As part of the LAND project, launched by the Permaculture Association a little over two years ago, more than 7,000 visitors and 4,000 volunteers have been supported in learning from and taking part in established permaculture projects.
A network of publicly accessible LAND learning centres around England continues to grow, and now at its halfway point, the success of the 4-year scheme is being celebrated.
There are currently 27 learning centres with another 15 to be formalised this spring as well as a further 13 in an earlier stage of establishment. The LAND centres are becoming the beating hearts of the permaculture network, offering a chance for people to taste the produce, see the landscape and start to understand the principles and design logic behind the projects.
Across England, from southern Cornwall to North Yorkshire, each centre is unique and as such, offers different skills and knowledge to visitors, be it woodland management, mushroom cultivation, wild food harvesting or salad growing. Projects vary from permaculture home gardens and inner-city forest gardens to community and public spaces, allotments, smallholdings and broad-scale organic farms.
Funded by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme, the LAND project offers financial and practical support to schools and food growing or community groups in carrying out visits. Senior citizens, high school students and village gardening clubs are all seizing the opportunity, say the Permaculture Association.
The projects are also supported as hosts for events and benefit from an increased web presence and promotion, as well as advice from experienced practitioners. Becoming a recognised centre can also help with challenges such as planning permission and fundraising.
By increasing the visibility of permaculture, the LAND Project is helping to increase support for the Permaculture Association as the work becomes more widely recognised as viable and desirable. Long term, the organisation hopes to extend funding to cover both Wales and Scotland.
“The LAND network is going from strength to strength,” says project co-ordinator, Louise Cartright. “People are really starting to see it in action themselves.”