Forest Garden for Busoga High



Field trip to Busoga 2016

Connie is the English Literature teacher at Busoga high and last year Grace from Sector39 caught her for a few minutes during the S39 PDC at nearby Kamuli, to talk about the girls she supports at the school. They are developing a school garden within the campus to generate small incomes to provide for essentials for the girls. I love the idea of a school empowering its pupils to generate money towards fees, books and accommodation and we hope to celebrate and promote this kind of partnership through our teaching work. 


When Raymond Orenda from Homa Bay permaculture Kenya contacted us about contributing to the next Kamuli PDC in May 2017 and offered a forest garden workshop, it wasn’t hard for us to put 2 and 2 together. Can we develop an output from the PDC that is an input into Connie’s essential work at Busoga.


Raymond celebrates the next stage completion of their project base in Homa Bay

Obviously on a busy PDC schedule time and resources can be limited but we can certainly set something in motion here that could be start of a longer term project for Busoga high and that could serve as an inspiration to school around the globe.

The idea of a school releasing some grounds so students can begin small enterprises that meet both their own and the wider communities needs, creates a powerful change in the relationship between school and the pupils.

Sector39 have been at the forefront of permaculture in the UK since its inception in 2005 and bases its teaching work on the 25 years of project and educational experience.

wales/ ugan

English teacher Connie from Busoga High with Han Rees from Llanfyllin In Kamuli last year

We are based in Mid Wales but have strong links across the UK and with permaculture in Uganda, where we have been invited to take an active role in the development of the Permaculture Research Institute of Uganda. Our second African PDC is intended to build on the achievements of partnership visits in 2011, 2014 and 2016, where significant contacts and networks have already been established.

African PDC’s. These are open to both local and international participants and especially suit farmers, teachers and project planners from East Africa and NGO staff and trainers planning to work in the region

pdc ads 2017

Next PDC courses: Wales and Uganda May & June 2017

We hope sector39 can bring the right people together in May/ June to advance this project and to develop it as a powerful example of collaboration between projects.



Facing our demons

Now more than perhaps ever before the World needs to rally together to face the terrifying issues of the moment. Our whole economic paradigm seems to be collapsing, responding to climate and economic crises is no quick fix, it will take a bold new vision of our collective objectives and strategies. Liberal democracy seems to have been fatally hi jacked by corporate power, banks and oligarchs putting humanity on a collision course with reality.

I strongly believe permaculture design has a very big part to play in how we address these issues in a coherent way. As our work at sector39 continues to reach a broader and broader audience and brings us into contact with more diverse audiences I can that this potential continues to grow.

Nobody can articulate the enormity of the challenge we face better than Chomsky and here he is a recent interview that really demands our attention.

Noam Chomsky, ‘The Human Species Has Never Faced A Question Like This’ (2016)

Here is a current scientific overview and presentation on the scale of the challenge we face.

If humans caused it then surely we can solve it?

Well if you listen the presentation above you realize that although this is a correct assertion the clock is ticking and that will not be true for long.



Taking permaculture to old places

Taking permaculture to old places

Chapter house, Chester Cathedral

The cathedral at Chester represents nearly a 1000 years of history. First built-in 1093 the main part of the building was rebuilt around 1283 to 1537. For this course, the first at such a venue certainly for us, we will be based in The Early English Gothic chapter house, built between 1230 and 1265, it is a rectangular building and opens off a “charming” vestibule leading from the north transept. The chapter house will be the classroom for the proposed PDC and the significance of the venue is not lost on me. (History from Wikipedia)

This place connects us directly to our Norman past, Hugh d’Avranches (c. 1047 – 27 July 1101), also known as Hugh the Fat, the second Normal Earl of Chester was buried there, first in a long line of patrician overlords who found their resting place here. I have always been fascinated with history, especially the ancient buildings, churches and castles which have always captured my attention and where as I child I always felt I could feel the pulse of those that had passed before somehow resonating from the very stone of the buildings.

Hugh spent much of his time fighting with his neighbours in Wales. Together with his cousin Robert of Rhuddlan he subdued a good part of northern Wales. Initially Robert of Rhuddlan held north-east Wales as a vassal of Hugh. However, in 1081 Gruffudd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd was captured by treachery at a meeting near Corwen.

Gruffudd was imprisoned by Earl Hugh in his castle at Chester, but it was Robert who took over his kingdom, holding it directly from the king. When Robert was killed by a Welsh raiding party in 1093 Hugh took over these lands, becoming ruler of most of North Wales, but he lost Anglesey and much of the rest of Gwynedd in the Welsh revolt of 1094, led by Gruffudd ap Cynan, who had escaped from captivity.

