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Staff development - Permaculture

Back in November, The Margate School's team had a training session on permaculture with local permaculture teacher Jo Barker. Below you can see our notes written up and resources that both the team and Jo have collated together.

What is permaculture?

Permaculture is a design process. It helps design intelligent systems which meet human needs whilst enhancing biodiversity, reducing our impact on the planet, and creating a fairer world for us all.

Initial goals of Permaculture session:

  • The building - How can it be sustainable?

  • Gain an improved understanding of Permaculture

  • How to look after our plants

  • Think about the ground out the back of the building

  • Repurpose waste

  • How do we apply permaculture to the everyday?

  • How to apply permaculture to TMS

  • How TMS could be more community based - for further community development

  • How is TMS is already permacultural and how can we build on that?

  • How do we work towards being a local catalyst for social and environmental activism

  • How do we integrate permaculture into teaching

  • How to implement permaculture with a tight budget

“Doughnut Economics is a theory proposing a change of economic model as a response to humanity’s major challenge of eradicating global poverty within the means of the planet’s limited natural resources.”

The goal - Make and design creative solutions to our organization's problem areas

Areas we looked into:


  • More ways to keep warm - lots of solutions (hot water bottles, more layers, get more active throughout the day by going for small walks etc)

  • Work in smaller spaces to save energy being lost in the bigger areas

Minimum work - Max yields

  • Encourage a more engaged school community, with everyone sharing some responsibility

  • Do fewer tasks, but do them better

  • Use the space more efficently

  • Better planning

  • Not just a service provider, but negotiators

  • Our services are not just a financial transaction - its sharing with a contract

  • Setting boundaries to have events, exhibitions, workshops, etc that are more aligned with our ethos

  • Learning with our community

Areas of concern

Within the building

  • Lift

  • Stairs

  • Windows

  • Roof

  • Light

  • Plumbing

  • Insulation

  • Heating (heaters, smaller enclosed areas, blankets, hot water bottles, window drafts)

  • Toilets

  • Electrics

  • Flooring (is it level/safe)

  • Accessibility

  • Equipment

In learning environments:

  • Fees + bursaries

  • Student support

  • Wellbeing

  • Library

  • Resources + Materials

Make no waste

  • No plastic - Darkroom manager and Fine Art MA Student Dominic Rose currently lives a 0 waste lifestyle and we are keen to learn more about this and how we can translate it into our organisation and encourage others to do the same. More on the zero-waste lifestyle here: Greener Choices

  • Compost - Studio holder Eirinn Hayhow has been breathing new life into food waste by making leather and dyes from food scraps. Keep up and learn more about what they do on their website:

  • reduce, reuse, recycle

  • Paper, can be made into paper pulp and back into paper. Some students, staff and studio holders are already experimenting with this with the hopes of being able to repurpose all our scrap paper as such. If you're interested in learning how to make your own paper here's a useful video to get you started: How to make recycled paper (+ mould and deckle DIY)

  • Coffee grounds - Eirinn Hayhow has successfully made leather from coffee grounds, and we know it can be used in skincare, garden care, and more! More on repurposing coffee grounds here: Ancient Nutrition Please note: Ground coffee cannot go down the sink/drain as it can lead to blockages.

  • Printers - use them less, only print necessary documents, our printer system can be confusing and the 2nd hand/donated nature of them means they aren't always consistent.

  • Better labels

  • Recycling etiquette - Posters have been put on bins that explain what can and cannot be put in each bin.

Less work more yield

  • Time stacking

  • Time management

  • Productive work environment (differs for each individual)

  • Productive work practice (differs for each individual)

  • More active/engaged community

  • Community generated content

Permacultures levels of intervention - These were then applied in a workshop where we looked at our areas of concern and decided which interventions were needed.

0- Nothing/Observe

1- Biological

2- Mechanical

3- Chemical

4- Destroy

5- Grace

Jo then took us on a walk, where we looked at our garden and generated ideas as a team, before heading along the coast to forage local plants and experience walking in a new way (without shoes!)

Thank you to Jo Barker for coming along for the day, teaching us new concepts and working with us in new and interesting ways. You can find Jo here:

Learn more about Permaculture here:

Resources for permaculture


Permaculture Path to Community Resilience

Sociocracy. Dynamic group governance

Mirranda Burton's illustrations of the 12 Permaculture principles from Holmgren.

Retrosuburbia. the Downshifter's guide to a resilient future by David Holmgren. Building patterns:

If you have any resources or training that you think would be of help to us and the community please email us at: