We have a unique and inspiring programme for our first South West Regional Permaculture Convergence.

We've been finding content from across the region (and a little beyond), covering a broad range of topics and experiences from across permaculture network and supportive partner networks.

The response has been amazing - the programme is now full, take a look at the details of confirmed workshops and facilitators below, or download our PDF Programmes:


Maddy Harland, Editor of Permaculture Magazine

Permaculture & Politics (With Andy Goldring) (Saturday) / Designing Enterprises with Permaculture (Saturday) / Q&A Session (Sunday)

Maddy Harland is editor and co-founder of Permaculture magazine, an international quarterly in print, digital and online at permaculture.co.uk. Maddy co-founded Permanent Publications in 1990, a publishing company, and the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire, UK, once a military base, and now a thriving immersive learning centre.

She is a founding member Gaia Education who developed the Ecovillage Design Education course endorsed by UNESCO. Maddy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is a Visiting Knowledge Exchange Fellow of the Institute of Theological Partnerships at the University of Winchester.



Ffyona Campbell, Devon Wild Food Walks

The Hunter Gatherer Way (Friday)

Ffyona Campbell will give a 1 hour talk with Q&A about how she discovered our ancient hunter-gatherer annual migration route which fits us into the eco-system and leads us to wild food all year round.  This route still exists in the landscape today and she will talk about how it can be incorporated into everyday life, to the benefit of Nature as well as the mind, body and spirit.

Ffyona Campbell (born in Totnes 1967) set off to walk around the world at the age of 16. During the 20,000 mile journey on foot she became very inspired by the hunter-gatherers she met: Aborigines, North American Indians, Pygmies and Daniel Thompson-Mills & Paul Boocock of Steward Community WoodlandBushmen. For 15 years Ffyona applied herself to learning the wild foods of Devon by using trial and error and the logic she had learned from hunter-gatherers.  She began to realise there is actually a logic to why wild food disappears at different times of the year: it all fits together as an annual migration route which takes us to exactly where we want to be at that time of year.

This annual migration route still exists in the landscape all over Britain to this day. Ffyona calls it The Hunter-Gatherer Way. She has written a book about her discoveries and teaches this knowledge on wild food courses through out the year.

(Photo by Dominic Rutt at streetmotion.co.uk)

Andy Goldring, CEO of The Permaculture Association

Permaculture, Sociocracy and changing the world (Saturday)

Andy Goldring is Chief Executive of the Permaculture Association, a post he has held since 1999. Significant achievements include the development of a national demonstration network with over 120 Centres across England and Scotland, a Diploma scheme supporting over 400 apprentices, an active and growing research programme, hosting of dialogue to take permaculture forwards internationally and a shift towards a more entrepreneurial direction for the Association.

Permaculture has been driven forward by pioneers and is now in at least 125 countries! There is no central coordination of activity. It seems that we are now moving into a new phase of collaboration between our many networks. The Permaculture Collaborative Laboratory is being developed to make it easier to work together. It includes online working and sociocratic decision making, and this workshop will show how the emerging framework can be applied at many levels, making it easier for us to work together in the South West,  Britain,  Europe and across the world.

Andy will also be updating attendees on the latest work being conducted by the Permaculture Association and helping guide the process of establishing a South West Regional Permaculture Network.

Andy lives in Leeds with his family and believes that doing is as important as thinking, so cycles to work, has an allotment, passes on his skills and knowledge through regular permaculture courses and is involved in a range of practical initiatives.


Steph Hafferty, No-Dig Gardener & Permanent Publications Author

No Dig Gardening & Garden Potion-Making (Saturday) 

Steph is an organic kitchen gardener, chef, writer, teacher, blogger and co-author of No Dig Organic Home and Garden with Charles Dowding. Based in Somerset, England, Steph grows abundant vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs using no dig methods almost self-sufficiently in her smallish home garden and allotment. She works at Homeacres with Charles and runs a restaurant kitchen garden at an international art gallery.  She writes about her work, potions, creations and her home gardening in her blog, NoDigHome. Her work has featured in many publications including Gardens Illustrated, Permaculture Magazine, Grow It (Now Kitchen Gardens Magazine) and Mark Boyle’s Moneyless Manifesto. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of sustainable growing and cooking to feed families and communities.

