Convergence 2019 Programme
We've had many fantastic workshop contributions - you can see all confirmed sessions below.
The schedule is available here (subject to change).
The educators meeting takes place on Thursday 5 September, for anyone involved or interested in educating others in permaculture, regnerative practice, or related areas.
Everyday herbalism - harnessing the power of plants for health and well-being
Alys will be giving a wide ranging talk on the history and growing of plant based medicine for every day heath and well-being, with a particular reference to polyculture systems.
Gardener, writer and presenter, Alys writes a weekly gardening column for The Guardian Weekend Magazine and is well-known for presenting BBC's Gardener's World and her own series, The Edible Garden.
Alys has published many books, including The Edible Garden, The Thrifty Gardener, and her new book A Modern Herbal is out now.
No Dig Gardening in all spaces from allotments to market gardens
How to grow abundant food year round using methods that work with nature and protect soil life. This talk explains how to create no dig edible gardens and the many benefits, including fewer weeds, less work and healthy plants and soil. We produce over £25,000 of veg from 1/4 acre.
Steph is an award winning author, organic no dig kitchen gardener, speaker, writer and plantbased cook. She writes monthly features for Kitchen Garden magazine and regularly for Permaculture Magazine and other publications. Stephanie is a great advocate for small-scale homesteading wherever you live and is known for her many practical tips and expert gardening advice.
BRIGIT STRAWBRIDGE HOWARD
Dancing with Bees: the importance of bee diversity, and their relationships with flowering plants
Planet Earth is home to over 20,000 species of bees, whose relationships with flowering plants have been adapting and evolving for approximately 100 million years. Brigit will explain the basic differences between honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees, and talk about the fascinating and often enchanting behaviour of some of her favourite species. She will also speak about the problems bees and other insects face, and how you can help them.
Brigit Strawbridge Howard is a bee advocate, wildlife gardener, and amateur naturalist. Brigit writes, speaks, and campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of native wild bees and other pollinating insects. She lives in North Dorset with her husband, Rob.
Introducing 'From What Is to What If': an interactive imaginative immersion
Rob will introduce his forthcoming book which explores the importance of imagination and why it is that at a time that demands us to be at our most imaginative, we instead find ourselves in a time of such imaginative poverty. He will explore the power of ‘what if’ stories, rich with examples of imagination taking power. You will leave with your imagination reignited, recharged and refocused.
Co-founder of the Transition Movement, Rob has been researching imagination for his new book out soon, From What Is to What If. Read more about his work on his blog robhopkins.net, and at transitionnetwork.org.
Extinction or Emergence? Permaculture & Climate Change
We face an unprecedented climate emergency. Do scientists have all the facts about the potential for carbon sequestration in food forests, forest gardens, biointensive systems, and marine permaculture arrays? I would contend ‘No’ – the dissemination of solutions is not fully focussed on or even known – and this affects both our collective behaviours and our psychology.
How can we build resilience: in our heads as well as in our communities? What tools and strategies do we need need to be the wolves that lead and hold the vision for a better world rather than the rabbits that are dazzled by the problems?
We will explore all of this and more in this session.
Author and editor of Permaculture Magazine, Maddy is a passionate promoter of permaculture solutions and a wealth of knowledge on the subject. This year's convergence won't be the first time that Alys and Maddy have been in the same place at the same time - in 2010 The Edible Garden series visited the Harland's forest garden in Hampshire for an introduction to permaculture.
Mother Nature project
The Mother Nature project is a funded 2 year project with the Permaculture Association as one of the partners. We have collaboratively produced a card deck and guidebook with a set of principles to support mothers on their personal transformation journey, realigning with their life path and connecting to nature. Come and find our how these principles can support your journey as a mother. Babies and children welcome.
Looby Macnamara is author of People and Permaculture, 7 Ways to Think Differently and Strands of Infinity. She is a pioneer of personal and social permaculture, which has now evolved into the Cultural Emergence toolkit. Looby lives with her family on a 20 acre smallholding in the UK, which is run as an education and demonstration centre; Applewood Permaculture Centre.
