In 2018, I was offered £10,000 to start a permaculture award. I could decide the criteria and how to give the money away, what I couldn’t do was pocket any of the cash for the set up and admin work. Within months the Permaculture Magazine Prize had attracted another £15,000 that included a £5,000 Youth in Permaculture Prize for outstanding people under 25, attracted judges from all over the world, and the Permaculture Magazine team and myself had set up the basic framework. By 2019, the Prizes had become £30,000 for permaculture projects around the world. This year, despite a global pandemic, the Youth in Permaculture Prize has attracted £10,000 and the Permaculture Magazine Prize is £15,000. Applications are invited from 1st May (closes 31st August) and the money will be awarded in January 2021.
What are we looking for? Simply, people all over the world that use permaculture design to create regenerative projects. Permaculture, which is more than an alternative gardening technique (though it works well in the garden), uses ethics and principles derived from the observation of natural systems to design projects big and small, from home gardens, farms, enterprises, even communities. It is all about working with natural cycles with low or zero external inputs, reusing resources, being as energy efficient as possible, and utilising sunlight, the flow of water, the wind to capture and store energy. Why use fossil fuels when you can generate power from the wind for free? Why heat a home with fuel when you can design it to capture heat for free. Why feed a community on imports when you can grow your own? You get the idea… It is common sense. But we don’t live in a sensible world, as we are discovering to our cost right now.
The prizes celebrate innovation and regeneration. The people and projects we chose generally don’t have access to other funding and they make every penny go a very long way. Not only have they set up gardens, farms and nurseries that have restored damaged lands, they also design in a range of yields. These are not only local food for their communities, but skill sharing, micro-enterprises, educational trainings, plant nurseries and improved community. As such they are also economically and socially regenerative and critically these projects can be replicated elsewhere. They don’t need big funders, flown in trainers and venture capital. This is resilient, self-reliant, relocalised, skill-sharing community transformation from the bottom up by local people. No Permaculture Tzars required. Being local and financially lean means quality of life is of utmost importance. The Permaculture Magazine Prize values people who build community, raise collective self-esteem, and foster independence. There also has to be time to sit back and celebrate all the good work. And we at Permaculture Magazine have the privilege of telling the stories of the winners, further raising their profiles as the dedicated, pioneering, creative people they are, and helping to build new networks at a grassroots level.
Maddy Harland is the editor and co-founder of Permaculture Magazine.
For more information on the prize see: