International Permaculture Day - Portaferry Permaculture Project Grand Launch Event

with Permaculture Association member Heiko Vermeulen

Portaferry Permaculture Project in Northern Ireland are celebrating their Grand launch Event in conjunction with this year's International Permaculture Day! In this post Heiko Vermeulen explains a bit about the project, and why it is being launched during this time of global celebration.
Yurt building at Portaferry

"There is not much happening on the Permaculture front so far in Northern Ireland, and our little one acre plot is an oasis of biodiversity in a desert of monoculture cattle grazing land. We are close to Strangford Lough, which is one of the most important maritime habitats on the British Isles. There are signs of change, with tidal power being utilised, and the Queen's University Marine Biology Institute experimenting with the production of biofuels from sustainably grown seaweeds.

I came into permaculture when I was trying to cultivate an impossibly steep site in Italy and found it the only sensible way of producing food as well as preserving the slopes and minimising landslides and floods. We still now have a thriving food forest in Italy which requires minimal maintenance and landslides have become much less of a problem, even though rainfalls can fall in  just one day equal to those that fell during the whole of the winter 2014 in England, which was the wettest on record. Since seeing what permaculture methods can achieve in the most extreme situations, it has become almost a religion to me. I did my PDC with Aranya and Pietro Zuchetti in Italy in 2012.

The yurt
We started the project in Portaferry last October. The previous owners had some good ideas and some structures were already in place for us, however they were disorganised and left the place in a mess with rubble all over the place. So we basically spent the winter making the place at least half presentable. A date in early May for an official launch gave us something to aim for and the first good chance of decent weather, so having it on International Permaculture Day was ideal. We've already had a bunch of volunteers giving a hand, without whom we'd be well behind by now.

Volunteers working on site

Boat planter

The launch event this year features Mark Boyle giving a talk on moneyless living, myself giving an introductory talk on permaculture with a wild food walk, Tools for Solidarity, a Belfast based charity giving a talk on recycling old tools and development in Africa, True Harvest Seeds, a local seed saving charity, and live music acts. The event is almost full, so do get in touch in advance to confirm that there is space available. If you're able to volunteer your time to help with preparations, we would really appreciate your help!"

Heiko is also part of the team organising the All Ireland Permaculture Gathering this year, 7th - 9th August. This is the first time it has taken place in Northern Ireland.

If you haven't yet got your events up on the International Permaculture Day website and here, there's still a month to go; help make this year's global celebration reach more people than ever before!