I came up with the name Naturewise while I was travelling on the London underground in 1989. And have been coordinating its evolution since then. This has involved creating and managing two forest gardens; one a community forest garden, the other a partnership/community nursery school forest garden. I did my permaculture course in 1990/91 and received my Diploma in 1997.Also during this period I initiated and ran 20 permaculture courses, in the inner London city setting. Some of my other substantial involvements have been with a housing co-op, a community garden and a community centre. I would say the biggest driving force in my life is to be authentic and take personal responsibility for the global situation. And take action today not tomorrow.
In 2004 I moved to West Wales. I continued to support activities in London predominantly through the website.
In West Wales I have been raising awareness through public events, making short films of local food growing (Links on website), reactivating allotments, starting a community forest garden, Initiating Transition Teifi, and opening an Eco shop.
Naturewise was launched in the summer of 1990 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 followed 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.