International Permaculture Conference 2015

I attended the second day of this conference yesterday and apart from the plenary sessions went to the sessions on soil and on wellbeing.

The session on soil looked at what to do in practice as well as the theory behind it. We saw how soil science initially looked only at levels of Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium that were available to plants. It then moved on to look at micronutrients, but only in the past few years has it looked at the other two legs of what is important in the soil. Soil structure which has been known to many organic garners to be important for a long time and biological activity in the soil.

Perhaps I have missed it but to me the change in emphasis that I heard was that instead of talking about making sure what we do is sustainable, we are now looking at making the soil better, year on year. Not only will this be reflected in improved crop health and yield but it also locks more carbon into the soil and so can be a positive mediator of global warming. Indeed there is a recent book on this subject, “The soil will Save us” by Kristin Ohlson.

On Wellbeing, one presentation was experiential, one on mental health and one on herbalism. The herbalism looked at using the whole plant and looked at the problem of there only being 2 degree level herbalism trainings in the UK. As an aromatherapist, clearly this was of interest to me! Also given the many years I worked in mental health this presentation was of great interest to me, especially as Rex, the psychiatrist involved is taking much from the much missed therapeutic community movement where I learned so much.

Hearing that some of what I missed so much during the later part of my career in psychiatric nursing is being re-introduced in at least some places was gratifying to say the least.