Andrew Langford - Main Profile

My early work in permaculture (starting in 1986) involved developing the nascent Permaculture Association of Britain into a more functional network. The prime progression in this respect involved firstly hiring in permaculture practitioners from Australia (Lea Harrison was prominent) to lead trainings in England designed to aid us in cultivating a home-grown cohort of teachers. This creative and energetic cohort included myself, Graham Bell, Patrick Whitefield, George Sobol and Patsy Garrard, Stephen Nutt and others.

We were wonderfully supported in this phase by the discovery of several British 'giants' of the road less traveled. These included Robert A de J Hart tucked away in Shropshire working up his forest garden, Arthur Hollins, also in Shropshire, whose foggage grazing system for cattle and sheep provided deep insights around what we now call 'the soil food-web', animal health and the value of thinking for yourself and Bruce Marshall from the Pentland Hills in Scotland whose painstaking enactment of his own principle of 10 worms every 10 paces demonstrated the extraordinary capacity for nature to regenerate depleted acidified uplands once given a nudge in the right direction by Bruce.

Finding these pioneers and integrating them into our permaculture teaching as demonstrators of the possibilities grounded the relevance of the whole permaculture concept in our cool temperate climate. Thus we were emboldened and enabled to propose that this utterly weird notion (at the time) of permanent agriculture, developed in the dry and hot lands of Australia, was indeed do-able in Britain. All 3 of these pioneers have since passed-on and yet they live on due to the emergence of the current thriving permaculture scene in Britain that, whilst it was sparked by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their acolytes, arose largely through us being able to stand on the shoulders of these local heroes.

This was a time of rapid expansion of permaculture in Britain in terms of teaching capacity. We arrived to the early 1990's with a team of almost a dozen teachers in training who, together, held full PDC's for classes of 45 students at a time.