Karuna – permaculture in action

Karuna – permaculture in action

In 2007 (I think), with a group of friends, I visited a place not far from Shrewsbury in Shropshire, UK which was called ‘Karuna’.

Karuna is a land-based permaculture project and forest garden,¬†created by Janta and Merav Wheelhouse, along with their two sons. The Wheelhouse’s had purchased the 19 acres of former sheep grazing fields at auction, selling their previous house in Wales to raise the funds.

They started by planting trees – literally thousands of them, by hand. When I visited, the trees were between 3 and 5 feet tall, but already you could feel the positive change on the land. When I re-visited back in 2012, the difference was staggering – trees were now 10 – 20 feet tall – this was a thriving mini forest!

Merav recording and mapping out the fruit and nut trees at Karuna
Merav recording and mapping out the fruit and nut trees at Karuna. [image from karuna.org.uk]
The surrounding area is a fairly typical agricultural ‘green desert’, being mainly fields of sheep. The local community is very conservative when it comes to new ideas and anything radical, so you can imagine their reaction when the Wheelhouse’s put a ex-showmen’s caravan on the land to enable them to live and work there!

A public footpath crosses part of their land, and at one point, someone had put down a herbicide in an attempt to kill some of the trees. It was impossible to prove who was responsible, so the Wheelhouse’s just had to carry on, repair and replant and hope that common sense would win.

Planning enforcement and appeals became a daily struggle, but after many years of blocking and obstruction, they slowly began to get permission for sheds, polytunnels (things which local farmers have no problem obtaining) and eventually a strawbale, reciprocal roof roundhouse.

There’s still work to be done. Lack of money means jobs take much longer, but they are nearly ‘there’ with the roundhouse. Check out their website at www.karuna.org.uk and please consider helping them in some way.

In the meantime, just look what you can achieve in 10 years – from a green desert to the largest forest garden in the UK!


How civilisation terrorises the Earth

How civilisation terrorises the Earth

Mark Boyle is a permaculturalist, an activist and a writer (amongst many other things). One of his most notable achievements was living for 3 years without money (ie he personally had no cash, savings or bank cards), the result of which was a book ‘The Moneyless Man’.


So what led Mark to do this radical act? After his business degree, he moved from Ireland to the UK and worked with an organic food company. During this time he came to realise that “money creates a kind of disconnection between us and our actions”, which in turn led him into his experiment in living without money.

Once the press got hold of his story, there were many who criticised him for the fact that although he personally had no money, people were giving him stuff that initially had to be bought and earned. Those people significantly miss the point about what Boyle was trying to achieve, which is less about not having money and more about understanding and being responsble for it’s connections.

Anyway, I digress slightly. I just wanted to give you a bit of background on him in case you didn’t know who he was…

Today, Mark posted the following on his Facebook page (he’s now returned to Ireland, and although not moneyless any more, he used royalties from book sales etc to set up a ‘freeconomy’ which includes a free pub!

Amidst our anger about the brutality and violence of ISIS, we seem to forget that to the millions of other species on Earth, Industrial Civilisation must feel like ISIS on steroids.

I don’t say this to be dramatic or controversial, or to in any way make light of the horrors inflicted by ISIS (and the US, UK, French governments etc.), but simply to help us retain some perspective about the way of life we seem so eager to want to protect.

Some animals we cage so tightly they can barely move — billions never breathe fresh air or see natural daylight before they’re slaughtered. Our precious way of life drives tens of thousands of wild, free creatures into extinction every year. Through our ecologically-idiotic agricultural practices we make deserts and monocultures out of once fertile soils and diverse landscapes, killing the uncountable life-forms that once lived within them. We’ve bottom-trawled the oceans to the point where marine populations are outright collapsing, and ecological systems with it. To forests and rainforests, we are butchers who know no limit to our violence. From the perspective of the rest of the community of Life, ISIS are pussycats in comparison.

Somehow we cannot seem to see this. We never see our own violence and brutality, only that of other people, and only when it is done to things that lie within our parameters for moral consideration. Because our civilised world is so manicured, hiding the systemic hyper-violence it depends on behind closed doors, we think we live peaceful, nonviolent lives. But we don’t. We need to start being honest about this.

And he’s right. ‘We’ can’t seem to see what we are doing to the Earth and all her inhabitants, whether they be animals, trees or simply the land itself. This is the land that provides us with everything we should need, but not everything we greed.

Every day, we bring ourselves closer and closer to that tipping point (some say we are already there) from which it becomes impossible to rescue the situation for humans. The Earth will survive beyond humanity, but along the way, we create so much suffering.

[Image credit: Wikipedia]

Mark’s Facebook page:¬†https://www.facebook.com/mark.boyle3?fref=ts