In July 2011 the Adunni Susanne Wenger Foundation Nigeria and German NGO SONED started to build up the Environmental Education Centre "Permaculture Forest Garden" in the village of Gberefu, Lagos State. The island has no connection to the public grid; we generate our energy with two used solar panels and have a generator in back-up for high energy demands like film projectors. Another challenge is the transportation situation, as there are no roads on the island. Only small footpaths connect the settlements. People either walk or use bikes, which can be hard going on these sandy soils. Since we are on a small belt of land in between the lagoon of Lagos and the Atlantic, without a nearby bridge, boat taxis are the main connection to Badagry on the mainland. The centre has its own jetty, also used by the Villagers with their canoes. The nearest motor jetty is a 15 minute's walk away, behind a swamp.
With support of Stiftung Nord-Süd-Brücken we have been able to construct a Multifunctional House, a Seminar hut and a Sleeping hut. We already started with Seminars, first school classes came to visit and some neighbours begin to experiment on their own land what they have learned.
We finished the design for the use of the different aspects of the Camp, and the detail designs of spaces. Most of the land, apart from the central space around the buildings, will be covered by different types of food and harvest forest.
The dry and poor eastern aspect will become a Harvest Forest with many different native trees and shrubs. Pioneer trees like Mango, Cashew, Neem and Rabenia are supported by five different kinds of legume trees. Later we will interplant more valuable or sensitive fruit, timber and medicinal trees. Next to it is the site of an experimental farm, trying out methods of growing on the poor, dry and temporary flooded land typical for this island.
On the western side of the Camp the soils are much more fertile because of the runoff to the lagoon. We will turn this part to a Food Forest, surrounding our kitchen garden. In the north western corner we build an aquaculture pond and a farm to experiment with temporary flooded land.
Close to the lagoon, the tree nursery is working very well already. We have already grown more than 300 strong young trees to plant in our forests when the rains returns. Any surplus trees are planted along the road from the jetty to the village. In fact we have been so successful that we will have to extend the nursery!
Behind the Tree Nursery we construct an artificial pond to make sure we have access to clean water for bathing and washing and the kitchen garden. The water source has always been clean, but previously not protected from surface runoff. We learned our lesson, and now only ground water reaches the pond. The steps leading to the pond will be densely planted with native trees and plants to stabilise, purify and shade the water.
The Multifunctional House is almost finished. We will build the Seminar and the Sleeping Hut out of local woods, mainly coconut palm. The construction will be done with help by our friendly neighbours. Around the initial shelters we will plant living huts which will replace the dead wood constructions after some years. Camp and office will officially open in April 2012.
In the future, we want to install a photovoltaic system which can provide all our energy demand and a solar water pump for clean cooking water. We want to collect more information about food forests in the tropics and low budget biotechnologies. The village jetty also badly needs upgrading, and we want to have our own boat and bike for course participants and visitors, to reduce our own transport costs.
And we have still greater dreams. In November 2012 we want to run a second Permaculture Design Course here in Nigeria, followed by a Sustainability Conference in Lagos. The greater challenge is the creation of Permaculture Institute Nigeria. Here we really depend on advice and support from the international network. Did ever students build their university themselves? We hope you will join us in this journey!
We all need to join the public discussion about practical solutions to the ecological and economical problems our country has to face today. We need answers to the question how Nigeria will survive peak oil. We do care! And we are getting ready to make changes possible.
You can contact us at [email protected]
Stay well, all of you. Sunny greetings from
Lawal, Mayor, Andrea of the Permaculture Forest Garden Nigeria
So, there you have it, this is what this group of people are achieving. We at Permaculture magazine and our readers are keen to support people and communities around Africa who are exploring how permaculture can enhance and inform their daily lives. Our readers send us donations which we use to set-up such communities with subscriptions to the magazine and select books which we hope will help them in their endevours.
If you would like to make a donation, or if you know of a deserving project for us to support, please do contact [email protected] and lets do what we can to help