the author of a ground breaking new book called Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.


North Wales Permaculture Academy consultation


Attendees at the consultation and launch meeting of the North Wales permaculture Academy

Huge thanks to the 18 people who came along to the Permaculture Academy Consultation meeting at Moelyci on Friday.

With representatives from Sector39, The Permaculture Association, Transition Towns, Cwm Harry Skills, local farmers from Treflach farm Oswestry and Henbant, Caernarfon, the founders of Garden Planet Biochar as well as past course graduates, friends and supporters.

We have a fabulous opportunity at Moelyci to bring together work from Cwm Harry and Biocyle with that of the Permaculture Association and the friends and supporters and graduates of Sector39 permaculture design team.

Here are the key elements of the proposal

Proposal for a North Wales Permaculture Academy

This paper outlines our ambitions for and the potentials of developing a Permaculture Academy
centred on Moelyci community owned farm in North Wales. We are building towards a stakeholder
meeting in late August where Cwm Harry and Sector39 are happy to open up this opportunity to be
shaped and informed with others.

New Opportunities
In September 2014, assuming all goes to plan, Cwm Harry will formally become the tenant and
manage Moelyci community owned farm near Bangor. This 345 acre hill farm is an environmental
education and enterprise centre with a range of buildings, an education venue, a horticulture
business, public allotments, a community composting facility and much more. Cwm Harry has
negotiated a 28 year lease with an exclusive option to buy within the first three years. This presents
an amazing and unique opportunity to develop long term ambitions for permaculture education and
to create a regional hub for permaculture practice and enterprise development.
Moelyci was bought out by a community share offer over 10 years ago and developed as a
community owned environmental centre. Cwm Harry plans to continue this vision, whilst expanding
it to include education and enterprise. The venue offers a perfect opportunity for the development
of a North Wales Permaculture Academy to contribute to and benefit from the wider activities at the
The main attraction of this site, in terms of a Permaculture Academy, is the opportunity for:
· Land based research
· A venue for long-term permaculture projects
· Access to the rich culture and heritage of the site

Permaculture Academy Proposal
For want of a better term, we have grouped our permaculture ambitions under one heading and to
date have been calling this the North Wales Permaculture Academy. We have so far identified the
following as what might be the key elements and functions of this venture.

1. Research: To undertake long-term research projects, to develop evidence based case study
history of the application of permaculture techniques, design and processes and to establish
evidence based approach that builds citizen scientists. Moelyci offers an ideal opportunity to
launch this ambition and to link in with the Permaculture Association’s LAND network and
research co-ordination.

2. Education: To develop a team of tutors to be able to deliver a rolling programme of
permaculture design and related courses and training.

3. Volunteer opportunities and internships: We would like to be able to offer 6 month
volunteer placements as well as longer internships offering practical experience of project,
farm and design work, especially for permaculture diploma students.

4. Enterprise development: In line with wider aspirations for Moelyci, our aim is to support
interns and partners to develop their own permaculture related enterprises and to create a
support and promotional infrastructure to aid that process.

The Vision
Is to create a regional hub for permaculture education, demonstration and enterprise development
in North Wales and to maximise the opportunity represented by Cwm Harry taking a long-term lease
on the farm. The Academy will build directly on the experience and track record of Sector39 and
Cwm Harry Skills and link our work in North Wales much more closely with local projects as well as
that of national networks such as the Permaculture Association. We aim to create a centre of
excellence for permaculture.

By building a high profile and long term enterprise such as this we would hope to help raise the
profile of permaculture whilst creating many more opportunities for study and for PDC graduates to
be involved in on-going projects. We want to contribute to building the evidence base for
permaculture design’s effectiveness and possibilities and to spread the learning and experience far
and wide. This opportunity will enable experienced diploma holders, teachers and practitioners to
greatly extend the provision of permaculture education and to help develop many new projects.
A replicable model

We hope to create a replicable model that may be of use to and add momentum to similar regional
initiatives across the UK. We are keen to innovate and invest in permaculture development whilst
being a strong and vibrant enterprise in our own right.