So it comes full circle, to be travelling from Wales to Chester to explore ideas for our continued mutual survival in this rapidly changing modern world.

What would Hugh d’Avranches have made of the dilemmas we now face, climate change and resource depletion, what lands would he invade and subjugate? I also wonder what would he have thought of Bill Mollison, the originator of the permaculture concept? I really can’t empathise with Hugh d’Avranches but on many levels the monks at the Abbey in the 13th or 14th century would have got it, they kept bees, grew veg, were guardians of seed and provenance and kept carp in ponds in the gardens at the Abbey. They knew about food security, how to cultivate the land and how to act a guardians of seed and soil. They certainly knew how to weather the many storms that faced them in those troubled times and I am interested to know what we can draw as inspiration from their memory.

If you have never heard BIll Mollison speak then he is certainly worth a listen. The word genius is overused these days but Bill brought a new way of seeing to the forefront, of way of seeing that which once you do see things that way, becomes obvious and compelling. Bill had foresight, he could see what was coming and set his mind to developing a system that was accessible and adaptive that might provide a basis for every community to address the challenges that confront us.

On the PDC I will be sharing Bill’s vision and design for a sustainable world, but so much more than that permaculture gives you a set of tools that enable you to work with the people around you to bring about meaningful change.As much as we can recognise the need for change it is hard to know where to direct one’s energies and what to prioritize.


The PDC is a curriculum that covers the broad thrust of Bill Mollision’s and David Holmgren’s work, encompassing the principle tools to be able to immediately start working for positive environmental change. Permaculture is empowering,  at its heart are ideas of self-determination and responsibility and a way that actively helps to build mutually beneficial relationships with those that surround you.

Scott London: A reviewer once described your teachings as “seditious.”

Bill Mollison: Yes, it was very perceptive. I teach self-reliance, the world’s most subversive practice. I teach people how to grow their own food, which is shockingly subversive. So, yes, it’s seditious. But it’s peaceful sedition.

Bill’s passing in September this year is a huge loss, a big tree has fallen in the forest, as writer and teacher Graham Bell said, however the new light let in from the canopy creates the opportunity for many more to grow.  Bill always taught us the nature is cyclical, the Rainbow serpent on the cover of the epic Designer Manual is both creator and destroyer, birthing a whole world of complexity whilst devouring its own tale.

Please join us in Chester for this course and help us work together to create new opportunities for all and to draw on the inspiration of those who have gone before us.

PDC presentation: One Planet Living, by Bruce, Conor & Ieva

The following presentation was a final design exercise on our recent PDC in Llanidloes. See what happens when you put a soil expert with a small scale renewable energy systems guy and then put a sensitive yet bold Lithuanian woman in the middle.

This was a truly fantastic presentation, realising the enormous potential of local site, picked out as one planet living, self build, 6 acre plot. The client, Simon had been fully consulted by the team, and indeed he had himself completed the PDC with Sector39 at the same venue last year.

I suggest you play the audio (its 67 minutes long) but well worth listening to, and scroll through the photos and video to illustrate the design ideas. Shame we were not able to film it, but I hope the audio and pictures do it justice. Annoyingly I was timing the presentation with my phone, so there are clicks and pops of interference, I have taken loads out and cleaned it up a lot, sorry it is not perfect, but time didn’t allow any more.


The client interview

The client interview

The client interview was recorded as we had limited transport available so one of the design team was unable to attend, they turned this limitation to an advantage with their design process.

The field

The field

Its a six acre field so it hard to catch in one shot, but with vale of Kerry before you, it is a stunning location, and all looking south. The Client’s vision is too think about three generations of family establishing an abundant, bio-diverse food and energy system, based on natural inputs only. They imagine a roundhouse of straw and clay, and the ability to meet most of their own needs from the land whilst generating a small surplus for trade and community.

The Site, is not owned nor is there planning permission, so on one level this is purely an academic exercise, although the client fully intends to develop something t these specifications on a site similar if not exactly this one.

The design team worked really well as a team and also drew heavily on their own individual strengths and depth of knowledge. With their permission of course, I plan to use this as a teaching resource as it is such an excellent presentation in many ways, not least as it present holistic, wonderfully interconnected and longer term vision for the potential of this site and client family might be able to achieve. Being able to visualise and communicate  vision of a sustainable future is a truly wonderful thing in the troubled times .



