Malcom and Pennies Permaculture project, with forest garden and horse grazing

 Malcom and Pennies Permaculture project, with forest garden and horse grazing

A Symbiont gardens design by Catherine Griggs

zone 2 dyffryn



The design encompasses beauty and functionality whist providing both a rich harvest and special place to be. It utilises local materials, and puts a strong emphasis on working with nature by encouraging wild animals from the woodland to predate on pests species, and by maximising habitat for rare species of plant. It has also been designed to reduce day to day costs of running the farm by incorporating water catchment and additional horse fodder into the system. Within 3 years the project should be mostly self-maintaining leaving its occupants to enjoy its bountiful harvest of flowers, fruit, nuts, vegetables, eggs, Cheese, milk, herbs and beer. The project serves as a perfect platform to showcase the sustainable bio thermal heating technology that is being developed on the site.


Project aims

  • Minimise costs
  • Utilise available materials
  • Livestock integrated systems
  • Water storage
  • Aesthetics
  • Low maintenance food production
  • Self-perpetuating
  • Wood harvest
  • Swimming pool
  • Benefit wildlife
  • Benefit horses





Zones are labelled according to how often they are used zone 1 being the most and zone 5 being the least, zoning is used for energy efficient planning to ensure the minimum amount of energy is expended in tending to the garden and animals. This project has a strong emphasis on aesthetics so energy efficiency has been compromised in some areas.

zone 1 dyffryn

patch design

Zone 1

Zone one comprises of the kitchen patio doors that are adorned with wisteria, the guttering of the roof of the kitchen feeds into two large containers to the left of the house that store water. At this elevated level they are able to feed water to the majority of zones 1- 4.

The patio doors open out onto slate slabbed patio which serves as a heat store which helps to warm herbs that are contained around the patio in a stone walled bed that also helps to store heat in its thermal mast. Herbs are ideal for this situation as its high sunlight and wind so other plants may not thrive as well, they are also close to the kitchen for culinary use and provide lovely fragrance. Down the north side of the house a stone bed also provides a good environment for a hops plant that thrives crawling over the old stone building in the shade.

Just outside the kitchen door a worm bin is situated in the correct place to be fed kitchen scraps. The worms can then in turn be fed to the chickens which are situated in the stone building adjacent to the house as from here they can be tended to with ease. The ducks also live in this shed and can be let out to swim in the natural pool that forms at the bottom of the yard below the car park. The wood is also stored in the stone building for ease of access for the house.

 Adjacent to the chicken shed and wood store in a sheltered spot 3 foot below the patio are two compost heaps conveniently situated to collect kitchen scraps and poultry manure. They can be used on a rotational basis and then the compost can easily be transported to the rest the salad beds and green house along with compost from the worm farm which is ideal for seedlings or for giving soil a microbial boost.

The stone wall opposite the compost piles makes the ideal environment of a grape or kiwi which will benefit from the sheltered position and nutrient run of from the compost piles. Stone steps adjacent to the compost piles lead down from the patio towards a large rockery with a host of various succulents and alpines adorning its sides with unusual ferns nuzzled amongst the rock on the northern shaded side. The rocker serves the function of attracting beneficial insects and providing microclimate for a grape vine that entwines itself over a trellis built into the stone shed to the right of the rockery.


Facing west stone steps lead conveniently down to the green house that is used for germinating vegetables and propagating cuttings. The green house benefits from the south facing aspect with a stone shed insulating it to the north, the shed is used as a root store as its northerly aspect ensures it stays cool throughout the year. The water is collected from the roof into a large container on the eastern side. Around the outside of the green house Annual vegetables and salads are grown in raised beds to prevent flooding from high rains and maximise aeration of soil. Gravel or wood chip paths make ease of access between each bed.  A willow fence is tightly woven around the vegetable beds and provides an ideal habitat for insect eating birds and other pest predators such as toads, frogs and hedgehogs that hide in the leaf litter. The willow also helps to suck up access water that will run down from the hill the house is situated on.