An across-the-board re-think
To put the world to rights we need to re-think food and farming from first principles – which means must establish “Enlightened Agriculture” (“Real Farming”) as the global norm. Agroecology is at the heart of Enlightened Agriculture and permaculture is a prime exemplar of agroecology.
But we cannot install the kind of farming we need unless we have an appropriate economy, we will not develop an appropriate economy unless we organize our affairs differently; we will not do any of what really needs doing unless we re-define our aims in life, adopt appropriate science and address all the fundamental questions that belong in the realm of metaphysics. In other words: we need agroecology including permaculture but to achieve either or both we need to re-think everything else as well.
Reaching the mainstream with video
Huw will be participating in a conversation about the realities of taking permaculture to a more mainstream audience around the world. Joining the discussion will be Morag Gamble (Australia) and Matt Powers (West coast USA).
Huw runs the hugely successful YouTube channel Huws Nursery. Huw has been growing his own organic, sustainable food in his family's garden for over 15 years and is now on a mission to help people grow their own vegetables abundantly, easily and inexpensively. He has just published his first book Veg in One Bed.
GROW Observatory presents...
From soil-sensing communities to finding the best local planting times, the GROW Observatory is an ambitious EC citizen's observatory project. It connects growers with scientists specialising in satellites, in soils, and in agroecology to improve our collective knowledge. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 690199. The Permaculture Association is a key partner.
Citizen science, soils, permaculture and GROWing
Lots of free resources and tools have been created by the GROW Observatory - find out how you can benefit in this workshop.
Permaculture site mapping with simple observations, smartphones and low-cost sensors
Dr Naomi van der Velden
A 2 hour practical hands-on workshop introducing simple tools and technology for ecological site mapping. Mapping can promote a better understanding of your site, whether you've recently acquired it or have been using it for years. Such maps are often a foundation for permaculture designs and site planning. In this workshop you'll learn to use your own senses, your smartphone (if you have one) and some low-cost equipment to take key measurements and map your site.
As well as trying everything out during the workshop, all participants will receive a worksheet with full instructions for later use.
Getting your hands dirty: citizen soil science from the GROW Observatory
Dr Naomi van der Velden
An opportunity to learn about and try out some simple but effective tests and observations to better understand your growing soils. We will introduce some of the principles of soil science and describe how we have used and investigated techniques in the GROW Observatory to balance scientific rigour and practical usability. Participants will be given the opportunity to get their hands dirty testing out the best techniques for quick soil assessments. We will discuss how the findings can be used to improve soils and food growing.
Naomi is a plant ecologist with a passion for plant communities, especially food-growing communities. Naomi has a PhD in forest ecology focusing on edge effects and regeneration and completed her Permaculture Design Course with Dr Rod Everett in 2009. Naomi has worked at the Permaculture Association since 2014, currently working as part of the GROW Observatory. She is leading the design of citizen science experiments to help gain vital evidence and promote understanding of regenerative growing practices at smaller (non-mechanised) scales. Naomi has also been a lead educator on several of the free online courses (MOOCs).
Victoria J. Burton
Earthworms play an important role in maintaining the health of the soil by improving its fertility and structure and supporting its storage of carbon. This session will cover how to survey for earthworms, identify the different ecological types and what they indicate about the soil. This activity is suitable for all ages and interest levels.
Victoria is based at the Permaculture Association (Britain) as Citizen Science Designer and Facilitator for the GROW Observatory. "I am excited by citizen science that goes beyond data collection to support participants in developing their own research around permaculture practices. I am also passionate about soil life - particularly earthworms, and am busy writing up my PhD on how soil biodiversity responds to land-use."
And there is lots more!
At this year's convergence, we'll have several streams of content running at the same time - there will always be a choice of at least 3 things to do. Over 50 workshops in total over the 3 days.
