The Apricot Centre has been been running training course on permaculture, biodynamics and agroforestry for more than 20 years. We use a creative mix of theoretical, interactive and hands on practical training. We are unique in that our courses run from our site Huxhams Cross Farm, which is in conversion to biodynamic status, it is a demonstration permaculture site and a rare example of farm scale permaculture in action. This enables us to actually show you practical examples on site. We use a highly skilled and knoweldgeable team of trainers reflecting the huge amount of expertise in the area and often have guest trainers offering exciting and innovative courses.
This years courses include, Scything the Land, Water and the Agricultural Organism, Make an Organic Cob Bread Oven, Permaculture Design Course, Agroforestry and Introduction to Biodynamics. Please check back throughout the year as new courses are being added.
£120 for overnight experience
including produce for a campfire cooked dinner and biodynamic eggs for breakfast and camping in the Grove Orchards.
Starting with a bring and share lunch on the Saturday, you will spend the afternoon learning about setting up, peening and honing a scythe. After a light supper, prepared by yourselves, from Huxhams Cross Farm vegetables you will learn the traditional skill of scything short grass. Camping overnight in our orchards will allow you the opportunity to learn about the tradition and technique of scything from Jeremy in a friendly and relaxed environment. You will rise at 6am to cut some longer grass until a delicious breakfast of Huxhams Cross Farm eggs and campfire toast. This course offers the opportunity for lots of hands on experience in all aspects of using the scythe. We find it best if you learn through doing and Jeremy is an experienced scythe teacher as well as also using the scythe for the maintenance of his own small holding. You will also have the opportunity to spend the night on a permaculture designed, biodynamic farm.
You will need your own Austrian Scythe, as well as honing and peening equipment. Jeremy highly recommends purchasing a “cautious beginner’s set” from Simon Fairlie who imports them from Austria. As part of the set he would recommend the “Rasierschnitt 60cm” blade for most uses but if you wish to discuss your individual needs please get in touch with Rachel. You can find Simon’s website here.
Please note that you will need to bring your own scything equipment for the course - this will allow you the opportunity to learn how to set up your equipment correctly.
If you are unable to bring your own scythe please contact The Apricot Centre and we will organise equipment hire.
In agriculture and horticulture we care for plants and animals in the context of the farm or garden as a wholeness within bigger ecological systems. This leads to the idea of a farm as an organism with its own organs and where the parts influence the whole and the whole influences the parts . There is one element that is physically present in every organ, every organism, and that is water. In this workshop we will seek a greater appreciation and understanding of water and water quality. We will do this in a direct and experiential way. How does it show itself in the land, how does it reveal its nature in movement and form. We might then ask what is good water ? Can it be seen as a source of nourishment? as a medicine?
This will inevitably lead on to questions about how we handle water in different situations but hopefully we can avoid the prescriptive and cultivate a feeling for appropriate ways of working with it. The weekend will include many interactive flow experiments , observations of the way water flows at Huxman’s Cross. There will be a presentations and discussions on the farm organism and around the idea of a 3 foldness in water.
As far as we know this sort of workshop has not been done before so the whole event will be an experiment . We trust the water will speak a little into this space and we look forward to hearing seeing what it says. Total cost for this course is £120 which includes a simple lunch and supper.
In this 3 day course you will learn how to build a beautiful organic oven, built on a stone plinth and made from woven willow and clay from the land. You will spend 3 days designing and creating the oven with renowend architect Gordon Clarke. You will explore bread making fro around the world, from flat breads baked on stones or in ash pits, to ovens carved into the banks of streams. You will have the chance to look at extreme ovens, drawing upon Gordon's years of experience in guerilla kiln building. You will also have the opportunity to take part in a ceremeonial lighting of the oven on the last day.
Lunches will be provided by Wendy Cook who has a lifetime of experience with biodynamic cooking. There will be the opportunity to attend a further biodynamic cookery course with Wendy later in the year.
The Apricot Centre Permaculture Design Course is a part-time, non-residential course that takes place over 6 weekends between September 2018 - February 2019 making it perfect for those wishing to study whilst working or have family commitments.