Zone 2

Zone 2 leads past the green house and over the lawn westwards towards the horse meadows and barn where the horses are tended too. Apple trees grow here to provide an ideal treat for both rider and horse.

Between the horse meadows and lunging area, large vegetable patches are planted with main crops that take a long time to yield such as potatoes, brassicas, carrots, parsnips and turnips which have been inter-planted with guild species to minimise pest problems. Carrots are planted with onions and garlic to reduce carrot fly. Squashes provide ground cover suppressing weeds for corn and peas which entwine around the corn and provide it with nitrogen and intern the corn provides the peas with sugar. The vegetables are stacked and layered to maximise space, avoid desiccation and the need for weeding. On the left side of the vegetable patch gorse bushes provide a hedge that shelters the crops all year round from wind and also provides nectar for bees and other insects throughout the year. This thorny foliage also makes a great habitat for breeding birds that will pick pesky caterpillars from the brassicas. Horses leaning over the fence occasionally browsing on the gorse will help the gorse to release n2 into the soil from the rhizomes on its roots that are released when the foliage is trimmed.

On the northern side of the patch where apple trees already exist more will be planted and they can easily be fed with horse manure from the field and lunging area. Habitat piles also intersperse the veg patches providing an ideal habitat for pest predators such as hedgehogs, toads, frogs and newts that make their way from the nearby woodland using the hedges and habitat piles as high ways. A small tire pond serves as a great place to breed and rest for amphibians and dragon flies.

As the veg patches gets closer to the woodland further west they become more sheltered by the tall trees and provide a great place for experimenting with unusual perennial veg that needs less care and attention such as the delicious root tubers of the south American yacon and occa. Eventually the vegetables merge into nettles which make a great treat for the goats that live in a pen nestled into the north westerly side of the field. Here their manure is collected and piled up in the ideal place to feed the veg patch. The occasional squash also takes advantage of the high nitrogen levels and sheltered position. The goats have a small wooded shed that collects water that feeds into a trough. I this position they have a good amount of sunshine and are sheltered from the wind and frost. They can also be regularly led out to graze in the woodland which edges their pen.


Zone 3

Walking down the stone steps from the house leads to the second terrace with a beautifully mowed lawn with undulating borders of herbaceous perennials and shrubs including pink flowering camellias, sweet smelling viburnum, and beautiful butterfly attracting buddleia, amongst them delphinium,  monks hood and fox gloves boasts moody shades of purple and pink.  Anemones provide brilliant colour in the shadier areas and down below corn flowers, and forget-me-not’s keep in the moisture. Just below the house a circular stone patio provides an ideal place to sit and admire the rampant clematis that sprawls over a wooded pergola that provides shade in the summer and shelter from rain. This place provides an ideal vantage point for admiring the view and keeping an eye on the horses. Either side of the pergola roses thrive in the sheltered spot up against the wall. Purple clover and vetch intersperses the flower beds providing nitrogen and alleviating the need for weeding throughout the year. Southwards of this flower edged lawn a willow archway benefits from the rain run-off from the patio and provides a mystical passageway to the edible forest garden.


Zone 4

Here the ground cover consist of a wild flower meadow of vetches, camomile, clovers, buttercup, meadow sweet, daisy, self heal to name but a few, they enrich the soil when they are cut twice a year forming a mutually beneficial relationship with the edible woodland which edges the meadow with lush rich foliage. The canopy consists of tall poplar trees that serve as a wind diffuser for the house below these black locust provide fodder for the horses that lean over the fence to browse. The black locust then releases nitrogen into the soil for the other nutrient hungry trees. Holly bushes and gorse also serve as a windbreak and provide additional nitrogen and a great habitat for nesting birds.

Sheltered from the westerly wind towards the centre of the garden, fruit and nut trees make the most of the sunshine and provide beautiful blossom in the spring.  Species such as apple, pear, cherry, damson, crab apple, fig, sweet chestnut and hazel nut provide an abundant harvest. Kiwi, hops and air potato vines wind their way around exposed tree trunks.

