Building a sustainable future – reasons to be cheerful!

Gloom and doom abounds in the papers and across the media. Helplessly we stumble towards Climate Armageddon as our governments fight over the dwindling oil reserves and the access routes to them. News tells us that half of all wild animals have been decimated since on 1970, while Governments want to take away our human rights and corporates want to own everything about our lives, what left is there for us to do except give in and let the bastards win?


There is actually so much positive things going on the World and as increasing numbers of people figure it out for themselves – grass roots action is the only sane response. Things have to change and the self-serving politicians and finance industry will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the post carbon World by an active and engaged population. Real democracy is not simply about voting men in suits into office periodically, it is about setting the agenda for what they talk about and holding them accountable for what they do that which really matters.


PDC group at Moelyci community owned farm, with produce from the course

So here at Sector39 we have just delivered our 24th successful permaculture design course and are planning the 25th. I am just back from visiting the maturing Reading Roof Garden that has been growing away there since 2002 and I note with interest: there is growing interest in edible landscaping and it possibilities. After the work I did as Sector39  in Liverpool over the last two years I am becoming increasingly excited about the possibilities of urban growing.  At the end of this month I am off on a 2 week study of sustainable agriculture projects in Uganda, a return visit to when the group will be visiting came to Wales three years ago.  All this and so much more.


I  am so pleased for and proud of my good friend Ritchie who together with his colleagues have put up their first full size stunning timber frame building in a village near here. Local skills, local materials and a design that sequestrates tons of carbon in the form of timber and creates local meaningful work This is what a sustainable localised future could look like and it feels to be gathering in momentum from where I am standing.


Me,  Steve Jones (left) with volunteer planting team on the Stockbridge estate, Liverpool


Spotting opportunities for community growing

Here is a great example of what is possible for growing in public spaces. This filed was once the play grounds for a school in Liverpool, and is now a dead piece of ground which is mowed by the council but no more. The arrows designate pathways and desire lines of where people choose to walk. That triangular area to the right of the third arrow is where we planted a new food forest, its south facing and adjacent to where people walk but actually a space where none actually goes. there are so many of these kinds of opportunities in cityscapes to crate pocket orchards and wildlife havens.

academy-launch (1)

Launch of the North Wales permaculture academy, with Sector39 friends and supporters.

The view we wish to cultivate is that we are surrounded by tremendous opportunity,  we know which way things will need to move,  so we are best to get busy preparing as best we can to better facilitate this process. To this end we are busy putting together plans for a North Wales Permaculture Academy.  With the intention of running a full programme of courses planned over several years. Giving us the chance to develop internships,  long term volunteer programmes as well as undertaking research and more.

We have already delivered our first PDC at Moelyci community owned farm near Bangor and are hoping to be able to put down some roots there and develop a project base with longer term ambitions. We ran a project launch event in August and are now planning our next priorities.


Views of the Reading Roof garden, 2007 and 2014

It is a constant excitement to me to see the garden and landscapes we have been involved with over the last few yeas evolve and mature, and see the wildlife move in and populate the habitats and spaces created. last winter we planted a new forest garden for our community in Llanfyllin and I look forward to see how that develops, meanwhile it was a total please to return to Reading to teach at the roof garden there this September. In fact I was encouraged such that I am now planning to run a 6 part PDC there this winter. it is an ideal venue really, a successful community project, that has led the way in education about inequality and sustainability for decades. I am proud to have worked with them in their early days, as well as returning in the early 2000’s to help on the roof garden project itself.


Meanwhile the Newtown garden continues to mature and as it enters its third year it is starting to look amazing. the original plans we drawn up by a study group who came on a 5 day permaculture design workshop in July 2012. We hope to have created a template for small community horticulture, local produce and training centre and are working to develop our links with both the college next door as well as the wider Newtown community’

Newtown community garden, into its third year and is increasing in yield and popularity as it grows

Newtown community garden, into its third year and is increasing in yield and popularity as it grows



All of these ideas and experiences feed into the courses, workshops and training sessions that we run.
Permaculture brings together habitat restoration, with waste reduction and food growing, it explores community approaches to development to re-green and build abundance across private public and wild spaces. Low impact buildings, co-operatives, inclusivity and a positive solutions led approach to design makes permaculture a world of new possibilities.


Study tour on the Reading Roof garden last weekend. It has become a popular annual event, so much so that we are now planning to run a PDC there in the New Year.

It is really exciting to see biodiversity grow on the roof garden as it develops

It is really exciting to see biodiversity grow on the roof garden as it develops

The evolving forest gardens seem a perfect example of what is possible if we plan and make priority for these kind of spaces and use design processes and values systems such as permaculture to bring them about.

Sector39 are keen to meet with and work with anyone else who can see a positive vision of the future, one that embraces Earth, People and Personal freedom, that meets the needs of all, not just some some at the expense of our longer term sustainability.  We want to live in abundance as part of an inter connected community of people, local , national and global.