In September this year, the International Permaculture Convergence - IPCUK - will bring together permaculture practitioners from around the globe. From 'the front lines in climate change', hopeful scholarship applicants tell us their stories of how permaculture transforms landscapes and communities.
Can you help these people attend IPCUK? The Permaculture Association are aiming to send as many scholarship applicants to IPCUK as possible, can you donate to help them attend? Visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ipcuk-scholarships for more information. Closing date is 17th April 2015.
Co-founder of NGO 'Permaculture in Ukraine', Pavlo Ardanov modestly explains how they are currently running the international project 'Permaculture for Peace' in collaboration with the Crow Forest Farm, USA and Green Palestine. The aim is “to give a sustainable solution for the needs of internally displaced persons, refugees and inhabitants of conflict and post-conflict territories' through permaculture training, access to a sustainable solutions database, and applied design projects for the refugee and military orphan children camp.
According to Pavlo, “International permaculture gatherings [...] are always a rich edge to get accustomed with the new trends and initiatives in permaculture and the outputs have been always valuable for development of our young Ukrainian permaculture network.”
The achievements of permaculture teacher, designer and conflict facilitator, Julious Piti, are almost too incredible to sum up in a few short sentences. A founding member of the Chikukwa Ecological Land Trust (CELUCT) in 1991; over 80% of the population of Chikukwa villages now practice permaculture, meeting their own needs with a surplus to share from the abundant mountainsides, formerly afflicted by deforestation and erosion.
In 2009 he facilitated a permaculture design project for a village of (just!) 5,000 on the shores of Lake Victoria, Tanzania. Now, as Director of PORET (Participatory Organic Research Extension and Training), Julious aims to replicate the strategies of CELUCT in the low rainfall area of Chaseyama, Zimbabwe.
Julious believes permaculture empowers communities towards self-help and practical solutions. In Zimbabwe, he hopes his teaching will help to “remove dependency syndrome, where people wait just to get from Governments and donors but to work for future community sustainability.”
Christopher Nesbitt and Celini Logan manage the Maya Mountain Research Farm in Belize. Founded in 1988, the farm is one of the oldest permaculture projects in Central America; demonstrating a 26 year transition from damaged cattle and citrus land to a model permaculture farm, turning degraded monoculture into a polyculture of over 500 species.
“Our main area of interest is the intersection between agriculture and ecology, with specific focus on agroforestry as a tool for [...] agricultural models that produce food, timber, fiber, medicinal and marketable crops, but also replicate ecosystem services like carbon sequestration [...] soil moisture retention and habitat creation. Additionally we work in areas of energy poverty, having installed photovoltaic lighting systems in schools in nine indigenous communities and one refugee community, as well as two village level photovoltaic water pumping systems.”
Recognising the importance of “teaching permaculture in a context that values indigenous identity” Chris and Celini have scaled up both their practical and campaigning activities since attending IPC Cuba. They feel they have learned how to better promote permaculture design rather than just specific tools and have engaged dozens of farmers in this learning. They have also introduced a year-long Permaculture Design Course for indigenous youth from communities not served by school buses, used permaculture in conversations about climate change mitigation with other NGOs and increased regional ties with visitors from Mexico, Guatemala and Trinidad.
“IPC in Cuba was [...] amazing for us, as geographically isolated as we are, and has resulted in a much increased ability to share permaculture in communities that are applying what they learn, now. These are the front lines in climate change and these are the communities that will be most adversely affected.”
Christopher Nesbitt and a PDC
Since completing his Permaculture Design Course in Uganda, 2011, Muggaga Brian helped set up a training centre on a former dumping site on the edge of Kampala. Forever Forestry trains university students, organisations and community members in permaculture design and environmental issues, and has supported permaculture design installations and training at three orphanages and two schools for vulnerable children in Kenya and Uganda. Since growing their own food and cycling waste back into the system, “the orphanages reported that they have cut food expenses by about 15%”.
Forever Forestry's latest campaign “We Build Soils” aims to combat the impacts of soil erosion and loss of fertility in Uganda resulting from rapid deforestation and mono-cropping, especially of tea and sugar cane.
“Over 80% of the population are involved in subsistence farming but the practices they are using are not as effective any more and can even make soil worse. Dry seasons are longer and more unpredictable and rains seem to be getting heavier, both causing great loss to soil. Parts of the country have been experiencing tragic landslides and the FAO in Uganda has declared food security is declining.”
“I really want to attend IPCUK be exposed to more information and see what the rest of the world is doing in permaculture […] I see a need to educate people in alternative methods of agriculture and hope I will bring back to Uganda new skills, ideas and confidence to do this.”
Muggaga Brian teaching
Founder member of Costa Rican permaculture network Red Permanezca, Paulina Chaverri describes the impact attending IPC Cuba had on her:
“Four hundred people around the world interacting on a variety of themes, from global climate themes, to regional networks created, and local techniques shared, was absolutely enriching […] More confidently valuing what I do, I returned committed to making workshops happen at my place on a regular basis, while transforming my lifestyle into less vehicle dependence, leaving the 'city job' mode behind. My place is now offered as a living experience, and an example to show working steps towards transition.”
Since IPC Cuba, Paulina has run workshops on a huge diversity of topics, including how to make affordable biochar stoves for cooking, working with stingless bees, the contributions of rural women to adaptation to climate change, mud plastering and more.
Paulina believes it is important for permaculturists to connect internationally; as she puts it:
“We are in need of state of the art affordable low or no impact ways to transform wasteful models. I wish to learn about the newer contributions - particularly from a women’s perspective - to climate debacle and find ways to transform these into daily actions anyone can do […] The interaction occurring in live sessions and dialogues is not transmitted well online. Permaculture events, and for sure IPCs are places to share, peer check/review, spread ideas, and tighten goals, since it congregates part of the best of the thinking, practice and dialogue of committed people.”
Help these people attend IPCUK
These five applicants are amongst more than 60 other people from across the Global South who want to attend the International Permaculture Convergence UK in September. The Permaculture Association is running a crowdfunder campaign to raise the money to bring as many of them as possible, not only to recognise (and learn from) the amazing direct impacts they are having through using permaculture, but to make sure the IPCUK is as diverse and inclusive as it can possibly be.
Discussions and designs for the next phase of international permaculture work will be all the richer for including perspectives from as many countries as possible. If you can help us make IPCUK an exempliary Fair Shares event, please support them.
“Great to bring this rich diversity of people together to share the knowledge and skills we all need. Diversity is strength!” Mellowgrove, crowdfunder campaign supporter
“I can't wait to meet all the amazing people who will be able to attend because we've all added what we could. I'm so pleased I am able to contribute some financial support as I know what it is like to be out in the field with no money! Been there, done that...if we can even help cover the costs of visas, accommodation in the UK, or anything else that will ease the burden will be huge blessing!” Kim Glick, crowdfunder campaign supporter