Walnut is allopathic and can kill other trees but with a partnership of wolfberry, hackberry and current in its drip-line it can live in harmony with other trees, elderflower also makes for a healthy transition. Other berries living beneath the dispersed canopy are blueberry, cranberry, current, bilberry, Logan berry, gooseberry with raspberries that thrive in the shadier areas between the house and willow fence on the southern side. Strawberries, penny royal and Japanese wine berry provide a bountiful ground cover that suppresses weeds and grasses.

Lower down in the meadow towards the green house where rain tends to collect, a small pond provides a perfect habitat for dragon flies and other amphibians that feed upon the garden pests, bats also benefit from this pool and sweep down snatching emerging insects from its surface. Large rocks and rotten logs surround the pond providing an ideal hibernation site for its tenants. Ferns grow amongst the rocks and a slate path leads around the pool to a bench where one can sit, relax and enjoy the blossoms of the edible lotus flowers on the water’s surface. Giant gunnery provides shade and shelter, milfoil and bull rushes oxygenate and clean the water and iris grow abundantly around the edge and into the over flow, that leads around a gazebo made of interwoven willow which has its feet in shallow trenches that collect the water, allowing guests to keep their feet dry upon entry. Inside the gazebo a wooden platform provides a place to sit but also conceals the cesspit which can still be accessed via a trapdoor.


Zone 5

Zone 5 is the woodland on the western boundary of the land, this mixed deciduous woodland has been managed to have a staggered canopy layer to maximise diversity and yield. The mature layer comprises of sycamore, oak and ash which provides a great habitat for birds and bats. Small areas of willow, hazel and medium sized trees have been coppiced to allow more light though to the woodland understory, these small warm woodland glades provide the ideal opportunity for saplings to grow and woodland flowers such as the early purple orchid to flourish. Rare butterflies and birds such as the nightingale and spotted wood butterfly also favour this habitat. The new growth from the coppiced trees can then be used for fire wood and building or turning into charcoal.

The small stream that flowed through the woodland has now been damned creating a small pool that’s ideal for swimming during the summer and possibly for brown trout?! Butterbur and ramsons garlic cover the ground in the shady areas and make a delicious wild harvest not just for the goats; who are often tethered in the woodland and making a good job of keeping the brambles and nettles down.




Action plan

This action plan is based on five or six individual’s helping with building and gardening on a part time basis, it serves as a rough guide as the most energy efficient way to construct the project. Many of the projects stated such as building and planting will be on-going but can be started in this time scale.


6 Months

  • Build green house and set up worm farm and compost piles.
  • Set up water catchment system at green house and use compost generated from N-pods to propagate cuttings and grafts of trees and fruit bushes.
  • Set up worm farm and compost piles near kitchen
  • Fit guttering to house and install water catchment system
  • Deep mulch flower beds, borders and woodland edge with manure, cardboard and woodchip to leave for six months in preparation for planting.
  • Repair roof of stone building for chickens, ducks and wood store.
  • Create pool where the water collects at the bottom of the car park for ducks.
  • Get ducks and chickens and train dog not to kill them.
  • Slab the patio area using slate slabs collected from quarry’s and slate gravel. Use local stone piles to build up wall on first terrace and build herb garden and wisteria planter.
  • Use rotted down compost to fill herb beds and plant with herbs, also plant the wisteria near the patio window and hops down the northern passageway.
  • Build wall up on the second terrace and stone steps and gravel path down towards the green house
  • Build the trellis for the grape and rockery opposite.
  • Construct the raised annual beds out of reclaimed wood and fill with compost from piles and n-pods or fill with manure and soil and cover for 6 months. Lay gravel or wood chip paths in between the beds.

1 Year

  • In winter coppice willows and use branches to construct woven fence around the raised annual beds.
  • Build goat pen and begin grazing them on the 3rd terrace to help accelerate wildflower growth
  • Begin to Plant forest garden with n2 fixing trees, gorse, holly’s, poplar and ground cover species such as strawberry, ivy’s, Japanese wine berry and penny royal.
  • Begin to plant the borders of the second terrace on the western side.




