Ten days of life-changing knowledge
Last week Kenyan-born Erle Rahaman-Noronha who has a BSc in Applied Biochemistry and an MSc in Zoology from the University of Guelph, Canada told us of the origins of Permaculture. This week, Rahaman-Noronha tells us in detail what the Permaculture Design Course entails.
Last week I explained how permaculture which has its origins in the ’70s describes a holistic system which connects many components on an agricultural site, has grown and evolved into a practice (permanent culture) that is embraced by urban communities—growing food and harvesting water and sunlight in their backyards—rural communities seeking empowerment, self-sufficiency and retention of their cultures and university communities seeking to bring a change in the status quo.
This week I want to break down those components. After the introduction, the second day of our course introduces participants to the ethics and principles surrounding permaculture. While the ethics covers the consciousness behind the movement, the principles covers the practical applications that all designers need to achieve sensible efficient designs. A tour of WSE is given to reinforce what principles have been used in which areas.
Day three focuses on the introduction of organic (pesticide and herbicide-free) principles, to growing your own food from the scale of a few containers, to backyards, to farms, where companion planting, appropriate choice of crops and local root crops play a large part in achieving food security on a household scale. Again, participants are taken through different sections of the farm to observe and gain hands-on experience.
Day four centres on healthy soils, ecosystems and forestry. A retired forestry officer leads a walk through WSE sharing his knowledge of agro forestry, medicinal plants, local timbers and wildlife foods. Day five normally involves a field trip to visit a retired agricultural teacher who has created a tropical food forest, with over 40 varieties of fruit trees on his five-acre piece of land.
This is followed by observations of appropriate building designs for the tropics, waste treatments and land shaping for water harvesting and conservation. Day six focuses on animals in a permaculture system. We have guest presenters who have or are currently running aquaponic systems and integrated animal systems, who walk participants through WSE, assessing our own systems. Local feed substitution versus imported feeds are demonstrated.
The balance of the day is spent creating accurate maps, designing for bush fires and other catastrophes and using appropriate technology. Days seven to ten focus on bringing all the information together to design for communities, wildlife and long-term sustainability.
Participants are assigned group projects with real locations at WSE to assess and design for, culminating with a permaculture design and presentation on the last day. Participants are assessed by their instructors and successful participants are issued permaculture certificates, allowing them to use the name permaculture in the pursuit of their livelihood.
We have hosted participants from throughout the Caribbean and North America. We have introduced the PDC to St Lucia and Puerto Rico. Permaculture presentations have been made at many of the other Caribbean islands and the need for permaculture is obvious. Our graduates go on to integrate permaculture in their lives as designers, landscapers, engineers, teachers, farmers, artists and entrepreneurs.
You will face a lot of negativity from those hoping to maintain the status quo, but the world is changing and so must we. Join us at Wa Samaki Ecosystems this June for ten days and be part of the change we need to ensure that we embrace, rather than destroy our limited space on earth.
If you wish to contribute to this guest series send in your ideas to Ira Mathur at [email protected] or [email protected] and join our facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/cleaningupthemess?ref=ts