Tag Archives: Permaculture


NDG 2017

Having attended the Permaculture Association National Diploma Gathering last weekend, I am now ready to start on my own Permaculture Diploma.

As part of the diploma, I have to do ten permaculture designs and my first few designs, in no particular order will be.

Redesigning an observation hive for the community orchard.

This design will address the problems that led to the comb collapsing  when the temperature was above 30C. The previous year temperatures had not been high enough for this to be a problem. As a result of the comb collapsing the bees left the hive.

Designing a presentation for next diploma gathering/convergence I attend around using the tools of Solution Focussed Brief Therapy when a project is stuck.

This will focus around the use of the Miracle Question” to move things on.

“If this project were not stuck what would be different?” Get as much detail about what the person with the stuck project/design would be doing differently.  Getting lots of detail is key in domains of feelings, behaviour, how project is talked about etc.

Then look at which bits of this are already happening. Can you do more of this? ….

Diploma Pathway.

This is one of the designs that most diploma apprentices do. It is a way to plan the work and learning needed for the diploma including how to access what is needed for other designs.

Willow Screen around Apiary.

This is a design I wrote an article about for Permaculture Magazine. Some more work needed on tweaking and maintenance.

Design around my Aromatherapy Practice.

Don’t know what shape this one will take yet so more to come later.


Each element should have multiple functions.

This is one of the principles of permaculture and if a health practitioner, (mainstream or complementary) follows this guideline along with its counterpart that each function should be supported by multiple elements it greatly increases the chances of success in treatment.

Frankincense for instance, is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, calming – one of the best oils for dealing with stress and depression. It has a number of other therapeutic properties. Massage can relieve both pain and stress, aid healing after injury, help with depression and many other conditions.

If we take just one of the conditions I mentioned above,  depression, then massage can be combined with a number of different oils that can help with it. (The same principle can also be applied in mainstream mental health work – anti-depressants can be used alongside talking therapies.) The aromatherapist, however has the advantage that a combination of up to four or five oils is not going to risk dangerous drug interactions that combining several antidepressant medications might. Frankincense, might be used alongside bergamot or lemon along with Jasmine or Rose oil. Rose is also anti-inflammatory, and is particularly good at healing emotional wounds from loss or abuse. Bergamot along with the other citrus oils is ideal for helping to move the stuck energy which often goes along with depression.

Of course, there is also the effect, particularly with psychological conditions of having an hour or ninety minutes which is my preferred length of treatment to oneself. – Much of the research into treating anxiety and depression with complementary therapies tries to control for this by having someone spend time with the control subjects, allowing them to talk. – Some studies compare the complementary therapy with standard treatment against just the standard treatment. Missing out the standard treatment is seen as unethical if the standard treatment has a good evidence base.

If you are looking for an aromatherapy massage, in Cambridge or Trumpington whether just to feel better or as an addition to the treatment you are already receiving for either a psychological or physical condition

call me on 07939273569 or email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com


Away (Again)

It feels like I have been away and not available as a practitioner a lot this year. Two weeks on my permaculture design course, a week in Wales for my Aunt’s 50 years in the Carmelite Monastery as a Catholic nun, and another big family event was a cousin’s wedding. Even though that was only a few days, it adds up and I feel I have been away more than normal this year.

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And I am about to go off again for two weeks. This time to Ireland by train and boat. One day I hope that there will be a balance between the costs of air travel and other forms of public transport that reflects the environmental costs of air travel, but for the present, I have to put up with travelling less often than I would like.

So, between spending time with family and my partner’s best friend from school, I will be away for two weeks with appointments available from 27th October. I will be checking email sporadically while away so if you want a massage or aromatherapy appointment do get in touch. Contact details on home page.


Aromatherapy a way of Life

Aromatherapy for me is not just about essential oils and treating clients and friends. Like permaculture, it is more a way of life. This is not to say that I go around using oils every minute of my life but it does mean respecting not just the oils and the plants they come from but the whole of nature.

Many permaculture courses include and exercise called, “The Web of Life.” In this exercise the group sits or more often stand in a circle and each person in the group represents an element in a garden or design. These can be bees, chickens, a pond, a hen house, a tree etc. Typically about fifteen to twenty elements are present. The first person is given a ball of string and asked to throw it to someone who represents an element that their own element has a connection with. Inevitably if the ball of string is long enough each element ends up being connected with a minimum of five or six other elements.

