|I didn't talk about it much under the News section of South London Permaculture, so I thought it appropriate to show a bunch of images that resulted from the recent design course. I am sure you will agree, they highlight well the spirit of permaculture. It was our intention that for every weekend we would plant a single tree at a different location. Not only
does this act as a mnemonic device, in fact it reminded me what students turned up during those weekends, but it allows a special moment when all the students may like to return one day, maybe 20 years down the line, and say that they were here. During the first weekend we popped over to a friend's home of one of our volunteers. As part of a thankyou for her help I donated one of my grafted apple trees,
variety Devonshire Crimson Queen on M27 rootstock, into the rather small front graden of her Walter Segal house. It was a good day to get out and see the various eco principles in practice, including the proposed location for a new orchard as part of the group design. See the above-right images to view the proposed design and the marking out of contour lines (canes) indicated as long black lines. As this first weekend
was themed around patterns we had a deep discussion on the nature of grafting and whether we thought it was a natural process, since most bought fruit trees are grafted so. The second weekend saw the planting of a mulberry tree on the railway embankment at the back of my house. An area once unproductive with weeds has turned into a veritable forest garden, mulberry being special to my tastes. As the weekend was themed around life processes we looked at composting,
and dug out the planting hole for the tree at a location earlier prepared with the burying of bokashi compost. The removed soil was used for the creation of seed balls into which meadow and drought-resistant grass seed was installed. The third week can be seen depicted above, with the planting of a fig tree at the nature reserve. In view of making nature friendly to people it is the current policy of Lewisham
to really open her up as a kids educational resource. The fig tree in 20 years time will be something everybody wants in their gardens. As it goes, this weekend focused upon earth, and the soil analysis we made by digging a pit we eventually lined with paving slabs - the perfect conditions if you want to get your fig to fruit early on.
||So, we were now in December and after the recent downpours it was only appropriate to base the teaching on water. For this planting I combined the weekend with some volunteering. As I have a heart for the London Wildlife Centre in Peckham, and since the location was reccomended the weekend before, it was only right that we should end there. Dressing
up as the Green Man, I entertained the children for a while. My co-tutor took the students into the quietness of the glasshouse whilst I orated a story to the kids, which I had only written that morning. Entitled Down E. Birch (see Personal & Holistic for other design related stories) there was no better tree to plant other than a potted birch that
lives on the river's edge. Fate was in my hands that weekend, because it was the only downy birch available in my search across London, and it was reduced in price. Approaching the last weekend before Christmas we were now onto air. Finishing at the community project on the allotments there could only be one tree in the running - monkey puzzles. Originating from the maritime climate of the Andes in Chile, and ideally suited to Britain, it occurred to me afterwards that we were looking at our
Christmas tree. Such a wonderful unconsciously-motivated idea to know that we now have an evergreen, as depicted above, for all our yuletide gatherings. But of course the tree has practical value too; its nuts are one of the most delicious you can imagine. We may have to wait 30 years, but so what - a tree is for life. So what did we do for the last weekend before the students could have a break to work on their designs? We looked at the community orchard again, in fact we had used it numerous times,
and decided that the only tree appropriate, signifying native hedging (a predominant theme of our orchard), was the firethorn. Otherwise known as pyracantha with its prickly thorns we just so happened to have Time Out doing an interview piece 1.68mb. Unfortunately they misquoted the tree as an apple but ironically it did bring the circle full round back to the beginning. As you may agree, fire is very symbolic, and in this case I used it to illustrate spirit and power. As a design tool
it can be very powerful, the sixth weekend returning the design process back to pattern language and, coincidentally, the first weekend.