From North to South: local gatherings are taking off
Over the past few months, Permaculture Ambassadors have held local gatherings across the country. We hear from two in this blog at the extremes of England - one in North East England and the other the South East.
If reading about these inspires you to organise your own local gathering, then visit the Ambassadors webpage to find out more about how to apply for funding for Spring/Summer 2018.
Up North, local group Transition Sunderland, together with Permaculture Ambassadors from the North East region, supported National Tree Week – the UK’s biggest annual festival of trees – with a public Tree Dressing event. The event took place at Backhouse Park, Sunderland, on Saturday 2nd December.
Transition Sunderland is a member of the Transition Network an international network of community groups that aim to increase community resilience to reduce the potential effects of peak oil, climate disruption, economic instability and biodiversity loss.
Permaculture Ambassadors are members of the Permaculture Association, whose remit is to spread the word about permaculture so that more people are engaged with the Association and are working towards local ‘hives’ of Ambassadors who support and train one another in order to share permaculture. The Permaculture Ambassadors project is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, as part of the Sustainable Future Fund.
Added value of trees
Nationally the theme for this year’s events was Tree Values. The Tree Council called on everyone everywhere to celebrate the value of trees, plant more and appreciate them all. Across the UK, the presence of trees in cities, towns and rural landscapes, continues to add value to our lives every day, in many different ways.
The value that trees provide can sometimes be taken for granted: they not only create a habitat for all sorts of wildlife, but provide services to humans too. We get food, fuel and building resources from them; they help prevent flooding, clean our polluted air and water supplies and conserve energy.
Each year, The Tree Council’s National Tree Week inspires around a quarter of a million people to show they value trees by getting their hands dirty and planting up to a million more. The festival marks the onset of the winter tree planting season but for those who don’t have the opportunity to plant a tree, there are plenty of other ways to get involved in accessible and fun tree related events taking place across the country.
These are organised by The Tree Council’s member organisations, including voluntary bodies and local authorities, as well as our network of 8,000 Tree Warden volunteers, schools, community groups and others who value trees.
Inspired by the Tree Charter
This year the Woodland Trust – a member of The Tree Council – has been very successful with one of its most ambitious projects, the Tree Charter – For Trees, Woods and People. Transition Sunderland were so inspired by both the Permaculture Ambassadors project and the Tree Charter that they decided to combine both, celebrating trees by dressing them using the themes of permaculture’s three Ethics: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.
Graeme Jobes, a member of Transition Sunderland and Permaculture Ambassador said, “When we read what the Tree Charter was all about; that this year is the 800th anniversary of the Charter For Trees which was signed two years after the Magna Carta, allowing the common people access back to the forests to earn a living.
"This really resonated with us, we feel it reflects an age similar to today when too much power is in the hands of the few, to the detriment of the many. So we joined up as a Charter Branch, we feel that this role will help us to deliver one of the group’s aims; action on biodiversity loss."
Earlier that day the group also ran a skills share on everything from composting to apple tree pruning at their new community allotment site.
Developing permaculture in the High Weald
Meanwhile, in Sussex there was the first High Weald Permaculture Gathering. A group of permaculture practitioners living in the area met up in November to explore how they might develop and promote permaculture in the bioregion.
After introductions and finding out what's going on permaculture-wise locally they talked about the character of the High Weald and sustainability initiatives in the area. The group was inspired by the ideas of creating a directory of local green initiatives, supporting local food growing and outdoor education.
The event ended with participants making individual commitments, including meeting up again in the new year. "It was great to get together a group of people who want to develop permaculture locally and this could definitely be the start of something good," said organiser Chloe Anthony.