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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

Books – The self sufficient house

None of this energy saving, off grid stuff has appeared out of thin air. Back in 1980, Brenda and Robert Vale wrote 'The self sufficient house', which is still an incredibly useful resource and which is full of good practical information on improving the energy...

read more

Affordable off-grid?

Yesterday I went on the radio to talk with a couple of other people about living off grid. Trouble is though you get a few minutes to talk and then its over without really getting to say what you wanted, unless you're a trained media professional, which I'm not.  As...

read more

Congratulations to a happy couple

It is always wonderful when guests choose Birch Cottage to pop the question, and even more wonderful when they share the news with us. Gary proposed to Grainne this week, and they are now engaged to be married. Congratulations guys 🙂

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 to...

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 soil,...

Exploring the Mourne Coastal Route

Recently we welcomed the folks from Outsider.ie - Ireland's Adventure Magazine to visit, and we're really pleased to feature as part of this promotional video made in association with Discover Northern Ireland. The Mourne Coastal Route is undoubtedly the nicest part...

Building and installing a ram pump

A little stream runs through the farm - actually its a drainage channel, cut into the rock to drain this part of the bog, well over a hundred years ago. The fields and woods drain into it, and it heads off through the countryside which is mostly level. As it passes...

Books – The self sufficient house

None of this energy saving, off grid stuff has appeared out of thin air. Back in 1980, Brenda and Robert Vale wrote 'The self sufficient house', which is still an incredibly useful resource and which is full of good practical information on improving the energy...

Affordable off-grid?

Yesterday I went on the radio to talk with a couple of other people about living off grid. Trouble is though you get a few minutes to talk and then its over without really getting to say what you wanted, unless you're a trained media professional, which I'm not.  As...

Congratulations to a happy couple

It is always wonderful when guests choose Birch Cottage to pop the question, and even more wonderful when they share the news with us. Gary proposed to Grainne this week, and they are now engaged to be married. Congratulations guys 🙂

Starting on a positive note

It's only a few days into the new year and already it's been a busy one. We're heading into our seventh year here at Lackan, a lot of the physical heavy lifting of sorting buildings and structure is done. Over the last years we've welcomed a lot of volunteers,...

Pioneering Eco Tourism with Green Key

We’ve always been passionate about increasing awareness of the many environmental issues that face us all, and a major part of that is through our self catering accommodation here at Lackan. Visitors can see that is is possible to reduce their environmental impact and still live in a beautiful, comfortable space. As pioneers of ‘eco tourism’ in Northern Ireland, we’re always looking for ways to increase the profile of green living.

Off grid living series of courses

Once again this year we are offering our popular one day 'Off Grid Living' course, which takes a look at all the aspects of living the off grid life here at Lackan, and gives practical examples of how elements of this can be used in your everyday life. Our new off...