Larger version of the design map

Larger version of the design map, click to explore

Zone one area map

Zone one area map



September PDC in Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant

September PDC in Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant

Click image to visit course booking page

We are excited to be offering our next PDC in Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant, the tiny Welsh mountain village made famous by its stunning waterfall. Located only 45 mins drive from Shrewsbury and 12 miles from Gobowen mainline station, this village is buried deep in the unspoilt Mid Wales countryside, by the Berwyn mountains.


The area is home to numerous permaculture projects and housing co-ops, which will form the backbone of our site visits and practicals. We are about to launch our own latest project in the area, a housing co-op and community shop. The course will use the PDC framework to look deeply into co-ops and other community led solutions, including local currencies and trading schemes. It is our contention that Crowd funding, ethical investment and local currencies offer up a whole new layer of opportunities that are yet to be fully exploited, never has it been a more interesting time to be involved in permaculture! Come along and find out why.


View of the Berwyn Mountains

It’s time we talked, Sector39 2015 Newsletter

There has never been a more important time for permaculture and looking ahead to 2015 it is going to be really interesting year. I have produced a newsletter in a downloadable format looking forward to the coming 12 months and I really want to open up the audience for permaculture design by offering 2 courses, one spread over 6 weekends in Reading from 7th January and one leading up to the Midsummer solstice in Mid Wales which will be 2 week residential course. I have created this newsletter in the hope that it will travel far and wide and help us reach people who are not yet maying attention to these issues.

Clicking on the image will download the Newsletter in PDF form, please circulate widely! Many thanks

First PDC at Moelyci


PDC course group at Moelyci, September 2014.. with some of the produce made on site during the 2 week course.

Hopefully the first of many, we have just completed the first PDC at Moelyci: the community owned farm in North Wales. The first joint endeavour under the banner of the North Wales permaculture academy.

What is permaculture? Well in short it is design system to help us prepare for the huge economic changes and environmental challenges we face. A system that helps us move from a resource based economy to a design based economy.

Here’s Chris Martenson, spelling it out. He talks about a groundswell of popular opinion, and that Governments have a terrible record of innovating. His short talk here sets a clear scenario as to why permaculutre is important and relevant to the current moment.

On the subject of resource depletion here is the great nad sadly late Matt Simmons talking extremely knowledgeable on the subject of Peak Oil. This is froma few years ago, so it is also interesting to see how things have played out since, but at heart he is an oil man and he totally understands the realities of keeping this precious resource flowing.

This Permaculture Design Course was also a big step towards the launch of the North Wales Permaculture Academy, which will be at Moelyci and is the culmination of several years’ work to develop an on going rolling programme of permaculture and related courses along with an intern ship programme.

Here is the first of the three presentations on the design work we did on Moelyci farm. The first group had the task of considering the entrance experience and the links to the wider world. How can we make passers by welcome and encourage them to come into the site?

Presentation by Sue, Richard and Kevin, who are also the Sector39 Crafts and Catering team.

Here is the second presentation. The second group mainly focussed on the training facility and services around it. They took an over view survey of the farm then focussed on provision for courses and course participants, with the renovated barn as a focus.

Presentation by course participants: Mark, Karma, Jack, Marianne and Monica

Coming soon! Presentation three: Blue Sky group… looking at the wider farm, its vision and purpose unconstrained by shorter term limitations. (am still editing this one and hope to have it up in the next few days)

Presentation by Cwm Harry Staff member Julie and Lucy, supported by Sector39 members Grace and Martin.

There is a fuller piece about the PDC design process on the Cwm Harry Skill bblog

Please Circulate + Stop Press + General interest: Permaculture News

First Full Permaculture Design Course to be held at Moelyci, a community owned farm in North Wales

View at Henbant farm, one of the places we will be visiting on the PDC

View at Henbant farm, one of the places we will be visiting on the PDC

Moelyci, the 390 acre hill farm in North Wales was saved from development as a holiday park by the local community to help preserve its rich cultural and ecological heritage and established as a centre for conservation and environmental excellence in 2003.

Recently they have teamed up with Cwm Harry, an environmental service and training provider from Mid Wales to expand the vision of Moelyci to encompass Environment, Education and Enterprise as its core mission statement.

The first potential tenant in this new partnership and with the intention of developing a coherent framework for sharing and building on its core message is the Sector39 permaculture design team. Permaculture is a well-established and rapidly-maturing design approach informed and driven by the application of a deep understanding of both ecology and community.  Steve Jones and Sector39 have delivered numerous permaculture courses and built a reputation as one of the leading permaculture teaching groups around.

