by Nicola Bell, Membership Coordinator, The Permaculture Association
|Eastern Region Network designing a mandala garden|
Welcome to the first of a series of posts of tips and advice for setting up and growing a local permaculture group. We want to make sure that you are able to connect with permaculture happening where you are, and that your community can benefit from the practical solutions it offers.
We aim to develop and FAQ to support emerging groups based on advice given by existing local networks, so if you have an established group, please contribute your experiences and knowledge here!
Why form a local permaculture group?
Permaculture is all about learning how to design homes, communities, businesses and food-systems that promote fairness, well-being, ecosystem health and that have little impact on our planet and it's resources.
Creating a permaculture network helps to disseminate knowledge and skills relevant to your region, and also provides a way to pool resources together and implement positive changes within your community.
Being a part of the permaculture network has helped me to understand the tools that are available a lot more - individuals cannot usually change the world on their own, but communities can, by sharing knowledge, skills, time, understanding and support. I would not have contemplated doing the diploma without the support of my fellow permies. - Ann Laken, Permaculture Association member and Diploma Holder
Permaculture networks and groups come in many different sizes and shapes, and their activities and profile vary widely. Some meet up chiefly to share knowledge and support each with their projects and progress on the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design, others coordinate local permablitz days, and some won't meet face to face, but use social media to support each other and communicate their regional permaculture news. All are important and strengthen permaculture work in the UK.
As a first step, it's helpful to know if there is an existing local network near you, or if not, who is in the area that might like to start one. Permaculture Association members can contact the office to connect with other members in their locality, so if you'd like to know who's close by, just drop me an email. We also list Group Members within our members newsletter, which is another great way to find out what's happening in your region. Click here if you'd like to join and receive 'Permaculture Works'.
You may also find that there is a permaculture demonstration site, or LAND Centre, nearby. Take a look at the LAND map to see which is closest to you. It is worth getting in contact to see if you can visit your nearest sites; it's a really inspiring way to engage with local permaculture.
|Children in the orchard - The Apricot Centre, Essex|
“The Apricot centre is listed as a LAND centre in Essex and will be also listed in Devon once the new farm project starts at Huxhams cross Farm near Totnes. This network of farms and holdings, buildings and people builds communities, People often tell me how they feel isolated from other like minded people, especially in areas such as Essex where we are spread thinly on the ground! The LAND network gives people the opportunity to see what is going on in any area, give you a call and visit, they often then give me news from other sites and places they have visited. Sometimes they come back and volunteer or sign up for a course. " - Marina O'Connell of The Apricot Centre, Essex
If you find that a distinct hub of permaculture activity doesn't seem to have developed near you yet, don't be disheartened - this is a great opportunity to start something special! We want to help you make it happen.
We can help you circulate your ideas about starting a permaculture group to local members. Once you've reached a consensus about forming a group, try and come up with a name which represents your region, or bio-region. Let us know, so that we can signpost others to you.
Mailing groups, twitter, forums and facebook are all useful/free ways to stay in contact with your group members, engage more and keeping momentum going. Think about setting one or two of these up to keep everyone in the loop while you think about the exciting ways you can work together to enhance your community with permaculture!
Next time – What sort of group are you? More ways to promoting your group, finding a venue, and some activities to get started!
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