Laya Point started as a Permaculture (ad)venture situated at The Old School in the Cumbrian Lake District hamlet of Ulpha. Established in 2012 by Tom Dennison and Nicole Hermes, it is the creative offshoot of a Permaculture design that was crafted in 2010.
After two years in South-East Asia, Tom and Nicole made the decision to put down some roots and their understanding of Permaculture ethics and design principles to the test. In 2012, they moved back to England and set about transforming an old school playing field into their own ‘Garden of Eden’. The Old School has been an amazing place to discover, experiment and implement all the good stuff that comes along with Permaculture, such as annual and perennial food production, small space and high yield systems, poly-culture forest gardening, homesteading skills, natural building and so much more. Little by little, their aim of turning this one acre site into an enchanting, fun and productive example of Permaculture in practice has grown and evolved.
The aim behind Laya Point was to create a space where people, friends and teachers are able to exchange knowledge, skills and support through a variety of residential courses and weekend workshops.
Laya Point runs an eclectic mix of different workshops each year, in line with what is most inspiring at that time. These range from Permaculture Design Courses, calligraphy intensives and yoga retreats to willow, stone or wood sculpture workshops. Each year amazing foraging weekends are held and more recently the space has been opened to the exquisite world of tantra and shamanic ceremonial practices.
The people behind Laya Point
Tom is the co-designer of the Laya Point project, which began its inception in the jungles of northern Thailand several years earlier.
After a year travelling overland from England, Tom completed his first Permaculture Design Course at The Panya Project, a Permaculture education centre an hour north of Chiang Mai. Six months later, he returned and undertook a long-term volunteer role at the project at a time of major transformation, when the founder and leader of the project decided to step back and follow other paths.
Tom and Nicole played a key role in re-designing the way in which the project was run, developing it into a volunteer-run profit-sharing organisation. Despite the challenges, this led to a more settled, less transient intentional community that is now thriving.
During his time at The Panya Project, Tom studied with a number of respected Permaculture teachers and was instrumental in the organisation and running of a number of PDCs, several practical internships on natural building and food forest management as well as other shorter courses, such as NVCs (Non-Violent Communication courses) focused on improving interpersonal skills.
In 2012 Tom completed a Training of Teachers with Australian permaculture teacher, John Champagne and then set off to bicycle around South East Asia. Six months later, the Permaculture bug bit again, leading to his return to England and the start of the project in Ulpha, which has since evolved into Laya Point Permaculture.
Nicole first developed a passion for permaculture while volunteering with the Panya Project, a permaculture education centre and community based in northern Thailand. As a long-term volunteer at the project Nicole learnt from permaculture teachers Christian Shearer, Richard Perkins, and John Champagne while gaining experience in natural building and plasters, forest garden management, and low impact community living. Whilst at the Panya Project Nicole contributed to the set up and support of several practical internships teaching practical components in lacto-fermentation, wine making, hot-composting, and medicinal salves.
On leaving the centre, Nicole and Tom embarked on a bicycle journey from Thailand to Vietnam via the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia. After several months of slow travel, the bug bit to put two feet on the ground and put some creative sweat into a land-based project.
Friends of Layapoint
Since the very beginning, when the weather was unforgiving and the site a mixture between a building site and a quagmire, we have been lucky enough to receive help from a variety of friends old and new. It’s hard to know where we would be without your support, so thank you!