Louise's experience of the Permaculture Design Course

“If you apply it to your life, permaculture is a manual for surviving on the planet”

Louise PDC participant

These are the final words of my interview with Permaculture Design Course (PDC) participant Louise - the first in a series of participants' stories, aimed at sharing why people take the course and how it can enrich their lives. Louise completed her course with Social Landscapes in July 2016. 

I spoke with Louise on a hot August day in her Wimbledon home, which boasts a patio garden unlike any I have seen before. Although small, there is not an inch of space that hasn’t been used as part of Louise’s very own permaculture extravaganza. There are squashes trawling the floor, pea plants grown to about 6ft, tomato plants ripening in the sun, a small pond (with fish!) and even a sandpit, something I doubt most London kids have access to in their own back garden. 

We begin with the obvious question first - “Why did you take the course?”. Louise tells me that she has been aware of permaculture for sixteen years, ever since she accidentally saw a talk by David Holmgren and visited Penny Livingston-Stark’s Commonweal Garden in California - two stalwarts of the permaculture world.  Despite these experiences, it wasn’t until a refreshing week last winter with old friends, who live on a houseboat, kick-started Louise into pursuing ‘something that always felt like it was on the cards’. 

It was Social Landscapes’ focus on the social applications of permaculture that drew her to us, which seemed not of significance in other courses run elsewhere.  As an arts therapist specialised in eco and nature-based materials, the way the company seemed to work resonated with the beliefs and attitudes Louise holds to.

Pictures from Louise's impressive patio garden

Pictures from Louise's impressive patio garden

Something Louise found really surprising was the way that the course resonated with, gave voice to, and solidified lots of patterns and attitudes of her own character. Learning about soil was a highlight, which is not what most people would expect, but for Louise it transformed what she thinks about life on earth, recognising how we are all connected and how alive soil really is! Pair that with meeting the other inspiring and creative participants on the course and you can understand why it was so important for her. 

Now working with other volunteers to bring back to life some reclaimed land in her local area, Louise believes it’s time to get on with her mission in life, her reason for being. Advice to potential participants: “Just do it! I don’t think anyone can regret doing a permaculture course”.

Louise is an artist, poet and crafter. After studying Fine Art in Bath, Louise travelled for many years exhibiting her work in London, Cairo, New York and San Francisco.  She returned to London to study Art Psychotherapy specialising in environmental art therapy. Her written work has been published in magazines, children's books and anthologies.

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.