Nicole’s major passions are around community organizing and empowering those living on our Earth whose voice is not heard. Her farming at Brook End has many strong links with her work and world views around social and ecological oppression on both a local and global scale. Nicole also runs a Permaculture/Agroecology Design business called Empty Cages Design.
Growing plants for food in prison was something Nicole had very little autonomy or influence over. Using the knowledge she gained through her PDC and the other courses mentioned, meant that her experience of designing and growing on the land at Brook End was immediately a huge positive change.
The full comprehensive design for Brook End is available via the Empty Cages Design website. The overarching concept at Brook End designed by Nicole and her family is a stock free system, which uses a mix of permaculture and agroecology tools, principles and ethics
The various elements of the design at Brook End currently include:
* A medicine garden, from which plants are harvested and then dried, and/or made into tinctures. These are then used by family, friends and people who attend the various community gatherings at Brook End, and in doing so promote medicinal resilience.
* Brook End is also a venue for a range of local courses and other events including being a demonstration site for Feed Avalon, (a social enterprise dedicated to developing food systems that are socially and economically empowering in order to build food resilience in the local area), a place for various Earth Based Spirituality meetings, and a setting for a whole range of permaculture courses …and much more.
* The provision of salads to a local pub in the area.
The design for Brook End has ensured that the site has a huge relationship with the local community, giving many people without access to land opportunity to gain knowledge, confidence and networking opportunities. Nicole’s 94-year-old Nan lives on site, and has also been central in designing the growing area around her accommodation.
Using a permaculture and agroecology design system has meant the following benefits for Nicole, her family and the land at Brook End:
* Improved observation skills, (The family spent the whole of the first year they lived at Brook End just observing the land), diversity of permaculture principles utilized and growing practice.
* Enhanced self-care, synthesis of world-views and awareness of mutual relationships with wildlife and the landscape.
* Much less bought in ‘inputs’, hugely increased and diverse ‘outputs.’
The functions of the design at Brook End have really grown over the 4 years and the site is a constant work in progress.
Plans for the future at Brook End are many, but include:
* Setting up a plant nursery.
* Building a wildlife pond/natural swimming pool
* Looking at funding opportunities for furthering community opportunities, including increased connections and involvement with Feed Avalon
All photos by Empty Cages Design
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