Hill End has plenty of space to host different types of activities, including presentations, practicals, and all-participant plenaries - think 300 people plotting together for a permaculture future! You can also explore the wider area with a cycle event and tour of projects.
Introduction to permaculture
Phil Pritchard of Oxford City Farm will run this hour workshop early on in the programme. All are welcome at the convergence and this workshop will give you a solid foundation to go on and learn more over the weekend. Ethics, principles, and any question answered (we'll try our best)!
Meeting our basic needs: assembling effective and resilient systems
In this interactive workshop (bring pen and paper if you can), Aranya will take permaculture back to its essence - how we design to effectively meet our basic needs. Nature does this with both efficiency and resilience, and while the principles of ecology guide us in doing both, we still need to choose and assemble the most appropriate elements for each unique context. Aranya will share his latest thoughts on how to construct and optimise our home life-support systems (food, water, energy etc.) and share other insights from his forthcoming book.
Aranya is the author of Permaculture Design – a step by step guide and has taught 90 two-week permaculture design courses over the last 15 years. He's currently close to finishing his second book, Deep Permaculture - Revealing the Patterns and Systems Thinking Behind Ecological Design. Website: Learn Permaculture.
52 Climate Actions
Chris Warburton-Brown and Sarah Cossom, Permaculture Association (Britain)
Last October’s IPCC report predicting the impact of 1.5 degrees of global warming prompted many people to ask ‘What can I actually do?’ 52 Climate Actions offers one simple answer: ‘Commit yourself to positive action right now’.
52climateactions.com is a website foregrounding tried and tested actions to tackle climate change and to promote real, positive action. We have just publicly launched the site, consisting of 52 action cards and 52 supporting web pages. These cover footprint reduction, adaptation and thinking differently.
In this talk we will introduce the project and explain its roots in permaculture, present the website, suggest how you can make use of it, and gather your feedback so we can make it even better.
How you can eat almost everything, everywhere, everyday! Jo considers foraging one of her superpowers and believes we can all have this! She has a mission to make Garden Foraging mainstream. Jo will lead a foraging walk, where everyone on the journey will be encouraged to share their knowledge and experience.
Inspired by Holmgren's RetroSuburbia. Resilience for uncertain times, a win for natural systems and a good idea anyway!
Jo has been passionately sharing this book over the last 18 months. RetroSuburbia, The Downshifter's Guide to a Resilient Future is big and brilliant. Jo has called it The Permaculture Pattern Handbook for the Home and has developed resources to help access it.
Using permaculture to engage and inspire young people in secondary education
I will be holding an hour long workshop where I share my experiences of how, starting with virtually nothing, I created and developed The Allotment Project at Reepham High School and College in rural Norfolk. This workshop will share my story, including a short film, about how is all started and the crucial importance of engaging with the parent and local community to help The Allotment Project grow into a nationally recognised school allotment project.
The potential of permaculture to improve diets: global case studies
Elizabeth Westaway and Anne-Marie Mayer
This talk will introduce the new International Permaculture and Nutrition Network, a project that is being launched this year. The presentation will highlight case studies of permaculture projects that have contributed to improving diets using a diverse set of approaches in different countries. By carrying out this analysis we hope to demonstrate the potential of permaculture to improve diets and share what information is needed to conduct effective evaluations.
Di Wood (Hammill) of Wild Harvest School of Self-Reliance
Barefoot Self-Reliance is a one hour talk based on the book, including part biog interspersed with practical demonstrations of things taught in the book such as ointment making, willow work, candle making, bee keeping, seed down fire lighting, candle making (nettle wick), and more so that the audience can be inspired to do and make more for themselves using the resources around them and also to find their voice and find the courage to make important changes.
