Preparing for East Africa’s first Permaculture Convergence, join us.

Preparing for East Africa’s first Permaculture Convergence, join us.

Design for Sabina school driveway orchard 2008

NB. This volume of Sector39 has now been archived. New  content available at

A convergence is a coming together, in this case we are hoping to bring together leading practitiners and advocates for permacuture design in East Africa. The aim is to accelerate the already considerable momentum in the region by profiling some of the amazing work already underway in the region.

Since 2015 Sector39 have taught two full PDCs in Uganda and are planning the third currently. We have also formed a supportive partnership with two Ugandan organisations to enable us to extend our regional ambitions. East Africa is literally hungry for permaculture and there is so much that can be done to significantly improve people’s lives and resilience utilising resources that are largely already available.

It seems an obvious step forward for our East African partnership to try to raise the profile for permaculture by creating an event that demonstrates the many possibilities for its positive application. We are inviting some of the region’s biggest enthusiasts as speakers and workshop leaders and planning for an event that can bring together students from our first three courses with school heads, politicians and other scoial and financial gatekeepers with whom we might build new and mutually beneficial relationships.

The planned venue couldn’t be more ideal as it is home the most mature designed food forest in whole region and the school has embraced permaculture design and ideas within its core curriculum, even the Head Teacher has completed a PDC!

sabina permaculture

Students and teachers from Sabinas permaculture class meet Steve from Sector39

Sabina school is near to Rakai in central Uganda, the region that was the epicentre of the global AIDS epidemic. They are still in recovery from the terrible loss of life, creativity and human resource but are well on track to have the situation fully under control by 2030. Modern drugs have massively reduced the mortality rate, it is no longer a death sentence and people are open about their HIV status. That said there are still many orphans in the region and a great deal of work to be done to compenstate for the terrible effets of the epidemic.

sabina permaculture garden

Sabina students in the school’s forest garden. Bananas, avocado, pumpkin, jack fruit, there is food everywhere!

The 2-day conference is intended to both bring permaculture practitioners, students and pioneers together as well as creating a platform to celebrate and showcase achievements to inspire and demonstrate possibilities for new and interested parties. There wil be talks, demonstrations, a permaculutre futures forum and a school partnerships proposal Launch.

As well as site tours and demonstrations at Sabina there will be a chance to visit The Permaculture Research of Uganda, (PRI-UG) which has an ecological farm and demonstration site less than an hour from the intended venue and that is en route for anyone travelling from Kampala. The day immediately before and after the actual convergence will be open days for the site with guided tours and discussion forums planned.

grace and charles

Grace an ex pupil from Llanfyllin High school with Charles an ex Sabina pupil with some of the current juniors.

Political persuasion.

Permaculture belongs in schools. Imagine the anxiety for young adults when confronted with the fact that the next 30 years of their lives is going to dominated by climate change, a dwindling oil supply and the possibility if never-ending resource wars accompanied by ceaseless waves of refugees.

Currently it feels like no one in the main stream is offering solutions or ways forward they are battoning down the hatches and tightening border controls. We need to offer more than vision of a sustainable future, we need to provide the mechanism for change and pathways for empowerment and inclusion in that process and where better to begin than at school?

We have the support of the minister for education for Buganda and the national minister for education was a founding force behind Sabina school where the event will be held  so there exists a solid foundation to link the event to movement on a political level. When arrived in Kampala some 6 weeks ago our first meeting was with Mr Mula, permanent secretary to the Vice President of Uganda, he offered us his full support and strongly endorsed the work of Charles Mugarura and partners BEU Permaculture. We are looking to the younger generation to take the lead he emphasised.


Launch of BEU permaculture, Uganda’s most dynamic permaculture team and partners with Sector39 delivering this event

Sector39’s education team have since began work on 12 educational units for use in school that will introduce permaculture’s key principles to the curriculum, not as a subject but as cross curricular themes.

The East African Convergence gives us a timeline now to develop and profile this work. We have a key partner school in Wales to develop and trial the materials with as well as an emerging school network in Uganda so we are absolutely ready to take this work to the next level.

Pre booking and sponsorship packages are available to help us develop these potentials and we are also reaching out to teachers and educators to help realise these ambitions.

