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The Centre for Practical Sustainability at Lackan Cottage Farm

Come and learn at Ireland’s only Permaculture LAND  (learning and network demonstration) Centre. We welcome visitors, run courses, seminars and open days where people can come to see practical examples of permaculture and sustainability in action. This is a working family smallholding, as well as an award winning Green Tourism destination. Entirely off grid using solar and wind power, we have a wide range of practical examples of low impact and off grid projects to share with visitors.

Permaculture by design

Permaculture has long been at the heart of what we do at Lackan – we first encountered permaculture at the Quarries Farm, through the teaching of Philip Allen, a veteran of permaculture in Ireland, and when we arrived at the farm here we endeavoured to observe our surroundings and come up with a plan that would embody permaculture principles.

Over the years that has steadily evolved, and we’ve experimented with all kinds of projects here. Steve now has a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate), having completed a 2 week course at Carraig Dulra, and he’s now in the middle of completing his Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design. Many of the designs that form part of the material for the Diploma are based here at Lackan, and participating in the course has been invaluable in refining designs here.

Over the years we’ve hosted many Introduction to Permaculture courses in conjunction with our friend Hannah at Earthcare Designs, and we’ll continue to offer a variety of permaculture training in 2019. Our own interpretation of permaculture is very practical in nature but like the site itself is always evolving.

We’re part of the core team organising All Ireland Permaculture, which for the last seven years has consisted of the Permaculture Gatherings, and most recently the European Permaculture Convergence in Wicklow. We’re now working on the first Northern Gathering, to be held at Oxford Island bushcraft centre in August 2019, as well as working to develop the LAND network in Ireland. Part of our skillset is also web development, and Steve is responsible for the Permaculture.ie website and the new map of permaculture sites.

LAND Centre pioneers

We’re really pleased to have become the first Permaculture LAND centre in Northern Ireland. There are currently LAND networks in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Scotland, England and Wales.

The LAND networks have been established to provide practical examples of land based permaculture design in a wide variety of places, climates and cultures. Centres are generally those that open to the public for visits, demonstrations and events.

Unlike in the rest of the UK, Permaculture in Northern Ireland is part of All Ireland Permaculture, which doesn’t yet have a formal central organisation, so Andy Goldring, CEO of Permaculture UK has very kindly worked with us to certify Lackan Cottage Farm as a LAND centre, with the aim that we will now be able to work within the All Ireland Permaculture network to establish our own network of LAND centres here in Ireland.

We’re still working out the details of how that will happen, but our experiences here at Lackan will be invaluable to others as they establish other LAND centres acrosss Ireland.

The broad aims of the LAND network are –

To create a network of permaculture practitioners working on land-based projects.
Centres will excel in their permaculture design skills, and will be better equipped to teach others the possibilities of permaculture design.
Centres will be better resourced to deliver courses and local presentations, and seen as a hub for permaculture in their local community.
Centres will be better prepared to provide volunteer opportunities for local people and itinerant learners.
Visiting groups will be aware of the opportunities to actively visit IreLAND Learners and Centres.
and the benefits to participants –

 

Connecting with other inspiring projects
Increased exposure for your project through Permaculture.ie
Potential training and support for aspiring LAND centres
Increased visibility and accessibility of your project to others for permaculture related courses and events
Receiving more visitors and volunteers at your project
Recognition for the work at your LAND centre
Our assessment was carried out by Hannah Mole of Earthcare Permaculture Design in Roscommon, and we’ll both be applying what we’ve learned about the process to benefit other centres as they are assessed.

As part of the process of building permaculture networks, the All Ireland Permaculture website – www.permaculture.ie has been redesigned, and people can now add their projects, whether land based or not, as well as events and courses. It is free to add listings, and we hope the site will build into a valuable resource.

The UK map – https://www.permaculture.org.uk/people-projects-places/land/map and the new Permaculture Ireland map of projects – https://permaculture.ie/map/

Reducing our ecological footprint using renewable energy

RENEWABLE ENERGY

100% of our power is generated on site using solar pv and wind

Planting trees and increasing biodiversity

WOODLANDS

We manage woodlands for fuel and recreation and have planted over 1500 new trees.

Growing organic food

ORGANIC FOOD

Our home grown food is organic, healthy, fresh and available on site.

Using natural materials and creating efficient buildings

EFFICIENT BUILDINGS

Heated by the sun; built using natural, local and ethical materials, and lovingly hand made.

Our story

Like many people, our desirelive off grid was a reaction to the issues of climate change and uncertainty. These now seem to be an inescapable fact of life in the 21st century. We decided to become more self reliant whilst working with other like minded families to establish a resilient community. As a result that stretches from our immediate neighbourhood right across the island of Ireland.

Lackan Cottage Farm has become a centre for practical sustainability. We are the first accredited LAND (Learning and Network Demonstration) centre on the island of Ireland, and we are pioneering Green Tourism by becoming the first Green Key business in the country, as recognition of our commitment to sustainability.

We came from ‘regular’ 9-5 jobs, typical levels of modern debt and exhaustion, and decided to give it up to live in a converted horsebox while volunteering on a friend’s farm. From there we found Lackan Cottage Farm and established our own smallholding using permaculture and organic principles.

