Introduction & Overview

BIPA Land Centre Overview, Permaculture Journey

The sections below breakdown the main timescales and phases of our journey towards a sustainable lifestyle

Pathfinding 2012-15How we started and motivations

In 2012 a confluence of life events, thoughts and ideas led us to plan a year out to go travelling and explore the idea of a new place and way to live. We always lived in an ecologically conscious way but wanted to take this further than merely being green consumers, and move towards a more resilient lifestyle producing as much of our own needs as possible while reducing our ecological footprint and damage to the earths habitats, through a low carbon, low consumption lifestyle. We wanted to find if it was possible to live more in line with our ideals and values of a sustainable existence while also leaving behind some of the things we didn’t like about city life, such as pollution and stressful work, and reduce our exposure to some of the risks from climate change and economic instability. We like the culture and feel of city life, but not the environment and exposure to pollution, stress, any sort of crisis! We spent several months scheming and dreaming and came up with Operation Viking. This was a nickname for our plans to explore Northern Europe and Scandinavia, an area of the world we both love and were drawn to. We picked up some books on gap years for a more middle aged demographic, and found out about WWOOFing. This seemed like the ideal way to visit the places we wanted but also to test if a more simple, outdoor lifestyle would suit us rather than being an unrealistic fantasy. I also wanted to do some art residencies so applied for a series of these in Norway, Sweden and Scotland.

Planning/map/route design, WWOOF key learning, experiences at Fejo, Lygre, Gwen and Robs etc. staying with Chris and Kirsty and development of plans and ideas -living plans for future document, discovery of Black Isle- criteria for search)

Landing 2015-16 at The Warren – Observation period, ‘active’ observation, visual logs, joining TBI, seed swap and tattie day, developing design process,

Rooting 2016-18 – Project development – becoming a land Learner, signing up for Diploma, working through design processes (SADIMET, Aranya book), early designs – orchard, hugel beds, lasagne bed, eco house renovation- renewable energy systems etc, first volunteers, Open days and visitors, website set up. Design work- Diploma gathering, attending Hidden Mill gathering June 17, working through Jacke design process after workshop, completing broadbrush design.

Progression 2018 – Implementation plan, site projects – chicken run, brash and coppice fences, yurt, compost loo, veg garden tweaking, orchard stage 2, volunteering with Moo food and funded role, WWOOFers. Becoming LAND centre June 2018

Why we wanted to become a LAND centre- during our travels and experiences we often had discussions with people about what Permaculture is, they may have head of or read about it but it seemed like a complex and broad term which was difficult to visualise. We also found that there are huge numbers of books and websites about it but people still struggle to get a grip on what Permaculture looks like and how it can be put into practice. We also foun lots of the information was either US or Australian and there was less UK, and specifically Northern UK, information. Therefore we decided the best way to explain it, rather than directing someone to a book or blog, was to design somewhere we could live and demonstrate the integration of Permaculture with our lifestyle and livelihood. So when we came to live at The Warren in Kilcoy one of our first plans was to become a LAND centre where people could visit and stay and see permaculture ideas, designs and techniques in actual real situations rather than on paper.

Growing 2018-20 Next steps- cabins completed, patch designs for specific areas, continue implementation of infrastructure- water, ponds, fences etc., planting plans, habitats regenerating -woodland, meadow, succession of forest gardens, shift from annual to perennials, LAND centre – info and signage, maps and interpretation, website content and newsletter, visits. Diploma work and interim assessment, Business plan implemented- workshops, courses, accommodation, food and craft products, expansion and wider network Moo food etc., integrating art and permaculture – maps, zones, walks, bioregions. Eco house retrofit completed- low carbon, low energy consumption, solar PV, biomass, wood burners, natural materials such as organic paints, sisal, wood, marmoleum floors, LED lights, solar gain, zero waste (trying to eradicate single use plastic etc.) . one area to improve is water-waste, recycling, harvesting etc. Issues we have found, questioning our decisions, motivation, energy, shift ing from saving the world’ to saving a small pocket of habitat, an oasis for wildlife surrounded by a green dessert. Humanity/society is not going to survive in its current format but we will live in a way that does not contribute to its demise and leaves the planet in a good way whatever happens.