Permaculture Magazine Award

This award is for individuals, communities, businesses, groups and organisations that can demonstrate inspirational permaculture work over three years or more.

Run in partnership with Permaculture Magazine, the Award is for individuals, communities, businesses, groups and organisations that can demonstrate inspirational permaculture work over three years or more.

It is looking for permaculture projects that are regenerating damaged land; enhancing habitat and biodiversity; helping people to gain practical and community skills; adding value to produce and developing local economies; building community, creating social glue and greater economic resilience; modelling new ways of cooperating and new cultural paradigms

Prize recipients share a prize fund of £15,000, provided by Permaculture Magazine.

Award Recipients for 2023

In 2023 there are three award recipients, sharing a prize fund of £15,000.

Below are the recipients and other short-listed projects.

Award Recipient

Sol Haven

Community Interest Company Sol Haven (registered as SOL LAUG HAVENS C.I.C.) started in January 2018 in the UK, drawing on the founders’ shared passion for sustainable agriculture and personal experiences of homelessness.

Its vision is to create a blueprint for sustainable permaculture care hubs across the UK that are a showcase for rural arts and crafts while providing a sustainable local source of food.

More widely, the project seeks to explore, develop and create a practical environment that can be used to determine a better today and brighter tomorrow. By involving people who have very real needs today, it also encapsulates a genuine chance to change lives and build a community.

Sol Haven has regenerated disused farm buildings and gardens to create a social gathering space that hosts various groups and events that contribute to strengthening the local community.

The project’s ‘Ploughing the mind’ 12-week course has been carefully designed to help people struggling with their mental health to reconnect with community, themselves and make new friends.

Activities within the course include:

  • Nature and horticultural therapy
  • Mental health education
  • Movement meditation
  • Drumming
  • Cooking.

A mixture of activities are combined to provide support, outlets for expression and the ability to learn new skills.

Following the completion of the programme Sol Haven seeks to support people in a wider programme, which will continue to help people overcome the barriers to both engaging socially with others and finding work.

  • Community, Food, Health, Housing
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Award Recipient

Tejiendo Futuros NGO

Tejiendo Futuros ONG (Weaving Futures NGO) was founded in 2018 in the municipality of Panajachel, Guatemala.

It began in response to the deep needs of the local community. These challenges emerged because of structural violence, and the state having abandoned its people. This results in a lack of access to healthcare, education, decent housing, work and social inclusion. Panajachel is also a tourist destination, and this causes precarious work conditions for much of the population.

Tejiendo Futuros seeks to overcome these challenges and meet local needs by developing a comprehensive work model focused on four priority issues: holistic education, agroecology, psychosocial care, and health.

It currently:

  • Works with over fifty families
  • Provides education to nearly 100 children
  • Provides comprehensive health care
  • Develops agro-ecological production centres.

Its holistic school, ‘The Tree of Childhood’, provides free education and food to children and adolescents to promote optimal learning conditions.

Mothers and fathers receive psychosocial care through the ‘Strengthened Families’ programme. They work to eliminate negative behaviour patterns through workshops on self-esteem, new masculinities, responsible maternity/paternity and self-care.

The ‘Healthy Mind, Healthy Body’ program constantly monitors the physical and mental state of their members and provides quality care to ensure their good health.

The agroecological program, ‘KaUlew’ (Our Land in Cakchikel) promotes healthy lifestyles, responsible consumption, environmental awareness, entrepreneurship, and the rescue of ancestral productive practices.

  • Community, Food, Health
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Award Recipient

Unidos Social Innovation Centre

Unidos Social Innovation Centre was created in 2018 by a group of refugees living in Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda. This settlement is home to around 120,000 refugees from neighbouring countries and cultures, such as Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. Of these 120,000 people, around 14,200 are farmers.

Unidos Social Innovation Centre assembled together to help create livelihood-opportunities and food security in the community, after food rations were drastically reduced for refugees in Uganda.

The organisation seeks to create solutions to some of the big challenges people face: poverty, climate change, war, and political suppression from home countries. All activities are based on inclusive education and empowerment through entrepreneurial skills.

