What's at the National Permaculture Convergence?

20-23 September

A timetable is now available!

The event is a convergence of several events this year, all taking place in an urban setting. See the main convergence webpage for full information.

All are welcome, no matter your level of knowledge or experience of permaculture. Come to learn a bit (or a lot) more, meet others, and leave feeling energised and ready to implement permaculture designs. The convergence is bursting with opportunities for learning, networking and demonstrating why permaculture is at the forefront in shaping a thriving future for everyone.

Please note, the programme is made possible by many contributors - the programme and sessions are subject to change.


Friday 21 Sept - Exploring our Edges

10.30am - 6.45pm

A day-long conference with five streams of content exploring permaculture's pioneering role in society. Hosted at the Z-Arts Centre in Hulme, Manchester

There will be a childrens programme run by our qualified coordinator - with fun and educational activities throughout the day.


Morning Plenary

  • David Holmgren: RetroSuburbia - live video presentation

David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept will kickstart this year’s National Permaculture Convergence live from his home in Australia.

He will be speaking about his new book RetroSurburbia and take questions from the audience about how we can make permaculture work more effectively in our towns and cities. It promises to be an inspiring start to a day filled with sessions exploring permaculture's pioneering role in society.


Stream 1: Science, Research and Investigation

  • Naomi van der Velden: GROWing collaborative research into permaculture practices

  • Chris Warburton-Brown: Introducing 52 Climate Actions

  • Anne-Marie Meyer: The Himalayan Permaculture Centre and nutrition

  • Steve Jones: Permaculture as a development tool for refugees in South Sudan


Stream 2: Access to Permaculture

  • Helen White: What is permaculture? An introduction

  • Looby Macnamara: Mother Nature project

  • Lusi Alderslowe: Book launch! Earth care, people care and fair share in education, the children in permaculture manual

  • Dr Jack Hunter: One School, One Planet: permaculture in Schools


Stream 3: Permaculture, Politics and the Economy

  • Andy Goldring (CEO, Permaculture Association): Emergent Dynamic Governance Ecosystems & CTRLshift

  • Ed Mayo (CEO, Cooperatives UK): The cooperative economy

  • Catherine Weetman: The circular economy: bringing permaculture into businesses and communities


Stream 4: Land, Communities & Enterprise

  • Ben Margolis: Gardens of sanctuary

  • Penny Spawforth: Relational feedback loops in communities

  • Jed Picksley & Tomas Remiarz: Cooperative living and working (in a permaculture design context)


Stream 5: Permaculture & the Urban Environment

  • Ian Lillington & Jo Barker: RetroSuburbia: a practical application for northern Europe

  • Val Grainger: Harvesting the streets... urban farmers

  • Sarah Pugh: Social, land and economic permaculture in the city

  • Gaskell Garden Project: permaculture as a tool for radical social change


Plus, in the evening, from 7pm

  • Film screening: Living the Change

  • Fire & Food in Hulme Community Garden Centre

  • Bar & Ceilidh in N.I.A.M.O.S (Hulme Hippodrome)


Saturday 22 Sept - Permaculture in Practice

National Permaculture Convergence 2018 collage. Photos: middle left Centre for Alternative Technology Flickr CC Attribution. Bottom left: London Permaculture Flickr CC Attribution. Bottom middle: Sagara CC Attribution.10.00am - 6.30pm

A day packed with practical activities at Hulme Community Garden Centre

The programme includes:


Practical workshops and discussions

  • An introduction to permaculture - Helen White

    Helen has worked for the Permaculture Association for over 10 years. She has taught Introduction to Permaculture courses, as well as teaching on the Leeds Permaculture Network Design Course. This session is a brief overview of permaculture ethics and principles and how permaculture developed.

  • Towards regenerative business - Anna Clayton, Ethical Consumer

    Anna has worked as a writer, researcher & coop member at Ethical Consumer Magazine for the past five years; she sits on the LUSH Spring Prize coordination team. The process of regeneration can be observed in living systems and has inspired a number of global movements to develop design frameworks informed by nature. Observations from living systems can similarly be applied to business. So, what does a regenerative business look like?

    This session will explore this question by drawing on Ethical Consumer's work, Spring Prize case studies and your own experience.

  • The STEAM hub in a pub: a story of a community science hub - Dr Jana Wendler

    The Old Abbey Taphouse re-opened in October 2016 as a STEAM (that's Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths) focused hub in a pub. They are running projects which encourage localism, circular economies, arts & music, wellbeing and STEAM.

  • How to approach bigger design in practice - Anna Locke

    Anna is a permaculture teacher based in Hastings - in process of setting up a small  farm. The talk will be centered around personal design insights gained from this and other larger projects.

  • The toolkit for working in bioregions - Ed Tyler & James Pier Taylor

    Bioregional thinking for these isles. Bioregionalism proposes a pathway to one-planet living based on meeting our needs from within naturally defined areas called bioregions. In this session, we'll be exploring what bioregionalism might look like in the context of this group of islands sitting off the north-western coast of continental Europe. Bring a sense of place!

