Uryadi's Village Continues to Grow and Thrive

I have just returned home from another productive trip to Uryadi's Village in southern Ethiopia. This unique 2-year old permaculture site is an orphanage serving children and babies, many with disabilities, while immersing these amazing beings in a village atmosphere surrounded by and integrated into that which sustains them.

During this journey, we worked on many of the greywater systems that support the village focusing on a laundry system with mulch basin greywater planting. Imagine how much laundry is generated by 60 children and babies... We increased the catchments of the water harvesting structures, planted out more trees in the nursery, built bio-intensive double dug beds, worked on final exterior plastering of the natural buildings, added an irrigation system for the main gardens for dry season food production, among many other tasks to support the year round local permaculture staff.

I am so thankful for the people there who continue to build and tend the site, take such good care of the children and for the vision of growing an orphanage that is integrated into the surrounding village and cultures. Early next year we will begin to do regular hands-on trainings in Permagardening to nutrition-vulnerable neighboring households as part of the vision of integrating into and nurturing the surrounding communities.

Learn more about Uryadi's Village at: http://www.uryadisvillage.org/

Permagarden in Musweswe, DRC

A Permagarden is born in Musweswe, DRC. Thomas Cole and I have been in the Congo over the past week facilitating a training for people working with development agencies in the area. Through a USAID - TOPS program we are consultants for, we facilitated a training that was centered on the practicum of building a Permagarden in a rural community in this conflict ridden area of eastern Congo.

With ourselves and 22 students who are participating in the training, we were welcomed into this amazing community with open, willing arms. Together with nearly 40 community members, we built this garden in two days, which consists of on-contour double dug beds, all local resources, loaded each planting structure with long term fertility, a water harvesting swale, banana basin, papaya planting with a boomerang berm, a nursery, and fenced it all in with local expertise with shared sweat and laughter. We planted 19 different annuals and perennials in this community demonstration garden.

Next week, we are teaching the same group about resilience design and how to apply permaculture principles to their main crop fields. 


Resilience Design in the DRC with Tom Cole

We just wrapped up our two weeks of intensive training in Permagardens and Resilience Design with USAID TOPS in the Lake Kivu area of the Congo. A dedicated group of students from many organizations working in Food Security, in various areas of this country that has seen so much strife. 

Thomas Cole and I facilitated the training to include essential community engagement, participatory mapping, site assessment and analysis, design planning and then implementation and feedback integration. We chose a site for the demonstration on a "shamba" of a woman farmer who was struggling with poor fertility, poor plant growth, no top soils and has been eroding away in the nearly 1500mm of rain received in most years. A perfect place to demonstrate change!

The process brought the community together with the course participants to rebuild the soils and hydrology of her landscape through various slow, spread, sink and save strategies for water and nutrient retention and protection. This was the first such demonstration and training in the region and was enthusiastically received and appreciated.

Resilience Design is just starting to take off in the developing world, and permaculture and agroecology are at its core. Amidst all the troubles of the world, there are so many positive actions taking root. These are exciting times...

Gratitude for Circle Wise the PDC Students

I am honored to have been spending the day facilitating the final stretch of a Permaculture Design Course in Southern Germany with Elke Loepthien and the Circlewise Community. We've gone from the first day being snow covered to beautiful sunny spring conditions here as we have our last day before the design presentations.

It's good to be alive and to be able to be surrounded by such good work and caring people.

About the Circle Wise Community:

We are developing a growing toolbox for social change - towards a culture where our alliance with the living system of earth can be experienced and thus become the basis for action. Learn more about their incredible work at www.circlewise.org

Lush Spring Prize

I was honored to be a part of this year's panel of unique and brilliant judges for the LUSH Spring Prize for social and environmental regeneration in London, England. 

What is the LUSH Spring Prize?

  • To help develop and increase the integrity of the regenerative movement – through supporting ongoing co-learning and awarding those that are working towards regeneration.

  • To raise awareness of regeneration and its ability to move livelihoods and economies beyond the sustainable and revive damaged environments – by holding a well-publicised and inspiring annual prize event.

  • To bring people together to develop a greater understanding of regeneration – by holding a participatory prize event.

I had the chance to review 51 different projects in different sectors of business, environmental regeneration, community and more. It's amazing and inspiring to see what's happening locally and globally. 

