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 find out more about living in a more environmentally conscious way. We offer a variety of courses and tours to give people hands on experience of applied permaculture practice.
We’re committed to increasing biodiversity in a landscape where agriculture has hit biodiversity hard, and to leaving the land in significantly better health than we found it in.
This is a place that not only nourishes us through the production of food, but which significantly meets all our needs for food, fuel, energy, water and waste. We are committed in doing this in a way that is fair to the ecosystem, fair to the people living here, and to sharing 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, energy production, and food growing. It is constantly evolving and growing with our own permaculture experience.
Providing practical examples of land based permaculture design
Our growing methods include no-dig beds, polyculture, and areas of forest garden. We also incorporate livestock (chickens) into our growing system at specific times.
The 6 acre site comprises 1 acre of growing spaces and forest garden, 3 acres of woodland, 1.5 acres of pasture and 0.5 acres currently under conversion to coppice and forest garden.
We have many projects to demonstrate, including:
- Natural building – straw bale, timber frame, earth plasters
- Rocket mass heater
- Grey water reed beds
- Solar PV power, wind turbine, and battery storage
- Coppicing and basket willow plantation, and willow fences
- Rainwater harvesting and compost toilets
- Tiny homes and up-cycled pallet building.
A different look at growing
It is always fascinating to take a look at the farm from a different viewpoint, and this drone footage does that perfectly. In the middle of one of the driest periods on record, our forest gardens and woodland held up really well, in contrast to the pasture around them. Thanks to Danny for filming for us – and being able to see the land from the air is invaluable in planning our next phase of the forest garden.
Sited in what was one of the dampest areas of the field, we planted a mixture of natives – mainly birch and alder, with some oak and rowan, back in the winter of 2012/13, and then added to these in subsequent years. The ground here doesn’t support the apple trees terribly well, so the shelter afforded by the natives is invaluable.
The layer below the apple trees consists predominantly of red and black currants, together with some mint and comfrey. Over late winter we extensively cardboard mulched the entire area to control buttercups, and covered that with a generous layer of manure and compost. Into this we’ve planted a potato crop, and as the year progresses, we’ll introduce increasing numbers of perennials into the surrounding area.
Permaculture Learning and Network Demonstration going global
Unlike in the rest of the UK, permaculture in Northern Ireland is part of All Ireland Permaculture, which doesn’t yet have a formal central organisation, so Andy Goldring, Permaculture Association CEO has very kindly worked with us to certify Lackan Cottage Farm as a LAND centre, with the aim that we will now be able to work within the All Ireland Permaculture network to establish our own network of LAND centres here in Ireland.
We’re still working out the details of how that will happen, but our experiences here at Lackan will be invaluable to others as they establish other LAND centres acrosss Ireland.
From the Permaculture Association:
We’re pleased we could help get the ball rolling. The LAND network has spread across Europe since we initiated it in 2009, with the International Permaculture Education Network (IPEN) planning to take it global! If you have an established site and would like to become a LAND Centre, please contact us.