Monday, 7 April 2014

The LAND Project Goes Global

by Louise Cartwright 
former LAND network coordinator at the Permaculture Association 

The success of the Learning and Demonstration Network (LAND) project in England has seen interest from other European countries in replicating the LAND model. Permakultur Danmark is the first European country to proactively adopt the LAND concept and as such has received a year’s revenue funding from the Danish Ministry of Environment through the Puljen for Grønne Ildsjæle project. The intention is to create a fomalised permaculture network made up of ‘LAND Centres’ and ‘LAND Starters’. This year the Network Coordinator Cathrine (Cat) Dolleris and the Permakultur Danmark Board of Trustees aim to launch the LAND network with 3 LAND Centres or Starters, an online map of permaculture projects, an active group visit scheme as well as host a variety of events and gatherings across Denmark. Cat currently works part-time and the Danish Permaculture Association consists of several committed volunteers. As the Network Coordinator for the LAND project during the initial phase I was contacted by the Permaculture Association to help launch the LAND project in Denmark, I literally jumped at the chance to see the LAND project go global!

At the end of February, I held a 2½ day weekend workshop in Copenhagen to help launch the LAND project in Denmark. During the workshop I gave an overview of the permaculture design process, explained the methodology for assessing LAND applicants and facilitated discussions centred on the future development of the Danish Permaculture network. The training took place in Den Grønne Dal a beautiful venue used for yoga and meditation retreats located approx. 3 miles from the centre of Copenhagen. The training was very well attended; we were expecting 16 people and were pleasantly surprised when 21 people arrived mostly via bike using Copenhagen’s enviable and extraordinary bicycle lanes. We adopted a ‘more the merrier approach’, which made the venue quite cosy with some people lying on yoga mats and others perched on an assortment of seats.

When designing the workshop I was presented with a fundamental problem. Practically doing something is very different to teaching someone how to do it. In an attempt to solve this I designed the 2½ days using one of my favourite permaculture design techniques - stacking. Many of the participants had travelled from all over Denmark, one person caught a flight and a ferry to get to the venue on time, which is a big ask for a room full of environmentalists. As such I made sure that all participants got a feel for assessing and supporting real life projects, by including two project assessment visits into the programme. The first project Lev Baeredygtigt which translated literally means ‘living sustainably’ is a privately owned company run by Mira Illeris and Esben Schultz. Mira and Esben are establishing a forest garden at the Svanholm community where they both live and have planted 0.4ha of trees as well as 500m² of shrubs with an array of ground covers. The second project Byhaven 2200 is an open community garden, located in the middle of Nørrebroparken, near Stefansgade in Copenhagen. The project aims to show alternative ways of using and relating to public spaces in the city including parks and other green areas. These project visits had multiple benefits. Firstly they allowed participants to get a feel for how to assess LAND applicants, secondly participants were able to comment on how the process could be improved and thirdly two out of the three target projects were assessed during the workshop.

By the end of the weekend everyone knew what their roles were, had contributed to the vision and wider purpose of the Danish Permaculture Network and realised that a successful Association and grass roots movement is based on a committed and supportive membership base with an active network. They also understood the procedures associated with the UK LAND project, had practical experience of LAND site assessments and contributed to the wider scheme of work for the Danish Permaculture Association. As the former Network Coordinator of the LAND project coordinated by the Permaculture Association it was so exciting for me to lead a workshop which helped coordinators in another country adopt the LAND concept, adapt it and make it their own. To be part of this process was both a privilege as well as a learning experience. During the weekend many friends were met, alliances forged, events planned and much pickled herring consumed! Hopefully this workshop will be a catalyst for more Danish communities to adopt a permaculture design approach in their gardens, schools, parks and public spaces. Next action on the agenda LAND Wales and then the world!

Louise Cartwright works part-time as the Mid Wales Development Worker for the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, she also works as a self-employed horticultural trainer, facilitator and holds permaculture workshops across Wales. To get in touch with her please click here.

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