The centre teaches different courses, such as:

  • Ecological farming techniques
  • English
  • Business and leadership
  • Female empowerment

While practising permaculture in various external locations, the organisation constructed its own education centre, in 2021.

It has since supported nearly 700 people from Somalia, Congo and Burundi to successfully graduate as farmers in ecological farming.

The organisation is now interested to regenerate the soil through education and demonstrating to thousands of people how to do vermicomposting and its utility to grow more food through being a solution to the infertile soil in Nakivale refugee camp. It also sees the potential of commercially sized worm composting systems, and has constructed one such system near its education Centre in Nakivale

  • Community, Food
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Also short-listed

Bioregional Weaving Lab Waterford

Bioregional Weaving Lab Waterford takes a place-based approach to connecting fragmented initiatives into a collective impact approach for systemic change.

In doing this, it seeks to support long term transformation and regeneration. It aims to build a resilient food system that supports thriving landscapes, seascapes and communities. They do this by:

  • Using networks and desktop research to reach out to stakeholders across the local food system. These range from farmers and teachers to decision makers in the Waterford region of Ireland. They meet them in their place, building trust, and also host multistakeholder workshops.
  • Identifying the natural boundaries of the local bioregion by looking at maps of soil, watersheds and biotypes, walking the land and talking with the people.
  • Sensing the need for systems change and applying tools and methodology for designing a strategy to push for holistic (natural, social, financial and inspirational) regeneration in rural and urban settings within the bioregion.

The bioregional weaving lab in Ireland started in 2019 and is hosted at the Grow It Yourself (GIY) office at GROW HQ cafe and regenerative garden in Waterford. GIY is a social enterprise that was established in 2008 to increase food empathy through school, community, business and media programmes. They have supported around 1 million participants to grow at least part of their own food.

The Irish bioregional weaving lab is part of an emerging European collective coordinated by Commonland, Ashoka and The Presencing Institute.

  • Community, Food, Landscapes, Networks
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Photo: Bioregional Weaving Lab Waterford

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Groundswell International

Groundswell International was founded in 2009 by representatives all over the world, who came together to create a partnership that draws on decades of collaboration and experience of developing effective approaches for strengthening community-led social change in Africa, the Americas and Asia.

As stated in Groundswell’s book ‘Fertile Ground: Scaling AE [Agroecology] from the Ground Up’, “There are about 2.5 billion people in the world, on 500 million farms, involved with smallholder family agriculture and food production. Their creative capacity to farm productively and sustainable with nature, instead of against it, is perhaps the most powerful force that can be unleashed to overcome the interlinking challenges of hunger, poverty, climate change, and environmental degradation.”

Groundswell joined forces around the mission of strengthening communities to build healthy farming and food systems from the ground up, while contributing to the growing global agroecology and food sovereignty movement.

It strengthens the capacity and effectiveness of local partner organisations, which in turn empower communities, farmers, and indigenous organisations to lead social change. It does this via various means, including:

  • Collaborative design processes for programmes
  • Facilitation of reciprocal learning between partners and allies
  • Support for technical and methodological training

In 2021 Groundswell provided $1,541,000 to partner organisations, contributing to a total of over $13,727,000 distributed to partner programs since 2009.

Its work not only regenerates land impacted by climate change, but also creates economic benefits for those involved, improves health and nutrition, and reduces incentives for migration with a focus on gender equity.

  • Community, Food, Networks
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Photo: Groundswell International

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Habiba Community

Habiba Community is a bottom-up initiative based on the shores of Sinai, Egypt. It joined the Ecosystem Restoration Camps (ERC) movement in 2019 and is now one of many organisations in this movement encouraging regenerative sustainable development models in South Sinai.

Ultimately Habiba seeks to make the Sinai desert green again. Habiba’s efforts to restore the South Sinai region are matched with international efforts underway to restore the entire Peninsula, which thousands of years ago used to be a forest-covered region rich in life and biodiversity. This development model has changed the mindset, by building inclusion, creating a network of 75 farms, 48 of which are Bedouin owned, that have fair access to the local market, and providing equal opportunities for all to guarantee well-being.