Delivery Partnership

  • The Sector39 education team are taking a lead role in organising this event, please contact us for bookings, sponsorships and other offers of help. There will be volunteering and internship opportunities as well.
  • On the ground logistics, site development, volunteer hosting plus marketing support and branding services are being provided  by BEU Permaculture, Kampala.
  • PRI-UG are offering demonstration visits, networking a practical support fir workshops and site development.
  • PermoAfrica centre and K5 community permaculture are linking us to on the ground community permaculture practical work in Kenya and will be profiling their 2 years of developmental experience for the conference.
  • Key note speakers tbc. We are  inviting a leading Author on East African botany, a leading agronomist and politician in the educational field to outline the key themes of the conference.

Meeting the head and agreeing on outline plans for the coming event

Earth day April 22, Join us in Llanfyllin

Earth-day-flyer-2015In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honour the Earth and the concept of peace. Originally it was celebrated on March 21st the first day of spring in the Northern hemisphere; later Earth Day was switched to April 22nd to fit in with other similar initiatives.

Mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting the status of environmental issues onto the world stage, Earth Day activities in 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The Rio summit of course being the one that gave us the concept of Sustainability as a universal goal and flagged Climate Change as the single most important environmental challenge, or rather climate change as a symptom of a wider malaise: our addiction of fossil fuels. Since that historic date at which governments agreed to limit emissions in order to prevent dangerous climate change, world carbon emission have risen by 44% and with a dwindling remaining carbon budget the world is facing some tough choices.

Earth Day is a chance to celebrate the many success of the environment movement to date and to frame the struggle we have before us to shift the world onto a sustainable footing. While the carbon clock is ticking, grass roots action around the World is shifting the balance. The Divest in Fossil Fuels movement is gaining momentum, climate justice action groups are springing up everywhere and the anti-fracking, anti-tar sands and anti-Keystone pipeline movements have all become global phenomena. While there is still so much to do, there is also much to celebrate and how better to celebrate that with action?

Cae Bodfach: Llanfyllin, there have been several updates in here of the community endeavour directed towards the field in Llanfyllin, adjacent to the Cain River and health centre carpark which has come into community management. So far, together with the Cain River group, Llanfyllin Town Council, The Primary School and High School as well as numerous local residents, we have established an small orchard and forest garden there, with old fruit tree varieties of apple, pear and plum plus local provenance hazel, elder, blackthorn and dog rose as support species. The orchard boasts blackcurrant, raspberry and chokeberry with a groundcover of herbs like lemon balm, mint and strawberry. It is designed to be easy to maintain and to be beneficial to wildlife, creating habitat and feeding opportunities for creature and human alike.


Map showing the community plantings so far at Cae Bodfach and the proposed Willow coppice.

Myself and Dewi Morris have proposed to the town Council that a fitting next step would be to plant a 2 metre wide strip of willow coppice along the fence line between the Wetland and the field. This would create a shelter belt and windbreak; provide more wildlife habitat as well as a corridor down to the river.

The maintenance plan is to coppice it every few seasons to provide a free fuel resource for residents, or materials for basketry and other projects. We have a ready available source of fast growing willow and a small budget for the other materials needed and the plan is work with the high school students as part of their landscape studies as well as residents to help plant the hedge. And we hope to do this on Earth Day. We are pleased to announce also that the Llanfyllin Primary school will be helping on Earth day, their mission will be to plant strawberry plants around the forest garden!

I thought it would be a fitting and symbolic gesture of willingness to work together as community to protect and enhance our environment and to find much more Eco sensitive and lower carbon emitting ways of living. Look out for updates and I hope to see you on April 22nd.

Steven Jones is an independent permaculture teacher, consultant and forest gardener.
or @misterjones2u

Dewi Morris can be found at

June PDC in Mid Wales, with a focus on crafts and community growing

We are bringing together two of the most experienced permaculture tutors in Wales with three of the most experienced crafts folk to offer a unique and special permaculture design course in June 2015.

Set in a stunning location in the mountains of Mid Wales, by the source of the Severn and Wye rivers this will be a very special for 14 participants to take journey beyond sustainability.

Permaculture empowers you to turn your aspirations for a better, saner world into reality. Limited places, so please get in touch, camping, farmhouse or luxury bungalow accommodation options.

permaculture design course june 2015

Permaculture design course June 2015

Alongside the internationally recognised curriculum there will be opportunities to be involved in building from natural materials, charcoal making a retort kiln, green wood work and basic skills. We will also be spinning yarn from raw wool, weaving and using various looms to make carpets, rugs and blankets.

