Permaculture Scotland – Case Study from the Community Learning Exchange

The Community Learning Exchange Fund is open for applications. More info and apply here.

Permaculture Scotland (the national strategic network for the Permaculture Association) successfully received a grant from the  Community Learning Exchange fund through Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN). This funded an exchange visit in which Permaculture Scotland members visited Findhorn Hinterland Trust and Findhorn Hinterland Edible Woodland Garden in November 2011. In this fruitful visit we learnt how the Findhorn permaculture projects are managed in a community setting – how it contributes to increased cross-community collaboration, exchange and networking. The Hinterland project is on the edge of a community – the Findhorn Foundation ecovillage. There are many other organisations within the area and the relationships are quite complicated. It is interesting to hear how these relationships are managed through engagement at various meetings. The use of sociocracy is very useful as an overarching framework and it was interesting to exchange on how we both (Findhorn Hinterland and Permaculture Scotland) use sociocracy within our communities and organisations.

We learnt about the strengths and weaknesses of cross-community collaboration, for example there is a huge resource to draw on for help with logistics, volunteers, and outreach when hosting work parties, workshops, and events. But it also means that there are many different organisations and people to check in with before going ahead with a plan, which can slow things down. It seems most efficient when there are well-functioning personal relationships between organisations.

In addition, we gained insights into effective ways of reaching new audiences and communicating permaculture to them. We considered a diversity of strategies of engagement focusing on win-win situations for the land and people. We learnt how Findhorn projects actively use camping, work exchange, practical workshops, and mindfulness themed days to engage with the needs expressed by members, as well as being a venue for local permaculture courses and gatherings.

Scottish Community Alliance has reconfigured the Community Learning Exchange (CLE) programme so that it can be delivered virtually. If you would like to apply to the funding, please visit the Community Learning Exchange page.