Permaculture adventures in Sector39

Trying to make sense of living in a crazy time

Category : sustainability

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.







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.


Changing Lives, Going Green, parts 3 & 4 of the 6 part series, plus Philippines links

Had some lovely feedback about this, lots of people enjoying re-watching the 2009 BBC Wales TV series the sector39 team were closely involved with making when we were still based in Llanfyllin at the Workhouse.

zeph_meme Please add your voice to urge for political action on Climate Change by signing this petition from campaign. Click on the image to visit the petition page.

“Stop This Madness”: Filipino Climate Chief Yeb Saño Begins Hunger Fast to Protest Global Inaction

This is an heroic and momentous speech. This is up there with Dr King, Churchill.. whatever.. superlatives aside.. this really is something of massive importance that I hope this man’s words will resonate across the World. “We can stop this! I still believe we can.” Yeb Saño

These words make the impact of climate change so real.. and even mroe the fear of living in the shadow of such uncertainly.. made only worse my the seeming indifference of the political classes to actually do anything meaningful about it.


Urban forestry and habitat restoration

Thanks to Han Rees for sending me the link to this lecture series. great stuff


Letter to Glyn Davies, MP for Newtown

Maybe forlornly, but I still cling onto the belief of democracy. So I write regularly to my MP imploring him to act meaningfully on energy and climate issues, as I see no such action from the current government. I try to write every week, but maybe it is more like once a month.. but either way I feel an urgent need to make my small voice heard… occasionally I get a reply but it is always lightweight and dismissive.

Dear Mr Davies.

I don’t understand your party’s energy policy one bit. We have a clear message that staying under 2 degrees of climate change is looking increasingly unlikely, yet you push ahead with gas power stations, fracking and like when a full on drive for renewables is obviously the only thing that makes sense. Investing a single penny into the furtherance of carbon based fossil fuels is surely an insanity that the next generation will not forgive us for.

We live in a era dominated by science and technology, yet when those same scientists ring the alarm bell over our fossil fuel use we ignore it. I don’t get it, I really don’t. Climate change is not an opinion, to be accepted or not.. it is a huge body of evidence, the weight of research is simply astounding, yet people try to dismiss it as a minor annoyance. You the Government, your party is not even engaged on the issue, you don’t talk about it meaningfully.. the IPCC report is terrifying and what is worse, it is a best case scenario.. truth is it is probably worse and more urgent than we can know. Surely no other issue comes close in its importance.. please speak up, and if you don’t understand it fully then please speak to those that do.. read the IPCC report, speak to the climate scientists.. this is no time for evasion.. there will be no future worth having on the path you are following.

There are so many things we could be doing, aside from changing energy policy, we can manage landscapes to sequestrate carbon, we can insulate homes, we can re localise our food supply, all things that create jobs and meaningful livelihoods and give us food security. We have food banks in our towns, in Newtown, in Machynlleth.. food banks! People are hungry.. and we could do so so much more. I work full time developing responses to these problems, yet you don’t come and talk to us. Please do, please come and find out what can be done to work for a secure future, because right now I don’t see meaningful action or even an understanding of the issues.

Yours, with deep concern

Steven Jones


Changing Lives, Going Green part 1

Here is part one of the Presentable TV series we made for BBC Wales TV. Filmed in later summer 2009 at Llanfyllin Workhouse, Sector39 crew are heavily featured in most episodes, Myself, Ritchie, Sue and others. Really the TV producers had a very sketchy idea about the ‘green’ content of the show and I was able to heavily influence and structure the show and the practical challenges the family had to face.

I am really proud of the resulting program and I really want to thank the Davies family for being such good sports. They were all very open about their feelings and were prepared to be influenced by the experience as it unfolded.


They call it the American dream….. because you have to be asleep to believe it

George Carlin on incendiary form..

You have to think for yourselves… believe nothing, ask lots of difficult questions, question authority at every turn. Find like minded people and apply yourself to building alternatives. Be clear about where your own ethics and values lie and try to operate inside of them in everything that you do.

