This month I would like to share with you my experiences designing and running a six week project with twenty two children ages 11 – 13 at a local international school. The project was 12 hours of classes covering the basics of making and maintaining a veggie garden. Here is this blog post I will go through some of the knowledge the students gained and other benefits of having a school garden.
There are a few things that you will want to get right when creating your veggie beds, once this preparation is done you´ll be in a great position to start producing awesome, tasty, nutrient rich veg. Basically it’s all about creating healthy soil, if you have healthy soil and you water well you will have healthy plants. That´s what I will walk you through in this blog post.
You may have heard of Permaculture or perhaps you are interested in getting more ideas on how to live a more sustainable life style. For sure there are many things that require a big investment or take time and patience to change. Like getting a electric car or running our houses of 100% renewable energy. But that said there are some actions we can do in our every day lives that can have a positive impact. That’s what this blog post is about, a handful of ways to easily integrate Permaculture in your life.
Are you thinking of setting up a vegetable production system, or are you looking for some inspiration to tweak or extended your set up? Here is a short how to video I made a couple of years ago whilst implementing a design.
When there is no water there is very little else. That is why water is, with good reason, the backbone of land-based Permaculture design. As designers, we observe and create opportunities to catch and store water. There are many options available to us: in the soil, in biomass and in ponds, dams and tanks. There is lots of great tried and tested solutions out there that you could explore. Today, in this post, I will share with you my views on ferro-cement tanks.
Imagine living in a dome like this, surrounded by Permaculture systems that respect and mimic nature while providing you with abundance? It looks like a dream, doesn't it?
Transforming such dreams into reality is my passion and this is why I am so excited to continue our collaboration with Domegaia. Domegaia's mission is to help provide low cost, high quality, eco friendly homes for the world.
This autumn we will be running two courses here in Europe. Venues and dates will be posted in the coming weeks. Join our mailing list on the right to receive priority booking.
During the courses I run I observe how much fun people have when building with earth. It is intuitive, kind, forgiving and fun. It literally connects us to the earth. One earthen building technique that’s a creative and low cost way of getting started in the natural building world is super adobe.
People often ask me about this in workshops, so I thought it would be interesting to write a blog post on it. Following the Permaculture ethics of Earth care, People care and Fair share (return of surplus to the first two) means taking responsibility for our actions and working towards reducing support for destructive systems. It is a great challenge for us to set for ourselves, no doubt. That's why I believe it is helpful to see these ethics as guidelines and goals we aspire to.
Now is the time alot of us are we gearing up for the Christmas holidays, looking forward to spending time and celebrating with friends and family. But in our modern world there can be a tendency for waves of adverts, plastic and over stimulation.
Last month I installed a super simple small play area made from recycled car tyres at a local school and I received some feedback from the children. It is a little reminder that there is value and joy to be found in keeping it simple and reusing.
Water: measuring, harvesting, storing, using, reusing, working with and guiding it are all essential actions in productive systems.
In the Mediterranean, however, water scarcity and poor water harvesting systems, combined with soil erosion, are some of the biggest challenges we face. To help us design appropriate responses and solutions for this we have a principle in Permaculture that guides us.
Natural systems are self-maintaining and self-regulating complex webs of interactions full of diversity. It is clear that we want to mimic them as much as we can. Work with rather than against nature – Right? Thriving in balance, abundance and diversity, is what most of us interested in Permaculture are shooting for.
This blog post is about consciously inviting diversity into your vegetable production space. Through diversity comes stability and in turn harmony. Below are five predator habitats to think about incorporating into you veg production system.
Are you about to start a project? Use this simple three-step process and I can assure you it will streamline your design. First water, then access and finally structures. A simple but key design approach.
This process is a solid, logical and practical tool that you really want to add to your tool belt. I have been using this approach for nine years because it makes so much sense.
Applying these simple steps will save you time and energy. It can be applied across the scale, from making a small veggie bed in your garden to full on broad acre design. Below I’m going to take you through the process.
It is that time of the year. You are harvesting left, right and center, the fruits of your labors are arriving, you have baskets and boxes of veggies in your kitchen. There is so much that there is no way you can eat it all. So, how do you catch and store your abundance. Read on to learn how to make great preserves with your summer abundance.
The root of the word Permaculture comes from permanent agriculture. It is a design system based on the understanding of natural ecosystems and the mimicry of their key elements.
Something that I have noticed many people being excited about is food forests and forest gardens. Read on to learn about the what, why, how and when of food forests.
I always remember what one of my teachers said to me when I was first starting out with Permaculture and organics: "It is all about harmony and beneficial interactions".
I would like to share in this blog post an example of that teaching, applied to growing vegetables organically. There are three multi-functional plants to include in every design, from small back gardens to large scale market vegetable gardens. Plant these three and you will be one step closer to companion planting.
Give it a go and see for yourself!
If you live in an area with a Mediterranean or tropical climate, the idea of fire must have certainly crossed your mind. I saw several fires while living at the Panya project in Thailand and it is scary stuff. Them experiences lead me to think deeply about its risks and pushed me to learn how to minimize these through design.