At this point everyone pulls so the string is under tension and the person running through the course starts to cut out elements breaking the connections. It takes very few cuts before the whole thing falls apart.

This for me is why the whole of nature is important. This year we have two wasps nests close to our back door which we have done nothing about! They haven’t caused us any problems, no stings to date and in the early part of the year, wasps play an important part in pest control in the garden reducing the number of aphids etc.

So for me being an aromatherapist is not just about serving my community, here in Trumpington and in Central Cambridge. It is about supporting nature and allowing/encouraging it to flourish because only in that way will the wide range of essential oils that is available to the practitioner like myself continue to be available. I also see it as the only way of being consistent in that wanting natural remedies to be available for myself and others and not respecting nature would be a contradiction I couldn’t live with.



Earth, as well as being one of the four or five elements depending on which system you follow is also where all of the plants producing essential oils grow. It follows that caring for the earth is essential for aromatherapy. This is why most practitioners like myself insist on only using oils that are organic or wild harvested using sustainable methods.

Sadly, much of the world’s soil is being eroded at an alarming rate. The burning of forest to allow sweetcorn or soya production on an industrial scale results in feet of top soil being lost in just a few years. If we are to continue to enjoy our essential oils and indeed to feed the world’s population, then it is important to not only halt the loss of top soil but to take active measures to build it.

To do this, we need to plant more trees in the UK and replant/allow natural regeneration in many other parts of the world as trees over time capture carbon from the air and turn it into top soil with the help of an army of fungi and other soil life. Other ways of building topsoil include regenerative agriculture techniques such as mob grazing. Using our own waste with composting toilets is also potentially a way of not losing lots of nutrients and organic matter that goes to build soil.

All this is part of why I feel that permaculture and what I can learn from it is really important to our world and not just to me as a massage and aromatherapy practitioner. So if you want a massage that aims to be holistic, not just for you as a person but also for the planet, do get in touch, especially if you live in or near Cambridge or Trumpington in the UK.

07939273569 or dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com


Permaculture Association AGM

On Saturday I will be attending the Permaculture Association AGM.

This will be the first one I have attended which has not been part of a convergence. Why is this relevant to an Aromatherapy and Massage practice?  The short answer is that I consider my practice to come within the permaculture remit. Let me explain.

Permaculture is a design system based around three ethics.

  1. Earth care.
  2. People care
  3. Fair shares.

I do not find it difficult to demonstrate how my practice fits in with these three ethics, I use only organic products for carrier oils and essential oils and also compost the couch roll I use. Giving massage and aromatherapy is by definition people care but I also offer cheaper rates for those on low incomes which fits in with both the second and third ethic.

I hope that as well as the formal business of electing trustees and officers of the association, I will also learn something that will aid my permaculture practice both in terms of my aromatherapy practice but also my growing things on the allotment and keeping bees and chickens as well as other aspects of my life such as the house I live in.

Friday evening I shall be making some of my beeswax skin balm to take with me to the conference in case anyone wants to buy some.

Top left is the skin balm viewed through a microscope.


What will an economic paradigm without continuous growth look like?

On a daily basis listening to the news I hear about the importance of economic growth. (Yes I do listen to the news too much!) This led me to think about economic growth and what would it look like if it mimicked natural cycles. (One of the Permaculture principles is to observe and copy patterns in nature.)

Even the largest of the giant redwoods do not get taller and wider for ever. (Someone did I believe recently work out the theoretical maximum height they could achieve. (Clearly too much spare time.))

Other growing things have cycles, many dying off completely during the winter needing new seeds to be planted or spread through birds, wind or other dispersal mechanisms. Here in ‘Britain, many trees and other plants stop growing during the winter, only to resume again in spring.

On an earth with limited natural resources, continuous economic growth is not sustainable, just as long lived though they may be giant redwoods still have a limited lifespan and size.

Many would argue that the world economy has already passed a sustainable level and is living on borrowed time.

How can we design the change to an economy that accepts these natural limitations to growth, has periods where it is in decline, others where it just stops etc?

I am not an economist so I don’t know the answer to these questions. I do however understand enough to know that these are questions that must be answered over the next few years if we are to avoid the economy changing in a much more chaotic way causing untold misery and ecological damage.