Our vision

Our aim is to substantially meet our energy, food, water and waste requirements from our smallholding. Furthermore, to provide a healthy and ecologically sound environment in which visitors can learn from our experiences. We show how it is possible to live in a more sustainable manner without compromising their standard of living.

We offer our self catering cottage and off grid horse box alongside short practical courses. These are based on a variety of ecological themes, as well as offering an ‘off grid experience’ to those seeking to live more self reliantly. Furthermore, rising food and energy prices along with recent revelations about the complexity of the modern food chain mean that interest in home food production, and living ‘The Good Life’ are at an all time high.

We realise that for many people, taking this to the level that we have is not practical, however there are many aspects that they will be able to take away and adapt to fit into their lifestyles.

Water

Waste

Food

Energy

Shelter

Latest News

The Truck in the Times Top 20 Off Grid places

The Truck in the Times Top 20 Off Grid places

It's always nice to be recognised, and this week the off grid horsebox appeared on The TImes Top 20 off grid places to stay in the UK list. Introducing people to the idea of living more simply, whether off grid or on grid has always been our aim, and because we lived...

read more
Wild Horses with Joe Rocks

Wild Horses with Joe Rocks

Musician Joe Rocks and his partner came and stayed in our off grid horsebox earlier in the year, and recorded this version of 'Wild Horses' during their stay, which they've very kindly shared with us. It's always lovely to see that people enjoyed their time here....

read more
A filming day, and the garden makeover continues

A filming day, and the garden makeover continues

There is definitely an increase in the whole idea of sustainable living, living off grid, permaculture, tiny homes - all the things that are part of the 'how do we survive the next 20 or 30 years' mix. On Wednesday it was the turn of Jon, filming for a ten minute...

read more

Who turned the sun off?

Weeks like the one we've just had are an off-gridder's nightmare. After some lovely cold autumnal days, it is now seven days since we saw anything approaching sunshine, and output from our solar PV is negligible, to put it kindly. It is weather like this that leads...

Wood pellet boiler adventures

Sometimes we're just cruising along doing our thing and a project arrives out of the blue. In this case it came in the form of our largest freecycle ever, courtesy of Leo, who had spotted it and decided it was too big a thing to deal with. 'It' is a Czech made Ponast...

Tidying up the power station

I actually did this work earlier in the summer but never got around to posting it. We decided to install another 4kw of solar pv, principally to allow us to run immersion heaters in both cottages over the summer and thus almost completely remove the need for lighting...

Making headway in the garden

Every day now it feels like we are making headway in the garden, this week we've brought in 4000 litres of compost to put on the newly manured beds, and that gives us a really nice fine surface to sow and plant into. It's pretty late now, but we've lots of winter...

Scythes, fresh planting and the chicken hordes

A beautiful summer's day here at Lackan, and one that began with some scythe action in the front field. The new austrian scythe is incredibly sharp, and I can cut grass to literally an inch long with it if I need to - certainly its as quick as a strimmer, and great...

We did it! The Northern Gathering was a success.

After months of preparation and planning, last weekend saw the first Northern Permaculture Gathering happen at Oxford Island. Permaculture legend Suzie Cahn started the gatherings off, some eight years ago, and has been central to their organisation ever since. Suzie...

Birch Cottage makes the Guardian Top 15 Off Grid places to stay

Birch Cottage features in the Guardian's 15 of the best places to stay off grid in the UK - 'Off grid living with creature comforts'.  https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/apr/27/15-best-off-grid-places-to-stay-in-uk-cottages-huts Since then we've improved the...

The Truck in the Times Top 20 Off Grid places

It's always nice to be recognised, and this week the off grid horsebox appeared on The TImes Top 20 off grid places to stay in the UK list. Introducing people to the idea of living more simply, whether off grid or on grid has always been our aim, and because we lived...

Wild Horses with Joe Rocks

Musician Joe Rocks and his partner came and stayed in our off grid horsebox earlier in the year, and recorded this version of 'Wild Horses' during their stay, which they've very kindly shared with us. It's always lovely to see that people enjoyed their time here....

A filming day, and the garden makeover continues

There is definitely an increase in the whole idea of sustainable living, living off grid, permaculture, tiny homes - all the things that are part of the 'how do we survive the next 20 or 30 years' mix. On Wednesday it was the turn of Jon, filming for a ten minute...

More seven year improvements

So having got the house to the point where it behaves itself - we have charged batteries, far more hot water, and considerably less chance of it raining inside the house, as well as not having lit the fire for some time now; we have finally been able to turn our...

The storm before the calm

I keep nearly writing posts, and it seems there is so much to put in that it never gets done, so its time for a good update and then we'll keep up to date. There is certainly plenty going on, so here goes. It's getting on for a decade since I began this journey, and...

GROW Citizen Soil Observatory

Building Better Soil Through Citizen Science Through Permaculture UK, we are excited to be a partner in the GROW Observatory, a European-wide project engaging thousands of growers as citizen scientists. We will learn together, using simple tools to better manage...