Start a garden | Surveying and mapping course

22 October 2022 at High Leas Farm, Riber, Matlock, Derbyshire.

A nourishing garden for all the senses, to care for people, the earth and our fellow wild inhabitants. But where to start? Let us tell you more.

Woven Earth at High Leas Farm, Derbyshire is home to a social farming centre, which will use social therapeutic horticulture to improve wellbeing.

Individuals with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems will be empowered to learn new skills and foster inner resilience.  

The project is in its early stage of growth, so needs nurture. A sensory garden will provide a safe, welcoming space where from next year, people will benefit from therapeutic time.

About this course

The space where we will garden

Join together with others to plan a new garden. This day course will lay the foundations – survey the land and consider the needs of people and wildlife. We will get a good picture of what’s there, including creating maps.

We will work together to increase our understanding of how to go from ‘a blank slate’ to the start of an abundant garden, with a good plan.

Through using permaculture, we can create long term, apt solutions while respecting the resources we have available.

The output of our day together will lead to design and will be implemented – the garden will be created! By joining the course, you’re helping that effort. And you’ll have skills to help you start other gardens.

What others say

Here’s some honest feedback from participants on previous permaculture courses with Ryan:

“I loved being on your site and channelling the info you gave us” J, 2019

“I enjoyed the course and learnt a lot (especially practical stuff about gardening / allotments). Some of this was through observation and the Q and As with other participants, most was from your examples in terms of layout, design, composting and mulching etc.” T, 2019

“I felt Ryan was such an active permaculture practitioner, and any information or thoughts he imparted came from his lived expereince of this. So I felt fortuante to have him as a teacher.” Anon 2, foundations of permaculture online, 2021

About the workshop leaders

Ryan Sandford-Blackburn is a founding member of Earthed Up!. He has gardened over a patchwork of local sites for years – a creative solution to not having access to any one sizeable site. Over the last 10 years, he’s experience of starting at least a dozen gardens.

Ryan has an affinity for perennial, low-intervention systems. Ryan gardens with the Earthed Up! team to maintain and expand our stock gardens.

Ryan leads workshops with a dynamic and active teaching style. He loves sharing positive, practical solutions, teaching gardening skills as well as permaculture and forest gardening. He also runs workshops and occassionally offers mentoring for digital communications.

Miriam Kate McDonald is co-founder of Woven Earth and a director of Heartwood Social Farming Centre.

She has experience working alongside a diverse range of co-farmers in a care setting and has over a decade of experience in permaculture design.
Mim has a keen interest in ecology and this guides all aspects of her work, seeking to facilitate the emergence of productive, resilient and stable ecosystems of which people are a beneficial part.

Access considerations

We will be working outside some of the time, in October. There is indoor space and there are toilets near to where we are working.

Car parking may be 200 yards down a track from our learning space and the garden is currently rough grass with numerous stones underfoot. For this reason, it may not be accessible to wheelchair users.

Babes in arms are welcome.

If you have any hesitations or questions, please get in touch to discuss.

Book your place

The price for the day is £60.

This includes a freshly prepared, wholesome lunch. Please let us know of any dietary requirements when booking.

If cost would be a barrier to you participating, please e-mail, simply asking if a bursary place is possible. No explanation or justification required.


Where it is

High Leas Farm, Riber, Matlock, Derbyshire.
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Getting there

By car or bicycle: Please see the map above – note that access is from Littlemoor Lane. The track to the farm rough and uphill, fun by mountain bike and ok by car at 10mph.

By public transport:
Train – the nearest station is Cromford, which is reached on the Derby-Matlock line. There is a public footpath between the station and the farm. Collections from Whatstandwell station are also possible if prearranged with us.

Bus – the nearest bus stop is in Lea village, it is a 1 mile uphill walk by footpaths to the farm from there.


Saturday 22 October

Arrive from 9am, start 9:30, finish by 4:30pm.

This is an outline of what we expect the day will look like. We may make some changes to adapt to needs.

Morning: Permaculture ethics, Making observations (of the wild and of people).
Lunch is provided.
Afternoon: Surveying – sectors, plants, and the land. Mapping – measuring and plotting.

Booking terms – refunds and cancellations

Course content may vary slightly to adapt to the needs of the space and participants and resources available at the time. Payment is required to secure your place on the course. If after booking you find you are unable to participate, please let us know by email as soon as possible. Refunds may be given up to 10 days before the course starts, minus a 20% administration charge; within 10 days, we reserve the right to refund a maximum of 50% of the course fee. If we need to reschedule the course, due to unforeseen circumstances, we will give as much notice as possible.