Di was raised in an unusual upbringing for a little girl in the seventies, raised by her hippy father and soldier grandfather - her childhood necessitated learning self-reliance skills. A qualified permaculture designer (and teacher), natural beekeeper, member of the association of foragers, adult ed tutor and black belt in tae kwon do Di is asked to speak about all aspects of self reliance and natural lifestyle around the country. Her new book and talk Barefoot Self-Reliance is based on her unusual upbringing, off-grid parenting, combined with information on everything Wild Harvest teaches in their popular Self-Reliance Crafts retreats.
Jo will be outlining several parts of a bigger design that she has used to obtain ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) accreditations for business information management systems. It will be an opportunity to discuss how permaculture design can be used in an existing business to structure, improve and maintain the information management systems.
Think like a tree
Sarah Spencer's Think Like a Tree makes Social Permaculture and Inner Transition accessible to people who don't yet know about permaculture and the Transition movement. It draws on the many principles we can observe in nature that create resilience, abundance, longevity, harmony, collaboration and succession and presents them, through a design cycle, that is applicable to everything from personal health to project design to rethinking our economy.
Think Like a Tree can bridge permaculture and Transition into the mainstream and is already being used by the National Forest and the National Trust and is seeing interest from the Woodland Trust and Kew Gardens. Come and learn about a tool that can help you share permaculture to an even wider audience.
Milly holds a Permaculture Design Certificate and trained with Looby Macnamara as a facilitator of her People and Permacuture design web. She chairs Transition Marlborough, has studied horticulture and is a keen gardener. She is now working with Sarah Spencer, author of Think Like a Tree, to deliver courses and workshops and build a network of facilitators to share the natural principles we can learn from trees and bring them into our personal and organisational development.
Where next for the Permaculture Diploma?
Tomas Remiarz, Diploma Working Group
In this session, the strategy team of the Diploma Working Group will share the results of the strategic review of the Diploma, which it has carried out over the last 18 months. We will present the resulting proposals for changes to the existing systems and thoughts on future developments, and look for feedback from anyone involved with or interested in the Diploma.
Tomas Remiarz has been working as a permaculture design and trainer for over 20 years, with a focus on restoring land and communities. He has been involved with permaculture research for the last decade and is author of Forest Gardening in Practice, the first comprehensive review of forest gardens in print. For the last two years he has been involved with the strategic review of the Association's Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.
Natural flood management and its role in permaculture cooperation with a wide range of organisations
This session will look at techniques of natural flood management and how the understanding developed using permaculture principles and knowledge from around the world creates a strong platform for promoting permaculture and regenerative systems. The fruitful interaction with over 35 local organisations locally helps create a culture of cooperation where permaculture shows its strength.
The current projects with the Lune Rivers Trust connects to local farmers and large estate owners developing an awareness of soil biology, weather patterns, historic fires, mob grazing, keyline subsoiling, river hydrology and tree planting and more.
I have been working with permaculture for 35 years and farm Backsbottom Farm in Lancashire. I regularly teach Permaculture Design Courses internationally, especially in Greece. Through the impulse of permaculture and my local river I have become fascinated by water and developed a deep understanding of its flows and patterns.I am currently working on a project with the Lune Rivers Trust to work with local farmers using natural flood management to slow the flow up Roeburndale and in Lancaster. see www.riverroeburn.uk.
Bioregions and climate emergency: the Thames Headwaters bioregion forum
Laura Rival and Antony Melville
Building on Ed Tyler and James Taylor's excellent bioregion presentation at the last UK Convergence (Manchester, 2018), and the session on bioregions at the Oxford Real Farming Conference in January 2019, we wish to bring awareness to the convergence of its location in the Thames Headwaters bioregion, and in doing so provide an opportunity to connect with relevant people from the City of Oxford and its region, drawn in by the urgency of reacting to the Climate Emergency.
After an introduction to bring focus to the Climate Emergency, Laura will talk about the interaction of academic research and activist thinking on Bioregions, with a Brazilian case for comparison with the Thames Headwaters, and Antony will talk about the Thames Headwaters Bioregion Forum and exploring the use of Zones and Sectors as a framing for finding deeper solutions. This will lead into a talking-and-listening circle with 6 representatives from the Thames Headwaters, including members of Extinction Rebellion and School Strike, and Cllr Tom Hayes as the City Councillor leading the creation of the Oxford Citizens Assembly.
