Welcome to the Off Grid College, a four day short course in practical sustainable living.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR NEW ANNOUNCEMENTS TO THE 2017 OFF-GRID COLLEGE PROGRAM
‘Building Materials Walk’
With Tammi Dallaston from the Centre for Alternative Technology
Date & Time TBC
‘The Benefits of No Dig Growing
to Human Health and the Environment’
[An alternative to Charles Dowding’s approach]
With Martin and Sara Godfrey of Hilltown Organics
Martin Godfrey, assisted by his partner Sara, with a slideshow demonstrate the benefits to health and the environment of their no-dig growing system. Martin and Sara have recently formed a worker’s co-op in their fruit and veg shop ‘Harvest Farm Shop’ in Okehampton, Devon, where they sell produce from small growers, including from their land.
Their talk includes the following elements:
– polyculture planting
– no hoeing
– the incredible diversity of insects and wildlife natural no dig supports
– keeping soil covered with mulch at all times
– crops completing lifecycles, building a seed bank in the soil of useful plants
– integrating useful weeds with cultivated plants
– seeing value in perennial weeds such as hogweed, docks, dandelion, nettle etc
– the incredibly tasty and unique salad that this system produces
Charles Dowding’s ‘No Dig Approach’
With Stephanie Hafferty
Date & Time TBC
Growing abundant food with no-dig methods, using mainly composted mulches.
This talk explains highly productive, bio intensive methods for growing food in market gardens and on a smaller scale, in domestic gardens and allotments, using techniques which have been developed by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty, co-authors of “No Dig Organic Home and Garden”.
Charles, widely considered to be a pioneer of no dig in the UK, has been growing commercially organically and no dig for more than 35 years in 4 different locations, from his first market garden of 8 acres in the 1980s to his present renowned amazingly productive 1/4 acre in Somerset which produced more than £25,000 worth of food last year. This offers incredible possibilities for food security in the UK and beyond. Stephanie grows as self sufficiently as possible in her home garden and allotment, and also works in community projects and creating kitchen gardens for restaurants and other clients.
No dig is a gentle process, working in balance with nature, protecting and preserving our precious soil. It is high yielding and saves time; you need less space to grow more food. Mulches of compost ensure less slugs and fewer weeds, very quick and easy to maintain with a hoe. Growing in a polyculture, grouping the same veg together for ease of management (protection of pests, harvesting) and intercropping ensures a wildlife rich biodiversity. Compost mulches give high yields and food for the whole season for plants and soil life, as nutrients in compost are not water soluble so stay available for second and third crops. This mulch also provides habitat for a wide range of wildlife and conserves water, reducing the need for watering. Wildlife is further supported and encouraged by leaving wild edges full of indigenous plants – no dig is extremely wildlife friendly!
In this presentation we will explore different ways of setting up this system, composting, growing under cover, useful tools, growing year round, crop protection, generating an income, annual and perennial edible plants including mixed annual/perennial ‘forest garden’ (our version of this), key seeds to save (if you don’t have much space!), storing and saving your harvest and a lot more!
Steph is an organic kitchen gardener, writer, teacher, chef, blogger and co-author of No Dig Organic Home and Garden with Charles Dowding. Based in Somerset Steph grows abundant vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs using no dig methods, almost self sufficiently in her smallish home garden and allotment. She works at Homeacres with Charles and runs a restaurant kitchen garden at an international art gallery. She writes about her work, potions, creations and her home gardening in her blog, NoDigHome. Her writing and photography has featured in many publications including Gardens Illustrated, Permaculture Magazine, Grow It (Now Kitchen Gardens Magazine) and Mark Boyle’s Moneyless Manifesto. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of sustainable growing and cooking to feed families and communities.
Steph gives talks and workshops on various subjects including gardening and natural potion making across the country for gardening groups, WIs, Permaculture festivals, at River Cottage and other events. As part of this educational work, she has created pop up demonstration gardens for festivals and shows and was part of a team advising and participating in the transformed Horticultural Village at the Bath and West Show, to include more examples of edible gardens. Steph is currently working on a plant based recipe book.
Introduction to Nonviolent Communication
with Sophie Docker
Date & Time TBC
With Rod and Oliver from ‘Windswept and Interesting’
Off Grid exclusive!!! The world’s first kite turbine comes to Off Grid for a demonstration, and the inventors will share their designs with you!
Rod and Oliver run Windswept and Interesting, a design company which produces small-scale electricity generating kite turbines. These use a fraction of the materials of standard wind turbines of comparable power. Rod and Oliver are members of the Open Source Hardware Association, which means that their designs are available for you to use. The south-west of England is an ideal place to utilise wind power for kite turbines. Let the kite-based revolution start at Off Grid 2017! Not to be missed.
Medicinal Forage Walk
with Clare Sheppey and Helen Kearney
Date & Time TBC
Join us on a herb walk and learn to identify, harvest and use commonly found plants to treat everyday ailments.
Learn to make a healing balm using herbal infused oil and beeswax.