Steph gives talks and workshops on various subjects including gardening and natural potion making across the country for gardening groups, WIs, at River Cottage and other events. As part of this educational work, she has created pop up demonstration gardens for festivals and shows and was part a team advising and participating in the transformed Horticultural Village at the Bath and West Show. Steph is currently working on a plant-based recipe book.

Garden Potions Making

Learn how to make sustainable potions for your home and garden using plants you can grow and forage for. This practical demonstration introduces key plants, explains their potency and teaches skills which will enable to you make a wide range of natural products. 


Caroline Aitken, Patrick Whitefield Associates

Thinking like an ecosystem (Saturday)

Profile pic of Caroline Aitken with spade

Caroline Aitken originally studied art and design, specialising in glassmaking, and still works as an illustrator. She travelled for three years in Europe and Morocco in a bus powered by vegetable oil, then settled on a smallholding in Devon where she grew vegetables and tended livestock while also studying horticulture with the RHS.

After taking part in Patrick Whitefield’s Permaculture Design course in 2007, she was invited to return to work as the course cook and apprentice teacher. She co-taught with Patrick until he passed away in 2015, when she took on the running of Patrick Whitefield Associates permaculture courses and design consultancy. She works mainly in the South of England and teaches at venues such as The Sustainability Centre, Schumacher College, High Heathercombe and Ragmans Lane Farm. She co-authored Food from Your Forest Garden with Martin Crawford of The Agroforestry Research Trust.

Caroline lives with her husband and son on a 4-acre smallholding in South Devon, aiming to be as self-sufficient, low-impact and resilient as possible, while also reaching out to the local community. She believes that the future will be all about communities, supporting one another and sharing skills, energy and resources.


Tomas Remiarz

Forest Gardens: Lessons of the last 30 years (Sunday)

Tomas in front of plants at The Eden ProjectTomas Remiarz has been involved in creating and maintaining forest gardens across the UK and Europe for nearly 20 years. He is currently involved in a sustainable rural housing project project on a 7-acre site in Herefordshire. As a founder member of the Permaculture Association’s research advisory board he is particularly interested in studying polycultures and has produced several reports on the subject. 

Tomas' book, Forest Gardening in Practice: An Illustrated Practical Guide for Homes, Communities and Enterprises was released by Permanent Publications in March 2017. Copies of the book will be on sale over the weekend.

The workshop will transmit learning of Tomas' last 20 year practice and 4 years of research into forest gardens. Using practical examples and case studies it will highlight solutions to the physical and social challenges of edible landscaping.

Through creating edible ecosystems where food is accessible to all, several core skills of food sovereignty - ecology, horticulture, systems thinking and cooperation - become embedded in the landscape. 

reallifeforestgardens. com

Klaudia van Gool, Permaculture Design Course Tutor

Social Permaculture Design (Sunday)

A practical workshop taking you through the permaculture design process for a personal or social project / idea / issue. Participants will be able to use the design process, principles and design tools for a personal or social, non-landbased design.

Klaudia has been teaching permaculture since 2007 and has taught over 30 Permaculture Design Courses (PDCs) to date.

Klaudia has been increasingly drawn to the People Care ethic of permaculture, using the design framework, ethics and principles for personal and social designs. When Looby MacNamara published her book People & Permaculture, she was privileged to teach the first People Care PDC with her and Stefan Geyer in 2012. Followed in 2013 by a week’s People Care Design immersion with Looby and Peter Cow. 

Klaudia is one of the original members of Thriving Ways, a collective of facilitators and designers dedicated to working with natural principles to create sustainable organisations, livelihoods and projects.


Jay Tompt, REconomy Project

Permaculture and the South West Local Economy (Sunday)

Co-founding member and coordinator of the Totnes REconomy Project, a citizen-led initiative developing new models for economic regeneration, such as the Local Entreprenuer Forum and REconomy Centre. He co-created the Local Economic Blueprint course and handbook for the Transition Network’s REconomy Project, as well as spearheading Devon's annual New Economy Convergence.

