GATHERINGS


This can be the most rewarding of all the activities. Not only does it give something back to the volunteers who participate but it is an opportunity to make an extended stay somtimes, get to know what else is going on before all the punters arrive, attend the small enclaves and parties that happen before and after the main event, get stuff at reduced rates, contribute to free and have-a-go socials, and sometimes even get paid. Word of mouth quickly spreads if you are doing something unique or special and so often one will find that volunteers are essential if you are to keep the wheels on the road. When one considers the extortionate prices of some of the events an environmental festival always tops the bill for fun and entertainment, commaraderie, learning, safety, good food, diversity, health and nurture, and personal development. I tend to find that once you start your own thing, maybe some green woodworking or cob oven building, and you get volunteers to join in, one is glued to your spot so much so that I have little time for much else that is going on. Anyhow, the thing to remember is that it is important not to stretch oneself as I did for many years trying to do everything. I ended up making a decision to pack it all in since I didn't have the volunteer base anymore to take the reins.

The first six rows show never-before published pictures of the permaculture convergence at Braziers around the new millennium. Some very iconic figures like Andy Langford, Mike Feingold, Chris & Looby Macnamara and a few others were all art of that early stage in Britain when permaculture was getting its footing. Following that are a few pictures from Dial House in Essex which is now a permaculture centre but formery an anachist base. At this teacher's meeting these are the sought of workshops one is expected to encounter at environmental gatherings. Next comes Hainault Forest Peace Garden in east London, probably one of the best permaculture volunteer centres in Britain which at the time had received substantial development funds. I tacked on a couple of photos from Ru Litherfords's OrganicLea which is now a thriving market garden. Along with Growing Communities are probably carrying the flag for permaculture in East London. Likewise in the north the Naturewise crew in the following pictures are here showing how to hedge lay taught by Crispin the forrester from north London. Naturewise are quite spread out now but the hub of much of their activities was based at Crouch End and the Rachel MacMillan school nursery. Back out of London to Hill Holt woods where the Permaculture Association had a gathering in 2004. When I look back I remember lost opportunities to live and work on site learning the green woodworking skills from it training centre and sustainable woodlands in and around Nottingham. This was during its developmental phase in which it was beginning to lead the way into sustainable livelihoods for forestry work. Following that is the Permaculture Association AGM we had at their office in Leeds in 2004. Sharing the grounds with BTCV the potential for workshops and convergences was identified only later. As you can see this was more of an internal affair. To note here is Aranya's diploma accreditation for which I was witness to. Then we areback in London and there is a subtle transference of images here. Note the Spike project which was one of the best squat communities around. Unfotunately the site has now been flattened but in its hey day it provided free yoga, gardening and permaculture, live performances, accomodation for ecoactivists and comfort for asylum seekers, a printery; on reflection just a wonderful example of self-organisation. To end then, I go a bit more mainstream and show some images of the fantastic Tinker's Bubble in Norton sub Hamdom which I refer to in my books. See Forest Gardening - A Natural Critique also or buy my book The Carob Pod: An Anthropological Guide to Permaculture available at the market. To continue, there are some landscape images of the Schumacher college in Devon that provides much education on the spirituaity of the land. One can also find Michael Crawford's Agroforestry Research Trust within a stone's throw (following). Lastly there is Tony Wrench's Brthdaw Maw, Wales which recently won planning permission after years of protest.

There are many more places I have passed in my travels who blow their own horn, not least the Bishopswood Centre that provides high-quality education in green technologies, the Centre of Alternative Technologies (CAT), Coed Hills near Cardiff that started as an environmental arts centre making yurts and is now a thriving permaculture. Try also the Greenwood Centre in Telford, also New Barn where we held a permaculture convergence; all of these places are gathering sites for likeminded people and provide ready-made facilities for conferences, convergences, festivals and educational retreats.


Courses

Guerilla gardening
Backgarden permaculture
Spanish permaculture
Cob building
Green wood
Children
Gathering centres
Habitat surveying

Volunteering