 1 Year 6 months


  • Coppice trees in woodland and build dam, store wood in wood shed and use brash to make habitat piles in the woodland and near the veg patches in zone two (To encourage pest predators).
  • Graze goats in woodland in areas without orchids apart from just after the seeds have dropped. Then graze goats in orchid areas and allow poaching to help orchid seeds access the soil.
  • Plant fruit bushes and shrubs into edible forest garden.
  • Put up bat and owl boxes in woodland.
  • Plant gorse bushes down veg patch in zone two and apple trees.
  • Build tire pond veg patch in zone tow to attract amphibians and dragon flies that predate on slugs and caterpillars.
  • Plant guilded plants in veg patches in zone two and begin to save seeds. Also plant perennial crops such as the yacon, occa, asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke.
  • Build decking to cover cesspit from reclaimed wood.
  • Build pond either by compacting soil or using a liner and direct over flow around the decking. Plant with pond maintaining plants it will now serve as a pest control for the rest of the garden.
  • Construct willow gazebo planting into sunken areas in the overflow of the pond.
  • Build patio on second terrace using slate slabs and construct pergola using reclaimed wood.
  • Plant willow archway
  • Take cuttings and plant more trees and shrubs
  • Plant more flowers
  • Manage meadow on rotational basis cutting in the spring and autumn.
  • Mulch forest garden with foliage from N2 fixing Black locust
  • Weave willow archway , gazebo and fence back in on them-selves.


3 years

There should now be a bountiful harvest and most of the systems will be self-regulating apart from those in zones 1 and two.


Handy books and websites and films


Perennial vegetables by Eric Toensmeier

Creating a forest garden by Martin Crawford

A begginers guide to permaculture by Rosmary Marrow

Getting started in permaculture by Ross and Jenny Mars

Gias garden, a guide to home scale permaculture by Toby Hemenway



Geoff Lawton, Soils

 Rhiwlas Permaculture project, with worm farm and tree nursery

Rhiwlas Permaculture Project Plan

Rhiwlas Permaculture Project Plan


The project will be created on a three acre field in the village of Rhiwlas, North Wales. The field has previously been used for grazing and now consists mostly of grass with some gorse. It has a north westerly aspect with undulating contours and contains a stream that runs along the south westerly edge. A spring lies adjacent to this stream which has the potential to be converted into a well. The field also contains the ruin of a stone agricultural building.

With funding, the area will be turned into a family run business with the prospect of employing around eight individuals to manage a number of elements that will generate revenue. These include a pick your own food forest, fish lakes, water cress stream, annual veg production, unusual perennial vegetables, nursery poly tunnels, chickens, wood work shop, worm farm and yurts which will be used as dwellings for occupants and students partaking classes and courses that will  cover various aspects of permaculture. The project also aims to benefit the local community by providing allotments.

 Project aims

Help people learn to grow their own food and become more self reliant
Bring the community closer together
Create an environment that shows how both humans and nature can benefit each-other
Generate revenue whilst benefiting nature and the local community
Teach people how to teach permaculture and set up their own projects
Help local farmers reduce the amount of chemicals they use on the land
Provide the local community with healthy natural food.
Provide a space people that both the old and the young can come together to relax and  socialise


Zone 1

The dwelling place

This zone contains the home yurt and its garden. This garden will serve as a demonstrating area for permaculture students as it will contain examples of how permaculture can be applied at home.  The zone contains a solar shower that can also be heated by a wood burning stove. The grey water from the shower and the house goes to a reed bed system for filtration, the clean water enters a pond containing aquatic edibles. The zone also contains nursery beds, annual beds, a compost toilet, compost heap, kitchen wormery, root veg store, bee hives, herb spirals, and perennial beds, the perennial beds gradiate into a forest garden. Zone one and two are edged by a Swale to collect the nutrients and water draining down the slopes surrounding it. Because of the excessive rain in Wales the Swale also doubles as a diversion drain that leads into the stream to prevent flooding in zone one and two.

