Permaculture teacher Angie Polkey looks back on an inspirational year

For me, the first half of 2018 was spent preparing for one thing – going to Uganda! They say be careful what you ask for and in early 2017 I began looking for a new permaculture challenge. Enter Sector 39, a Welsh NGO which works in Africa with refugees and disadvantaged communities (as well as running their pioneering  One School One Planet programme in Wales).

I don’t usually fly so it’s a measure of my heartfelt connection with S39’s work that I ended up becoming their teaching team coordinator and a lead teacher for the 2018 Permaculture Design Course at Sabina School in Uganda -  & helped to coordinate the 1st East African permaculture gathering. The latter led to the formation of the African Permaculture Association, which was a huge step forward.

It was tremendously rewarding to work with and serve people who are still very close to their roots and have food growing skills - as well as great enthusiasm for learning how to make their lives more abundant and sustainable. They would put most westerners to shame in terms of their self-reliance and ability to make the most of their situation and resources.

It was a big trip and I brought lots of learnings to integrate into my work. I’m also supporting permaculture projects in Africa from home, which is great for me as I now have contact with some amazing people who are working in often challenging circumstances. Amongst others, I met beekeepers, herbalists, craftswomen, a small-scale coffee producer, a banana beer brewer, a community women’s group leader and a shaman – no NHS there of course.

Of course, I’ve also been changed by the experience and it’s a pleasure to share some of this journey with my own community. My next step is to offer a talk, jointly with Deana Owen of Friends of Monze, in Tregaron on 27 February, at the Talbot from 6.30pm onwards. Do join us if you are not too far away!