Laura Rival is a specialist of the Amazon who has written extensively on indigenous agroforestry/agroecology systems. She received her Permaculture Design Certificate in SÃo Paulo in 2007. She was taught by Tony Andersen and Brock Dolman. She worked in the Ecuadorian and Brazilian Amazon with the late Ali Sharif.
Antony Melville is a diploma student with Tomas Remiarz, having done PDCs both with Tomas and with Aranya; he started the Oxford Bioregion Forum in March 2018 and in the process of mapping the area, and walking up the rivers, discovered that the Bioregion was the Thames Headwaters, comprising the 7 catchments of the Upper Thames.
Engaging children in permaculture
We will explore different ways of engaging children in permaculture, from baby to adolescence, from nature play to creating food forests in schools, and building outdoor classrooms.
Come with an open mind, or a specific question as we explore the many ways we can engage children in permaculture, at home, school, after school groups and other places. Find out how the Children in Permaculture project's resources can help you - including a new book called Earth care, People care and Fair share in Education, hundreds of activities, a database of resources and much more.
Lusi has coordinated the Children in Permaculture project for the Permaculture Association (Britain) and Gatehouse Primary School in Scotland. A Forest School Leader, Human Ecologist (MSc) and permaculture practitioner and teacher, Lusi has been engaging children in permaculture for 13 years in many places including an outdoor playgroup, a children’s garden, after-school groups, and in nurseries and schools across Scotland.
Lusi has been teaching permaculture to adults since 2010, in many Permaculture Design Courses, and as a Diploma Tutor. Lusi is a co-author of the book Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share in Education: The Children in Permaculture Manual (2018).
Permaculture design, grief and beauty
Klaudia Van Gool
An interactive workshop exploring our love and grief for the state of the Earth and applying permaculture design elements to find a more beautiful way to be alive at this time.
Klaudia van Gool has followed a nature inspired path of work, whilst gathering a wide variety of tools and techniques to help bring about a regenerative world. She works with organisations, groups and individuals, using permaculture, environmental management, coaching, facilitation, deep nature connection, 8 Shields frameworks and ceremony.
Doing Hope is a workshop that supports people involved in activism and social change work to explore and learn ways to reconnect with what motivates us, renew our energy to our work in difficult times, and reconnect with each other. Doing Hope is based on the Active Hope spiral and Joanna Macy's Work that Reconnects and offers an accessible introduction to that work, and a way to use the Active Hope spiral as a tool for renewal and recommitment.
Clare Bonetree is a facilitator, peace activist, and inclusion and accessibility worker based in Manchester. She is an associate trainer with Turning the Tide, and has run anti-burnout training and introductions to permaculture for activists. Clare completed her Permaculture Design Course at Landmatters at the 2011 Earth Activist Training course.
The ECO-nomics of permaculture at Huxhams Cross Farm
Bob Mehew tells the story of Huxhams Cross Farm, a thriving 34 acre market garden in Devon, through the lens of commercial sustainability. The farm turns-over £6,000 per month, necessary to support its workforce, and at the same time creating a bio-diverse, beautiful environment encouraging wildlife, nature and creativity. Covering soil restoration, permaculture design, networking, community-building, marketing, business planning and bold decision making.
Bob Mehew is a project delivery specialist and permaculture practitioner with 22 years of experience in consultancy services and project management. Bob moved to Dartington in September 2015 and since then has been developing Huxhams Cross Farm, project managing and implementing: landworks, buildings, poultry systems (150 chickens for eggs), agroforestry systems, veg bag scheme, growing and delivering fresh farm produce to 50 customers per week. In addition, Bob administers the business, with expertise in business planning, budgeting, payroll and client invoicing.