Zone 1

Zone 1

grey water system

Zone 2

Poly tunnels

Will be located near the entrance on the flat ground on the south west side of the stone ruin. In this location they are close to water and compost and provide ease of access for workers and costumers. They will be used as a nursery for trees and plants.

Unusual perennial vegetables

Perennial vegetables are essential for anyone wishing to be more self sufficient as they reduce the work required when annually replanting food plants. Many unusual varieties exist and there is a growing interest in obtaining them thanks to the website “plants for the future”, the vegetables can be sold either as plants or seeds for growing or eating. A garden for these perennial vegetables will be located best behind the poly tunnels so they are close to the sources of compost, water and the nursery, and will also provide easy access for costumers and gardeners wishing to tend them.


Chickens can also serve as a source of revenue by selling the eggs and chicks. The chicken hutches will be located on the north side of the poly tunnels. Their hutches built into the poly tunnels so both the chickens and the plants can benefit from each others warmth and gas emissions. The chickens will roam around free range around the poly tunnels feeding on various food plants such as millet, sunflowers and mulberry bush that have been planted to supplement them.

Zone 3

 Worm farm, tree nursery and annual vegetables

The worm farm will initially be installed on the North westerly side of the stone ruin. This will be the primary source of income that will pave the way for the other projects by generating revenue and providing soil fertility. Worms can be sold to generate cash and the castings can be spread on the ground and used to make worm tea to accelerate the process of succession on the land. Educational courses on worm farming will also be used to generate revenue.

It is advisable to start with just a sixth of an acre to begin with then gradually increase as experience is gained. The worm farm will be installed in the allocated area to serve the function of fertilising the soil closest to zone one and because the amenities for maintaining the worms are more readily available in this way. The north western side of the field is the most sheltered and will also contain the most fertility over all as it is the lowest part of the field and contains the nutrients that have drained down the slopes. In six months time when the worms are ready to be harvested the worm farm should be rebuilt in a paddock adjacent to the original patch. Then young fruit and nut trees can be planted where the worms once grew. This will allow the trees to benefit from the worms and will accelerate the process of re-establishing soil health. When the trees are hardened off and of a good size they can be sold to generate revenue. This process can be continued on a rotational basis around the north side of the field alternating with trees and worms.

Additional revenue can be earned by planting annual food crops among the trees. These annual food crops can then be sold in veg boxes.

Zone 4

Food forest

The food forest will contain a diverse mix of perennial shrubs and fruit and nut trees with a diverse herb ground layer and many different food producing vines. The many pathways that run through the forest will help warmth and light penetrate it. The trees will be spaced in a staggered fashion allowing the greatest possibility for light and warmth.

This forest will be teaming with wildlife and bursting with fruit and nuts, eventually it can be used to generate revenue using it as an unusual pick your own experience.

Guinea fowl will roam free in the wood but have a hutch on stilts that will be used for egg laying. These birds will serve the functions of providing delicious eggs, an alarm for the presence of predators and intruders and also as pest predators.

Water courses

The stream can be manipulated into a zig-zag shape to slow down the water flow through the site, this will help to provide ideal habitat for growing water cress that can be sold. Two lakes can be created using the stream. These will serve the function of cultivating native species of fish such as rainbow and brown trout. These fish can then be sold or used by anglers. Only native species of fish and plants can be introduced to the lakes to eliminate the risk of non native species invading the water courses of north Wales. The lakes will also serve the function of an aesthetic place to visit for locals and customers and will also provide warmth and additional light for the surrounding plants and trees.

Guest and student yurts and Tepee’s

The top right hand corner of the field will contain the Tepee’s and yurts that will be used for guests and students. This area is located in a wild flower meadow where the students can relax in nature and enjoy the view of the lake and also the spectacular view down the valley.

Community allotments

The community allotments will contain a number of raised beds, a tool shed, compost heaps, it could also contain flowering cherry trees for aesthetics and food. It could be located near the main gate for ease of access and because the terrain is relatively flat.

