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The Naturewise Story

Naturewise was launched in the summer of 1990 by community activists in North Islington London. The purpose was to addres global environmental issues through local individual and collective action. Rooted in the expressed concerns of local communities, Naturewise has sought to engage, empower and unite individuals seeking to develop more just, community based and sustainable urban livelihoods. The two main strategies Naturewise has adopted are 1) Running permaculture introductory and full design courses 2) Developing urban forest gardens. 

In 1991 we run our first permaculture introductory weekend, our supprise guest speaker was no less Bill Mollison, Bill's appearance was not planed. This was soon follwed by our first full permaculture design course. This was definatly a year we were going full throttle.

During the course in the autumn on a 0.2-acre public green space, in north London, Islington, we started planting our first Forest Garden. We found out afterwards that it was also the first forest garden to be created in an inner city setting. After we run our first Permaculture introductory weekend and full design course Marek left Naturewise to address new challenges. Following the success of our first forest garden, we created our second forest garden in partnership with Margaret McMillan Nursery School, a large nursery school in the same borough.  Alpay initiated and coordinated together with Crispin Mayfield, this exiting project. Crispin did the design. The planting was done by the Naturewise team, children, teachers and volunteers.  Students and volunteers have carried out the maintenance of these forest gardens. 

 The ecological footprint of Londoners was 49 million global hectares (gha), which was 42 times its biocapacity and 293 times its geographical area, twice the size of the UK. A growing number of London’s citizens are aware and perturbed by the current model of urban development, but feel impotent and unable to address this in their lives. By bringing individuals with similar concerns together, sharing problems and developing practical solutions, Naturewise seeks to empower people to sow the seeds for change. The focus for these activities has been largely in the locality where it was founded. However the courses bring together individuals from all over London and beyond. Through this process of disseminating permaculture and engaging people in urban land based initiatives, Naturewise seeks to nurture the growing network of people and communities, taking responsibility for our future on this planet.
Naturewise received a small start up fund to acquire tools and establish the first forest garden. Since then it has effectively run on course fees, the occasional consultancy and most importantly, the voluntary collaboration of its supporters and the course tutors. Naturewise is run as a non registered association and is an associate member of the Permaculture Association. Activities are evolved through a working group of 11 individuals, composed of ex-students and current teachers.


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