In the Mediterranean climate fire can be a very real threat. There are a range of strategies that vary in complexity that can be implemented depending on the seriousness of the threat, location, time and resources available.
Obviously this is a huge subject, here I'm going to give you just a broad overview!
The Mediterranean region is one of the most affected areas of climate change. Water deficit, soil erosion, pollution, forest over-exploitation and loss of natural habitats are some of the main environmental challenges you and your land are likely to face if you live in this region.
However, as any Permaculturist would tell you, the problem is the solution. Permaculture takes these challenges and, through design and specific strategies, transforms them into solutions. Affordable and accessible solutions! That’s what makes Permaculture so interesting and empowering.
The success of land based projects will depend on how the inherent challenges of being located in the Mediterranean region are tackled. If you have land or plan to have land in a Mediterranean country and would like to transform it into a thriving project or home, read on as this will surely interest you.
Three years ago this month a client asked me to help him transform his land into an eco-tourism project and self-sufficient home. The land is located in fascinating Turkey, overlooking the Marmara sea.
In this blog post I share the highlights of the process and outcomes of two months of intensive work applying Permaculture design in a beautiful but challenging spot. Summarising the birth and first steps of Alişler Yurdu, which has evolved into a pioneering, sustainable and inspiring project.
Read more to see an example of how degraded land in the Mediterranean can be healed, become biologically productive and transformed into a Permaculture paradise.
What Would it Take for a School Kitchen Garden to Become the Door to Sustainability for an Entire Community?
Kitchen Gardens are populating schools around the world at high speed. A sort of revolutionary idea years ago, it has now become a fashionable and normalised initiative in most countries.
Why are school kitchen gardens so amazing? Teachers and psychologists have been researching and documenting their impact for a while now. Developing awareness for the environment, engaging students in their learning, fostering community participation, increasing self-esteem, improving diet,
increasing physical activity … are some of the attributes school kitchen gardens are given.
So yes, there is no doubt that school kitchen gardens are great. Now, what if we took them one step further? What if a kitchen garden would become the entry point for a bigger transformation in the school and the community around it?
One Christmas eve, a little girl saw in total wonder how two little angels carried a heavy jar of syrup peaches into her living room. It was dark and cold outside; the North Star was bright as ever. She knew she was not supposed to be there, but she was so pulled by the excitement and magic of Christmas eve that she could not help it. She had sneaked out of bed in her pajamas and had secretly gone to spy the little angels and elves, who were bringing all the presents for her and her big family. That girl was me. I was only five years old.
Now I am 39 years old and my heart still warms up each time I see that little girl in her pajamas. As much as I am still fascinated by it, I struggle to find again that magic around me. The speed of daily life, the almost too bright electric lights everywhere, the big shopping centers selling Christmas as one of their best products of the year and everyone running around trying to buy presents for their friends and families.
This is the modern adult world … but, what if, just for 5 days, we committed to live again that magic that we felt when we were children and used to dream with elves, reindeers, silent ancient forests full of snow, twinkling stars, Christmas trees and robins?
What if, just for 5 days, we stepped down from our adult thrones and allowed our children to hold the hands of our inner child and guide us through their world of magic, imagination, love and desire to discover the mysteries of nature? What if we owed that to our own children?
Is it a life style or philosophy?
How is a Permaculture design created?
Is it a way of growing vegetables? Do you have to have land to practice it?
What exactly is Permaculture?
I have been hearing these and other similar questions pop up more than ever as Permaculture gains momentum.
I have observed an increased interest as more people become intrigued by the concept of Permaculture as part of an exploration seeking realistic alternatives as a response to the concoction of challenges we face as a global collective.
After asking the question What is Permaculture? for the last nine years my experience is that almost everybody will give a different answer. In this blog post I will answer the questions above and share my own definition.
What would be your chances of entering an Indonesian prison without being a prisoner? Not many, I can assure you.
And what would be your chances of designing and creating a Permaculture veggie garden in that prison? Probably once in a lifetime!
Bringing people closer to nature is always a win win situation. Creating an opportunity for prisoners to benefit from nature’s generosity and learn about Permaculture
in the process was a chance I wasn’t going to miss.
In September I was visiting my cousin, documentary maker Becky Prosser, at the Batam’s island prison in Indonesia. While I was there, the head of security told me he was interested in producing some food on a small patch of land in the prison.
A crazy thought came to my mind: Permaculture behind bars in a remote island close to the equator? Yes, please!
So there I was, at the prison, jumping on an opportunity for which I was only given a few hours a day, for five days. This was all the time I had to design, implement and train the staff and prisoners while promoting the three ethics of earth care, people care and fair share.
How did I do it? Here are some tips in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
Watch this 88-minute free documentary and enter the world of Permaculture in the tropics. The guidelines you were looking for told first hand by those who are living and teaching it.
Filmed in Thailand, viewers the world over can draw inspiration and ideas from this beautifully well made ahooha production.
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Certified Permaculture Design Consultant Spain, Permaculture Spain ,Permacultura España