Composting Gender Workshop Design

This is the outline of the Composting Gender workshop I designed. I facilitated this at the Food Sovereignty Gathering in October 2015 in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire.


genderunicornsmall11. Introductions

– Go round, incl. Everyone’s preferred pronouns. What you want out of the workshop.
– Safer spaces
– Origins of workshop e.g. From Reclaim the Fields article & subsequent workshops
– Aims
– Intro to terms cis and trans
– Reassure everyone that we will all fuck up, and that’s ok – we want to create a supportive workshop culture, not one of fear.

2. Spectrum line of confidence with terms. Split into small groups.

3. Look at the Gender Unicorn Trans-Nonbinary Factsheet in small groups.

– Discuss any terms you are unfamiliar with.
– Answer any clarifying questions.

4. Ask whole group to discuss in small groups: “Where are we still seeing and experiencing homo/queer/transphobia in our groups and movements? Where are we still seeing & experiencing sexism?

5. Feedback into larger group. Ask if people would like to change their group or happy in same places (also observe dynamics before offering the choice)

6. In small groups discuss how we can respond. What ideas and solutions (if possible) do people have.

7. In small groups building on all of the above ask:

– How can this learning feed into the statement
– What should the priorities be for the food sovereignty movement
– What is our key message to the wider world

Make the Most of Your Space Workshop Design

This was a two hour session as part of a six-weekly course introducing people to food growing on the Grow Your Own Garden Course in Glastonbury.

Session Aims:

  • To understand why design is important when planning a garden
  • To learn basic surveying methods
  • To learn how to make a base map of an area
  • To learn basic design decision making and analysis tools
  • To introduce the principles of permaculture and ecological design
  • To have a basic understanding of the SADIM design process


1. Welcome/forms. Why design? (Group popcorn, write brainstorm on whiteboard)

2. Introduce SADIM

Ask the group: What kinds of things do they need to survey? Make collective list then hand out a base map checklist.

Client interviews. Ask people what they need to think about? Give them client interview questions. Allow them to ask Co-op Members about their desires for the space.

3. Making a base map

Ask why a base map is needed. Introduce TOADS.

4. Introduce basic measuring tools incl. Measuring tapes & wheel. Introduce pacing with outside exercise.

5. Do spectrum line of confidence then separate into small groups to map the yard outside. Task is to create a very simple base map.

6. Come back to the main room and introduce the analysis stage. Introduce the concepts briefly then give handouts. Including: principles of ecology, relative location/zones, sectors, limiting factors

7. Learners then return to small groups to make basic design decisions. Emphasise its a very short exercise just to get a flavour. Ask learners to present their designs where possible.

8. End with very brief quiz to test learning

– Why design?
– Name 3 analysis tools
– Name 3 things on a base map

9. Close & evaluation forms

Animal Liberation & Land Struggle Workshop Design

This is a workshop design from an Animal Liberation Gathering in Summer 2014.

With the UK and Western Europe having some of the highest land ownership concentrations in the world (1% owning 70% in the UK), the dominance of animal farming is inevitable. This workshop looks at how we can connect with struggles for access to and redistribution of land, food sovereignty and alternatives to industrial agriculture, as a way of working for animal liberation and plant-based ways of meeting our needs without exploitation.

1hr 15mins

Aim of workshop

1. To introduce animal liberation advocates to struggles around access to land, land use and food sovereignty.
2. To support participants to draw their own conclusions about potential points of intervention and connection between these movements.


1. Intro to myself, aims of the workshop

2. Introduce industrial agriculture

Use an example of a standard “cruelty- free” veggie sausage e.g. Linda McCartney. Do a popcorn to encourage people to help you complete the map of its production. See the notes below for more detail. It may be worth drawing a neat mind map and hiding it until ready to fill the gaps.

Use this as a conversation about the complexities of industrial agriculture. Does it deserve the label ‘cruelty free?’

3. How do patterns of animal abuse relate to patterns of land use? (Popcorn)

E.g. give examples hunting, fishing etc

3. Who owns this land and how is it controlled?

4. In small groups: visualise land use if animal liberation is achieved? How do we get there?

Use as an opportunity to introduce tools such as permaculture, agroforestry etc.

