London Permaculture Gathering

Cecil Sharp House, Regents Park, 29th July I was introduced to South London Permaculture this year at the Pullen's festival, as both Merlyn and I were offering workshops in the Permaculture area.

It was great to then link up with Merlyn to run a stall at the London Permaculture Festival at Cecil Sharp House and show case some of the food growing/production that we do.

Merlyn had a small selection of the produce from his farm in Spain; with bottles of the very wonderful Bum Bum olive oil, almond oil samples and carob. I had a selection of vegetables like tomato, sweet corn, leeks and herbs from my small ( portable) container garden in South London and between us we had a steady crowd of people showing an interest in what we do. I was really pleased at how people warmed to the simple honest approach that we offered, showcasing two very different styles of growing in radically different environments but both embracing the wisdom of Permaculture principals.

There will be opportunities later in the year for members to travel to Merlyn's farm in Spain for the olive harvest and to volunteer with other tasks around the farm. So if you want to learn more about Permaculture or put your training into practice on a commercial scale, then please apply via the South London Permaculture website and I hope to see you there. TINSEL

There was an auspicious feel about this year. When I was asking wondering what to do at this yearís event I waited for inspiration since I knew I didnít have much oil for sale. In fact you can see in the pictures that what remained to me were samples retailing at £2 each. As usual I was flying about everywhere organising everything. I checked the carobs and took out the best, through a bunch more in the dishwasher (without the soap), borrowed a small coffee grinder (and broke itóthe second time), spent a mini fortune on library printing, (although I found a great printers who gave me a deal in the end, and that is the only way you are going to discover the best options), brought a few bottles of home-made elderflower champagne, a priceless bottle of hand-pressed almond oil, threw a guitar in, rang my friend for a bunch of plastic flowers just so I would be able to create some presence, and then waited for my volunteer. I went with the flow, and so I didnít have time to pick up the flowers, but when I decided to collect Tinsel in my van because for the first time in months it absolutely pissed down (typical permaculture weather), I discovered a potted oasis in her front garden. Her tomatoes were the star of the show.

As usual 2 cakes for entry (compliments of our volunteer) and a steady turn-up as the air was electrified by the rain. For once I attended a couple of workshops, one on keeping hens in the city as chickens bopped from lap to lap, and a beekeeping workshop which, at first, I threatened to walk out on although it improved when I realized that the theme was natural beekeeping and this wasnít going to be just about how emotional bees are towards their owner. (The story is in my latest book) I obviously could have run the workshop myself but I was fascinated by the only permaculturefriendly hive design by Kevin Hancock in existence that doesnít disturb bee colonies. (See over for photo) It mimics a tree stump but where one would normally attach supers on top of a hive to collect honey from, this was innovative in that holes at the top of the box aligned with entry holes on appendages that look like bird boxes. The holes are plugged when not in use and the honey boxes stored away.

There was a wealth of information here; as for chickens that will have to wait on my farm although there are a multitude of institutions to give advice and to take in orphaned hens too. See the LPF website for a listing of workshops and contacts.

Thanks again to Tinsel (we go back a few years) but an event like this would not be complete without the champagne distributed amongst old friends and a few songs off the guitar, and a bit of gallivanting on the side. MPX