super wide angle photo of our permaculture smallholding

What is Permaculture?

Gabrielle working in the vegetable patch

"'Permaculture is a word that was originally coined in the mid seventies by two Australians, David Holmgren and Bill Mollison, to describe the design system pioneered as a response to what they, and many others globally, saw as serious challenges to the survival of all of us.

Originally derived from the words 'PERMAnent agriCULTURE', permaculture has gone beyond it's roots in looking at strategies to create sustainable food growing methods to become a worldwide movement encompassing all aspects of how we as human beings can live harmoniously in relation to our Earth and its finite resources.

One way of seeing permaculture is as a DESIGN SYSTEM, of looking at how elements are placed in relation to weach other in order to maximise their efficiency in creating a self-sustaining, low input/high output, non-exploiting whole."
(© Graham Burnett, Permaculture: A Beginner's Guide)

Permaculture in Brittany

We certainly don't consider ourselves to be experts in permaculture, so are learning and whilst we have many things already established we're constantly working on introducing new elements.

What we have already established:

• rainwater harvesting
• self-sufficient in heating energy
• dry, composting toilet (in our own house)
• grey water treatment by plants
• wildlife pond
• vegetable production in raised bed potager and polytunnel
• hot and cold composting, comfrey and nettle tea
• self-sufficient in meat and eggs
• bees, one hive so far
• oyster mushroom cultivation in our woodland
• fostering beneficial local relationships with work exchanges
• a delightful chamomile lawn in the gite garden that needs no mowing, stays green in the summer and gives off a wonderful scent the year round.
• reducing consumption and increasing home production and self-reliance, such as learning how to store our produce in bottles and pasteurise apple juice.

What we working towards:

• Forest garden: tree level planned and mostly planted.
• Chicken forage system
• More permanent accomodation for ducks, running their dirty pond water into the veg patch.
• traditional and ecological building – converting our barn into a second gite using traditional techniques, reclaimed and otherwise eco-friendly materials and high levels of insulation.

You can see what we're up to by having a nose at our permaculture blog. To read magazine articles that I've written for Permaculture Magazine, Country Smallholding and Living Woods Magazines, look on the right hand side under "Magazine Articles". When you click a titles, the article downloads as a PDF file.