Zone 5

This zone stretches along the circumference of the field and contains a number of nitrogen fixing trees such as alders and gorse. This will allow the fertility to penetrate the rest of the project as it drains down the slopes with the rain. Other species such as birches and hazel will be planted to accelerate natural succession. Once these trees are in place the area will be left to revert back to its natural condition.

 Additional info

Willow and hazel will be used as wind breaks and privacy screens, and will be coppiced regularly to produce fire wood, and willow whips to sell. They will also provide a great habitat for nature and will provide nuts.

All dark damp areas can be used for mycology and the mushrooms and fungus sold for profit.

 Revenue summary

Educational courses e.g. wood work and permaculture.
Pick your own
Willow whips
Water cress

Action plan

1)      Apply for funding
2)      Apply for planning permission for yurt
3)      Apply for planning permission for worm farm
4)      Apply for planning permission for lakes and water courses
5)      Apply for planning permission for two poly tunnels
6)      Apply for planning permission for processing sheds
7)      Obtain regular delivery of organic matter from tree surgeons, farmers etc.
8)      Set up worm farm
9)      Build water courses and lakes and plants with water cress and wild aquatic plants.
10)  Plough the food forest area and yurt area and sew with a mix of native bioaccumulations e.g. comfrey, plantain, yarrow, borage, wild mustard, clover, bugle, chickweed.
11)  Build compost toilet
12)  Build well
13)  Create zone one using sheet mulch
14)  Create zone one pond and root store
15)  Harvest water cress
16)  Put up yurt
17)  Create community garden with raised beds, sheds and compost heaps
18)  Put up poly tunnels and get chicken hutch up
19)  Sell chicken eggs
20)  invite people to the allotments
21)  Start nursery with trees and perennial plants
22)  Build perennial garden
23)  Harvest and rotate worms
24)  Plant saplings in worm beds and food forest
25)  Plants annuals amongst saplings on nursery beds
26)  Plant perennials
27)  Introduce fish to lakes
28)  Apply for planning for guest yurts and tepee’s
29)  Apply for planning for ruin
30)  Apply for planning for processing sheds
31)  Put up yurts and tepee’s
32)  Start to run courses.
33)  Begin to sell annual veg and perennial plants

Invite people to pick your own food forest and potentially use wood work shop.

Handy books and websites and films


Perennial vegetables by Eric Toensmeier
Creating a forest garden by Martin Crawford
A beginner’s guide to permaculture by Rosemary Marrow
Getting started in permaculture by Ross and Jenny Mars
Gaia’s garden, a guide to home scale permaculture by Toby Hemenway



Geoff Lawton, Soils

 Zone 1 patch design plant list

1)      Nursery bed for young plants such as brassicas, tomatoes, squash, courgettes, sunflowers, artichokes.

2)      Cabbages, buckwheat, radishes, dill parsnip, calendula, lettuce: iceberg, romaine, butter. Fava beans, garlic.

3)      Carrot, onion, broccoli, chard, parsley, spinach, broad beans, rocket

4)      Herb spiral: rosemary, penny royal, basil, lemon balm, peppermint, thyme,sage.

5)      Strawberry spiral: strawberries, red clover, chives.

6)      Cauliflower, shallots, lambs lettuce, spring onions, beetroots, kale, sugar snap peas.

7)      Sun flowers, globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, comfrey, french sorel, chickweed.

8)      Sweet corn, squash, berlotti beans, calendula.

9)      Asparagus, occa, yacon, winged bean, borage, physalis, clover.

10)  Reed mace, water cress, bitter hairy cress, phragmites australis, arrow root, water lotus, milfoil, duckweed, iris, fig, clover, vetch, borage, gooseberry, current, raspberry.

11)  Good king henry, fat hen, nettle, burdock, plantain, oyster mushroom, field mushroom, parasol mushroom, apple, plum, pear, cherry, hazel, alder, holly, gorse.

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