5. Introduce food sovereignty.

Give Food Sovereignty handouts. Briefly introduce Reclaim the Fields, UK Food Sovereignty Movement

6. Emphasise complexity. E.g. How there will be people at food-related events with different worldviews on animals. What does this mean for us? What is our role in reclaiming the food system?

7. Invite any clarifying questions. Share resources & upcoming events.

8. Close with a go-round of brief feedback & personal next steps.


Veggie Sausage Mindmap

Field cultivation
– Deforestation
– Enclosure
– Biodiversity decline
– Displacement of indigenous peoples
– Urbanisation/de-population
– Water use

Use of pesticides, fertilisers, herbicides
– Tested on animals
– From fossil fuels
– Pollution
– Climate change (list all those other affects)
– Manufacturing
– Water run-off
– Poisoning & wildllife
– Soil contamination

Soya Seeds
– GM
– Corporate control of seeds
– Affects on communities/autonomy

– Pesticide use & health (brain damage, cancer, fertility, birth defects)
– Exploitation/slavery/control
– Poor working conditions

Health impacts
– GM
– Fats/heart disease
– Pollution from transportation

– Fossil fuel use (climate change, pollution)
– Road building & infrastructure
– Habitat destruction
– Accidents
– Health impacts

– Factory workers/control/wage slavery
– Waste
– Huge amounts of energy
– Packaging waste, landfill

– Supermarket control/retail power
– Impact on local shops
– Worker exploitation

Seed Sovereignty Workshop Design

Feed Avalon Seed Saving course 28 February 2015On Saturday 28th February 2015 I facilitated a workshop on ‘Seed Sovereignty’ as part of Feed Avalon’s Seed Saving Course. I’d done the workshop twice before – once for the Growing resilience course and another for participants at a Glastonbury Seed Swap. Each time it has been adapted and tweaked. Below is an overview. Feel free to use and share. Let me know how it goes so we can improve this resource.

With enough notice and a donation for our time, Carol and I from Feed Avalon are always interested in running seed saving courses or stand alone workshops.

Seed Sovereignty Workshop, 1hr

Overall aims of the session: To introduce the concept of ‘seed sovereignty’; how our seeds are under threat and positive action we can take

Intended learning outcomes:

At the end of the session the learner will be able to:

  • Understand the concept of ‘seed sovereignty’
  • Identify a number of threats to seed sovereignty
  • Describe three actions one can take to support seed sovereignty

Resources / Room Layout:

  • Seated circle with easel & flipchart paper
  • Flipchart paper
  • Pens
  • Post it notes
  • Handouts
  • Projector & screen if showing DVD

Differentiation: How will you meet the needs of individual learners?

  • Ask if anyone needs any support
  • Incorporate visual into session
  • Supply handouts at end of session
  • Ask for participant feedback
  • Observe the group to see there is mutual respect
  • Engage everyone

Workshop Plan

1. Introduce yourself & aims of the workshop. If time ask everyone to do a go round and share what they would like to get out of the session. If time is short then do a go round of names.

2. Ask learners to talk to person next to them, “What do seeds mean to you?” After 2 minutes do a group ‘popcorn’ and capture people’s input onto a mindmap on flipchart paper.  Hopefully a large number of themes will emerge – survival, biodiversity, autonomy, resilience, spirituality etc

3. Ask a confident reader to read the poem below. Afterwards emphasise how for many communities, seeds really do constitute survival or ‘sovereignty’. The poem is from the Seed Freedom Report (334 pages).

The Seed Keeper

Burn our land
burn our dreams
pour acid onto our songs cover with saw dust
the blood of our massacred people muffle with your technology the screams of all that is free, wild and indigenous. Destroy.

our grass and soil
raze to the ground
every farm and every village our ancestors had built every tree, every home every book, every law
and all the equity and harmony.

Flatten with your bombs every valley; erase with your edicts our past
our literature; our metaphor Denude the forests
and the earth
till no insect,
no bird
no word
can find a place to hide.
Do that and more.
I do not fear your tyranny
I do not despair ever
for I guard one seed
a little live seed
That I shall safeguard
and plant again.

(Palestinian poem)

4. Divide the group into two smaller groups. Give them the cards about corporate and food producer interests around seeds. Ask them to allocate them into two columns – small scale food producers, and corporations. When they have done this ask them to give feedback to the group. With each point go into more detail with background political knowledge. Also draw on the existing knowledge from the room.

