Here, Andy and Ella live simply, close to the earth - with a low carbon footprint, producing their own energy from sun and wind, growing much of their own food. Virtually all waste is recycled or composted, including human via a compost loo and there is biological grey water reed bed system.
They grow a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs using permaculture techniques which have worked well on the compacted, heavy clay soil. There are windbreaks and hedges to improve the microclimate on the north facing slope and 5 ponds to increase biodiversity.
There are mulched, no dig raised beds, areas for self-seeders and edible perennials, orchards and wildlife meadows. There's a large polytunnel and the main teaching space is a multi-purpose greenhouse made out of salvaged double-glazing units. Rainwater is collected from the roof of the polytunnel and fed to an efficient irrigation system.
During the course we also visit Patrick's nearby field, an ancient wild flower meadow, He bought it in 1983 to save it from being turned into a monoculture of rye grass. He's kept it as a nature reserve ever since, and has planted many trees, including a small orchard. Recently he has gifted it to the Somerset Wildlife Trust in order to safeguard its future. When we visit we will look at permaculture approaches to biodiversity and small-scale fruit growing.
About Patrick Whitefield
Patrick Whitefield, NDA, is a permaculture teacher, consultant and writer. He originally qualified in agriculture, and has wide farming experience, working in Britain, the Middle East and Africa. His work has also included organic gardening, practical nature conservation, country crafts and green politics.“I find permaculture makes use of the varied skills I’ve acquired
during my life,” he says. “and puts them into a cohesive whole.” Patrick is now one of the leading permaculture teachers in Britain, indeed in Europe. He combines a deep knowledge of the subject with an inspiring and professional teaching style.
He has written three books on permaculture: Permaculture in a Nutshell, How to Make a Forest Garden and The Earth Care Manual. Visit Patricks Website
Cost: £190 includes simple organic vegetarian lunches. Concessions available on sliding scale for those on low wages and benefits, from £145, please talk to us about this if you need it.
Permaculture is the design of sustainable human habitats, taking nature as the model.
This five day course covers:
• How to take care of human needs for food, shelter and energy in ways that take care of the earth.
• How to design permaculture systems and put them into action - in gardens, small holdings or large scale projects.
• Seeing it all in action on the ground plus hands on session.
• Slide shows of other permaculture sites and practical exercises including a design exercise for an adjacent field.
The main tutor is Patrick Whitefield.
Ella and Andy Portman lead several sessions in which they show us around the smallholding and explain both the practice and the philosophy of their permaculture lifestyle.
About Avalon Permaculture Gardens
Avalon Permaculture Gardens is a five acre smallholding that has been developed as a permaculture and personal growth centre to teach and demonstrate many aspects of sustainable living. Starting in 1998, Andy and Ella Portman have turned what was an overgrazed horse paddock into a diverse and productive feast of naturally growing gardens, orchards, meadows and trees - a rich and natural biodiversity.
Wed 10.30am -5.30pm Thurs - Sat 9.30am - 5.30pm, Sun 9.30am - 4.30pm (times are approximate)
Please send a deposit of £50 made out to Andy Portman and send it with your name and address, telephone number and email address if you have one, stating which group you are booking and any accommodation you want. (We will refund deposits if we have to cancel.)Avalon Permaculture Gardens, Barton Rd, Butleigh, Glastonbury, BA6 8TL
For more information please contact Ella and Andy: email@example.com 01458 850704
Feedback from Participants
"It was highly inspirational, staying on a permaculture site and doing site visits to practical permaculture projects. It gave me all the background and practical knowledge to start applying it straight away." Klaudia Van Gool
“What I learnt made so much ecological sense - the course was very practical, informative and accessible. The facilitation was excellent and it was held on a living, breathing, working permaculture site which is a piece of heaven on earth.” Louise Treasure
“I have recently participated in a Permaculture in Action course at Avalon Permaculture Gardens and found it a truly inspiring experience. I went there to answer the question whether it is really possible for normal people like me to live this way and to create a natural space run according to permaculture principles. The answer was a resounding yes, and the course exceeded my expectations. The other course participants were equally impressed and inspired. Ella and Andy Portman are credible role models for this low-impact way of living.”