Jay will be joining us for a session exploring the opportunities in and synergies between the emergent economy and permaculture. How can permaculture design principles influence local economic plans? What is a permaculture-inspired business? What local economic threads in the region can permaculture be part of? 

Jay also advises community groups and NGOs, leads workshops and gives talks about this work internationally. Prior to moving to the UK from San Francisco, Jay spent 10 years as entrepreneur and consultant in the ‘green business movement’ after a 12-year career in Silicon Valley. Jay holds an MBA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a BA in Philosophy from San Jose State University. He’s also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.




Mandy Barber, Incredible Vegetables

Incredible Vegetables (Saturday)

Mandy Barber is an organic grower, writer, speaker and plant researcher based on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon. She has been growing vegetables for many years and her passion is for researching and growing perennial vegetables, unusual edible plants and Andean tubers.

She grows things in a non traditional way, attempting to set up a polyculture type growing space with a happy mixture of annual and perennial vegetables, fruits, useful herbs and edible flowers. She has established a small enterprise called 'Incredible Vegetables’ with her partner Julien which includes a fledgling perennial vegetable nursery and an experimental project area for perennial vegetable plant trials. Some of her favourites are Skirrets - a centuries old perennial root vegetable similar in taste to a Parsnip that pre-dates the potato. Hablitzia Tamnoides a perennial semi-shade loving climbing spinach, Taunton Deane and Daubenton’s perennial kales, Perennial 9 Star Broccoli, Oca and Ulluco tubers, Yacon, Babington’s leeks, Chinese Artichokes and lots more.

Her collection of interesting plants continually expands and she hopes to grow and provide many of the hard to find edible perennials in years to come.
She regularly gives talks to transition groups, gardening groups and horticulture students both inspiring and encouraging them to grow more perennial vegetables. She has spoken at the Edible Garden Show, national garden festivals and is a regular contributor to gardening magazines and a member of the recently formed Guild of Oca Breeders. The Guild is a citizen science project testing different varieties of Oca tubers with the aim to find varieties that will will yield well in our in our climate as well as make a contribution to global food security and the future diversity of food cultivation. She has also successfully grown Ulluco for many years, another Andean tuber crop.

Peter Cow, Permaculture Educator

The Art of Mentoring and Cultural Emergence (Saturday)

Peter Cow profile picWhat cultural tools and practices can deepen our connections to ourselves, each other and the earth?

What can support us to be in our gifts and power, deepening our nature connection, holding our rites of passage, welcoming our grief and our joy, honouring our elderhood and more?

Imagine living in a community where everyone had the happiness of a child, vitality in their bodies, a commitment to supporting each other, empathy, were truly helpful and fully alive, holding love and compassion for all whilst having a quiet mind. Imagine living in a world where everyone had those attributes and qualities.

Time tested cultural tools and practices can bring out these qualities in all of us, and Jon Young and the 8 Shields Institute have been researching this for over 30 years, learning from intact, indigenous culture around the world, and synthesizing them in ways we can use in our modern lives, organisations and communities.

Peter will be talking about about 8 Shields, the Art of Mentoring and Cultural Emergence and how they can support you and your communities to thrive.
He is a member of the Permaculture Association Educators Working Group and teaches courses at Schumacher College and Embercombe in Devon. He is a also founding member of the Steward Wood permaculture community. 

Alison Ensor, Foxfield LAND Centre

Loving Slugs, Snails and Weeds! (Saturday)

A walk and talk, looking at 'weeds' and 'pests' and thinking about our own relationship within the ecosystem. Alison will give her insight into how to change from battle to understanding, using weeds as a beneficial resource, letting go of the need to control, working ultimately with cooperation. How can we actually work with nature and not against it?

How do we stop the battle against the slugs and snails and bindweed? Rather than feeling under attack and defensive, by listening and understanding the part weeds and pests play in the ecosystem we learn something important about our gardens, but also ourselves. With a change in attitude, comes a feeling of cooperation and co-creation. Once you find their uses and their message, suddenly working with nature becomes a productive journey and not a battle.

Alison Ensor runs her house and garden as a Permaculture demonstration LAND Centre. She has a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design and runs workshops and open days to help others get inspired too.