Download the cards here (you will need to print & cut them up into 2 or more sets depending on your group size).

5. This then leads into a ‘chalk and talk’ talk about key legislation, ask for any input from learners. To refresh your own knowledge, I’d recommend reading some of the downloads in the resources section. You can also see some of the key points in a mindmap I’ve made here. I intend to write it up on the computer soon, apologies for the handwriting! It may be worth creating a flipchart already with some key laws on it to remind yourself.

6. The next part of the workshop is about encouraging people to think about action. I normally have a flipchart paper and ask, ‘How can we defend and create our own seed sovereignty?’ Depending on the size of the group, people can talk in pairs or smaller groups. They then feedback into the larger group.

7. This is an opportunity to also talk about resistance that has been taking place already. Introduce groups, days of action and other resources. Ask people to contribute resources they know.

8. Finish with a final go round where everyone says their next step.

Please note if you have more than one hour I would highly recommend showing one of the short films below.

Seed Sovereignty Resources

There are hundreds of resources online, these are the ones I have found most useful:

Other Seed Saving Resources



Prison Abolition & Permaculture Workshop

IMG_0298This November, I gave a workshop on Prison Abolition and Permaculture at the National Permaculture Diploma Gathering.

The session was described as:

Prison Abolition & Permaculture

How can we re-design our ‘criminal justice’ system? How does the prison system harm our communities and what role does permaculture play in designing and building alternatives? Ex-prisoner, Nicole Vosper, will introduce the prison industrial complex before participants  collectively explore if permaculture has a role to play and how in reducing harm in our society.

What went well?

The workshop was really well attended. There was a lot of existing knowledge in the room, with some people having worked in healthcare relating to prisons, for example. This contributed greatly to group conversations and thinking around if permaculture can play a role in moving society away from prisons. There was definite consensus that prisons are harmful and that permaculture has an important role in supporting communities meet their own needs without the state from the grassroots up.

IMG_0299What was challenging?

I normally introduce the ideas of prison abolition over a two hour session. This allows everyone to participate more fully, give more thought to the complexities and un/learn some of ideas of what abolition means as a long term goal and way of organising now. Therefore the biggest challenge was simply only having an hour together to connect some of the dots!

However, overall I was really pleased with how the workshop went. I think its a good move for a movement that is working for social justice and ecological regeneration.

For anyone more interested in the politics & practice of prison abolition visit:


Workshop Handout: Vegetable & Fruit Bottling

Written by Karin Shaw of Dragon Willows Farm:

For more courses organised by Feed Avalon visit:

DSCF3423Most fruits and vegetables are able to be preserved by bottling.

Bottling is simply a way of sterilising the fruit or vegetable and sealing out air and thereby preventing bacteria making the produce deteriorate and go bad.

Traditionally ‘Kilner’ type jars comprising of a heat-proof glass jar, rubber seal, glass lid and metal screw on seal were used for bottling.  However these are expensive to buy and unless you already have some of these jars, it is much more economical to use largish jam and/or pickle jars and really environmentally friendly to recycle and reuse these type of jars.  Most of us will have access to used jars.

The priority in all cases is to ensure that the jars are very, very clean before use.  To achieve this wash them in very hot water and washing up liquid and then dry up-side-down on a backing tray in a warm oven (100°C) for around 20 minutes.  Then keep them upside down while they cool before use.  Alternatively, they can be run through the hot wash cycle on a dishwasher.

Apart from the jars you will need lids – they will not take oven drying as the plastic sealant inside most lids will melt.  Lids can be sterilised by immersing in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes before using to seal the jars.

Also required for bottling is a large pan if you are planning to sterilise using the top of a cooker, or a roasting tin if you are going to use the oven.  In either case you will also need something to place on the bottom of the pan/tin to prevent direct heat on the base of the jars, for example a wad of folded newspaper, some cloth, a folded tea-towel etc., or you may have a roasting tin or fish kettle which has a wire trivet in the bottom already.

You will also need a thermometer to check the temperature of the contents of the jars to ensure that the required sterilisation temperature has been reached.
A kitchen thermometer is worth the investment and does not need to be very expensive.


