Maddy Harland – permaculture enterprise at the SW Convergence 2017

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Maddy Harland

Maddy Harland is the chief editor of Permanent Publications and the Permaculture Magazine. At the convergence she gave a talk on permaculture enterprise. She was asked to give this talk as over the years she orchestrated an impressive array of small, interwoven ventures, focused around the Sustainability Centre, located in a 100 acre, former naval base in Hampshire.

People who made this episode possible!

Thanks to the Permaculture Association for organising the South West Regional Permaculture Convergence, and thank you for letting me be there to record chats and workshops.

Special thanks go to the sponsors of my trip to the Convergence:

Jo Harold – avid listener, who provides me with constructive feedback. Also has a facebook page (Jo Harold Permaculture) on which she lists useful permaculture links.

Tomas Remiarz – guest to this podcast, book author, and researcher. I’ve turned his pledge upside down, gave him some cash and got a big discount off his book – watch this space for review! (Ross McKinstry) – Veg box delivery scheme in Scotland!

Katie Duncan – fellow permaculture designer and practitioner. Thank you Katie!

Marc Pell – podcast listener and now supporter, thank you!

Melanie Ray – personal friend met through exchanging skills locally. Thank you Mel!


“Why shouldn’t we have permaculture millionaires? Why shouldn’t we have billion pounds climate finance funds to fund permaculture in all countries in the world?

All enterprises run by Maddy Harland:

She’s also Chair of the Trustees at The Sustainability Centre and an advisor to Hazel Hill Woods, an educational charity, and on the advisory board of John Liu’s Earth Restoration Foundation.

Maddy’s first venture out of the university (in 1980) was a whole food shop.

“If enterprise was an ecosystem, what permaculture principles could we use, and how?” They chose to use some of the Mollisonian principles:

  • stacking functions
  • small and intensive systems
  • maximising the edge
  • feedback loops
  • looking at the patterns of what we’re doing
  • catching and storing energy
  • creatively responding to change
  • self regulation and feedback

You can see a total summary of Mollisonian principles here.

The idea of circular economy (fully cycling of resources), and the example of carpet companies which create their product out of waste resources, then instead of selling leases to customers, and thus retains responsibility for end of use.

Ben Law is mentioned, who has been mentioned too many times by our guests. I really ought to get a hold of him 😉

  • he stewards 100 acres of woodland in rural Sussex, and owns only 7 acres of the land
  • builds almost exclusively from the resources on the land
  • we know already from our chat with Vikki Mills that he runs an apprentice scheme
  • he plants a diversity of plants in open spaces within the woodland
  • he makes a diversity of products for sale and use on site
  • there is a natural swimming pool, with a bar next to it
  • …and an outdoor kitchen

You can buy Ben’s book, The Woodland Way on this Permanent Publications site (click)

Sustainability Centre is placed at a former inland naval base on South Downs.

When the military gave it away Maddy took the opportunity to take reigns over it and set up a charity for running the site.

Because of the political powers locally, they would have had very little support in terms of traditional funding, therefore they set up the venture to be completely self-funded. All revenue is generated on site, including core funding.

They do use grants and donations for capital projects as they arise.

They run educational projects. 3000 children come through the site per pear. There’s permaculture courses, tree pruning, basket weaving. They train forest school teachers.

There is a burial site on the land.

See the website for details – there’s a ton going on (click the banner above)

Accommodation on site.

Stacked functions. For example, a woodland classroom is used for more than teaching.

Ethics have to be at the heart of everything we do.

There is a structure with limited hierarchy. It’s a people – centred system.

Joel Salatin – Polyface model

“We have to become more effective, and professional, and BETTER at presenting our permaculture message to the world on mass”

Discussing an example of biochar in the tropics, and a run down of potential uses.

Plug for the podcast 🙂

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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