Jane Gleeson, Schumacher College

Growing future growers - Schumacher College Practical Residency (Saturday)

Jane will be offering a case study of the Schumacher residential sustainable horticulture course and lessons learned, looking at the history of the site and its on-going design and evolution.

Participants will gain an understanding of the process and challenges of establishing a sustainable food and agroforestry growing project in an educational setting and its integration in to that community.  They will also learn about the importance of whole person learning - the head , hands and heart ethos of the college's pedagogy and have opportunity to share experience of growing using alley cropping and edible ecosystem approaches.

Jane graduated in Medical Sciences at Cambridge University in 1990 and spent over ten years working in the NHS mostly within the field of mental health. She also studied theology, looking at religion and mental health. Fifteen years ago she started gardening and soon was completely hooked. “I was simply bowled over by plants and how endless fascinating they are," she said.  Jane studied and worked at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew for three years and then taught Horticulture at Hadlow College in Kent. Before coming to Schumacher she taught part-time while running her own local garden maintenance business.


Mark Biffen and Gisela Mir

All you need to know about seed-saving (Saturday)

Mark and Gisela are designers and creators of "Phoenicurus", a small-scale permaculture project in Catalonia, specialising in Mediterranean Forest Gardening, and No-Dig/Synergic Horticulture - a space for education, demonstration and experimentation. They run courses (permaculture, forest gardening design etc.); collaborate with secondary school gardens; and do land-based projects for others (one-off consultancy through to full design).

They also participate actively in the local consumers' cooperative, Cardedeu Autosuficient (as founding members and original vegetable producers); in Cardedeu en Transició (Transition Town); in the local heritage seed-saving group Llavors Orientals (as secretaries and seed-savers); and in the former EU projects, European Permaculture Teachers and European Urban Gardens.

This is an opportunity to discover how best to save, conserve and reproduce seed for all the most common vegetable species from the easiest to the more tricky.
Participants will learn how to save seed well and correctly, particularly important in the context of heritage seeds.



Sagara Vajra, East Devon Forest Garden

If only food grew on trees (Saturday)

Sagara VajraAn account of the emergent process that informs the creation of the East Devon Forest Garden – which seeks to offer physical, social, aesthetic and spiritual nourishment - and congruence with our environmental predicament.  It will include the backstory behind the creation of the East Devon Forest Garden and the emergent principles which informs its design and ongoing evolution. 

Participants will learn how the design attends to the physical, social, aesthetic and spiritual needs as well as attempting to be a lyrical response to our growing environmental problems.

Join Sagara on a Tour of East Devon Forest Garden, 10.30am - 12pm, Friday 9th June.




Anne Stobart, Holt Wood

Designing a medicinal forest garden (Saturday)

Come and hear about Anne's experience in establishing a medicinal forest garden at Holt Wood in North Devon. Anne will explain how permaculture design principles enabled them to plan a working woodland space for supplies for a medical herbalist. The discussion will focus on how best to share knowledge and promote interest in medicinal trees and shrubs.

Topics covered include: Why develop a medicinal forest garden; identifying your reasons and purpose in including medicinal trees and shrubs; The Holt Wood story from purchase to planting; permaculture design considerations, assessing the site and the original plan; Medicinal trees and shrubs to consider; native and introduced possibilities for inclusion in a forest garden; How Holt Wood has developed; challenges of harvesting and processing; technology of drying and some examples of health and body care products deriving from Holt wood; what they have learned; products they are making; understanding the potential market for home-produced body care and medicinal plant products.



Daniel Thompson-Mills & Paul Boocock of Steward Community Woodland

Low Impact Living - The joys & challenges of living on the land (Saturday)

Daniel Thompson MillsThis workshop will cover such topics as setting up a low impact project, community dynamics & organisation, finances/enterprise, low impact building, planning permission, growing, off grid living, and keeping the vision alive & strong.
Daniel Thompson-Mills (left) is a founder member of the low impact permaculture project Steward Community Woodland on the edge of Dartmoor and has lived there for 17 years. He is passionate about helping people to connect with Nature and has been involved in the Art of Mentoring movement for seven years.
Paul Boocock has a passion and talent for low impact and creative building. In addition to being involved in many projects, he has designed and built his own low impact structure called a 'pirapod'. He currently lives at Steward Community Woodland.



