John Macdonald – how to get funding for restoring land from the Environmental Agency

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John is not a permaculture celebrity in the UK, but it’s about to change, I think. His project, and the way he approached it gives us an opportunity to learn how to collaborate with the government in order to create the kind of systems that we want. We can also learn how the government can make use of the solutions to problems that we face in a permaculture fashion. We can offer to solve problems, get paid to do it, and create situations that produce other yields.

I’ve successfully removed 98% of me from this conversation. This is almost all John:


Sixteen acre property in Nottinghamshire being regenerated at this point in time in collaboration with the Environment Agency.

How did the idea came about.

Jay Abrams – how effective is he?

Working with a multiplicity of partners:

  • the Environmental Agency
  • the Parish council
  • the borough council
  • the county council (who are the lead river authority)
  • local flooding levy
  • Trent River Trust
  • Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust


  • geophysical survey
  • core samples to 5m
  • soil permeability
  • bat survey
  • ecological survey
  • tree survey
  • two topographic surveys
  • live stream hight measurements
  • archeology


  • identify problems – the unused output of the system
  • potential source of funding emerges
  • potential for yield follows.

Water problems:

  • poor water quality
  • flooding
  • biodiversity loss

Borough councils, Environmental Agency, etc – any of these large organisations can act as facilitators of funding.

Think of these organisations as key holders, as part of the design. John imaginatively describes them as nodes in the social mycelium, or as wizards that hold spell books.

We don’t operate in a vacuum. We live in a country full of opinionated people. One way of adding this to our overall design is incorporating people that have the experience and access to the methods and funding required.

John does not shy away from the concept of money, and uses it in his design as energy – something that Bill Mollison taught as well.

Deforestation is the major contributing factor to flooding, and with the events that we have seen in the recent years, there’s not a better time to go for funding for putting solutions in place. Since permaculture is built around long term species, we have the tools to offer, and we can design productive land that works as a sponge, and slows water flow.

It’s all about identifying problems in our local area, adding yield potentials, and tapping into local human, and economic resources – these could be private (sale of our goods, investments, charity grants, crowd funding, etc), or public – government.

Black Poplar – native English tree.

This is a fledgling project, that is taking a considerable amount of time, and a little bit of money. If you found this informative, entertaining, helpful, and think that it could help someone else, please share using the buttons below. Many thanks!

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