Stages towards our goal

  1.  We have held our first exploratory meeting with Cwm Harry and the Permaculture
  2. Association and have completed a key stakeholder meeting at Moelyci.
  3.  Begin identifying funds and potential funders who will invest in components of the Academy.  This will be an on-going process.
  4. From Sept 7-20th 2014 we plan to run a full PDC, part of a series of courses based at Moelyci that will contribute to the design and development of the Permaculture Academy and help shape the vision for Moelyci.
  5.  At the Permaculture Convergence in London this September we will be using the opportunity to network and consult on the further development of the idea.
  6. In October, post PDC, we will publish a document outlining the key elements and function and stakeholders of the North Wales Permaculture Academy and make this available to all interested parties, inviting both feedback and identifying collaborators and contributors. This stage needs to consider and identify income and funding possibilities and identify roles and responsibilities within the Academy.
  7. Year-end Sector39 review and open meeting. In December at Moelyci, Sector39 will hold an pen presentation, with talks and a dinner of local produce as an information sharing even and to create an open forum for idea sharing.
  8. Based on the progress of the preceding steps and the feedback from the review process we hope to officially launch the North Wales Permaculture Academy in the spring of 2015.
  9. By September 2015 we plan to have established links with a North Wales cluster of existing permaculture projects and activity and aim to run a series of ‘edge events’ as part of the International Permaculture convergence when it comes to the UK in 2015

Partner Enterprises: Strategic
We don’t intend to do this alone. We are happy to lead and create opportunities but equally happy
to build active beneficial relationships with other stakeholders who buy into the vision of the

Permaculture Association
We intend to spread the learning and experience of this venture by being active members of the UK
Permaculture Association and will use this existing network to seek out further partnerships and
collaboration UK wide.
Specifically the Academy will aim to contribute to key strands of on-going work at the Permaculture
Association, namely:
1. LAND learners network
2. Research
3. Information dissemination
4. Convergence

Cwm Harry Skills
The North Wales Academy will maintain an umbilical link with Cwm Harry Land Trust and co-ordinate its
efforts carefully to maximise synergy with the other educational ambitions of Cwm Harry

Established in 2004 Sector39 has been a vehicle to carry on the forest garden development and
environmental education work that its founder Steve Jones had been involved with at RISC,
Reading’s Development Education Centre, where as part of a team he helped develop a roof-top
forest garden as an educational resource.

Sector 39 work includes over 10 years of ground level work, networking, teaching and training.
Sector 39 have an alumni network of over 350 PDC graduates plus extensive links to other trainers,
projects and venues. This wider network presents the core of Sector 39 expertise.

With 700+ plus member shareholders and its own extensive network in North Wales we intend that
the North Wales Permaculture Academy compliments and reinforces all that has gone before at
Moelyci and enables future plans and potentials to come to fruition. It is essential that the North
Wales Permaculture Academy and Moelyci are mutually reinforcing and beneficial for the success of
this project.


Our Next PDC starts on 7th September, part of a rolling programme

Partner Enterprises: Delivery

Cultivate Market garden and horticulture at Moelyci
Via our biochar and soil amendments, trainees, students and courses it is our intention to develop a
‘umbilical’ relationship with the market garden enterprise at Moelyci. We can provide a market for
their produce; seek to demonstrate and develop our biochar products and to develop a retail
partnership for the resulting products.

Combine Project/ Biocycle
We intend to link with other on site enterprises at Moelyci for research development and training
opportunities as well as to obtain feedstock for our Biochar enterprise

Garden Planet Biochar
Steve is working closely with Martin and Monica Wigley to develop an enterprise with the object of
creating high quality biochar for research and product development of soil and animal feed

Moelyci enterprises
Building an internal economy that links and benefits partner enterprises. Seasonal surpluses, from
both horticulture and allotments at Moelyci will be preserved as pickles, sauerkraut and more which
we will both demonstrate as courses and consume via our students and interns.

Dolen Ffermio
An example of the kind of organisation we would also like to develop active links with. One with
active links and projects in East Africa, a region of the world full of inspiration, vibrant people and a
pressing need of active collaboration in developing food security, good soil management and
community led initiatives. We will seek to develop global links for both learning and disseminating
our experiences.

+ Your Enterprise…. We are open to offers!
It doesn’t end there, we are aware there are other local enterprises that may be interested in joining
the on-going development of the Academy.


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.