26th May 2022

Developing an Academy for Permaculture

S39 Academy at Treflach farm

Academy of Permaculture linking, Treflach farm to a global movement

This post will be updated

The vision is to create an on-going, open-ended training and volunteering program for permaculture. This vision includes developing a parallel relationship with our project partners in East Africa as well as working as locally as we can here in the Welsh borders through local farms, community food growing and habitat restoration projects. In the longer term we would love to be able to exchange students between the U.K. and E.A. and this kind of information sharing is something that project investor Arkleton Trust very much believe in.

An unintended network of permaculture students, graduates, teachers, practitioners and sites has evolved in the process of running courses over many years, whilst participating in the development of many emergent and new projects at the same time. Something which has become apparent is that we are all learning constantly, and we all contribute this learning in different ways, be they students, teachers, mentors, volunteers, novices and experts it is clear we all contribute in our own way, the Academy is an attempt to bring these processes together to facilitate much more effective learning and sharing for permaculture. We believe the timing for this could not be more important with a rising need for a more robust local food economy and a need to restore and enhance much of the biodiversity which has been eroded by more aggressive farming practices.

S39 Academy is a network rather than a place, but through partnership we plan to open training and demonstration centers in 2 locations this year, at Treflach farm Shropshire and Homa Bay Kenya. This post will focus on UK side of this partnership but our horizons certainly broadened when S39  ran their first permacutlure training in Uganda in 2016 and we have since realised that East Africa is incredibly fertile ground for the spread of permaculture and colleagues there could become global exemplars rapidly at the rate they are progressing.

Certainly we all need to learn from each other, and we need to support each other to create the opportunities we need and our vision for the Academy of Permaculture is one of peer-peer mentoring, tutoring and support.

Views and potentials @ Treflach

Adding two elements to the overall design at Treflach, a manadala garden and a willow bed

We are planning to link our work to Gfrrn who are undertaking similar trials.

Documenting the first day of Growing Real Food for Nutrition CIC (Grffn) as they create a trial and demonstration vegetable garden at Matara, Gloucestershire. With the the aim of learning how to grow, measure and promote the benefits of nutrient dense food.


S39 Academy at Treflach farm
PermoAfrica, Homa Bay Permaculture Research Institute Kenya

East African Partners

2016 PDC Graduate Paul Odiwour Ogola founded PermoAfrica Center as a way to share the knowledge he gained from his first permaculture course with his community. Homa Bay county is a rural area, with many small farms, little training and support and hard to raise loans for investment and development. Instead of looking outside for help the community there is finding effective ways to address and support their own development needs.

Paul is one of a group of permacutlure pioneers form East Africa awe have been working with as a product of our training programs and it is exciting to consider the long term potential of this relationship.

Developing an Academy programme

We don’t have fixed ideas, we plan to take small steps as we work our way into this but at the same time we have the Spring PDC at Treflach to look forward and the chance to harvest the creative energy and enthusiasm generated by the course.

Why Treflach farm?

There is already a transformation underway at Treflach farm. They do not claim to be experts in anyway, but back in the mid 2000’s as the far was changing hands across a generation farmer Ian Steele chose to find a path to make the farm more nature friendly, more compassionate to the animals part of it and find ways to involve the surrounding community in the process of producing it.

Honoring this commitment has proven to be an open ended process, a constant learning through the application of ideas, experiments and active observations. It has created a perfect learning environment and research and experimentation works well with the spirit of the farm and its ambitions.

I think it is going to be a very interesting journey

S39 taught its first full 2-week on-farm PDC in October 2010 so this journey began quite some years ago, however a the time we had no idea how the relationship would evolve and grow. From the perspective of today in 2021 it makes every sense to formalize and build on this legacy and create a practical, commercial and sustainable permaculture learning environment.

The first PDC under this new banner of the academy will begin this spring, and we are already busy preparing for it. Participants will have the opportunity to experience many practical aspects of farm work, according to interested a well as help design, develop and integrate the academy into the farm itself.

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