Helen Kearney and Clare Shippey are Devon based Herbalists. Helen lives and works at Elder Farm; a 5 acre off grid organic herb farm which is being established using permaculture principals. She has a degree in Herbal Medicine and is a member of the National Institute of Herbal Medicine. Clare trained for her degree at the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine and qualified in 2010. She has a regular clinic in Totnes.
They can be found running seasonal workshops together on many different aspects of herbal medicine. From botany to harvesting, home herbal medicine and remedy making. They are both tutors on the Betonica Herbal Apprenticeship.
With Merlin Howse from Steward Community Woodland
Date & Time TBC
With Nick Mercer
Date & Time TBC
As Campaign for Real Events, Nick Mercer operates small child sized pedal generators in schools, community events and home education sessions. The generators are made mostly from recycled items with things like cotton reels, vacuum cleaner belts and motors from printers clearly visible to emphasise ease of copying.
This year’s talk will concentrate on highly portable systems for amplifying mp3 music from phones aimed at teen projects.
Permaculture for the body
With Lizzie Franklin and Dick Thompson
Date & Time TBC
In this modern world, our bodies are breaking down, much like our mismanaged ecosystems.
We know more about the body now than ever before. But it’s taken for granted that as we get older, things start to shut down. It doesn’t have to be this way. With permaculture we have been given a way to interact with complex systems in a more beneficial way, and it all starts with our ability to observe.(and be aware)
The further our systems are out of balance, the better our observational skills need to be. The body is a system of systems, and these systems can work together, against each other or harmoniously. Right now, the odds are stacked against us. As a consequence, few of us are in great shape and we know it. But how to stop and reverse the spirals of erosion we are experiencing in this system of systems that we all inhabit?
In this talk we will discuss how to restore the balance of the ecosystem that is our body, particularly with respect to posture, digestive health & aches and pains.
with Clive Dragon
Date & Time TBC
Rainwater harvesting can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be.
Most of the talk will be about observation of needs and solutions made as simply as possible.
From leaving a bucket outside for animals to drink from, through to harvesting for the new build home.
Ii wish to leave time for others to share their ideas and solutions and hope for questions I can’t yet answer.
How else do we learn but from each other? -Clive
Understanding Off Grid Energy Systems
With Ian Westmoreland of Demand Energy Equality
Off grid energy systems are no longer just for people living off the grid. With the growth of microgrids and home energy storage products, understanding how to combining renewable energy generation with battery storage is more relevant than ever.
This session will set you up for a dive into the world of off grid energy. You will learn the basics of using intermittent renewable energy generators, batteries and appliances in an off-grid system, whether it’s for a small solar panel on your garden shed or a utility-scale battery installation to back up a wind farm. You will also get a closer look at some of the typical components found in any off-grid system: charge controllers, inverters, energy monitors, and more.
Ian is a director of Demand Energy Equality, an organisation that runs grassroots, practical energy workshops to provide insight into basic energy concepts and challenges. The workshops provide hands-on access to renewable energy technologies, enabling participants to explore the future of energy and to understand the links between energy use, consumer society and climate change.
Wild Food Foraging Walk
With Trudy Turrell
Come on a stroll around the site and find out how to eat, enjoy, prepare and preserve some of the amazing edible wild plants to be found in the woods, fields and hedgerows. After a stroll to gather some of nature’s wild bounty, we’ll cook and prepare some dishes to eat together. Salads, soups and herb teas could all be on the menu- plus I’ll be bringing a selection of seaweeds gathered from Devon’s wild coasts for you to taste and learn about- a true superfood that’s abundant, delicious and free!
There will also be a chance to find out how to preserve the wild food that you gather; from drying to making jams, cordials, vinegars and pickling, plus lots of tasty tips on cooking it too! Bring your children who will love spotting things to eat and try too!
“I have been gathering food from the wild since a teenager. Having studied some archaeology, I’m fascinated by how our ancestors would have gathered all they needed to eat from the land and sea and how we still can with some basic knowledge and skills.
Working in countryside conservation throughout South Devon for 20 years, I built on my knowledge of plants and habitats and shared them with hundreds of people through the guided walks and activities programme that I ran. I have hosted wild food suppers for 40, forages for classes of school children, foraging skillshares and best of all, shared my knowledge with my own children, who are to be seen chomping from the hedgerow as they stroll along! ( see my daughter at 4 , seaweed foraging!)
I’m particularly passionate about seashore plants- including all our wonderful superfood seaweeds- and about the many ways in which we can preserve and use nature’s bounty by preserving, drying and pickling.” – Trudy Turrel
What is Permaculture
This interactive talk will give an overview of the basics of Permaculture and is aimed at those who are curious to discover its many and varied applications. It aims to dispel the myth that Permaculture is entirely about no dig/organic gardening!
This will be a colourful gallop through the Ethics and Principles, the planning and design tools, and their practical application to our everyday lives.
Marion lives on a one acre Permaculture Garden in North Devon.