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Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 6 months ago

Steve Read



La Bretagne, France



Tel. (0033) (0)296 35 15 18

Skype combrit008



En Français plus bas




I teach Permaculture, leading 4 or 5 Design course a year in both French and English, Yoga, running 6 classes a week, and work as a consultant to people wanting to develop permacultures, research the Coppice Orchard system of food production, work as a greenwood turner using a pole lathe and keep busy building Varda style Lightships for those wishing to live lightly on the planet.


I am running the Université Populaire de Permaculture and was one of the founder members of the French Permaculture Association, I am currently very active organising the Compagnons de Permaculture apprenticeship system. We have designed the Permaculture infrastructure in France from scratch, using existing French models.


A bit about me


With a background in environmental science, economics and ecology and a Bsc from Greenwich University, I got half-way through doing a PhD (using non-linear dynamics to model landfill gas production) and discovered Permaculture, at that point I decided that the latter was much more interesting than the former and so decided to devote myself to Permaculture and become a Designer.


I completed a 72 hour design course in Dolgellau (teacher Andy Langford) in 1991, this was set up by Chris Dixon who is now a firm friend and has contributed enourmously to Permaculture in the UK. I was also extremely fortunate to have as co-students Phil Corbett, who is the Designer behind the Coppice-Orchard system, which I personally am trialing here and which I feel is a powerful and totally permaculture strategy for cool-temperate food production. Through Jan Dunwell I was introduced to her home at Ragmans lane where I subsequently enjoyed visitng and helping out. In fact all the course students were fascinating and busy people from whom I learnt a lot. 2 years later Chris set up an accreditation event and I presented the work I had done over the previous years and was awarded the Diploma of Permaculture Design.


I worked for a while as a scientific researcher working on projects such as the cleaning of oil-fouled seabirds, Toxocara Canis prevalence in parks and open spaces around London and methane production from landfill whilst completing my Permaculture training as detailed below and I became active with the South-east London Permaculture Group where I worked with others to set up a Local Exchange trading system (the third in the UK to be set up), a 'box-scheme'(one of the first), courses and training and creating links to business and countryside, we produced two pamphlets at the time which were quite influential and widely distributed, 'Permaculture, a bit about it' and 'Permaculture cities, giving it large'.


On returning from my PDC I led an introductory course at the London Wildlife centre, the 1st of many and when I received my Dipoma I immediately stated teaching full design courses around London and Carl Smith joined me on many of these, together with other members of the South-east London group. We spent a lot of time networking between groups and I am proud to have worked closely with and befriended such pioneers as Alpai Torgut, Pooran Desai and Ben Law, amongst many others


I was nominated by the local group to stand for election to the Council of management of the Permaculture Association (Britain), whic we hoped would set the rpecedent of local groups being represented on the council. I served in this capacity for 3 years eventually passing the ball to Carl Smith and subsequently to Amber Skyring.


I subsequently ran several design courses with Alpai and his Naturewise organisation, he, Mariq, Sylvia Eagle and others have made an enormous and unrecognised contribution to British and global Permaculture. For example Jascha Rohr attended a Naturewise course led by myself and subsequently set up the German Akademie. 2 ex-students are working in Cuba and have been very influential there.


I was also very pleased to attend a talk given by Bill Mollison and organised by Naturewise. They also have 2 wonderful urban forest gardens, second only perhaps to that of the late Robert Hart a firm fan of their work.


Of course I feel proud that Stella Strega who is so busy and influential in Permaculture also attended a course led by Carl Smith and myself.


Eventually I moved back to the country to Brickhurst Farm in Kent with the objective of setting up market gardens to supply the successful Box scheme we had established in London. I took over as office co-ordinator of the Permaculture Association, running it from the farm and using energy from renewable resources, the Association at this time was in a transition period, the Association newsletter, which had been run and subsidised from the outset by Graham Bell was passed over to Permanent Publications. The linking of membership renewal to 4 issues of a newsletter or magazine is not necessarily a good model as if there is no magazine there is then a big hole in the Association finances.


The Association later moved on to Chicken Shack in Wales and the farmowner of Brickhurst decided to move in a different direction so we moved to a derelict barn in Brittany which we have transformed into a house with solar water heating, bio-gas production, wind turbine, 'reedbed' grey water treatment and a Corbett system coppice orchard, this is all now being extended with the addition of a Vardo 'campsite' which will be set within a much expanded coppice orchard.


The building was developed using traditional techniques and materials such as lime, hemp, clay and wood.


During all this period I have been consistently designing, running courses and giving talks, continually working to deepen my knowledge and understanding.


