Natasha's experience of the Permaculture Design Course

“I feel like I know a secret and want to share it with the world!”

Natasha PDC

This time, I find myself sitting in a café near Old Street, chatting to the outgoing Natasha. Deciding that there are all sorts of fun ways to enjoy work fully and they don't always involve a PowerPoint, in August 2015 Natasha found herself on a group dynamic learning course run by Looby Macnamara and Robin Clayfield, at the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire. On this course, everyone kept talking about this thing called permaculture, but Natasha and her friend had no idea what they were talking about. After a few enlightening conversations, she realised what she had been seeking (i.e community: a way of life back to basics, to how it once was and what's truly important) has a name, and even better, a whole community built around it.

Fast forward to April 2016, and Natasha had already completed a Permaculture for Transition course and an Introduction to Permaculture, both at Treadwell, and was about to begin the Permaculture Design Course (PDC). Self-admittedly not a green-fingered person, Natasha explains that, although she is interested in expanding her gardening skills, her main interests are the social and community benefits applying permaculture to your life can bring. For example, bringing elderly people homes together with nurseries, for the benefit of both young and old, is a common sense solution to social isolation, using random assembly and building beneficial relationships, core principles of permaculture. That the Social Landscapes PDC was affordable and fairly local, were clinchers in deciding where to do the course. Structurally, the course is on every second or third weekend, which Natasha really appreciated, as it meant not having to give up any of that precious commodity – paid holiday leave!

Natasha’s passions include group facilitation, so the weekend spent at the Quadrangle Trust was a pleasant surprise. Covering topics such as team building and group dynamics, Natasha began thinking how these principles can be used to facilitate groups, which is one key career direction she is interested in.  A lot of people believe that to be involved in permaculture you have to have a keen interest in gardening and outside spaces, but permaculture principles can be applied to all aspects of our lives. Following the weekend at the Quadrangle Trust, Natasha feels confident in explaining to others that there is so much more to it, that this isn’t the sole use of permaculture. Having a full weekend being absorbed in nature, with the group, was also a nice change from only spending the day together.

PDC Quadrangle Trust

A few months after completing the course, the most important thing now for Natasha is not losing anything she felt she gained. She feels that she was given a toolkit of different things that can be useful in any situation, alongside a support system and network which is built out of the special relationships formed by the group. In addition to being in touch with various gardening groups, Natasha is continually talking to different people about permaculture, because in her own words, “I feel like I know a secret and want to share it with the world!”

Her advice to future students? Don’t start a Permaculture Design Course expecting answers to all of your questions – the beauty of permaculture is it opens doors, it is constantly evolving and each person has their unique life experiences, views and purpose to contribute. It might seem like a big time commitment, but before you know it, it’ll be finished and you’ll be wondering where the time has gone!

Natasha is a former globe trotting food scientist with a passion for the senses, community collaboration and encouraging others to enjoy life to the full, with childlike curiosity and playfulness. Her 'permaculture portfolio' career includes leading chocolate and ice cream tours in London, helping companies with their sales and marketing, writing, and working on fun creative workshops. She loves to collaborate with others, especially those putting on fun multi-sensory events, workshops and talks! You can say hi on twitter @NBlok1.

This blog post was written by Sophie Roach, who is currently interning with Social Landscapes. After working on a permaculture farm in Chile earlier this year, she is keen to learn more about the ethics and attitudinal principles of permaculture, and how these can be used to enrich the lives of children and young people. For more information on this project, please contact info@sociallandscapes.co.uk.