Deepening Design Practice
As permaculture designers, we aim to be as conscious of as much of the whole system as possible and in the current climate of emergence the imperative to be effective in our projects is stronger than ever. This workshop will explore how we can combine analytical and objective observations with creative and intuitive impressions to cultivate a deeper sense of place and ecological identity to inform our design work.
Permaculture designer, mentor and writer. Jasmine has taught permaculture design and practical skills to regenerate land and create ecological homes for over a decade to people from all walks of life (www.beingsomewhere.net). Her practical workbook, the Permaculture Design Companion, is the harvest of all those interactions and years establishing an off-grid, resilient smallholding. Jasmine lives in West Wales, where the the wild coast and ancient landscape permeates everyday life. She is deeply inspired by the intelligence of plants and ecosystems and their enthusiasm to thrive in relationship with human care and attention.
Korean Natural Farming in the UK
Ballagh Micro Farm in Totnes, Devon is the base for the UK’s first Korean Natural Farming education programme (Ballagh Botanicals). From this agroforestry smallholding David teaches organic farming at ultra-low cost utilising microbes.Educating farmers, charities and community groups on how to transition back to organic agriculture with zero waste and for low cost from crops and local plants. With a focus on the UK hemp industry, this has led to exciting collaborations with Vitality Hemp, Hempen, BHA and THTC. The workshop will include practical hands-on making of Korean Natural Farming inputs. Learn how to make organic fertilisers and pesticides using local resources.
Permaculture as palliative care in the climate emergency
An alternative view of the role of permaculture which will explore the role of "hopium" when faced with overwhelming evidence of biosphere collapse, or whether palliative care might be more appropriate in a period of terminal decline for complex ecosystems. The session will take the form of a facilitated discussion with a number of anchor points.
Since 2009, Graham Truscott has been a cleantech entrepreneur with an environmental passion. He is a founding director of the pioneering Whistlewood Common Limited, demonstrating permaculture design, triple bottom-line yields, new forms of governance and 21st century socio-enviro-economic activity. Other active enterprises include Aceleron Limited and Hevasure Limited (a circular economy lithium-ion battery enterprise and an energy-saving heating/cooling systems monitoring business respectively). He is a Commercial Advisor to The National Forest and an engaged participant in the University of Derby Low Carbon Business Network. Graham is a founder member of ExtinctionRebellion (Derby).
How might we redesign work to serve the good life and make our labour part of the effort to address the climate emergency? What might be a permaculture approach to navigating the changing world of work? A tour through right livelihoods, poly-income streams, care work, bullshit jobs, shadow work, emotional labour, a shorter working week, discretionary time, the fight for free-time, universal basic income, precariats, zero-hours contracts, technological unemployment, and fully-automated luxury communism.
James is a writer, storyteller, bioregional advocate, former Chair of the Permaculture Association and currently a full-time employee and commuter.
Tobacco: A collaborative permaculture analysis and design
Rakesh Rootsmasn Rak
During this session we will explore the role tobacco and cigarettes play in the world. We will be invited to look at all aspects from production (commercial and non commercial) thought to its usage and filter it through the permaculture ethics. The end goal is to use our permaculture design tools and processes to design a fitting response to the usage of tobacco.
Rakesh Rootsman Rak
For years, I was told I should look at sociocracy as a governance tool, but everyone who tried to explain it to me used such complicated words and concepts that after many discussions I still had no idea what it was. When I finally found out how it worked, it was a revelation, and now I use it on all my permaculture and community building course. It is also an essential component of all my successful projects. So my aim is to simplify sociocracy.
At the core of this workshop is how to efficiently make clear collaborative decisions. Sociocracy allows us to collaboratively make clear visions of where we all collectively want to go, and then gives us a systematic way to efficiently get there (in a way that everyone can quickly agree to).
In sociocracy everyone has an opportunity to express themselves, so it's not just the loudest person who gets their way. Hence, there is no room for people with vested interests, but instead it is based on quickly getting to a decision that everyone can consent to.