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A Return of Surplus

Brighton Permaculture Trust

Life’s good here on our little farm Djaning, in The Channon, Northern NSW, Australia. Our acre or two of forest garden is now producing fruit, we’ve not just survived, but thrived through the hottest, driest year on record, along with one of the wettest before it. In large part we have ourselves to thank; we’ve been consistent in applying self regulation and accepting feedback, being sure to use small and slow solutions, and enjoying using and valuing diversity to name a few.

As the ethical approaches of the design science have helped us so much, I thought it time to maximise the third ethic; return of the surplus, and key to the first two working most effectively. To do so I thought it time to acknowledge some of my most influential and formative permaculture roots. To start this journey of acknowledgement I have chosen to tip my hat and bow to the one and only Brighton Permaculture Trust (BPT) based in East Sussex, England.

So what to say about the place that enabled my first serious foray into permaculture? I have nothing but good things to share about the trust and all of its members. There are a few individuals that come to mind, and have done for many years now as I work on our permaculture dream here in Australia. First to mind is always the ever humble Director of Brighton Permaculture Trust, Bryn Thomas. Any person that can withstand my relentless questioning for many hours on end, day after day, is highly commendable to say the least.  Bryn would not only field all my questions with a smile he’d be fielding questions of many other participants, running the show, and seemingly effortlessly pulling the strings that make the Trust what it is.

Bryn Thomas
Bryn Thomas. Photograph by Benjamin Youd.

I came upon Brighton Permaculture Trust after completing my Masters in International Development, hungry for an effective solutions based methodology it came to my aid. I began by volunteering for a strawbale build course with more immensely inspiring people, namely volunteer organiser Kate Greenhalf, Strawbale master Ian Brown and Earthship architect Mischa Hewitt. I remember being so excited to be there. To be actually getting involved with my then local community, implementing what is now the Trusts HQ, The Fruit Factory in Stanmer Village. Like the director of the trust these people were tireless in exercising their calm and humble demeanour, whilst delivering inexhaustible information for my insatiable appetite. Again I thank them deeply. After this first volunteering bout I went on to spend many months working and volunteering with BPT, everything form fronting information stalls, to planting fruit trees, getting the lowdown on rammed earth to the specifics of lime rendering, cob and apple orchard management. All of this was hugely memorable, engaging, enjoyable and informative.

 

Apple Day
Apple Day 2019. Photograph by Saffron Hunt

Apple Day Brighton has been a much loved family day out. Brighton Permaculture Trust has been putting on this free event for 13 years. It has grown from a seed of an idea to attracting over 8,000 visitors enjoying the fruits from the orchards.

My life partner Laura did her first permaculture design certificate with BPT, this has been just as influential, if not more so than my volunteering and working bouts with the Trust. Whilst taking the PDC it seemed normal that a course could or should be so well run. It has not been until recent years, after many PDCs as students, volunteers and teachers, that we realise just how well run they are. Both Laura and I constantly reference BPTs facilitation and general engagement processes as demonstrated by facilitators Chloe Anthony, Tracy Hind and others. Finding ourselves designing courses late into the night, children asleep, and asking “How did Brighton do it!?”

With luminaries such as David Jacke, Ben Law, Dusty Gedge and many more on their team it’s no surprise it’s been so influential for us and others. Do yourself a favour, whether you’re in Southern England, the UK, Europe or anywhere in the world, it’s worthwhile taking the time to see what Brighton Permaculture Trust have on offer. We did and we’ve never regretted it.

Strawbale Course
Author at Strawbale build course completion (centre right with back t-shirt, coloured square)

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