Harriet Bell – Community Resilience (Food & Farming) Manager at The Dartington Hall Trust

Dartington Agroforestry Project

The Dartington Hall Trust is pioneering a new model of agroforestry that aims to combine five food and farming enterprises to create an agroecological system that is both collaborative and commercially viable.

Inspired by Martin Crawford’s ground-breaking estate-based Agroforestry Research Trust, which has promoted the combining of trees and crops as an alternative to traditional monocultures since 1992, a key aim of The Dartington Hall Trust’s Land Use Review project was a wider roll out of agroforestry across the estate. The resulting innovative scheme sees farm tenants Jon and Lynne Perkin of Old Parsonage Farm team up with Luscombe Drinks, Huxhams Cross Farm and Salthouse & Peppermongers who are in partnership with the Trust itself.  

A North Londoner by birth Harriet has taken a somewhat circuitous route into agriculture covering off along the way; hospitality, tourism marketing and PR, political campaigning and an MProf in Leadership and Sustainable Development with Forum for the Future.

Harriet’s interest in agriculture is related to a general enthusiasm for good eating and lifetime campaigning on environmental issues, particularly fuelled by a year at The University of California Berkeley which highlighted the potential social, environmental and economic impacts of sustainable agriculture. Prior to joining The Dartington Hall Trust, Harriet spent several years gaining more first-hand experience at West Town Farm, an organic beef farm on the outskirts of Exeter which runs a substantial number of educational activities and open days.


Nicky Scott, North Devon Biochar

Waste = Food (Friday)

Nicky Scott studied organic growing at the Henry Doubleday research Association in the 80’s and went on to set up two market gardens and ran a theatre group touring schools about food, colonialism and multinationals. He has written books on Composting and Reuse and Recycling, is the chair and founder member of Proper Job in Chagford and Growing Devon schools. For 20 years was co-ordinator of the Devon Community Composting Network and chair of the CCN nationally for many years. Nicky is a trainer for community composting and for community gardening in collaboration with the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. 

Biochar is the timely rediscovery of an ancient soil practise from the Amazon called terra preta and is akin to putting a coral reef in your soil providing an enormous surface area of nooks and holes for all the kingdoms of life in their microscopic form to thrive in. Fungi, bacteria, Protozoa, invertebrates of all kinds, this builds rich healthy soils, sequestering carbon, helping plants thrive and improving year on year. Improving soils and agricultural practises is our best hope towards mitigating and adapting to climate change working with, rather than against natural systems.





Helen Kearney, Ecological Land Cooperative

Herb walk - Identify common plants and their uses (Friday)

Helen is a medical herbalist and often runs herb walks looking at common plants (or weeds) and trees and their uses.

This walk will look at how to identify commonly found plants and a range of medicinal and edible uses as well as what to look out for-poisonous plants and good foraging guidelines. Participants will also learn how to make a medicinal balm and where to go for more information. Participants will also learn about the work of the Ecological Land Co-operative and what it is like to be a tenant of this organisation.



Dr Larch Maxey, Network of Wellbeing

Well-Being & Permaculture (Friday)

Larch Maxey

Larch is committed to co-creating a world where all can flourish and has co-founded twenty organisations to this end, including Lammas, the Fleming Policy Centre and NOW.

He has taught, researched and practiced sustainability since 1988, with over 50 academic and popular publications. He has held lectureships and post-doctoral research posts with Swansea University (1994-2009), the Centre for Alternative Technology (2009-2010) and Plymouth University (2010-2015). Larch has built and lived in several low impact homes and is a Director of Bright Green Futures.

Larch is Group Representative for Balanced View Totnes. He lives in Totnes and loves surfing, walking and foraging.

This workshop will be a fun, participatory look at what wellbeing can do for permaculture and how permaculture can enhance wellbeing for all! It will draw on 40 years' research into wellbeing and a growing international movement as well as local community projects.