The course runs in bite size chunks so that you can digest the information, and self-study between the sessions. The course is unique in that is based at Huxhams Cross Farm which is in conversion to biodynamic status, it is a demonstration permaculture site and a rare example of farm scale permaculture in action. This enables us to show practical examples of permaculture on site as well as visiting other permaculture designed sites in South Devon.
Our Permaculture Design Course uses creative and practical teaching methods to enable you to develop and experience the principles and practices of permaculture design, with emphasis on guiding you to design in groups and individually with support from your tutors. This structure equips you with the skills go on to design and implement your own larger farms, smallholdings, community gardens or even your back garden.
The 12 day course covers:
· Permaculture principles and ethics
· Renewable energy and sustainable building
· Simple vegetable growing and fruit growing
. Soil management and fertility
· Forest gardening
· Simple livestock management
· Transition movement
· Design skills
· Visits to inspirational sites
The course is run by Marina O'Connell and Bob Mehew, directors of the Apricot Centre. Bob is a project manager and has project managed the development of the new Huxhams Cross farm, he is an expert at using permaculture design for projects and business development. Marina O’Connell is a horticulturist, permaculture designer, tutor and a biodynamic farmer. She has over 30 years of experience of training and growing in sustainable food systems.
The course is certified by the Permaculture Association of Britain. This is a qualification recognised by the permaculture community internationally.
“Agroforestry is both a traditional practice, and a modern practice. It has undergone a renewal and uptake for modern sustainable farming methods over the last 30-40 years The name of "agroforestry" was created in the 1977 to describe the deliberate use of incorporating trees into farming practice”
Professor Martin Wolfe is one of the world's leading experts on Agroforestry, based on 30 years of experimental work on his farm in Suffolk. He will offer his expert knowledge in Agroforestry, the benefits, and ways in which trees can be combined with arable and livestock systems. The course will equip you with an overview in how to design, implement and manage an agroforestry system. Starting with an introduction to agroforestry and its benefits the course will lead you through designing and planning your own agroforestry system. We will visit four agroforestry systems on the Dartington Hall Estate, incorporating Alley Cropping, the Forest Garden at Martin Crawford’s Agroforestry Research Centre, and the new Agroforestry plots at the Schumacher College and at Huxhams Cross Farm.
Professor Martin Wolfe is a visiting professor at CAWR (Coventry University)
Biodynamic Farming was the first form of ecological farming system, arising in 1924. It has also proven to be one of the most sustainable forms of farming with the highest levels of soil biodiversity found on farms.
This course is designed for the gardener, grower or farmer who wants to find out more about the principles and practices of biodynamic systems in a simple and practical way. You will cover the context of biodynamic systems and the Demeter regulations; how to carry out the practices of biodynamic systems, the use of the preparations and the calendar on both a practical and theoretical way. You will look in-depth at how preparations are made by working with local biodynamic practitioners who will give an insight in to the preparations and their uses. The course will be held on a registered biodynamic farm and will enable you to carry out some basic biodynamic systems on your own land.
Permaculture Diploma Apprenticeship Placements
Marina O'Connell is a tutor for the Permaculture Diploma, if you would like to sign up as her apprentice please contact her directly. For further information reagrding the Permaculture Diploma please visit the Permaculture Association website.
Biodynamic Apprentices: we are planning to take on 1-2 apprentices please contact ... to find out more about this process.
There are a number of options for accommodation in the area if you need somewhere to stay for the duration of the course. Totnes is the nearest large town with Plymouth and Exeter within a 45 minute drive.
Dartington Hall Estate has a range of accommodation avaialbe at a discounted rate for participants of The Apricot Cente courses. Please quote APRICOT when making a booking.
Pitches start from £16.00 per night and are bookable on line, see link https://www.dartington.org/visit/camp/
24 single rooms at £35.00 per room per night including full English breakfast. These rooms are basic student style rooms, they have a wash hand basin in each room. Six single rooms share a bathroom and toilet. Higher Close has a small kitchenette which guests can use to make tea and coffee. There are no self-catering facilities at Higher Close.
50 bedrooms located around the Courtyard, the rooms are a mix of en-suite and non en-suite rooms. Prices range from £75- £130 per room per night including breakfast. Please Dartington Accoomodation website for more information.