Habiba combines education and work in permaculture and restoration of the natural system with the goal of cooperating with the local Bedouin community. Embracing the ERC goal of providing educational programs in environmental restoration and regenerative practices for personal health and well-being.

Habiba helped local communities to:

  • Introduce regenerative agricultural techniques
  • Stop erosion
  • Avoid further desertification
  • Rebuild local livelihoods, based on healthy ecosystems

Habiba’s key asset is a regenerative and organic farm in the desert. This adapts cutting-edge methods in sustainable agri-tech and experimentation. This farm is changing the way food is produced, and is an international knowledge hub where community collaboration takes place.

Habiba is now working towards building a climate change resilient community in the coastal town of Nuweiba.

  • Community, Food, Landscapes, Water
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Photo: Habiba Community

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Komunidad Kolinda

Founded in 2018, Komunidad Kolinda is an intentional eco-community. It has 11 international permanent inhabitants aiming to live autonomously and harmoniously on 6.5 hectares of forested shared land in the temperate high-altitude Sierra Sur mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico.

The community practises regenerative agriculture and reforestation techniques, bioconstruction, traditional medicine, art, education and spirituality in close alignment with the local Zapotec indigenous population.

The project aspires to the highest possible level of self-reliance in terms of food, water, health, energy and building materials. In order to protect the sense of community, Kolinda follows a simple internal rule – no one is entitled to buy or sell houses without the approval of all and new members enter the community through consensus of the current members. The land is communally managed.

The community started with a land of mostly mixed forest. Its focus has been on building infrastructure, such as a road, water system, communal house and three private houses in order to host permanent and temporary members, visitors, volunteers and events.

It has built hundreds of metres of terraces to grow a wide variety of vegetables, and has dozens of fruit trees in the ground, as part of a food forest design. Everything has been achieved without external funding.

The community will in time turn its focus outwards to projects that will benefit the surrounding communities, such as the House of Healing and a medicinal garden and the Bosque de Mil Anos reforestation projects.

  • Community
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Photo: Komunidad Kolinda

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NILE Journeys

NILE Journeys was established in 2016 as a platform for Nile communities. Its work unfolds through community hubs across Nile Basin countries. There are currently eight hubs, and they are expanding.

Communities across the Nile Basin suffer inequalities and limitations in their natural, human, or technological well-being, which renders them vulnerable to climate change and its effects. The word NILE refers not only to the Nile’s energetic field of the majestic river but also serves as an acronym for what the platform aims to do “Nurturing Impulses for Living Ecosystems”.

The NILE Journeys vision is to nurture life-affirming actions in the Nile bio-region through participatory and experiential learning spaces rooted in indigenous knowledge and regenerative practices.

NILE Journeys has so far:

  • Engaged more than 97,000 people
  • Provided direct support to eight Community Hubs
  • Established three dialogue spaces
  • Established three agroecology demonstration sites
  • Set up a library
  • Co-established a restaurant in a rural co-working space
  • Co-established a moringa oil press unit
  • Sponsored the education of 83 children
  • Sustainably regenerated 168 hectares
  • Trained 35 community leaders on dialogue facilitation

The NILE journeys’ goal for 2026 is to become a model of trans-local collaboration in the Nile basin with regenerative practices that can be replicated in other fields and other parts of the basin.

  • Community, Landscapes, Networks, Water
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Photo: NILE Journeys

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The Lions’ Gate Garden at Edinburgh Napier University

The Lions’ Gate Garden is an urban permaculture project based at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus. It is supported by the School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment, the School of Arts & Creative Industries, and Properties & Facilities.

The project’s design and development are guided by 12 permaculture principles and three core ethics: people care, planet care and fair share. In following these, the garden seeks to provide a safe, welcoming, and inspirational space for students, staff, local and international communities. It seeks to empower individuals by envisioning and ‘doing’ sustainable and regenerative activities; growing sustainable futures through exploration and immersion in nature whilst investigating the impact of digital media on the environment.

