Well this weekend was the All Ireland Permaculture Gathering, held at Cloughjordan Eco Village in Tipperary. The whole thing was really interesting, and despite almost continuous rain for the entire weekend, I had a great time and now that I’m back am itching to get on with all sorts of projects. I was looking forward to revisiting Cloughjordan, because the last time I visited was six years ago, when it was at an early stage, and we were scouting around for place to live. I’ll blog about the ecovillage separately as my experience of it is a complex one and quite separate from the Gathering itself.
Anyhow, the Gathering. Basically a get together for 250 ish people who are interested in permaculture and all sorts of things related to it. The basic format of the event is set, and then once everyone is there, they are free to offer workshops, talks and demonstrations or whatever, and the timetable is generated out of that. In that sense it is ‘self organising’, and everyone is a participant not just a passive visitor. People help prepare meals, tend fires, mind venues,welcome arrivals, and it generally all works out well.
This year I focused on talks centred around food – so I got a look around the community supported agriculture project, where the community effectively employs a couple of (very) experienced guys to manage the farm and grow the food. Their breadth and depth of knowledge in food production was amazing, though a recurring theme of a lack of pairs of hands came up several times, and they have a big job on their hands to manage the significant growing space that is at their disposal.
I also went to a talk by Bruce about his RED gardens project, which I’ll let him explain. Having some comparative data (or any data come to that) about small scale food production methods is something that is long overdue –
Bruce also introduced his Black garden project, which is larger than our own growing space, but brings up some interesting questions about resilience in food growing –
I also got a chance to see first hand the idea of growing mushrooms on logs – I looked at this last year and then just ran out of time, but having seen how successful it really can be, and that given the 18 month lead time, now is the best time to start, I’m going to make this an autumn project. We have nigh perfect conditions here in the birch woods for mushroom production, and I am interested to see whether it might be a useful part of our woodland management.
Another workshop that I was excited about was beekeeping – we had a hive here on the farm two summers ago, and Claire has completed her basic beekeeping course. My turn next, but in the meantime I’m going to build an inexpensive top bar beehive so that we are ready to home some bees if I can find them…
and last but most certainly not least, I got to see Pat talking about and harnessing up his working cob, who is pretty much the same size and shape as Rain, so now I’m itching to get on and get Rain working properly.