Sector39, Cwm Harry and the UK Permaculture Association are currently collaborating to develop the North Wales Permaculture Academy. We want to extend the provision of permaculture education, to create opportunities for volunteers and internships as well as for long term research and demonstration. The potential for collaboration with the community owned farm is vast, with its organic horticulture business, allotments, upland grazing and community composting facility, green wood working and more, the possibilities for innovation and collaboration are endless. We intend to use a series of permaculture design courses to help shape and deliver this aspiration.

A permaculture design course equips you with a practical design approach to attempt complex problems. It is the way in to systems thinking, a frame work for collaboration and it is the best tool-kit we have to facilitate a rapid transition to a re-localised, low-carbon and resilient economy. Completing this course is a powerful step in one’s own personal transition, putting convictions into practice, to bring about positive change and to become an active part of the solution.

We are looking for people who want to be part of the process, to help shape the Academy and build productive links with Moelyci and the surrounding community, whilst gaining practical skills, knowledge and connections at the same time.

Course fee is £600, however a discounted price of £490 is available for early bird bookers on low income (<£18k).

This includes camping accommodation, food, field trips, practicals and certification. The Permaculture Design Certificate is an international recognised qualification, authorised by the Permaculture Association.

Find out more about this and other courses at:

Follow @misterjones2u @cwmharry

Links for Llanrhaeadr PDC group

Three must watch videos that reference the discussions we had on the 3/6 PDC Weekend in Llanrhaeadr

Returning astronaut often experience a profoud shift in conciousness as a result of lloking back at planet earth from outside, it has been called the overview effect

This is the biochar video, and documents the story of the lost civilization of the Amazonas and how they made the poor forest soils fertile.

I should add that at 49.20 a second, sort documentary starts.. on the subject of biochar. This is well worth watching also, as it explores the potential implications and possibilities of using biochar.

Brilliant video illustrating the potentials of decentralised energy generation, co-generation and integrated energy grids. This is essential watching in getting a basic understating of localised energy and its potentials.

Everyone should do a permaculture design course!

Well I would say that I guess, but anyone who is serious about living responsibly and sustainably needs this information. We live in troubled and confusing times, there is a lot of good infomation out there, but it is buried in an avalanche of the irrelavent, banal and half truths and lies that comprises the content of our media. Permaculture cuts to the chase… and is a system of understading built on observations of nature itself… that anyone can see.

Basically Permaculture is the understanding of how to live on this planet sustainably. It touches on many disciplines, but can only go to a certain depth in the time allowed. It is relevant for anyone who is interested in sustainability and it gives you a new and fresh view on how it all works.

Here is some feedback I received from someone who has just completed the course we ran in Llandrindod.

“I really wanted to take a moment to thank you for the whole experience. I hoped that I would learn about Permaculture doing the course, but hadn’t anticipated being changed so much, and so positively. I truly feel I now view the world differently. Thank you for being part of that.”

We look at natural systems and what it is about them that makes them productive and self sustaining. Forests, soils, water.. the basic building blocks of life.. then we look at how to apply that understanding to things that we make, or design.. homes, gardens, business, community. Permaculture gives you a design framework of how to turn ideas and aspirations into a reality, whilst remaining true to the guiding principles and ethics of sustainability.

There is a chance to look in more depth at organic gardening, and forest gardening, renewable energy, green building, community building and cooperatives etc.. and we will explain the basic theory behind all of these things plus we will take you places where you can see these ideas in action.

We will be based on a Shropshire farm, who are struggling with escalating food and fuel costs and thinking about where the future of food production might lie.. and hopefully visiting Ford Hall Farm, in Shropshire, which was probably the first deliberately organic farm in the UK. It is not all about farming and gardening at all, but these are obvious applications of the ideas. I am personally very involved with a community garden project in Newtown, on an indistrial estate behind a compost factory, and we will have a chance to visit there as well.
For many years I have been going on about how permaculture is about so much more than food and gardening.. which of course it is.. but at the end of the day food and energy are such important issues and with Peak Oil and Climate Change as global issues looming over us it is increasingly apparent that how we produce and distribute food is going to have to change to massively so that it will affect all of us.
It also just so happens that the first National Permaculture gathering for Wales in happening on the middle weekend, on a small holding nearby to where we will be, so we will be attending that one day event, which will be a great chance to network and meet up with permaculture practitioners from all over the area. That should be a real treat.. and the venue itself is a very interesting place.

There are still places available on our May course.. which is set to be a ground breaking and un missable event, so please do get in touch!