Permaculture Explained (Vol III Issue 8): Integrate rather than segregate

“Many hands make light work”

… at Wildgoose Rural Training

Wildgoose Training are committed to working with large numbers of people with differing needs (around 150 per week) in a half-hectare LAND-affiliated site.

The needs may be for education and training in land-based subjects, or working in a supportive, safe and caring environment for people with learning disabilities, acquired brain injury or mental health issues.

Many of these people are used to having needs met in a very segregated environment such as a school or a day centre, which can lead to a silo mentality, but at Wildgoose, people mix freely, eat together, work together and communicate with each other.

Disengaged young people realise they are not ‘bottom of the pile’ and some truly amazing examples of them caring for wheelchair users or others with disabilities have happened - all through integration of our people.

There is always integration between producing food and developing the physical facilities of the centre for providing a training and educational resource, so each element has many functions. Such a diverse range of opportunities for students leads to a resilience- if they don’t like one area of work there are plenty of other things to try!

Great care is taken to put things in the right place- not only by traditional permaculture zoning such as herbs near the kitchen door, but also zoning for particular student needs. Autistic people often form strong bonds with animals and our design includes animal pens right in the heart of our activities, between vehicle drop off points and the tea and coffee making facilities. Many students have remained all day leaning over a pen of pigs, observing and talking to them, at the beginning of their journey of integration with other students here.  

By Noelle Wilson