Lackan Cottage Farm is a six-acre permaculture demonstration site in the heart of the County Down countryside.
Through green tourism, we encourage visitors to learn more about how to live in a more environmentally friendly way. We offer a variety of courses and tours to give people a hands-on experience in the practice of applied permaculture.
We are committed to increasing biodiversity in a landscape where agriculture has hit biodiversity hard and to leaving the land much healthier than the one in which we found it.
It is a place that not only nourishes us through the production of food, but significantly meets all of our needs for food, fuel, energy, water and waste. We are committed to doing it in a way that is fair for the ecosystem, fair for the people who live here, and to share that knowledge and experience with as many people as possible.
Lackan Cottage Farm is the product of permaculture design, which can be seen in everything from our natural building products, to our waste and water treatment, to energy production and food cultivation. It is constantly evolving and growing with our own permaculture experience.
Provide practical examples of land permaculture design
Our cultivation methods include no-dig beds, polyculture and forest garden areas. We also incorporate livestock (chickens) into our cropping system at specific times.
The 6 acre site includes 1 acre of growing space and forest garden, 3 acres of woods, 1.5 acres of pasture and 0.5 acres currently being converted into coppice and forest garden.
We have many projects to demonstrate, including:
Another look at growth
It’s always fascinating to take a look at the farm from a different perspective, and this drone sequence does it perfectly. In the midst of one of the driest periods on record, our forest gardens and woods held up very well, unlike the pastures around them. Thanks to Danny for filming for us – and being able to see the earth from the air is invaluable in planning our next phase of the forest garden.
Located in one of the wettest areas of the field, we planted a mix of natives – mostly birch and alder, along with oak and rowan, in the winter of 2012/13 and then added to those – here the following years. The soil here does not support apple trees very well, so the shelter offered by the natives is invaluable.
The layer under apple trees is mostly red and black currants, with some mint and comfrey. At the end of the winter, we covered the whole area with cardboard for the control of buttercups and covered it with a generous layer of manure and compost. We have planted a potato crop there, and as the year progresses we will be introducing an increasing number of perennials to the surrounding area.
Permaculture learning and network demonstration are going global
Unlike the rest of the UK, Permaculture in Northern Ireland is part of All Ireland Permaculture, which does not yet have a formal central organization, so Andy Goldring, CEO of the Permaculture Association, has very kindly worked with us to certify Lackan Cottage Farm as EARTH center, so that we can now work within the All Ireland Permaculture network to establish our own network of LAND centers here in Ireland.
We are still working on the details of how this will happen, but our experiences here in Lackan will be invaluable to others as they establish other LAND centers across Ireland.
From the Permaculture Association:
We are happy to have been able to help get the ball rolling. The LAND network has spread across Europe since we launched it in 2009, with the International Permaculture Education Network (IPEN) planning to take it globally! If you have an established site and would like to become a LAND center, please Contact us.