The mix of theory and practical sessions make you through the basics of ecology, food growing, energy systems, water, soils, community and finance. We run compost practicals, ferment foods, whilst exploring the potentials of unleashing the collective power of community to being about positive change.

permaculture course pics

A few shots from the June 2014 course at the same venue

Here is a lovely clip from Graham Bell in the Scottish borders, admiring his 25 year old forest garden at home.

Forest gardening day in September

It was a real thrill to go back to Reading to the Roof Garden last year, and so I am planning to go back there again on September the 22nd this year to run the day again. Past PDC graduates are welcome to come along for a £7.50 donation only towards the lunch.. and full is price is only £25 for the day. It is an excellent introduction to Permaculture design and approaches to problem solving and is a lively and fun day.

forest gardening at RISC 2012

One day introduction to forest gardening and urban permaculture

The garden is 10 years old this year and has matured wonderfully into a forest system. the understory plants have self-seeded all around the place and it is starting to have a genuinely wild feel about it.

It will be a great day out and I am arranging a special meal from Tutus Ethiopian Table… freshly prepared traditional style Ethiopian food will make it an extra special experience.

Lots of opportunites for chat and to ask questions and of course a perfect opportunity to explore the garden.

The RISC centre itself is well worth a visit, it has fair trades shops, bar and cafe, meeting rooms and is home to Reading International Solidarity who develop teaching resources on global themes, and are active supporters of fair trade and human rights.

I have just updated the Forest Gardening page on my website.. lots more info there if you are interested.

The other new Course we are developing is in conjunction with the Get-Growing project in Newtown Powys, where we are putting together a 5-day, how to design a community garden course.  This is specifically aimed at people with an interest or involvement in community gardening. we are very involved with community gardening ourselves in Newtown and have just been offered a new site from which to develop a our community growing hub… which is a 2 1/2 acre site on the Newtow FE College campus and we will be using the coruse process to design the garden.

Permaculture Portugal..

.. to the tune of… We’re all going on a summer holiday….

So I am excited to be thinking about going over to Portugal in June to teach on the PDC that Caryn Le Feuvre has organised on her stunning small holding in the central mountenous area of the country. There are still a few places available, and although I am expecting mainly people from the surrounding area to be attending, it will also be an ideal place to study your PDC, regardless of whether you are based in Portugal or not. This is a stunning venue See Pics here and should be a ground breaking course. There is a strong theme of eco-village development to this course, as there is local interest in developing the residential potential of the area and developing a stronger community network.

As you move around the world the details change.. but the overall patterns don’t… and permaculture is about seeing and understanding the underlying patterns without getting bogged down in the specifics of detail.

To Book a place: Please directly in touch with Caryn Le Feuvre, she has set up a FB event for the course and you can contact her through that.. Any problems, get in touch with me, Steve Jones on 0771 981 8959, or   steve at sector39 dot co dot uk

Eco Aldeia Permalógica

Permaculture in Warwickshire

Permaculture in Leamington Spa

Permaculture and transition, Leamington Spa


Sector39 have been invited by Transition Leamington Spa to offer an introduction to permaculture weekend as well as a full Permaculture Design Course, spread over 6 weekends and starting in March, to help build interest and involvement in Transition in the Midlands region.

The 6 weekend PDC is proving to be a very popular format for the 72 hour, internationally recognised curriculum, which is typically taught in a 2 week intensive course. The six weekends give participants a lot of space to abosrb ideas and read and engage with the whole experience.

Embracing permaculture is the beginning of a journey, for many it is the start of an on-going process of taking on board the challenge of responding locally and meaningfully to huge global issues like climate change, Peak Oil and the economic institutions and the resulting environmental and social degradation caused by the current economic paradigm.

As Bill Mollison has said.. ‘The problems of the world are inreasingly complex, yet the solutions remain embarassingly simple.’

We need to relearn to work together, much more locally and democratically than what we have become used to and with economic systems based mainly on using local resources. To be sustainable we will have to rebuild resilience, and for our own security and social and economic cohesion that will mean mainly locally focussed economies.

The study of permaculture design can really help facilitate that process and help build ideas and action based on a community concensus and formulate meaningful grass roots responses to huge global challenges. Please get in touch if you would like to know more about this course.

Reading Roof Garden, edible landscaping, urban permaculture, 24th Sept

FG ad

Forest Gardening at RISC Reading 24th Sept 2011

A one day workshop on forest gardening and the potentials for urban renewal using permaculture design
Work on the award winning RISC roof garden began in Feb 2002 and now in its ninth year it is positively blooming. It is a bold statement about the possibilities for greening our cities, supporting biodiversity,  reducing urban heat islands and storm surges and creating oases of calm and sanity in city centre spaces.

