Learning from the Woods… A Permaculture weekend at Hazel Hill Wood in Photos

On our yearly London-based Permaculture Design Course we’ve made it a tradition to spend one weekend away from the city. The last couple of years we went down to Hazel Hill Wood near Salisbury, a charity set in a 70-acre magical woodland promoting wellbeing and resilience through building a connection with nature. We had photographer Amy Behrens Clark join us to document some of our journey and asked a few of the participants about their experience learning about Permaculture.

Our weekend outside of London has always been an opportunity for the group to get to know each other more intimately – the themes we cover are personal and community resilience, deep ecology and interpersonal dynamics. We do so with taking the group on an experiential journey held in the safe container of this magical woodland, rather than through lots of theoretical input.

Here are some of the participants’ thoughts about what brought them to Permaculture, what they are getting from the course and their connection with the natural world:

 

Rym Permaculture Design Course PDC

RYM KECHACHA

Why were you drawn to permaculture?

I love plants and I’ve always been interested in growing things and foraging. As I’ve learnt more about ecology I’ve begun to sense the world as one interconnected living system and I feel that permaculture is a wonderful way to learn more about that.

Are you finding what you’re looking for with this course?

Yes, and more. Not only the heart-centred awareness but also the mind-centered knowledge.

What are two teachings you’ve received from nature?

I’ve learned that every sadness will be outlived by the abundant life force of the world; and that everything is connected.

What’s touched you most about the weekend at Hazel Hill Woods?

The hunger I’ve seen in so many people to return their consciousness to the earth.

As I’ve learnt more about ecology I’ve begun to sense the world as one interconnected living system and I feel that permaculture is a wonderful way to learn more about that.
Ana Permaculture Design Course PDC2018

ANA AGORRETA

Who are you?

I am Ana. I am still not sure of who I really am. Lets say I am a work in progress mostly living on the edges.

Why were you drawn to permaculture?

I have been disconnected from the Earth for a long long time and I was feeling the urge to come back to the source; to my family roots and to myself.

Permaculture attracted me due to its approach based on common sense and respect for nature, looking for and promoting cooperation instead of competition.

Are you finding what you are looking for with this course?

Yes indeed. Even more than I expected. It’s an up and down road of self-discovery, learning and challenge.

I have been disconnected from the Earth for a long long time and I was feeling the urge to come back to the source; to my family roots and to myself.

What do you love about the natural world?

Everything, except perhaps parasites :-)

I feel particularly close to trees. They make me feel at peace, protected and inspired.

What are two teachings you've received from nature?

Do what you have to do, even if the result is uncertain. Nature is generous and always gives.

What's touched you the most about the weekend at Hazel Hill Woods?

What touched me the most was the sense of community that came with an immense respect to individuality; all of that in a place like paradise. I had time to reflect, to dream, to recharge, to cry and laugh, to enjoy and of course, to share wonderful moments with others and to experience the incredible gift of nature and human beings.

 

Duan Permaculture Design Course PDC2018

DUAN EVANS

Who are you?

A graphic designer originally from New Zealand.

Why were you drawn to permaculture? 

I was reading a book called ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’, highlighting the huge issues around the industrialisation of agriculture and food supply chains, which are completely broken and raping the earth beyond repair. From there I started looking into sustainable practices and self-sufficiency and a friend introduced me to Permaculture.

Are you finding what you are looking for with this course?

The natural world is at once beautiful, peaceful, serene, violent, destructive and a constant fight for survival. From microscopic bacteria to tectonic plates - nature is constant and we are inextricably linked no matter how far we think technology has removed us.

After the initial interest I discovered that there is so much more to Permaculture than I thought - especially around how it relates to viewing your immediate and extended community, and although Permaculture is directly concerned with the natural world it is ultimately about the human race and a philosophy and set of tools that can lead to an improved existence and future for all. And as this is a design course, it helps to bring this down to your personal role in this and provides a practical system to create solutions in everything, from a back garden to our homes and cities.

What do you love about the natural world?

The natural world is at once beautiful, peaceful, serene, violent, destructive and a constant fight for survival. From microscopic bacteria to tectonic plates - nature is constant and we are inextricably linked no matter how far we think technology has removed us.

What are two teachings you've received from nature?

Balance and an appreciation of calm and chaos. And the air feels so much better in your lungs outside of cities!

What's touched you the most about the weekend in Hazel Hill Woods?

Everybody opening up parts of themselves they probably didn’t imagine they would on a design course - and then really helping us focus on our visions for what we want to achieve and making plans to achieve this. 

 

Gosia Permaculture Design Course PDC2018

GOSIA ROKICKA

Who are you?

Someone constantly looking for a right path, trying to walk all the others in the meantime.

Why were you drawn to permaculture?

It seems like a design system which can help on many fronts: personal, social, environmental...

Are you finding what you are looking for with this course?

We are here just for a brief moment in time and we will all one day turn into soil that sustains other living beings - this is our immortality, our eternal life.

Yes :) I particularly loved the weekend away - at this point in my life, I mostly need permaculture on the personal level.

What do you love about the natural world?

Peace and quiet - nature is obviously loud (think birds for example!) but in a soothing way, unlike the noises made by humans.

 

What are two teachings you've received from nature?

We are here just for a brief moment in time and we will all one day turn into soil that sustains other living beings - this is our immortality, our eternal life.

Nature is not to be feared. If it hurts us, it doesn't do it intentionally (and this is the reason why humans are the species the most disassociated from nature. We hurt each other and the environment because of our greed, not the need for survival. No other species on the planet does that).

What's touched you the most about the weekend at Hazel Hill Woods?

The incredible peace of the place. The tree of resilience idea - a very potent tool.

Hazel Hill Woods Permaculture