Just like Brin de Paille, the French Association of Permaculture, the Université is designed to be semi-nomadic. For the moment it is based at Kerzello in Brittany, in time it can move to be hosted in a developed Permaculture project in another part of France, stimulating activity and interest in that area, a growth pole
I teach Permaculture, leading around 10 Design courses a year in both French and English, and work as a consultant to people wanting to develop permacultures, research the Coppice Orchard system of food production, work as a greenwood turner using a pole lathe and keep busy building Varda style Lightships for those wishing to live lightly on the planet. I am involved with 3 main projects, Kerzello in France, Dutlar eco-village in Turkey and 5 Acres in England.
I am running the Université Populaire de Permaculture and was one of the founder members of the French Permaculture Association, I am currently very active organising the Compagnons de Permaculture apprenticeship system. We have designed the Permaculture infrastructure in France from scratch, using existing French models.
With a background in environmental science, economics and ecology and a Bsc from Greenwich University, I got half-way through doing a PhD (using non-linear dynamics to model landfill gas production) and discovered Permaculture, at that point I decided that the latter was much more interesting than the former and so decided to devote myself to Permaculture and become a Designer.
I completed a 72 hour design course in Dolgellau (teacher Andy Langford) in 1991, this was set up by Chris Dixon who is now a firm friend and has contributed enourmously to Permaculture in the UK. I was also extremely fortunate to have as co-students Phil Corbett, who is the Designer behind the Coppice-Orchard system, which I personally am trialing here and which I feel is a powerful and totally permaculture strategy for cool-temperate food production. Through Jan Dunwell I was introduced to her home at Ragmans lane where I subsequently enjoyed visitng and helping out. In fact all the course students were fascinating and busy people from whom I learnt a lot. 2 years later Chris set up an accreditation event and I presented the work I had done over the previous years and was awarded the Diploma of Permaculture Design.
I worked for a while as a scientific researcher working on projects such as the cleaning of oil-fouled seabirds, Toxocara Canis prevalence in parks and open spaces around London and methane production from landfill whilst completing my Permaculture training as detailed below and I became active with the South-east London Permaculture Group where I worked with others to set up a Local Exchange trading system (the third in the UK to be set up), a 'box-scheme'(one of the first), courses and training and creating links to business and countryside, we produced two pamphlets at the time which were quite influential and widely distributed, 'Permaculture, a bit about it' and 'Permaculture cities, giving it large'.
On returning from my PDC I led an introductory course at the London Wildlife centre, the 1st of many and when I received my Dipoma I immediately stated teaching full design courses around London and Carl Smith joined me on many of these, together with other members of the South-east London group. We spent a lot of time networking between groups and I am proud to have worked closely with and befriended such pioneers as Alpai Torgut, Pooran Desai and Ben Law, amongst many others
I was nominated by the local group to stand for election to the Council of management of the Permaculture Association (Britain), whic we hoped would set the rpecedent of local groups being represented on the council. I served in this capacity for 3 years eventually passing the ball to Carl Smith and subsequently to Amber Skyring.
I subsequently ran several design courses with Alpai and his Naturewise organisation, he, Mariq, Sylvia Eagle and others have made an enormous and unrecognised contribution to British and global Permaculture. For example Jascha Rohr attended a Naturewise course led by myself and subsequently set up the German Akademie. 2 ex-students are working in Cuba and have been very influential there.
I was also very pleased to attend a talk given by Bill Mollison and organised by Naturewise. They also have 2 wonderful urban forest gardens, second only perhaps to that of the late Robert Hart a firm fan of their work.
Of course I feel proud that Stella Strega who is so busy and influential in Permaculture also attended a course led by Carl Smith and myself.
Eventually I moved back to the country to Brickhurst Farm in Kent with the objective of setting up market gardens to supply the successful Box scheme we had established in London. I took over as office co-ordinator of the Permaculture Association, running it from the farm and using energy from renewable resources.
The Association later moved on to Chicken Shack in Wales and the farmowner of Brickhurst decided to move in a different direction so we moved to a derelict barn in Brittany which we have transformed into a house with solar water heating, bio-gas production, wind turbine, 'reedbed' grey water treatment and a Corbett system coppice orchard, this is all now being extended with the addition of a Vardo 'campsite' which will be set within a much expanded coppice orchard.
The building was developed using traditional techniques and materials such as lime, hemp, clay and wood.
During all this period I have been consistently designing, running courses and giving talks, continually working to deepen my knowledge and understanding.
Studies of martial arts with Malcolm Edge in London and subsequently Aikido with Gèrard Blaise in Paris and a lifelong interest in Yoga have gone a long way I feel to helping me develop both personally and as a Designer, a job far from over. The non-violence of true Aikido, the Ahimsa of Yoga and the Ethics of Permaculture seem to me to merge seamlessly into one.
Cloé Le Goïc
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