Where the wild things grow

Thanks to the hard work of ‘Those Plant People’, Ecology’s permaculture garden is a haven for wildlife and a productive food-growing space for colleagues. Here, gardener, Pippa, shares what keeps her inspired as she tends to our patch.

My right livelihood
Employment never suited me. I am not great at being told what to do!

Self-employment brings its own difficulties but I am my own boss and can design my livelihood as I wish. To work for me but within the guidelines of ‘Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share’.

Running an ethical business means profit is not the only measure of success. Andrew and I started Those Plant People, an ethical horticultural business, around nine years ago. We had plenty of experience as professional gardeners and I had run my own landscaping business for a short period. We wanted to explore the productive edge between ‘traditional’ gardening business and permaculture. To offer an organic, sustainable approach to everyday gardening, teach people about permaculture and create beautiful edible landscaping.

Shifting focus
Over the nine years, the business has changed directions many times. We began by doing mainly consultations and teaching courses and we sold foraged jams and jellies at a farmers market at the weekend. Despite being very rewarding and a great way to share knowledge, I found the courses to be a lot of pain for not much financial gain. There is research, preparation, writing handouts, readying the classroom, making cake and marketing to fill the places. So, we shifted our focus towards designing and planting gardens. We have started our own YouTube channel so we can continue to share our knowledge.

The Ecology garden
We needed a bit more financial stability so increased our regular garden maintenance work. We were lucky to get the contract to maintain the permaculture garden just down the road at the Ecology Building Society. It is such a pleasure to work with an organisation that shares your values and demands totally organic maintenance – and to work with lovely people, too. When we started out we were unsure whether our services would be too niche, but over the years we have found clients who are just as committed as us to a sustainable, permaculture approach to garden maintenance and design.

We are now at a point where we have enough regular maintenance work, so can now put our focus on designing and creating more forest gardens and edible landscaping in the area. Just as we made this decision, I got a call to help a group of residents to design and plant up a forest garden on council land near their home. It is great when opportunities like this come along! Sharing knowledge and creating a resource for the future has always been an important part of my right livelihood.

This blog has been adapted from an article featured in the spring 2020 edition of Permaculture Works with kind permission from the Permaculture Association

Published: 10 August 2020

Author: Chris Meadows