  • Cultural Emergence toolkit - Looby Macnamara

    Looby is author of People and Permaculture, 7 Ways to Think Differently and Strands of Infinity. She lives on a 20 acre smallholding with her partner Chris Evans, where they run a training and demonstration centre - Applewood Permaculture Centre. Can we collectively emerge a regenerative culture of care and connection? Come and discover some tools to enhance your life and relationships.

  • Social enterprises & Community Business with Rachel Summerscales

    A run through of the pros and cons of heading up a community business and working within the voluntary sector as a whole.

  • Is a co-op right for you? - Co-ops UK

    In depth workshop exploring cooperatives as an organisational and business model for your enterprise or idea.

  • Designing the Permaculture Association strategy - Andy Goldring and Roxy Piper

    We need an effective and sustainable organisation that can support more people doing more permaculture! We have been surveying and sensing how we can best do that, to inform our new strategy. What will the Permaculture Association be doing in 2020, 2030, and 2050? This session will present the work we've done so far and help shape our future.


Hands-on workshops

  • Forest gardening in practice - Tomas Remiarz and Kath Gavin

    Sustainability co-ordinator, Kath offers bespoke vegan-organic horticulture training, environmental education and garden design - she particularly enjoys working with volunteers to develop forest gardens. Tomas Remiarz has been a permaculture designer, consultant and trainer since 1997. Specialisms include participative design processes, forest gardens, and ecological restoration. Author of Forest Gardening in Practice. In this session you will discover some of the multi-storey plantings at the Garden Centre, a great example of how forest gardens can be integrated into public and commercial settings. There will be a focus on the ground cover, often one of the major challenges for a forest gardener.

  • Tours of Hulme Community Garden Centre

    See their forest garden, roundhouse, polytunnel and other elements, on this walking tour. Learn about the organisation and their activities.

  • Perma-Yoga

    Stretch! Practice some yoga in the morning with fellow participants, led by a yoga instructor.

  • Preserve: storing our harvest - Ryan Sandford-Blackburn

    Ryan gardens several days a month on a large allotment plot and has a front yard nursery and messy kitchen at home. He holds a Permaculture Design Certificate and loves sharing positive, practical solutions. Whether you’re swimming in runner beans or drowning in courgettes this workshop will upskill your preservation power. We'll draw on the knowledge of those taking part as well as Ryan's experience. We'll talk about produce that we readily have access to, what we like to eat & drink, and how we can easily make more of what we have.

  • Working with pallets: practical carpentry

  • Propagation and seed saving

  • Growing micro-leaves & edible flowers 

  • Biochar making and how to use - Matt Ralston

    A demonstration promoting simple, scalable, environmentally sound methods for making biochar for improving the soil. 

  • Repurposing Materials: A Hunter Gatherer Perspective - John Piprani, Manchester University

    A University of Manchester archaeologist shows the aboriginal skills in making arrowheads from waste materials.

  • Vegan organic growing & soil care

    Presented by a commercial veganic grower of 20 years running Fir Tree Community Growers in Merseyside. 


Lots of opportunities for networking, including:

  • GROW Observatory experimenters meet-up - learn from each other's experience of the polyculture experiment

  • #WeLoveLiving - the campaign helping spread permaculture more widely - learn how you can engage others, plus take home resources

  • Manchester Permaculture Network: meet up and discuss with others in the Manchester area

  • Meet the Trustees of the Permaculture Association and discuss the present and future of our organisation


All are welcome. For the youngest people:

  • Childrens programme, including fire-making, co-operative group challenges, composting and other fun (read more below)!

Sunday 23 Sept - Ed-venturing

09.30am onwards

Meet at Hulme Hall for Sunday Brunch (included in weekend ticket price), a final chance to meet and connect, then for embarking on tours of local permaculture and growing projects with Manchester Permaculture Network. 

You will either need to car share or bring a bike along to join in. We can help with arranging the former over the weekend.

The current itinerary (subject to small changes) is:
The Tour will finish between 2 and 3pm but you can choose to leave it at any time. Luggage can be stored at Hulme Hall for the period you are away.

There's also the Lush Showcase which is happening all day at Manchester Central. You get free access with your convergence ticket, just show up at the door with a printed or mobile copy.


Perma-Kids Programme

This year's theme for the children's activities will be "Our Home - Our Community". Children are warmly invited to participate in various hands-on activities and workshops like the building of their very own miniature eco village, using natural materials like clay, straw, wood, stones or bark. Children will find out about biodiversity, natural building and we will talk about how to create communities that respect and support people.

Our poetry and drama workshops will give children the opportunity to express themselves through art. As a group we will meet, play and learn how to trust each other when playing co-operative group games and mastering group challenges.

We will get crafty at our workshops making wooden jewellery, eco playdough and building rockets out of recycled materials. Watch out for our rockets which will blast off into the sky using our super eco-friendly fuel.