Permaculture is a design strategy that supports you to do exactly that. We can only address the problems and inequalities of the World from the bottom up, by building working alternatives, powerful examples and sharing the learning.

Our next Permaculture Design Course starts on Saturday, it is number 22 for us and is part of our determination to share what we know and to empower others to do the same for themselves. I don’t know of a better way to do it..


Collapse, change and transformation

US Author, Journalist and commentator James Howard Kunstler holds regular talks with leading academics, writers and thinkers of the time on the day usiually on themes of energy descent, peak oil, sub urban sprawl and the imperative of a rapid transition away from our resource hungry lifestyles. This is an excellent example below, where he is talking with George Mobus, systems scientist from the University of Washington, Tacoma. As a systems scientist Geroge has taken on board the importance of permaculture as a systems response to the impending crises we face. Fascinatiing listening.

Meanwhile. here is another really powerful analysis of our economic woes, again related to to energy decent and increasing resource scarcity by Richard Heinberg.. lead research fellow at the Post Carbon Institute and also one the most articulate writers and talkers on the subject.



Permaculture Design Course, plans for 2013

permaculture design course 2013

PDC advert 2013

Permaculture is the fastest growing, most vital and energetic grass roots movement around. Permaculture addresses the challenging issues of the day.. resource depletion, climate change, soil loss, financial chaos and the social and economic turmoil that goes with that.

Globalisation is a massive failure, finance and banking has become a global fraud, Western economies are suffocating in unmanageable levels of debt, collapsing biodiversity,  soil erosion, lowering water tables and deforestation are typical of the massive degradation we are inflicting on the physical environment. Bizarrely our economic paradigm actually values resource destruction and environmental damage as a measurement of achievement and consequently decision makers, politicians and corporates are wilfully blind to the devastation they are causing.

Permaculture is a grass roots, bottom up design process which attempts to address all of these issues.. it focusses on self empowering and bypasses many of the blockages to launching projects and initiatives from within the mainstream.  Permaculture is about modelling on nature to build resilience, to re-localise and regenerate the social and biological complexity that globalised systems have eroded.

We will be based on a 100 acre family farm in the Welsh Marches and interacting with a community in transition whilst visiting some of the leading permaculture projects and organic farms in the area. We will mix classroom based theory, presentations and video with practical sessions on gardening, woodwork, crafts with field trips and site visits.

This is a course for anyone with an active interest in our continued survival on this planet. This is an energising, inspirational and uplifting experience with the power to transform and create new possibilities.

Pricing. We work very hard to make our courses and affordable and accessible as possible. Price includes camping in your own tent, 3 delicious and nutritious meals a day, tuition, field trips, certification and practicals. No unavoidable extras.

Full price is £600, with some places available at £450 for folks on low income or students.

There are 2 places at £150 for volunteers/ interns/ or trainees.. applications will be assessed by us according to need.

Everyone is expected to join in to help with serving and clearing meals, site maintenance etc..

Dates and times:

Those travelling to the farm are encouraged to arrive on  on Saturday 11th May. We will provide evening meal at 6.30 pm and there is an (optional) evening video screening that evening. Nearest station is Gobowen (for Oswestry).

Tuition starts at 9.00 am Sunday May 12th.

On the Middle weekend (18/ 19 May) there will be a trip to the Welsh Smallholders show at Llandrindod Wells show-ground (packed lunch)
On the Sunday we will be visiting the beautiful Welsh mountain village and waterfall at Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant, with a roast lunch in the local pub (£8.50 extra)

The course finishes 5pm, on Saturday 25th May. Participants and encouraged to stay for an evening closing party, with pizza, local ales and wines and homespun entertainment and folk music (Food £7 extra).

Site clear up and departure by  Midday Sunday 26th May.

Booking and additional Info

Please complete a booking form and a deposit of £150 is required in advance to secure a place. Balance to be paid minimum of 2 weeks prior to the course starting.

There is much more general information about our permaculture courses on the Sector39 PDC page