Every year, usually on the first weekend of February, the Nordic Institute of Permaculture meets at one of the members countries. Currently those are Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. All members of the national member associations are invited to join the meeting. For Finland I’m also a member of the board of the Nordic meeting and besides that I’m also part of the secretary. This is the story of the 2020 meeting.

When I went for the Helsinki Airport by bus the weather was still fine. Cold, but fine. I was too early for the flight so I was looking on the departure table for all those different destinations, Shanghai, Alicante, Chicago, London, etc. I was amazed by how many planes are leaving the airport in a short amount of time, and of course of how many also arrive in Helsinki. The shear amount of it puzzled me. I remembered the post of an Irish friend about how many planes are simultaneously in the air in Europe – and I still can’t believe it. But actually it can be checked at every time by just browsing to https://www.flightradar24.com/ .

Flight went smooth and upon arrival the weather was still ok. Not as cold as in Helsinki but ok. I was totally overdressed wearing heavy winter jacket, scarf, winter gloves and winter cap. I already felt the heat of climate change within my jacket.

At the train I met Elin from the Norwegian Permaculture Association. We had a discussion about energy and that the Nordic countries are seen as a perfect example but it actually isn’t, especially when it comes to nature and energy consumption. 

We arrived at Knabstrup train station at about quarter to 3 and got picked up some time later. 

The venue, Makvärket, and old, sold for 1 dkk, brick making factory was pure awesomesauce. The collective that is working on it since they bought it did a marvellous job on restoring and reinventing the building. The kitchen & dining space with the rocket mass heater and all its small details makes Makvärket a place to enjoy. 

I had a coffee, greeted old friends and then went to the main room for registration and the first presentations. The Norwegian Permaculture association gave a presentation about 2019, then the Danish and then, tada, me for the Finnish Permaculture association. There were further presentations scheduled for later the evening, after dinner, but I was somehow to tired and had other work on my todo list. 

Saturday was split between two tracks: The meeting of the board of the Nordic Institute and workshops. As a board member I had to attend the board meeting. Which was interesting for me since this was the first time for me. I was at the meeting in Oslo in 2019 but this was for becoming a member of the Institute. First Cathrine Dolleries gave an introduction to the UK Diploma system and about the new prerequisites for a holding a PDC course with the Danish Permaculture Association. 

In between those presentations and discussions I held a small 30 minute presentation about biogas projects I were involved in. But after the 7th or so picture the presentation became a discussion and I had to answer a lot of questions. Fortunately there was still some time to show some videos, especially the one I took in January that pictured the first lighting of the biogas systems at BeyondBuckthorns

Back at the board meeting I listened to a discussion about different aspects of the two Diploma systems and the proposed changes. One significant change is that there will be two pathways and that there will be a minimum fee of 2700 DKK for the unsuported and 7200 DKK for the supported including tutorials. There will be also a guideline for assessors and an overhaul of the description of the system on the Nordic Institute’s website. From a first timer perspective I found the meeting very productive and very well facilitated by Andreas Jonsson. 

After all those hours of meetings, discussions it was time for the social part. The organizers had hired a band. It was time to dance and probably for a beer. But I actually went to bed early as I was tired. 

On Sunday Norway and Denmark presented about their recent updates about their LAND centres (Permaculture Denmark). It was actually nice to hear from someone living in a LAND centre about their problems, challenges and of course joy and the reward it brings to be a LAND centre. It was one of those presentations where at the end you say to yourself “I also want my premises to be a LAND centre”.

Sunday also meant: Good bye. It was time to pack, have a last meal together and leave. The weather was still ok at that point. Some of us left for the travel home and some of us went for the Permaculture farm of Stine and Morten. Upon arrival at the lower part of the ridge the weather had changed from ok to crazy and after the 15 minutes walk up the ridge I was wet down to the bone. My winter jacket, the shoes, trousers, socks – everything socked in water. And those time within Espen’s self build, not yet ready, home didn’t really help to recover from the cold that crept in from the wet clothes. 

But to put it into a sunny perspective: This is something to remember for a long time, and something to talk about at the next meeting from the 5th to 7th of February 2021 in Sweden.