Pete is the permaculture designer, whose passion for sustainability feeds into every aspect of design. He is a keen runner and cyclist but is just as happy sat underneath a tree in “being” mode, enjoying yoga and meditation to help ground him into the present moment.
While studying and working in economics Pete rapidly saw just how broken our current system is. Exploitation, of both natural resources, wildlife and people, is always justified by short-term monetary gain, despite the environmental and social burdens these actions create, which is largely ignored in decision-making. No moral judgement differentiates various contributors to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), upheld as the key indicator of success and development. How can £1 billion of weapons sold to a dictatorship regime be equal to £1 billion of organic food production, enough to feed several hundred thousand people for a year.
Pete knew he was not willing to use his knowledge to exploit the broken system for his own gain, and a summer job running a cycle hire for the National Trust (A UK-based conservation charity) set the foundations for the alternative path he longed for. After several years working for the National Trust in education and events, Pete became a countryside ranger in the Lake District National Park via a fantastic and comprehensive training program. Working in wildlife conservation gave him time to take stock of his life and focus on what is important. Using techniques of mindfulness and lucid dreaming, he grounded himself in the present moment, from where he could truly appreciate the immense beauty of the world.
Pete went on to do a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) that summarised all he had come to see as vital to our ability to survive and thrive as a species – and he learnt a huge amount besides. Incorporating aspects into his work as a ranger, he wanted to then develop with Bruna a permaculture design site that merged nature conservation with organic food production on a small-scale, to demonstrate how connecting to and learning from nature can hold the key to truly sustainable food production, and as such the basis of a new sustainable culture.
Bruna is the horticulturist, whose green fingers bring the design to life. She loves walking in nature and learning about the natural world, with a never-ending enthusiasm that inspires others to join in.
Bruna grew up on the Portuguese island of Madeira, where her love for nature began. She moved to the UK as a teenager and made it her home, working her way up to a catering manager. The passion for nature never left her and after many years feeling ultimately unfulfilled in her work she gave it up to follow her dream. She took a volunteer position in nature conservation with the National Trust, which is where her and Pete met.
After a few years working as a trainee ranger Bruna moved over to gardening, restoring a neglected walled garden in the Lake District and setting up links with a local community charity to use horticulture as therapy.
The little piece of paradise we purchased in Pedrógão Pequeno was already called Aveleiras, so we can’t claim any credit for originality! However, the name fits our aims perfectly, as the aveleira (Hazel nut tree) nicely showcases an important aspect of permaculture design: every design element should fulfil multiple purposes. This helps when deciding on the placement of different elements, and which to chose when many things fulfil the primary aim you want. A design element is any part of your design such as a building, a compost bay, a vegetable bed, a tree, etc. This is described in more detail in this blog.
So, what are the multiple benefits of the hazel tree? Firstly, it’s a native species and thrives in this area, and is fairly versatile and so easy to grow. The fact it’s native means it will have associations with many insect and fungi species, that underpin the food chain and help promote greater biodiversity. This means attracting natural pest control to the garden as well as feeding the birds and mammals we love to see here. The tree itself has many useful products – the nuts are of course delicious, and the wood makes very good stakes for supporting climbing plants such as peas or beans, as well as good firewood. The trees can help form a hedgerow and the leaves will make fantastic mulch when they fall in autumn. In summary:
Easy to grow
Natural habitat to increase biodiversity
Food product – nuts
Wood products – stakes and firewood
Mulch product – leaves
Can be used to create a hedgerow, visual + windbreak benefits