Small fruits and vegetables such as berries, peas, shelled beans, etc., can be bottled whole.  Ensure the produce is clean and any stalks etc., have been removed.  Large and or hard produce should be shelled/peeled where applicable and cut into junks that will fit easily into the jars.  For example apples should be cored and cut into quarters. Carrots can be diced or sliced, runner beans should be de-strung and cut into chunky slices.

Fruits/vegetables that can be bottled whole but have skins, i.e., plums, tomatoes, gooseberries, need to have their skins pricked with a skewer before packing into the jars to ensure they do not burst open during sterilisation

Pack the fruits/vegetables into the jars (give them a little shake to ensure that the produce settles in the jar to get maximum fill.)  For items like plums and tomatoes or chunkier vegetables it is sometimes helpful to use a long skewer or knitting needle to get them placed in the bottom of the jar.

Once packed fill the jars to within 1cm of the top with cold water.  Place the full jars into the pan or roasting tin having first placed either folded cloth/newspaper etc., as described above into the bottom to stand the jars on.

Ensure that the jars do not touch the sides of the pan/tin or each other or there is a chance they will crack during heating.

Then fill the pan/tin with cold water to come half way up the jars in the case of the pan, and sufficient without over-filling in case of the tin.

Then heat up starting on low heat either on top or in the oven and slowing increasing the heat until sterilisation temperature (see below) is reached. Use the kitchen thermometer to check the temperature by inserting it into the centre of the contents in each jar.

Once sterilisation is complete (see timings below) remove pan/tin from heat and remove the jars (use oven cloves or cloth as jars will be hot) and place them on a flat surface on either a folded cloth or newspaper – DO NOT PLACE THE HOT JARS ON A COLD SURFACE AS THEY WILL CRACK.

Then seal them with the relevant lids.  Place the jars in a cool, dark place to store.  Check them ever so often.  Any signs of fermentation (bubbles rising in the jar) can be stopped by emptying the jar into a pan and boiling the produce. It will however need to be used within a couple of days.

Other liquids can be used with the produce in the jars.  Salt can be added to vegetables (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 pint of water).  And a sugar syrup can be used for fruits (340 gms of sugar to 2 pints of water) – boil them together to make a syrup and then pour over the fruit in the jars.

The advantage of using plain water is that it is very economical and the produce can be flavoured with anything when it is used later – i.e., for soups, fruit puddings, pies etc.

Sterilisation Temperatures and Times:

Soft fruits and berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries etc.,) must be allowed to take 1½ hours to reach a temperature of 75°C and kept at that heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

Hard fruits and vegetables such as plums, apples, pears, beans, peas, carrots etc., should be allowed 1½ hours to reach 75°C and kept at that heat for 15 minutes.

Some of the harder vegetables will not necessarily be ‘cooked’ soft during sterilisation and cooking can be completed when the vegetable is eventually going to be eaten.

Soft fruits will almost certainly shrink in the jars during sterilisation and the jars should be topped up from one of the other jars being sterilised.  This may result in a jar less than full at the end of the process and the contents of this jar should be used as soon as possible.

Introduction to Vegan Permaculture Workshop Design

This is a skeleton overview of a presentation I gave in Taunton on the invitation of Taunton Vegans. I thought it would be useful to share in case others are invited to give talks or workshops introducing vegan permaculture.


1. Intro to myself, thank you for invite

2. Go round: name/where you’re from/why you’re here. Emphasise how its great to connect people – often why people come to these events.

3. What is permaculture?

– Ask folk to speak to the person next to them.
– After 2 mins. Ask the pair to speak to the next pair near them.
– After 4 mins ask them to speak to the next four.
– After 5 mins ask the group to feedback into the whole group

4. Write a definition together. Then read different definitions from power point.

5. Talk through slides (see below)

6. Ethics.

Ask folk can they see any ethics missing from the Venn diagram? (Normally people will say animal care)

7. Why use design?

Introduce this in 2 minutes. Ask one volunteer to write up people’s answers on the board standing next to you. The other volunteer has to run each time from the back of the room. This should hopefully make people laugh! It will emphasise the importance of placement in terms of saving energy and resources.

7. Introduce the permaculture principles.

Hand out different principle cards. Continue with slides & pictures of Brook End (or the permaculture project of your choice). Ask them to shout bingo if they think they have them. Give brief feedback to emphasise the principle.

