Bountiful Bristol Bulletin

Sustainable Land Use Course-with Patrick Whitefield. by nadiacatkinhillman
November 24, 2010, 1:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ecology – Organic Horticulture – Woodland 

Permaculture Design Course

This course is designed both for people who are working with the land and those who intend to, whether as gardeners, smallholders, farmers, foresters, landscapers or in other land based occupations.

No previous knowledge is required, but students with previous training or experience have found the course offers many new insights and perspectives which are not obtainable from more conventional courses. The emphasis is on how we can work in harmony with natural cycles.

The course gives the theoretical knowledge which complements those skills which can be learnt while actually working on the land. We hold it in winter because that is the quiet time of year on the land and thus the best season to take time out from land work for indoor learning.

A wide range of teaching methods is used, including: talks, slide shows, discussions, small-group work, and observation and design exercises on the land. There is an outdoor session almost every day. These include the observation and design exercises, and there is a practical work session once a week. But most of the teaching is indoors.

The course is modular, with three one-week modules and one of two weeks. (Details are given below.) The best way to take the course is all in one go, but if you are unable to do this you are welcome to take one or more modules this year and others in the future.



Five days a week, Monday to Friday
24th January – 4th March 2011
Half term break, week beginning 14th February

Please note that the course starts at 9am on Monday mornings, so you should arrive on Sunday afternoon or evening.


Ecological Interactions
24th – 28th Jan.
Learning about how plants, animals, climate, soil and humans interact. This understanding is the very basis of sustainable land use. Each afternoon during this module we go out on the land to explore ecological interactions in the woods, fields and gardens on the farm.

Organic Horticulture
31st Jan – 4th Feb.
An introduction to growing fruit and vegetables the natural way, this module is applicable to both domestic and market gardens. It includes a visit to an outstanding biodynamic garden.

Sustainable Forestry
7th – 11th Feb.
An introduction to sustainable woodland practice, both working with existing woods and planting new ones, using the woodlands on the farm as living examples.

21st Feb – 4th Mar.
This is the standard Permaculture Design Course, recognised by the international permaculture community. It covers the principles of permaculture and the permaculture approach to: gardening, building, farming, woodland, nature conservation, community and the transition to the post-petroleum world. It’s centred on a series of design exercises on the land. The module includes a day spent visiting a number of urban permaculture sites in Bristol.

The Permaculture module is similar to the Permaculture Design Courses we hold in the summer but it is two days shorter. The main difference is that in this module we don’t include subjects already covered in detail in earlier modules, particularly Soil and Sustainable Forestry.


Patrick Whitefield – main tutor for the course as a whole
Jo Newton – main tutor for the Organic Horticulture module, and co-tutor for the Soil and Ecological Interactions modules
Mike Gardner– main tutor for the Sustainable Forestry module
Sarah Pugh – urban and community permaculture specialist

Guest tutors include:
Matt Dunwell, permaculture pioneer and the farmer of Ragmans Lane
Mike Feingold, permaculturist extraordinaire!
Steve Pickup, expert in living willow structures.
Tony Carlton, biodynamic grower

We make the following visits:
The Grange – an excellent biodynamic vegetable garden.
Crooked End Farm– a mixed smallholding with vegetables, fruit and animals.
Bristol Permaculture – including: Easton Community Allotment, a community orchard, East Side Roots permaculture project, and the allotment of permaculture pioneer, Mike Feingold.


Ragmans Lane Farm is situated in beautiful countryside in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, on the banks of the River Wye.

The farm is presently in a state of transition. Formerly supporting a rich diversity of permaculture activity, in recent years this has been narrowed down to just two enterprises. One is mushroom log production – innoculating logs with the spawn of shii-take and oyster mushrooms and selling the logs as a source of fresh organic mushrooms. The other is organic apple juice production, and part of the farm has been planted up with orchards to supply the apples. The rest of the land is let out for grazing and the large vegetable garden is not used at present.

With the appointment of a new manager, Freya Davies, the farm is moving into a new phase of activity. One of her first priorities is to bring the vegetable garden back into production and the consideration of a Community Supported Agriculture scheme. Plans are also being considered to start actively managing the two woodlands on the farm.

The farm is also the home of the Willow Bank, which supplies willow cuttings and kits and installs living willow structures. Many of these can be seen around the farm. In addition, there is an interesting range of ecological building styles on the farm, and there is both mature and newly planted woodland.

For more information on the farm, including a pictorial tour, see http://


This is in the bunkhouse, a converted stone barn with many ecological features. There are no individual or double rooms, but you’re welcome to bring a caravan or a bender if you want private living space. You’ll still be able to make full use of the bunkhouse facilities, and there is no reduction in price for those in their own living space.

Full vegetarian board is provided, frestly prepared by our resident chef. The great majority of the food is organic.

You’re welcome to stay or go home for weekends as you choose. But everyone must leave for the half-term week.



The full fee, including tuition, board and lodging is £1625.

If you’re only taking some modules, the fee per week is £350.

If you’re unable to afford the full fees our first suggestion is that you consider taking part of the course in one year and the other part in the following year. The course divides naturally into the first three weeks and the last two, the permaculture module.

If you can pay the full fees but would find it easier to pay in monthly instalments we will be very happy to arrange this with you.

Unfortunately the government funding which enabled us to offer big concessions to people on benefit has been withdrawn. We can now only offer concessionary places to the long term unemployed, ie those on job-seekers allowance for six months or more. If you’re interested please contact us.

Some participants in previous years have obtained their own funding and if you’re interested in that we can send you a list of possible funders.

We are still able to offer some concessionary places to people on low incomes. We don’t have a regular rate but discuss it with each person as an individual. If you would like to apply for one of these please write to us with an account of your circumstances.

We have never yet turned anyone away for lack of money.

If you’re taking the full course, an initial payment of £800 is due on booking. The balance of £825 is due by the end of November 2010.

If you’re only taking some modules, the fee payable on booking is £175 per week and the balance of £173 per week is due by the end of November 2010.

If your initial booking is after that date the whole fee is due on booking. On receipt of that we will send you full joining instructions.

The Earth Care Manual
If you would like your half price copy of the book sent in advance please tick the box on the booking form and add £20 + £7.00 p&p to your deposit. Alternatively you may buy your copy at the beginning of the course.


For More Information
If you’d like to discuss any aspect of the course, please contact us by phone or e-mail. We’re always happy to hear from you. If you want more details of the course contents we can send you a sample timetable.

What previous students have said about the Sustainable Land Use course:

“. . . excellent and inspiring and has fulfilled my expectations plus a lot more.” Howard Meadowcroft.

“. . . covered a lot of ground in a lively and interesting way, and was well varied with a good amount of student participation.” Barbara Charvet.

“Patrick’s teaching, enthusiasm and knowledge are excellent.” Dominic Guy.

“This is the best educational experience of my life.” Lucy Bates.


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