Networking & Social Events

Active in permaculture or just curious? Come and have a chat

Hosted by Andy Goldring and the Permaculture Association.

A simple space to encourage networking and connection between permaculture practitioners and people that are interested or curious. A space to exchange, share, ask questions and chat. Drop in for 15 minutes or stay for the whole session

Bring a beer or a cuppa (it’s an afternoon session!) for a chance to meet others and find out more about the fascinating approach to farming, land use and world change!


Andy Goldring lives in Leeds, is Chief Executive of the Permaculture Association and has been supporting permaculture projects, farms and smallholdings for nearly 30 years. he loves a good chat and can help direct you to resources and other farmers in the north, or indeed across the UK, Europe and beyond.

A story of seed – an interactive northern Seed Sovereignty networking session

Hosted by the Gaia Foundation Seed Sovereignty Programme.

The session intended to connect northern seed sovereignty networks, to gain a better understanding of what’s happening in the region, including successes and what’s needed to develop greater seed sovereignty.

Now in Phase 2, the Seed Sovereignty Programme UK & Ireland from the Gaia Foundation, has appointed a dedicated coordinator for the northern region. The coordinator’s role is to support and build seed sovereignty networks in the north, supporting farmers and growers to develop seed sovereignty through training, the sharing of skills and resources and coordinated activities. These will be geared towards supporting an increase in commercially available open-pollinated seed and seed saving in the region as part of agro-ecological systems for greater food sovereignty.

Participants were invited to bring some (actual) seeds of significance to them, share the story of those seeds, what’s going well and what needs to happen next, so that they and others across the region might enjoy seed sovereignty.


Charlie Gray is the Coordinator for North England and has been working on food systems for more than 10 years in Yorkshire, supporting community growers and connecting with allotmenteers and farmers. She is based at Horton Community Farm Cooperative where she coordinates seed-saving and co-founded and works cooperatively with various food organisations locally as well as permaculture networks nationally. She is an ethnobotanist by training and interested in the power of seed sovereignty to transform food systems and build community resilience. As a Yorkshire plant-based eater particularly loves all manner of leafy vegetables and broccoli (fortunately)!

Dr Dennis Touliatos, Researcher Centre for Agroecology , Water and Resilience is the Coordinator of the ‘Lancaster Seed Library’, a community seed saving project which focuses on collecting, saving and distributing locally adapted seeds, and re-skilling local growers in seed saving.

Maria Scholten, Regional Coordinator for Highland and Islands Scotlan, is supporting growers and crofters across Scotland. She has been working in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland collaborating and advising on seed issues and policy with the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) for many years.

Richie Walsh, Regional Coordinator for Lowland Scotland joined the team in June 2020 as the Lowlands Scotland Seed Sovereignty Coordinator. He has an academic background in amenity horticulture, market gardening and plant conservation. He works professionally in the field of horticultural therapy and is a keen amateur botanist specialising in the heather family native to Europe. He has a passion for community food growing. Over the last decade, he has set up and run community gardens in Dublin, Amsterdam and Glasgow. When not digging in a garden or wandering and botanising in the countryside, Richie can be found brewing his own beer, mead and hedgerow wines.

You can read a blog post about the outcomes of the session here.

Virtual Veg craft with Mme Zucchini

Hosted by Madame Zucchini.

This session will be playful and interactive, as well as offering a low key opportunity to get to know each other, and even create something yourself. All you need to do is bring a vegetable or two, perhaps a knife, and some cocktail sticks.


Mme Zucchini is an experienced vegetable artist and performer, who creates amazing, often funny and topical, veg characters and art. She is a skilled facilitator and workshop leader, bringing a sense of fun to her work, enabling people to relax and create. She has recently adapted her work for online platforms like zoom, which allows interaction and engagement of all participants.

Organic at the heart: Developing an agroecological food and farming network in Northern England

Hosted by the Organic Research Centre team.