With the support of many, The Lions’ Gate Garden now includes:

  • Outdoor classroom
  • Green-roof
  • Ponds
  • Storytelling throne
  • Staging
  • Living-geodesic-dome
  • Relaxation space
  • Water-harvesting systems
  • Pathways
  • Power and plumbing
  • A sustainability library
  • And many other creative interventions by and for students, staff, and the public.

The project has led to further regeneration of spaces on campus including a rooftop allotment and rewilding space. It has also influenced conversations at university and societal levels.

Lions’ Gate has published papers on the project, been awarded 4* in a 2021 Research Excellence Framework Impact Case Study on ‘Blended Spaces Design,’ and contributed to publications and events concerned with planetary and human health. In September 2022, Lions’ Gate organised another amazing Open Day event as part of Climate Fringe, Great Big Green Week and Permaculture Association’s My Green Community.

  • Community
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Photo: The Lions’ Gate Garden at Edinburgh Napier University

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The Rewild Project CIC

The Rewild Project CIC (TRF) has existed as not-for-profit in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK since January 2016.

With no nature connection organisations in the area and having the highest rate of mental health issues in the county, TRP aims to build the resilience of all who get involved through their Radical Regen Rewilding approach.

Its achievements so far include:

  • Since June 2021, TRP have offered free open access Craft and Land skills, 4 days a week. Including free transport free cooked meal and drinks.
  • Delivering hundreds of affordable and accessible workshops (over 200 days since 2016)
  • Setting up a community craft centre in the centre of Forest of Dean.
  • Setting up three community orchards, one of which is award winning.
  • Coppicing and restoring acres of neglected woodland and part-planting a community coppice.
  • Creating a sensory garden for a home for people with disabilities
  • Training many local people in chainsaw and regenerative woodland practices
  • Setting up the ‘Springs and Wells project’, which organised community clean and refurbished 2 local Wells.

TRP is close to becoming an Open College Network Learning Centre to deliver Craft and Land Skills qualification for youth who are experiencing or at risk of exclusion or home educated.

It has so far achieved all of this without secure land tenureship, having run most projects on land under license or from the roadside as travellers. This is increasingly more challenging with the Trespass Bill. A vision to secure land for the people through setting up SEED (Social Environmental Education Diverse), Community Land Trust based on coop principles.

  • Community
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Photo: The Rewild Project CIC

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theOtherDada (tOD) was founded in 2010 as a regenerative consultancy & architecture practice with a special focus on Biomimicry in Beirut, Lebanon.

Its founder, Adib Dada, spent seven years advocating for the renaturalization of Beirut’s river which today is nothing but a toxic sewage canal. Frustrated by the lack of progress and carelessness of local authorities, tOD decided three years ago that what was needed was tangible action on the ground. The company evolved beyond architecture to reclaim cities as habitat for all life to thrive.

The project has survived through a revolution, pandemic, destruction of the organisation’s office during the Beirut explosion, near-fatal injury of its founder, and resignation of the entire previous team due to external societal pressures to emigrate.

tOD is a symbol of how working with and for nature enables adaptation, resilience and hope in the most challenging times, especially as it just became Lebanon’s first BCorp, proving that whatever the context, businesses can and should be a force for good.

The pilot project ‘Beirut’s RiverLESS Forest’ empowered people to reclaim an urban landfill on “river” banks. This received overwhelming support from Beirut’s citizens and beyond.

Local community members volunteering have said: “Planting a tree here feels like an act of revolution itself.” It connects people back to themselves, their land, each other – and life itself.

theOtherDada is now maintaining 11 forests, 10 of which are reclaiming degraded land in public spaces (traffic islands, school playgrounds, public parks), plus one private one. This amounts to 3 267sqm, 28 different native species and over 13 000 trees and shrubs.

  • Community, Landscapes, Water
  • 2023
  • Permaculture Magazine Award
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Photo: theOtherDada

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