Trees and Ben Law on the Permaculture Design Course

Back when we started planning the course, we couldn’t have imagined that we would have such incredible weather in mid March.  But today is sun really did shine for us.  In the morning, we had planned to be in a village hall, and as we were pulling up, I moaned in a kid-like fashion about ‘can we have the lesson outside today’.  It was partly in jest, but also I just wanted to make the most of the weather and be outside.  So, we made a quick decision to spend the morning outside.  We set up the chairs, tweaked sessions, and also considered the shade for those that might not want to sit in the sun.  It felt so good to be outside.

The day was all about trees and their role in permaculture: from the small scale of a singular tree, to the larger scale of the woodland management.  We managed to cover a lot of information in the first few hours.  We did an little warmer to act out the parts of a tree, and then we looked at trees, energy and how they impact micro climates.  We had a bit of a break to set up a design activity about designing how Britain can feed itself, to get back into elevation, sectors and zones.  We ended doing a little ‘planning 4 real’ activity to embed the revision and learning.  This time I was down to do a bit more teaching, which was great.  I haven’t done as much teaching as I normally do on an Introduction to Permaculture.  I also managed to include the two trainee teachers in delivering parts of the sessions with which I was involved.

It was then time to pack up and move.  We were going to see a demonstration of permaculture design applied to woodland management, and who better to go to then Ben Law.  I, like many others, have seen the Grand Designs programmes, so it was great to see it in real life and also to hear more of the permaculture come through.

We had a relaxed lunch outside, milling about and checking out different bits of his garden.  In the area we made tea in, I found this little sign/quotation.

We then started on a tour round the grounds.  He integrated the history of coppicing in Britain, management of the coppice, restoration of abandoned coppice, creating many outputs from the woodland.

He talked a lot about how his maintenance plan varies according to the market and the niche that he is constantly creating and evolving for himself.  It was fascinating to hear those reflections, and to really pick up how intimately he knows his woodland.  It was both humbling an inspiring.

We even took time to smell the gorse.

After going around the woodland, we looked out the workshop he has built and does some of the machine work in, the round wood frames he has built

his veg garden, “forest garden” and finally his house.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the day.  Look at these two:

I am sure some of us will be feeling the effects of the sunshine tomorrow, as a few were looking a little pink.  But long after the sunburn turns to tan, and the tan fades again, some of Ben’s words will continue to influence and inspire us.


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