What’s a Permaculture Course?


Do you suffer from climate or eco-anxiety? Want to lessen your environmental impact & nudge others towards positive change? Are you wondering what practical things you can do to make a difference? Are you wondering “what’s a Permaculture course?” If any of these questions feel familiar, consider one of our courses this October, if you are looking to skill-up and adapt to this seemingly ever-worsening period of climate insecurity.

So what IS Permaculture? A lot of people have a lot of different ideas – often associated with specific gardening techniques, like herb spirals, or mulching.  But in fact, it is a design approach, which helps you apply whole-systems thinking to problems – and not just gardening ones! Permaculture provides a protocol for decision making, which is the opposite of the short-termist, waste-producing, linear, accumulation-focussed, capitalism-inspired problem-solving methods most of us in the Global North are taught, and which study after study have shown are responsible for our climate crisis.

Permaculture has been around since the late 1970s, and has evolved and grown since then, gradually moving from origins in Australian environmental academia, to a design system applied mostly in ecological sub-cultures, or off-grid, outlying places, and increasingly, into a design system being applied at all scales, in many contexts, by people from every demographic. Our Mike for one, was teaching it in Urban Sustainability Design courses at university level in London, in the noughties, as an example of a whole-systems approach which would drastically benefit the architectural and urban design world, by lowering the impact of built environment projects.  But typically, until the crisis has started to really confront us face-to-face on a daily basis, we’ve are slow to make systemic change as a society, which feels “too hard” or “too different”.  Not to mention the fact that the entire economic, educational and in many places cultural system is set up to dissuade us from self-sufficiency, and to encourage dependency on big business to provide many products, services and needs which until only a few hundred years ago were self-produced, or exchanged within community, shared by default, or held in common. We don’t have to look many generations back to realise that a growth-based capitalist system, is simply not that old, and that we are by no means locked into this planet-destroying way of living together.  In fact, we have been doing things differently for longer than we have been doing them the way which dominates now.

Oil companies have known, as have the world’s scientists , for over half a century, that we are headed towards drastic climate change, from the mid 20th century onwards. Despite this, in the Global North, we were taught businesses and industries can grow infinitely whilst existing on a finite planet, & that “the market” would make sure resources were accessible to all, and that “market mechanisms” like self-regulation would ensure business interests didn’t damage the environment in the pursuit of growth. And remember how they taught us what the farms that supply our supermarkets look like? Do you really still believe that they are bucolic and pastoral like the ones on food labels, and that something certified “organic” or “animal-friendly” can really be trusted to be so? How many times have you seen the word “green” or “sustainable” on something you know in your heart of hearts is just plain BAD? Reading this post cannot be the first time you have felt unease or an unsettling discord between what you learned in school, and where our society is heading, no? If you are saying yes to this, then maybe it is time to take the plunge, and un-learn, and re-tool. Permaculture can teach us to think like complex adaptive systems, with a long term view, and not just be components of the capitalist economic machine, creating value for the elite so we can buy more things we’ve been convinced we need.

This is the kind of thinking, experimentation and re-tooling we have been doing at La Bruguera, since we set up 7 years ago.  Now, as a “Living Lab” for Research and Degrowth International, an academic association affiliated with the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona’s Institute for Environmental Science and Technology, we are connected in to a rich intellectual seam of academics, post-grads and masters’ students, exploring the application of alternative systems and world views, with a view to making a more just, climate-positive world, for all its creatures and ecosystems.

If a way of thinking devised to help you see your way out of the dominant, environmentally damaging system interests you, we’ll be running two 1 week “Introduction to Permaculture” courses here in October (first in Spanish, then in English), an Urban Permaculture weekend, and a 4 day Planet Positive Living course. If you want to top up your skills and knowledge for the coming age of climate insecurity, there is no better place to start, so get in touch with us for more info.

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