One of the key components of a transition to agroecological food and farming systems is the need to move away from input-intensive systems and towards knowledge-intensive systems. Agroecology must cover everything from food production to the protection of healthy socioeconomic relationships. This session aimed to bring together interested parties from across the food and farming sector who are already practicing forms of agroecology. Our objective was to explore the establishment of a research and knowledge exchange network in the region that could grow around testing and sharing our experiences of working towards the Organic Principles of health, ecology, fairness and care in full crop-rotation economies. At the Organic Research Centre, our work is embedded in a real-life context via engagement with farmers and other stakeholders throughout the research process. We also run a knowledge exchange programme, including the wide-reaching Agricology network and platform. Working with Organic Farmers & Growers C.I.C and Newcastle University, we hosted this session for anybody interested in being part of a collaborative network that supports the real research and development needs of the food and farming sector in the North of England.


Charlotte Bickler leads the Knowledge Exchange and Policy team at the Organic Research Centre, ensuring that ORC’s research gets out to its key stakeholders in the best format possible. She is based in West Yorkshire and has worked as a researcher at the ORC, Kew Gardens and The University of Bristol. Her research has focused on aiming to understand how ecological and evolutionary responses can be quantified to promote their successful integration in land management for agricultural productivity, sustainability, and conservation. Most recently, working on the EU project LIVESEED (, she has studied the application of evolutionary breeding within organic systems and developed an on-farm organic variety testing network (now a DEFRA funded project, LiveWheat) with her ORC Crops Team colleagues, Organic Arable ( and a group of participatory farmers. She has also coordinated Knowledge Exchange and on-farm trials of crop mixtures as part of the EU project DIVERSify ( She hopes her work contributes towards bridging the gap between knowledge development and its application and use in a practical setting.

Amelia Magistrali is a post-doctoral researcher at Newcastle University who has spent the past five years assessing the potential of and developing supply chains for alternative grain production in North East England. As a PhD researcher, Amelia studied spelt and rye variety performance with alternative fertilisers as part of the EU HealthyMinorCereals project ( and the DEFRA Sustainable Intensification Platform ( Amelia currently works with Coastal Grains Ltd (, a grain co-operative in Northumberland, on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to develop supply chains for novel grain production. Through the project, she works with farmers to trial commercial production of spelt, buckwheat and rye varieties, which has resulted in a well-established supply chain for regional spelt production and additional avenues for buckwheat and rye in the UK.

Steven Jacobs has been working in food and farming for 30 years, starting in market gardening and moving through farming to retail via catering. Following work with the Permaculture Association, the Co-operative Wholesale Society, Fresh & Wild (now Wholefoods Market) and Essential Trading Co-operative, Steven joined Organic Farmers & Growers in 2007. Steven represents OF&G on a number of roundtables, forums and working groups: Agricology, IFOAM EU, the NFU Organic Forum and the Agriculture Working Party of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming. Steven is the founder and coordinator of the annual organic farming conference, the OF&G National Organic Combinable Crops, also known as NOCC. Steven chairs the Welsh Grain Forum and also sits on the steering committee for the Wales Real Food and Farming Conference – WRFFC / Cynhadledd Gwir Fwyd a Ffermio Cymru – CGFFfC and Food Manifesto Wales.

Janie Caldbeck co-ordinates, creates and edits the content (ranging from a library of resources to videos, blogs, podcasts and farmer profiles) held on the Agricology website, working closely with researchers, farmers and others from within the industry to make it a valuable knowledge hub for sustainable farming practices. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a BSc Hons in Horticulture for which she specialised in ethnobotany (global plant use) and science communication. She has conducted research in a range of areas including CO2 emissions in relation to drainage of peatlands, the use of biochar as a soil management tool, building fertility using clover and legumes, medicinal uses of trees, and ways in which trees can be integrated into farms and farming practices. She previously worked as a technical writer alongside the ORC research and information teams (on the LegLINK and OSCAR projects), the Institute of Organic Training and Advice (IOTA), and partners on the on-line Ecofarming information hub. She works remotely for the ORC, based at her home near the infamous Barnard Castle in Teesdale, Co. Durham, on the edge of the north Pennines.

You can read a blog post about the session outcomes here.