The RISC garden is inspired by the work of Robert Hart and was designed as a Global Garden to reflect the inter-connectedness of life, society, history and culture on this earth. It is a statement about the importance of biodiversity and the value of the ecological legacy we leave to future generations. A forest garden is a self sustaining system assembled from a great many, mainly perennial plants with multiple uses, from around the world; some obscure, some so familiar we take them completely for granted, all of them however are important.

The day will focus on positive responses to the challenges thrown up for modern society by the excesses of industrial agriculture, the overuse of chemical inputs and the corresponding erosion of biodiversity, tops oils and water. Forest gardening address all these issue and more and can be practised in any setting on any scale. Forest gardening is simply the application of the principles of ecology to a designed, constructed system such as  garden.

RISC has also been a big part of my own personal development, I moved there from CAT in 2002 to be involved in developing the roof garden project and it it will be a pleasure to be back there working on this one day event.  The case for all the issues that the garden embodies have never been more pertinent: our place in the globalised world, the debt we owe to past generations for the diversity of food and medicine plants represented here that sustain us all.
Society needs to evolve its relationship with the environment and fast, from degenerative destructive exploiting to a productive partnership aiming for regenerative design, adding biological and social complexity to the built environment.’

An important insight for…

  • Local and national politicians
  • Town Planners
  • Visionaries
  • Gardeners
  • Environmentalists
  • Everyone….

The day will be a positive and uplifting experience, looking at how we can work with natural systems and permaculture design to create resilient, productive and bio-diverse habitats everywhere.. even on roof tops!
Booking is via and its on £45 for the day, including delicious snack lunch. 55 places only.

Forest Gardening on the RISC roof

Urban generation, permaculture and forest gardening in Reading, Sept 24th

A growing sense of urgency..

tree cut

Self Harm? brilliant image from the Green Patriot poster book

I spent yesterday reviewing materials for the up and coming Permaculture Design course and felt a growing sense of panic growing inside me. Are we in anyway prepared for what is about to happen? Or correction, what is already starting to happen. Peak Oil and energy descent. The global economy cannot grow much more, in the traditional sense as there simply is not the energy to power it. The price of energy climbs and climbs as demand is starting to outstrip supply.

It is a turning point that has never been experienced before.. a shrinking global energy supply.The world is using 5 barrels of oil for each new one we find currently, and simple maths tells you we cant maintain this for long… the traditional massive fields have been severely depleted and there is nothing to replace them, other than the odd remote small field in the deep oceans or under the ice cap. The era of cheap energy is officially over.

Permaculture is the answer, but it takes years to develop healthy natural productive systems and we really should be getting on with it! We will be looking at this and many other related issues and themes on the 2 week Permaculture Design course coming up at Treflach farm, Oswestry from the 8th May… there are still a couple of places available, and we can take payment in part in sweat equity and volunteer time so if you are able to come then do get in touch!

Food production in Transition

The Green Revolution, which transformed farming practices in the 50’s and 60’s and allowed the world population to grow to its present levels has a fundamental flaw; it is wholly reliant on cheap oil for its fertilisers, pesticides and machines. It is guilty of shifting our view of soils as a living complex biological life support system to merely being a substrate onto which we can pour chemicals. The biosphere has endured 5 decades of enhanced erosion as a result of these practices and now biodiversity, soil structure and climate stability are all compromised.

Climate change and a peaking world oil supply is forcing us to reconsider; it is time for systems rethink.

permaculture design course sheet

Click for more info

Luckily organic farmers, permaculture designers and sustainability practitioners around the globe have been working on developing robust sustainable alternatives to petroleum agriculture which have the potential to feed the world without running it into the ground. Permaculture is an integrated approach, modelling on nature to make genuinely sustainable alternative systems. It can be studied on a 72 hour course, often as a 2 week intensive which for many is a life changing and life affirming experience. Its insights can be applied to homes, gardens, farms, communities and businesses. It is a vitally important subject whose time has come for much wider study and broader involvement.

Sector39 is a partnership of sustainability teachers who are working with farms, community gardens, teachers and individuals to enable this transition to long-term sustainable practices. We are running courses and training events around the year in a variety of locations.

• A 2 week intensive permaculture design course in Treflach, Shropshire, May 21st

• Permaculture in the rainforest, a 2 week course in Costa Rica June 2011

• One day forest gardening introduction July 10th. Treflach Shropshire

Much more at