8. Finally ask people does permaculture have to involve animals? Yes! But self determining ones. Show pictures of worms, wildlife etc. Finally bring up picture of veg box. Ask folk if we need animals to feed ourselves.

Plug resources/PDC/Vegan Organic Network and so forth. Say thanks again to the organisers.

Zone 00 Workshop Design

This session can be used stand-alone or ideally as part of a full permaculture design course.


  • To support learners to understand the basic concept of zone 00 in permaculture
  • To support learners to experience applying design to an area in their personal life


1. Popcorn – What is Zone 00?

Share ideas as a large group. Discuss is it related to permaculture.

2. Introduce design exercise. Ensure everyone has pen, paper etc. Ask the participants to reflect on each of these questions. Do not read the next question until giving 5 minutes to the prior. Ensure you keep timing so participants don’t become ‘stuck’ on a question.

  • What is one area of your life that you would like to change?
  • What would you need to survey/observe?
  • What would you to analyse?
  • What design tools could help you?

3. Reflect and share as a group.

Throughout this session I have found it useful to be working through my own design question, to give learners tangible examples to the questions.


Reclaim the Fields Workshop

The first workshop I attended was actually the one I was helping to facilitate – introducing Reclaim the Fields.

We started with a go round to see why people had came, and learnt of a lot of people attracted to more radical and anti-capitalist ideas.

We then introduced Reclaim the Fields and read the ‘Who We Are’ statement, written at one of the first RTF gatherings:

“We are a group of young peasants, landless and prospective peasants, as well as people who are taking back control over food production.

We understand “peasants” as people who produce food on a small scale, for themselves or for the community, possibly selling a part of it. This also includes agricultural workers.

We support and encourage people to stay on the land and go back to the countryside. We promote food sovereignty (as defined in the Nyéléni declaration) and peasant agriculture, particularly among young people and urban dwellers, as well as alternative ways of life. In Europe, the concept ‘food sovereignty’ is not very common and could be clarified with ideas such as ‘food autonomy’ and control over food systems by inclusive communities, not only nations or states. We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real-needs-oriented, small-scale production and initiatives. We are putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

In order to achieve this, we participate in local actions through activist groups and cooperate with existing initiatives. This is why we choose not to be a homogeneous group, but to open up to the diversity of actors fighting the capitalist food production model. We address the issues of access to land, collective farming, seed rights and seed exchange. We strengthen the impact of our work through cooperation with activists who focus on different tasks but who share the same vision.

Nevertheless, our openness has some limits. We are determined to take back control over our lives and refuse any form of authoritarianism and hierarchy. We respect nature and living beings, but will neither accept nor tolerate any form of discrimination, be it based on race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or social status. We refuse and will actively oppose every form of exploitation of other people. With the same force and energy, we act with kindness and conviviality, making solidarity a concrete practice of our daily life.

We support the struggles and visions of la Via Campesina, and work to strengthen them among young European people. We wish to share the knowledge and the experience from years of struggle and peasant life and enrich it with the perspectives and strength of those of us who are not peasants, or not yet peasants. We all suffer the consequences of the same policies, and are all part of the same fight. “

We then introduced the history of Reclaim the Fields in the UK, talking about its European roots, why it emerged and what has happened over the last two years.

We then talked about Yorkely Court, an inspiring land squat in the Forest of Dean and people then launched into discussion and questions.

Overall it was a good little session for only an hour. For anyone interested in RTF they can see the UK website here:

Introduction to Food Sovereignty Workshop Design


1. Introductions
  • Go round, why participating? What do you know of food sovereignty so far?
  • Intro to myself

2. Food Sovereignty background

  • Read first definition
  • Emerged from movements in Global South, meeting in Belgium in1993, Forum 2007
  • Via Campesina – representing 200 million peasants worldwide
3. Principles
  • There are 6 principles that have been democratically decided from the bottom up
  • Pairs or small groups – each given a principle. Work through questions, with time for feedback & group discussion:
    • If this principle was made a reality in your community what would it look like?
    • What are the barriers to achieving this principle?

4. Emphasize:

  • All principles interconnected – What other principles are necessary for yours to be achieved?
  • Food is political – we need to see political relationships to achieve food sovereignty
  • Need to act & organise

5. Go round of personal next steps