Permaculture courses

Much is planned for the coming year, kicking off with a 6 weekend PDC at RISC Reading. Sector39, our teaching partnership began from work done in 2002-5 in Reading at RISC, on the roof garden and in Wales at Chickenshack housing co-op from 1995. These two project gave us experience and insight enough to begin teaching our selves. So it is perfect to be back in Reading at the end of this month to offer a full PDC at RISC and in the garden

Permaculture course advert RISC 2017

Sector39 are also planning to offer full residential camping course in Mid Wales in the village of Llanrhaeadr, home to Dragons Co-operative.

Permaculture design courses for 2017 from Sector39

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.



Full Permaculture Design Certificate courses, Autumn/ Winter 2016-17


Sector39 are taking bookings for two full PDC’s running over the coming autumn/ winter period. An intensive, residential course in the Mid Wales hills with cmping or bunkhouse accommodation, in the second half of September

The 6 part course, runs every other weekend spread over three months, at RISC Reading, start in January.

Please get in touch to find out more about these fantastic opportunites to study permaculture and make connections and contacts to help you in your own ambitions. Studying permaculture is a big step towards a saner and more rewarding life, building solutions and responses to the challenges of the modern world.

£600/ £450 for the residential course (low price for those on <£18k pa)

or £225 for the 6 part course in Reading

A deposit is required to secure a place, please see the booking form

Sector39 return to RISC in Reading next spring

Introduction to permaculture design

19-Mar-2016 9:00 AM – 20-Mar-2016 5:00 PM

Location: Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC)

Before we can “save the world” we have to save ourselves. Well we have to at least start with ourselves because that is the part of the universe we have the greatest control and influence over!

Led by Steve Jones from Sector 39, these 2 days, at RISC are designed to be the start of your permaculture journey. Packed with information, new ideas and rich with opportunity to develop your own thinking and personal goals.

This 2 day event is part of a build up to a full Permaculture Design Course in Reading commencing January 2017(6 full weekends at RISC and one optional extra weekend/ field trip to Mid Wales)

Advance booking is essential for this event, min one month.  For more information including how to book, go to

Sector39 is led by Steve Jones supported by a network of permaculture tutors, practitioners, artisans, community growers and activists. Together we have been working with permaculture designing landscapes, running educational courses and developing projects since 1995.

Sector39 is based in Mid Wales UK.

Lacto fermentation workshop at RISC, 7 March 2015 3-5 pm

This 2 hour, lively and fun, practically based workshop will be led by Annie Levy who writes this blog.

lactofermentation workshop

lactofermentation workshop

Annie has a great enthusiasm and insight into the subject of food preservation using biological methods. What starts as sauerkraut opens up a whole new world of possibilities, sour dough, kombucha and so much more. It is workshop that has the potential to change your relationship with food forever as you start to see it as something alive, biological and with many more potentials for flavour, nutrition and preservation.

We are offering this session as part of the 6 part Permaculture design Course we are currently running at RISC and thought it would be an ideal opportunity to open it up to outside parties to make the most out of having Annie here from her home in Wales and to broaden the groups and the discussions we are having around the course and the issues it raises.

It will run from 3-5 on Saturday March 7th at RISC in the conference facility there. Ideally contact me in advance so we can manage numbers.


Press release for the Reading PDC

Dear Radio Berkshire,

I would love to tell you more about the permaculture design course I am running at RISC in the New year, I believe it will be of great interest to your listeners.

In 2002-5 I was instrumental in building the now fully established roof top forest garden on the RISC centre at 39 London Street Reading. This is a garden system modelled on the principles of ecology and it has created an abundant and beautiful landscape that needs little maintenance and is highly productive. It is a great example of working with permaculture design and this winter I will be returning to run a series of 6 weekends teaching the broader principles of permaculture and showing how to use this powerful design system for yourself.

Permaculture is the fastest growing, most vital and energetic grass roots movement around. Permaculture is a design system which 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.

Permaculture design, often taught via a peer to peer learning process is a complete syllabus on sustainability, It shows you how to become an active part of the solution, is empowering and life enhancing. It is the panacea to the gloom and doom of the present day and an important part of the mechanism that will allow us to turn this destructive ship around to build the kind of World system we might all want to be part of.

Globalisation is proving to be a massive failure, finance and banking system have arguably become a massive global fraud, Western economies are suffocating under unmanageable levels of debt and the fragile biosphere of the planet is suffering from collapsing biodiversity, soil erosion, lowering water tables and deforestation. This massive degradation we are inflicting on the physical environment will have potentially disastrous and far reaching consequences. 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. Economic growth at all costs is the mantra, even when it benefits increasingly few and at an ever greater cost to the natural world.

Permaculture is a grass roots, bottom-up design process which attempts to address all of these issues.. it focuses 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.

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.

Places are limited, prices flexible according to income, and include all core costs, certification, field trips etc. There are two intern places available at cost only, in return for a commitment to volunteer and contribute to sector39 and on this or future courses.

I would be more than happy to make myself available for interview to discuss this or any of the matters it raises.



TSW Jones
Permaculture courses, landscapes and design
Ty Cornel, Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant, Powys
SY10 0JW. 0771 981 8959

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

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.

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.


By Ian Watt, for Sector39

Greening the city at RISC

Greening the city at RISC

You don’t have to move to the country to be part of the transition to a sustainable way of life. The city is full of opportunities too – as you can see at RISC where a bare roof has been transformed into a forest garden with an abundance of food plants, medicinal herbs, flowers, bees, birds to create a relaxing, biodiverse and productive space. Now in its 9th year, the RISC roof garden is fantastic example of an urban sustainability initiative and it serves as an excellent working example of what is possible.

You can find out about the ecological principles behind the roof garden and how they can be applied to any situation on 24th September 2011 when Steve Jones of the Sector39 permaculture design partnership, co-designer and builder of the garden, will be giving a one-day presentation and workshop on urban permaculture at RISC, London street Reading. Steve is an inspirational teacher and has a wealth of practical experience of ecological projects in Zimbabwe and the UK, including the amazing Cwm Harry community garden developed on a disused parking lot on an industrial estate in Newtown, Powys.

When you understand and observe these principles in every day life you will be able to work with any land you can access – whether its the edge around a school playing field, a tiny garden, a car park, wasteland, a disused industrial site…. these insights couldn’t be more useful and timely for individuals and communities facing up the challenges posed by peak oil and resource depletion and as part of the wider transition to more sustainable practices.

More details on the Sector39 website.