Thank you LUSH for being an ethical business leader that supports both social and ecological equitability in our world! 

Resilience Design with Mercy Corps and USAID

In December, Thomas Cole and I spent ten days in the hyper arid sub-Saharan region of Niger teaching a Resilience Design Course with Mercy Corp and USAID. It was amazing to see how much permaculture was able to be integrated into their field crop systems and in the increase of diverse tree coverage, which ultimately will be a key factor in boosting their resilience. Our work focused on whole site design and how best to harvest water and nutrient while creating integrated systems that are linked throughout their lands and cultural structures. The work was very well received and will undoubtedly be highly impactful for the years to come. 

Join me for a two week permaculture certification course this May at Quail Springs Permaculture, another dryland site, for training in resilience design: http://www.quailsprings.org/programs/permaculture/pdcid/

Resilience Design for A Rapidly Changing Ecological and Social Climate

Back in September, I was honored to present a lecture for the The Sustainability Speaker Series at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In this presentation, I gave an introduction to the Resilience Design Framework and Permagarden Program that is an integration of agroecology, permaculture design, and rainwater harvesting practices and principles. In times of global climate extremes and instability, ecological degeneration, social restlessness, and economic volatility, this training is being promoted by USAID through their TOPS (technical operations performance support) program as part of their Food for Peace programming as an essential training to promote resilience in their beneficiary communities. It consists of practical design tools and participatory methods for working with the patterns of landscape, local resources and local innovation to restore hydrological stability, create regenerative agriculture practices, eliminating waste and creating economic viability through ecological stability with high-risk communities globally.

Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LChlKgNupI

In Gratitude for Bill Mollison...

I am forever grateful to the life of Bill Mollison, who has been and will continue to be a formidable teacher in my life. He passed away a few days ago and has begun a new era of his journey... From where I sit, much of his power and effect globally came through his abilities as a storyteller. When I first took a PDC with him in Australia so many years ago, he masterfully wove into his stories indigenous wisdom, an immense amount of humor, science, and the many inspiring and often wild stories of his own life. This was a huge inspiration for me and has fueled a fire in me of bringing my gifts into the world as a storyteller.

The last time I saw Bill was in 2012 in Amman, Jordan where I had the honor of teaching a PDC with him, Brad LancasterGeoff Lawton and Nadia Abu Yahia Lawton. He was as cantankerous as ever yet always the edge dweller who translated new energy into any system he was interacting with. I remember greeting him at the site of the course and hearing the story of his arrival into Amman. At 84 years old, after traveling across the world, his first stop after landing at the airport was not his hotel for a nap, a shower and a good rest, but to the local university library. He went there first to research and build his knowledge base on the best pioneer species of plants for the region, their local names, and their indigenous uses. He was an avid learner, even at 84 years old, who was ensuring that he was relevant to the local people and the land that sustained them. Not a tourist, not someone resting on their laurels, but a man who could inspire action in intelligent, humorous, sometimes even paradigm grating ways yet always done from a place of a genuine heart.

We send oceans of blessings to Lisa Mollison as she grieves the loss of her husband and to the Mollison family and to let you all know that so many of us are grieving with you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to support you as a family! We will be planting trees around the globe to honor him including at our farms, Casitas Valley Farm and at Quail Springs Permaculture.

Thank you Bill for inspiring a movement and for planting so much desire for positive change in the hearts and minds of others for a time beyond your own. You will always be one of my heroes. Journey well!

Permaculture Extends Further into Ethiopia

As I embark on another journey, I'm reminded of my recent adventure in Sodo, Ethiopia at Uryadi's Village, a permaculture designed orphanage in development for babies and children who have no one to care for them and many with special needs.

Currently, the children are living in a small facility in the center of town until the orphanage is completed later this year. An important part of the vision of this orphanage is to grow healthy food for the kids and their caretakers, immerse them in a non-institutional setting amidst that which sustains them, and to develop a demonstration site of integrated, whole-site design for the community.

We spent a week with the local team on the ground completing the earthworks and rainwater harvesting structures, extending the plantings, developing the irrigation systems, further planning the nutrient cycling systems, continuing to build the homes and community spaces and loving up the beautiful children who will spend much of their lives on this site.

My hats-off to the work of Uryadi's Village and the local, committed staff for approaching the development of the orphanage in a holistic manner and weaving the tools of permaculture into their vision. Thank you for including me in the process...