Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Permaculture Association Research Advisory Board Annual Meeting

by Tom Hughes 
Crops & Agroforestry Research Technician and member of the RAB

December 2nd 2013 – Hope, Derbyshire
The research crew! From left to Right: Chris,
 the Association's Research Coordinator with Nicola, Cat, Louise, Tom and Jon
This post is mainly going to be about ‘Permaculture Science’ and how the Research Advisory Board (RAB) at the Permaculture Association is accelerating to make it happen. 

The 2013 RAB meeting is about to start!
 On Monday the 2nd of December in Hope, Derbyshire, this year’s annual meeting was held by both the Diploma programme and the RAB. I attended as a relatively new member of the board and stayed just one night, but for some it was a 4-day event! It was a busy day, there was a great deal to talk about as the group is rapidly growing, and so much has been accomplished in the last year.

Ed Sears and Chris Warburton Brown began by giving us all a grand welcome and overview of permaculture research in 2013; I had no idea that so many avenues were being explored! Next there were a series of engaging presentations on research projects that have been carried out by Tom Kemeny, Nichola Graham, Louisa Tipping, Jon Warmington, and Cat Richards (AKA the Research Interns at the Association). I’m just going to talk briefly about Jon’s Forest Garden Research Project, because I just do not have time to cover them all! Sorry! 
Jon’s been working on the Forest Gardens Research Project, a project which is already helping forest gardeners to evaluate and improve their activities and management practises and to cultivate our knowledge surrounding temperate FG’s. Still in the early stages of the project, Jon has been travelling all over the UK surveying numerous FG systems and finding out what the common concerns and key questions that people have, that way Jon and the team can focus their efforts in the most effective and widely useful way possible. It’s shaping up to be a great project – and is one of (if not the) first extensive, well-documented, and organised surveys of Forest Gardens in the UK.

Another very active member of the board, Ed Sears, has been making excellent progress in 2013 building the scientific evidence base for Permaculture amongst academics, policy-makers, and practitioners alike. If you’re attending the Tyndall Centre Radical Emissions Reduction Conference in Oxford (18-19th Dec) then you will get a chance to attend his presentation on his recent work as a true Permaculture Ambassador! 

It was a hugely productive day, with lots of decisions made for not just for 2014 strategy, but for the long-term research strategy. Chris did a great job of keeping us all under control; we all had so much to say and so little time, it took some real organising to keep the agenda running smoothly. 

Here’s a little end note:
Permaculture science, not a phrase that’s used much, by anyone (even Ed), yet science underpins much of the thinking behind the principles that we all know and love. So one of the central objectives of the RAB is to disseminate relevant scientific information in order to facilitate a greater collective understanding and knowledge of natural and agricultural systems within and without the Permaculture community, and so lead to better practice and results for all!

Thanks very much for reading!

Tom Hughes
Crops & Agroforestry Research Technician – Organic Research Centre
Wakelyns Agroforestry, Suffolk

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