It will include an introduction to wellbeing - holistic approach, research evidence, international movement beyond GDP, outlining NOW's approach to community wellbeing and wellbeing workshops

Participants will begin to develop an understanding of how they can integrate wellbeing insights into their permaculture designs and use wellbeing discourses to promote their permcaulture work, as well as how they can use their permaculture designs to improve wellbeing.


Matt Ralston

An Introduction to Upcycling (Sunday) / How to make and use Biochar (Saturday)

In his biochar workshop, Matt will show us how to make and use biochar, the equipment required, wood types and inoculants. This is a tried and tested method suitable for small holdings or allotment groups (including how he manufactures his biochar stove).  

Matt's second workshop will offer a practical introduction to up-cycling - Matt makes tools for permaculturists including broad forks, rocket stoves, bio-char stoves, Jack-axes, seed boxes, pallet projects and many more.

Matt Ralston is a regular presenter at permaculture convergences across the UK.

Elisabeth Winkler, Biodynamic Land Trust

Looking for land whisperers (Friday)

A charitable community benefit society, the Biodynamic Land Trust secures UK land in trust for community-owned ecological farming, bringing communities together to create living working farms and forging connections between land, food and people. 

Looking for land whisperers is an idea that comes from Terre de Liens, land whisperers are people sensitive to the land

and on the look-out for land opportunities.

Why? Because UK land is scarce and expensive.

Instead of land being locked up as an investment or sold to developers for un-affordable housing,

we could instead grow healthy food, reinvigorate the soil, revive wildlife, create places of wellbeing and training,

grow livelihoods and communities.

Plus a brief overview of the Biodynamic Land Trust and its model of community-owned farms

achieved through community shares with reference to Huxhams Cross Farm. 


Anne-Marie Mayer PhD, Nutrition and Agriculture Consultant

Applying permaculture in Science and International Development (Saturday)

Anne-Marie Mayer will lead a discussion on 25 years of trying to apply Permaculture design principles to her work in the mainstream of science and international development. The trials and tribulations of her journey since she did her PDC in 1992 with some opportunity for discussion and reflections.

This will be presented as a story of her efforts from organising an exhibition of sustainable living, to application of Permaculture Principles in nutritional science in academia and also in the international development sector where she has worked on the links between agriculture and nutrition.


Bob Mehew

Huxhams Cross Farm - A community-owned biodynamic farm (Saturday)

An introduction to the community-owned farm Huxhams Cross, situated near Totnes in Devon and established by the Biodynamic Land Trust. Bob Mehew is the farm manager.


Marion Fanning

What is permaculture? (Friday & Saturday)

This informal presentation will give an overview of the basics of Permaculture and is aimed at those who are curious to discover its many and varied applications. It aims to dispel the myth that Permaculture is entirely about no dig/organic gardening!

This will be a colourful gallop through the Ethics and Principles, the planning and design tools, and their practical application to our everyday lives.

Marion lives on a one acre Permaculture Garden in North Devon. This Summer will see the launch of a number of Permaculture related events and a weekend 'Intro to Permaculture' course.

Please see her Facebook page 'Wise Ways to Wellbeing' for details, future dates and photos.


Opportunities to participate

All slots are now full for the South West Convergence 2017. 

For booking information and other details of the convergence, please visit our main convergence page. 


Costa Boutsikaris, Director of Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective  

Film Screening + Q&A

Inhabit film posterCosta Boutsikaris, the Director of Inhabit: Permaculture Perspective, is touring the UK screening the documentary and filming episodes for a new series titled Woodlanders.

Costa will be introducing the film and running a Q&A session on it's productions and issues and projects featured in the movie.

Inhabit is a feature length documentary introducing permaculture: a design method that offers an ecological lens for solving issues related to agriculture, economics, governance, and on.

Costa is a native of the Hudson River Valley in New York. After traveling around the Northeast US for a year learning more about this design philosophy and living at permaculture sites he was inspired to make his first feature documentary.

In 2012, after finishing a Permaculture Design Course in NYC and graduating from film school, Costa raised funds on KickStarter to convert a diesel van to run on waste vegetable oil. The money was also used to buy an 80 Watt solar panel to create a renewable energy film vehicle that could allow for mobile editing and camera charging.