UK Permaculture Convergence 2014

I will be attending the UK Permaculture Convergence 2014, where I will be giving a talk about my work on grain polycultures. The Permaculture Association organises a convergence every two years. The 2012 convergence was the first that I attended, and I spoke about grain growing there too. I have found the two year gap between convergences is really interesting, as it highlights how much has changed in the two year period, a fact that might not have been so marked with an annual event. Those changes will be reflected in the content of my talk.

My 2014 Convergence Workshop

In 2012 my workshop reflected where I was at the time with my Small Scale Grain Growing. Things have changed markedly since then. I have successfully added soybeans and edible lupins to the crops grown, and this year I am growing rice, teff, proso millet, foxtail millet, grain sorghum, grain amaranth, and lentils to see how they perform. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the difference is by the work that I was doing today. Having harvested my wheat, spelt, and rye last week, I was preparing one of those beds for sowing the next crop combination. In this case a second flint corn, to be intercropped with winter wheat, sweet clover, and persian clover. In October the corn will be replaced by broad (fava) beans, and it has been planted at a spacing that will suit the beans. I am looking to use this type of intercropping and follow on cropping to maximise the amount of root exudates produced by the plants, along with the biomass, in order to build soil fertility at the same time as providing food. The adjacent bed is growing grain sorghum, intercropped with grain amaranth, and some white clover and red orach volunteers. I am trying a cowpea interplanting with this combination, to be sown tomorrow, after germinating indoors since Sunday.

To get to these beds I had to walk past a bed with a lentil, soybean, and teff polyculture planting at one end of a bed that included two types of oats, a barley, and a second lentil variety at the other. All very different from the wheat/clover/bean combinations of two years ago.

Workshop Details

My workshop is officially called ‘Designing Grain Polycultures for Food, Fertility, and Fun’ and for the promotional ‘blurb’ I’ve described it as:

‘How complex mixtures of grains,  pseudograins,  and legumes can be grown to feed us and our soils. The talk will include details of the full range of crops that I am growing, including uncommon grains, and legumes, how they effect the fertility of the soil, and how they can be used in multi-species mixtures to meet specific needs.’
What I hope to do is weave together strands of food production, soil fertility, and good design, as well as having a giggle at the same time.

Convergence Highlights

Whilst I’d love my workshop to be the highlight of everybody’s UK Permaculture Convergence 2014, the reality is that there are a lot of good things going on over the course of the weekend. What I enjoyed most about the 2012 convergence was the opportunity to meet in person many of the people that I had been communicating with digitally for the previous year. For Diploma apprentices there is an annual Diploma Gathering, held November/Deacember each year, and there are now more regional gatherings being organised, but this is the ‘biggie’, and a real opportunity to start embedding yourself deeper into the wider network. I am fortunate to enough to be on the panel for Jan Martin’s Diploma Accreditation, which will be held at the convergence. For anybody who wants a chance to find out more the diploma, this is a great chance to listen to somebody explain what it was like for them. You can find out more about Jan’s Diploma on her blog, ‘The Snail of Happiness‘.

Good food, good company, bar, workshops, Diploma presentation, Ceilidh, time and space to chat. What isn’t there to like about a weekend away with like-minded people?

International Permaculture Convergence UK 2015

The UK is hosting the International Permaculture Convergence in 2015, and we will be hosting hundreds of permaculturalists from around the world. The UK Permaculture Conference 2014 is being held at Gilwell Park, which is the same venue as has been chosen for IPC UK 2015. Not only does this give the IPC planners a chance to test out the venue, but it also gives us a chance to get a feel for what it will be like next year. Funds raised from the 2014 Convergence will help pay for the IPC in 2015, so the more people who attend, the easier it will be to fund the IPC, and the more cash will be left over to help funf IPC 2017, which will be in India.

UK Permaculture Convergence 2014 Details

The UK Permaculture Convergence 2014 will beheld at Gilwell Park from the 12th to 14th September. Details and booking information can be found here. The convergence is open to non-members of the Permaculture Association for the first time this year, but the cost for non members is more than the cost of a year’s membership and the price for association members. So it makes sense to join.

Hope to see some of you there




5 thoughts on “UK Permaculture Convergence 2014

  1. Jan

    Thanks for the plug! I’m really looking forward to all aspects of the convergence, but it’s the meeting people and chatting face-to-face that’s my favourite part… possibly over lots of wine and until about 3 in the morning (again).

  2. WLA

    Hi there,
    stumbled on your blog whilst browsing through Permies looking for some thoughts to apply to my holistic orchard and woodland garden. I was pretty excited to find someone practising permaculture principles in my birthplace of Lincolnshire and even more surprised and delighted to discover that you got some of your bamboos from my dad, Vic. I’m his son Wayne – now I know why he was checking id’s on those Phyllostachys! You should have my email address from this comment so if you ever want anymore info on those bamboos or Dad’s trees just shout – I’m his memory when it comes to plant names.

    Good look with your adventures.


    1. Deano Martin Post author

      Hi Wayne
      Small world indeed. Some of those bamboos are just starting to find their feet. Interestingly the P. viridiglaucescens that I got from your dad, identified by the supplier from a small piece, looks more and more like some P. nuda that I bought. Both are edible, so I’m not too concerned, but it would be nice to know for sure. If you want a wander around give me a shout.

      1. WLA

        I’m guessing the viridiglaucescens came from underneath the owl box? That’s one of the few I’m not 100% on – It came from PW as part of a second batch after the first lot did so well and we spoke about a load of different varieties before taking a couple home, one of the only other things it could be if not viridiglaucescens or nuda is P. dulcis which would fit your purposes rather nicely.

        I don’t get up to Lincs from Guernsey too often but i’d love to check out your place sometime when I’m back.

        1. Deano Martin Post author

          Yep. Got it in one. Any of them would be OK. The plants have that lovely black red colour on the culms for a short while after the culm leaves drop off, which is just like P. nuda.
          Your dad has the number. Give me a bell.


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