I have just finished the first day of the design course here at Ragmans lane farm
with Patrick Whitefield
, as a tutor myself I find Patrick's method of teaching refreshing and interactive.
For the afternoon session Patrick
took us for walk around the Farm to show us different aspects of the landscape affected other parts of the landscape.
The tail end of the walk round the farm looked at apple processing from apple tree to bottling, the production of mushroom logs, and biomass heating systems.
My impression of the first day here is a very positive one, everyone who is on the course are keen to share their skills amongst the group, we all chip in and do the washing up together, as i type we are all sat outside the kitchen round the fire sharing stories and skills.
There is a sense of community and interaction happening here that is sadly lacking in our money obsessed society.
Day 2 - What a great day today has been, Patrick really is a great teacher, he almost effortlessly instilled in us the principles of permaculture by both providing understandable examples and also by group self discovery where we looked at how we had personally had worked with the principles.
For the remainder of the afternoon Patrick
took us through the setting up and understanding of Forest Gardens by telling us about existing projects and giving us the opportunity to design our own forest garden on paper.
During the afternoon session Patrick
took us out into the field and taught us how to work within nature in relation to contours, hills and the general shape of the land.
The afternoon session consisted of an interesting walk into the woods at Ragmans Lane farm
who showed us how to identify both edible and none edible trees.
Matt the owner of Ragmans Lane Farm
ended the day with a session where he
explained the permaculture that they use.
At Oakland's park the methods of growing food are based on Rudolph Steiner's bio dynamic homeopathic methods, I don't have time to go into the details of these methods, except to say that they are very unorthodox, alchemical and based on our interactions with plant Divas, Patrick Whitefield
asked me what my thoughts were about Oakland's on our return from the Estate, in a nutshell, these methods provide cleanly grown healthy nutritious food without the aid of any agrochemicals whatsoever.
and I both agreed that at the end of the day, if it worked, it worked regardless of its methodologies.
In the evening, I had the chance to put on a Rocket stove group for course members, which involved me speaking a little about their origins, followed by a demonstration and discussion of how to make and use rocket stoves.
Day 10 - Its been an intensely interesting and exhausting two weeks of learning, sharing, laughing and thinking that is now on its last day.
Today is the culmination of our work in terms of the design project that we had been working on in our respective groups, we did a 45 minute presentation discussing many different aspects of the food and herb garden that we were designing, the presentation along with everybody elses went really well.
After the presentations Patrick
commented on the quality of the work that this years group had produced, this left us feeling like our hard work had paid off.
We celebrated in the evening by eating and playing music around the fire, I thrashed some folky type chords and reggae bass lines out that were accompanied by a viola and a an acoustic guitar.
End of course -Patrick and Cathy Whitefield presented us with our certificates on Saturday Morning after a brief discussion about forming links with other permaculture groups via the Permaculture association.
I had a brilliant and enlightening time at Ragmans Lane Farm
which I will never ever forget, Patrick Whitefield
is an incredibly knowledgeable man when it comes to the understanding of how the natural landscape best work, who has an intimate understanding of the landscape based on a decade of actually living on the land itself and being incredibly observant.
I would like to thank Patrick and Cathy Whitefield for being both great teachers and warm and genuinely friendly hosts for our stay at Ragmans, and hats off to Cari for great food and conversation.