Graham Bell

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I live and work in the Scottish Borders. My wife Nancy and I have created a Forest Garden which is approaching its twenty-fifth anniversary and provides a great deal of food, fuel and company (wildlife). Our children Ruby and Sandy (now in their twenties) have also been great contributors to developing our house and garden as an energy efficient home place.

I have written two books on Permaculture, the Permaculture Way and the Permaculture Garden which thousands of people have enjoyed as easy introductions to what Permaculture means in a Northern temperate climate and the society that goes with it. I have taught Permaculture on four continents. After many years engaging with business and politicians in my work to get these essential principles understood and used by people who govern and direct the world’s economies I have returned (2012)to teaching courses and restarted a North Hardy Plant Nursery specifically designed to support Forest Gardeners. We welcome invitations to teach elsewhere, and visitors here by arrangement. Full details can be found on my website.

Another Way of Learning

After thirty years of engagement with Permaculture, it never ceases to amaze me how the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) changes peoples’ lives. This brilliant understanding of how to meet peoples’ needs, without working so hard, and at the same time learning to minimise waste was crafted by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren before I came along to connect with it.  I’m also hugely aware that it has always been a […]

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Why do we need Wildlife?

And what can we do about it? Abundant wildlife is the first sign of a healthy planet. For far too long (like since the birth of chemical agriculture in the late nineteenth century) we have thought humans can control Planet Earth. Previous retrograde steps would be the enclosures of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For Scotland, the Highland clearances spring to mind. Any intelligent management of the land and our […]

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Bill Mollison: A Recognition of his Life

A few people are born who are world class heroes to those who know them and unknown to the great majority, until one day their inescapable influence floats to the surface and is generally recognised for the cream it is. In hindsight, such leaders go on to become household names.

Such a man was Bill Mollison: backwoodsman, academic, storyteller, lady’s man and to many just ‘Uncle Bill’, but doing all these things par excellence.

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Yield is Theoretically Unlimited

Well in practice we find this to be a truth, not a theory. Over time our yields just keep growing. And we can always find more ways to get more out of the system. The native peoples have managed the Amazon Rainforest for 5,000 years since they first arrived there. Treading very lightly. But hey there’s always room for more tree houses. No? Our very small back yard (800 sq […]

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The Stockpot

Permaculture is all about getting the most out for the least in, and aiming for minimal energy usage and zero waste. Well and a whole load of other things too. I was lying awake in bed the other night thinking about things (as you do in the wee small hours) and the image of the stockpot came to me. Powerful symbols can be helpful in directing our thinking. At the […]

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The Oldest Forest Garden

Small is not just possible, small is inevitable. Creating autonomous control of our economics requires people to be creative – and that means within the resources available. Graham Bell asks, where better to start than a forest garden?

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Another Way of Learning

After thirty years of engagement with Permaculture, it never ceases to amaze me how the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) changes peoples’ lives. This brilliant understanding of how to meet peoples’ needs, without working so hard, and at the same time learning to minimise waste was crafted by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren before I came along to connect with it. I’m also hugely aware that it has always been a […]

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Capitalism

It’s been bothering me. Having spent forty years beavering away in the green movement I still get upset when people say they are anti-capitalism. So I’m trying to work out why this is. I think I’ve got it at last. When people say they are anti-capitalism they are talking about their fear that mega-corporations control the planet purely for profit. Their marketing plans are designed to shred our bank accounts […]

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Gardening with Bugs

I grew up in a family of keen gardeners. My father was in the RAF so that meant that every three years he got posted somewhere else so they started making a new garden. For the first fifteen years of my life that was mostly North Yorkshire. I remember aged 7 being awarded a penny for every dandelion I dug from the garden lawn. I was never charged for the […]

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Abundance from Small Spaces

It’s all about habitat. If you create the right habitat, you get what you need. I often ask people, “What is the biggest predator in this garden?” The answer, of course, is “us” because that’s what it’s designed for. Before we were farmers, we were hunter-gatherers. What the word ‘forest’ (from the Anglo-Norman) means is not ‘trees’ at all, but ‘the king’s hunting ground.’ So, what we are doing in creating forest gardens is to get ourselves back as close as we can to being hunter-gatherers: less work, more harvest, no pollution, making the system as self-fertile as possible, recycling wastes into nutrients, and entirely dependent on the best nuclear reactor of all—the sun, and on the rain (or other precipitation) and wind cycles which are driven by the sun’s energy.

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Minimum Intervention

How Close to Do Nothing Can You Get?

One of the most attractive principles in Permaculture is minimum intervention. The idea that you can be more productive by doing less has many attractions. If we can get higher yields by working less, we also consume less energy and produce less waste.

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