What is Fertile Roots about?

Fertile Roots Foundation is a UK based not-for-profit organisation that brings the theory and practice of Permaculture to impoverished N African farming communities, turning degraded, agricultural landscapes into green and profitable ones.

We achieve this by

  • Developing the conditions for sustainable, land-based economic profitability for the communities involved;
  • Importing and accumulating knowledge, training teachers, and passing it on;
  • Creating sideline income streams that encourage local self-replication of project.

Over 40% of the worlds land surface is classified as dryland: either arid or semi arid, where evaporation exceeds rainfall. Around half of that is desert and desert it will remain. The rest will become desert too if our generation does not do something about it.

Fortunately there are a number of forward thinking agricultural methodologies now entering the world stage as agro-forestry, agro-ecology, perrennial polyculture, biodynamic agriculture, holistic planned grazing, and others. These are not the pipe dreams of hippies; they are born of the innovations of farmers, whose findings are supported by up to 40 years worth of experiment and result, and now increasingly by science.

Permaculture embraces all these methods. 

Amazing things are being are being achieved around the planet, without chemicals, without huge budgets.  nature has the answers if only we look and observe.


Two adjoining ranches: one with free-range cattle (right), the other using 4x more cattle per hectare but with rigidly controlled grazing to mimick the migratory herds of nature, which were corralled by predators and always on the move.

These methods should already be more widespread, but change is always slow and the battle of ideologies a long one. We know now that that it’s ultimately pointless trying to fight nature, but of course, as usual, there are lucrative contracts involved: in machinery, fertilisers, engineering, GM seeds, insecticides and more.

Fertile Roots is not joining the broader political fight. We are working on the soil, in relatively small areas and with full community participation, consulting initially with the world’s leading experts and later using those of our own creation, to plan and implement programs of rainwater harvesting and support species planting, constantly monitoring and, where necessary, revising. We identify and develop local organic markets and add to an embryonic but growing global network of mutually supporting projects and teaching institutions, arming ourselves with results that cannot be ignored: greener, more productive lands year round, occupied and worked by resilient communities.


We're not a big charity but we're an effective one and one day that will make us big. We are growing slowly and carefully, just like the first trees we planted.  Like them we are building our root system and seeking out those little drops of water and nourishment that lie hidden all around us in the dry and rocky landscape.  Like them we don't want to grow up too quickly, for then we might catch too much wind and without long, healthy and strong roots we'll be blown right over.   Our roots will always be our foundation and we need to invest the proper time and effort into ensuring they grow to be fertile and strong.

Our roots are people. Our roots are the people of our projects, and others who like what we're doing and want to get involved.

We believe that every single penny counts and look on every euro that's spent on something unnecessary as being one less tree planted, one meter less of swale dug. We need to make big changes to the landscape in order to harvest rainfall and breathe life back into dead soils, but the more money we spend making those changes the less likely our projects are to work in the long term and the less likely it is that they will replicate elsewhere. As with our trees, we need to nourish our project roots, the people, but if we give too much they won't grow strong, or spread.