Studies of martial arts with Malcolm Edge in London and subsequently Aikido with Gèrard Blaise in Paris and a lifelong interest in Yoga have gone a long way I feel to helping me develop both personally and as a Designer, a job far from over. The non-violence of true Aikido, the Ahimsa of Yoga and the Ethics of Permaculture seem to me to merge seamlessly into one.


I have also written a few tracts and articles on Permaculture and ecological development as well as the eco-philosophical book 'A Chivalry of Gardening'.







We offer accomodation in exchange for help around the place




Curriculum (in French)


Possède une expérience et une maitrise en sciences environnementale, économique et écologique, il a été chargé de recherche sur des projets comme le nettoyage des oiseaux mazoutés ou la présence de Toxocara dans les parcs de Londres et la gestion de production de méthane provenant des décharges.


Il a obtenu son certificat en Permaculture lors d'un stage de design de 72 heures à Dolgellau (animé par Andy Langford) et 2 ans plus tard a reçu son diplôme de Designer en Permaculture.


Il s'est impliqué dans l'association de Permaculture UK comme représentant du groupe permaculture du sud-est de Londres et a aidé à mettre en place le système d'échanges local, un système de paniers, des formations et des stages , à créer des liens avec le commerce et le monde rural.


Il s'installe ensuite à Brickurst Farm dans le Kent pour mettre en place des jardins permettant d'alimenter le système de paniers de produits biologiques en plein développement. Il devient coordinateur de l'association de Permaculture , à partir de la ferme et employant uniquement des énergies renouvelables


Le bureau de l'Association déménage ensuite à Chicken Shack au Pays de Galles et le propriétaire de la ferme décide de changer de direction. Steve et sa famille partent s'installer dans une vieille ferme en bretagne qu'ils transforment en maison d'habitation avec chauffe-eau solaire, production de méthane, éolienne, un système de traitement des eaux usées par lits plantés et un système de verger-potager mis au point par phil Corbett


Des matériaux et des techniques traditionnels, chaux, chanvre, argile et bois ont été utilisés pour la rénovation de la maison,


Il continue à créer des design, à organiser des stages et donner des conférences dans le monde entier , tout en travaillant continuellement à approfondir ses connaissances et sa compréhension de la Permaculture


Ses études des arts martials avec Malcom Edge (élève de Tomio O'Tani sensei) à Londres puis de l'Aikido avec Gérard Blaise (élève de Hickisuchi Michio sensei) à Paris et une longue pratique de Yoga ont beaucoup aidé Steve dans son développement à la fois au point de vue personnel et comme Designer


La non-violence du véritable Aikido, l'Ahimsa du Yoga et les principes de la Permaculture se fondent pour lui dans une même synergie


Actuellement, il enseigne la Permaculture, le Yoga et travaille comme consultant pour des personnes souhaitant créer des projets en Permaculture, continue ses recherches sur les vergers-potagers, fabrique des objets en bois vert tourné sur des tours à bois à perche et construit des roulottes pour montrer ces habitations ecologique, comfortable et adapté au climat Français.


Steve a aussi écrit de nombreux papiers et articles sur la Permaculture et le développement écologique ainsi qu'un livre éco-philosophique ' A chivalry of gardening'


Aujourd'hui il est President de L'Université Populaire de Permaculture et membre actif de L'Association Français de la Permaculture







References & Apreciations


from Stella :


Steve was my very first permaculture teacher and taught me the basics and essence of permaculture back in 1994, in a clean, elegant and empowering way, transmitting his love and experience of the practice with great professionalism, despite the non-ideal situation of the course at the time (location and attendees).


His well-placed martial-arts metaphors, such as explaining design as the flowing with the energies of the landscape, left me with a lasting and deep kinaesthetic sense of the designer's essentially humble role in the system.


It was a very long time ago and he later disappeared from my life completely, but I always remembered (as paradigm-shifts for me), his story of telling his worried parents that the pension he was investing in were the trees he was planting (very many, in the permaculture farm he was managing in Kent), and they were a much more secure bet than any deposit in a bank. And indeed a big pensions scandal happened a few years later in the UK, in which much 'wealth' disappeared without trace from one day to the next.


I also enjoyed his warm and mischievous relationship with his assistant teacher, Carl Smith, whom he apparently showed up with at a British PC Association annual meeting dressed in suit and brief-case, just to have fun shocking up a bit all the 'seriously alternative' people. (if I’ve mis-remembered any of these two stories please do edit, Steve! I may well have ..)


When he showed up again out of the blue nearly 15yrs later, having moved to France in the meantime, I was delighted to notice not only that I regarded him with great fondness, but that I loved how stimulating I found his current interests and thinking, in some of the important issues of permaculture custom and teaching of our times.


Thanks for being there and working in such interesting ways for our permaculture network :)

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