19 November 2016


The Thriving Communities Gathering brings together a line-up of permaculture-inspired activists.  There will be informative workshops and talks across 12 sessions. The gathering follows on from the Permaculture Association AGM, is open to non-members and is designed with our mission in mind, to "Empower people to design thriving communities across Britain, and contribute to permaculture worldwide."

The final timetable can be found here. 


  • World Cafe session on the new Friends of Permaculture scheme (members only), 11.30am

The new Friends of Permaculture scheme aims to build funds, interest and practical support to help disadvantaged communities thrive with permaculture. Input thoughts and ideas in this session, led by Andy Goldring, CEO.

  • A tour of Graceworks and local projects including a green roof and community gardens - with Ursula Bilson and Samantha Woods, 1.30pm and 3.00pm

The 1.30pm tour will include a visit to a local community garden and then to a green roof project by Ursula Bilson, created as part of her Diploma project. 

The 3.00pm tour will be a walk around the Graceworks garden and a chance for a Q&A about the project, it's activities and the local permaculture scene.

  • Creating Gardens of Sanctuary - A refugee and asylum seeker project - with Ben Margolis, 4.30pm
The Permaculture Association, Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, and the City of Sanctuary network are developing a project to support growing spaces around the UK to welcome refugees and asylum seekers to become part of their communities. Based in part on the experience of The Grange in Norfolk, which has been welcoming asylum seekers to their 10 acre smallholding for 5 years, the Gardens of Sanctuary project will provide support and training for community and growing groups as well as an award scheme.
We are hoping to launch a pilot for the project in 2017. Come to the workshop to find out more, to learn how to become part of the pilot, and to contribute your ideas. 


  • Permaculture in Prisons - with Nicole Vosper, 3.00pm

Ex-prisoner Nicole Vosper explores the links between permaculture and working for a world without prisons. She introduces the prison industrial complex in the UK and how the current system fails and harms communities, as well as current plans to build a new prison in Leicester. The workshop will explore how we can use permaculture to design and build communities that meet human needs without resorting to cages or state violence.

Failing to meet the needs of survivors of harm, criminalising and brutalising the working class, prisons serve no one but those at the top. Essential links are to be made for all those that believe we can re-design our social and economic systems. Nicole sees organising for prison abolition as a creative act. It is the unstoppable desire for self-determination, social justice and ecological living that the permaculture movement is rooted in.



  • Designing Urban Spaces with permaculture - with Jennifer Lauruol, 4.30pm

This workshop has two parts. In the first one we will look at a brief history of garden design styles through history, and how to design within these using permaculture design principles. In the second session I will share photographs from two large, modern, urban gardens, one in Barcelona and the other in Paris. We will share a practical activity of re-imagining the two gardens if we had been asked to design them in their particular style, using permaculture design principles. We will also discuss some aspects of practical design and construction required for the gardens.


  • Positive Partnerships - Working with prisons, schools and local councils - with Jo Metcalfe of Greener Growth, 3.00pm

All the momentum we generate is based on connecting with the right partnerships. In the prisons it's the Pipes/TC Units (the therapeutic units in prisons), in schools it's the teachers, with our community projects it can be the Parish Councils - but it's always connecting different groups that creates the momentum.

Greener Growth is a community-focused organisation seeking to help people of all ages to be confident and self-sufficient by growing their own food. Our projects are targeted at schools, colleges, universities, prisons and village groups. 

Participants in Greener Growth will learn to plant, grow and harvest fresh fruit and vegetables on vacant or underused land. By so doing they will turn neglected plots into productive resources, promote biodiversity and nurture habitats for wildlife, since conservation is a key part of our ethic.


  • Reciprocity in Communities - Working with deprivation - with Charlie Gray of Horton Community Farm & Grow Bradford, 1.30pm

This workshop is about creating reciprocal relationships in deprived communities, of which Charlie has great experience to share through her work in and around Bradford. Charlie is part of a LAND permaculture Centre in Bradford, West Yorks as well as Grow Bradford and Plenty, all food related organisations which are helping to transform food systems across Bradford by various means.

The next steps for these projects are all focused on how to link underprivileged and privileged areas and how to run projects across these areas to best effect.


  • Hyde Park Source - Urban community project in Leeds that uses permaculture in design and process - with Pete Tatham, 4.30pm

We will share how we use Permaculture to inspire our work with disadvantaged communities in Leeds, not only designing spaces but informing how we work with each other throughout this process. We will also introduce some community design tools which we are currently developing in partnership with Edible Cities. We will leave plenty of time for questions and discussions, hopefully you can help answer some of ours as well!

It would be helpful if people are interested in Hyde Park Source for them to have a look at the website before coming to the session to save time on sharing background info.


  • Using the Design Web - Diploma Accreditation with Anna Locke, 3.00pm

An accreditation event is the culmination of the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design, in which the apprentice makes a 45 minute presentation of a selection of their design work to a peer group panel made up of Diploma holders and Design Course Certificate holders. This panel also inspects the student's portfolio and assesses the work against the accreditation criteria.

Anna Locke is presenting highlights from her 3 year diploma journey.  Her 10 designs reflect her paid work as a community gardener as well as a playful translation of some of the classic land-based permaculture concepts into reality --- e.g. Hugelkulture, biodiversity, using edges, green manures, grafting, irrigation, creating structures and more.

The presentation is in two parts- first an overview of the 10 designs- 7 of which are in London and 3 of which are within a very large community forest project in Sussex.

The second part is about a growing connection with the use of the design web.  Because of the complex nature of community gardening Anna started using the design web and doing people-centred designs.  There is a clear progression along the 10 designs journey and she will be giving her thoughts, tips, observations and reflections  gathered along the way. 

  • Ecoworks Community Garden - with Paul Paine, 3.00pm

This session is a virtual tour of Ecoworks Community Garden based in inner city Nottingham. Ecoworks is a LAND demonstration centre on ten adjoining allotments growing a wide range of food. They offer willow workshops in their straw bale shed and work with users and ex users of the mental health services, people with learning difficulties and those with an interest in the environment. Initially Ecoworks was set up to combine people care and earth care, these ethics have always been at the heart of the organisation. 


  • Creative Dying: Permaculture Design for end of life care - Katie Shepherd, 1.30pm

Creative Dying uses permaculture design at its centre. The workshop will encourage participants to explore creative, positive and unique approaches that we can take to design the end of our lives and how we die. It will appeal to the many people throughout the world already using permaculture to increase resilience and healing in other aspects of their life and work.


  • Purchasing a farm in Lincolnshire - Community Update from The Inkpot: Hannah Thorogood, 1.30pm

The farm next door to the Inkpot, (a well run 18 acre permaculture demonstration farm) is up for sale.

Hannah Thorogood, who runs the Inkpot is setting up a community land trust to buy it. The opportunity is to expand the current enterprises that run on the Inkpot, such as holistically managed, organic animals, vegetable gardens, forest gardens, courses and events.


Return to main AGM/Thriving Communities page here for full information.