Have you ever heard of the word Permaculture? No? Well,
for starters, it has nothing to do with styling hair if
that thought flashed through your mind for a microsecond.
Permaculture stems from the words permanent agriculture
which is in fact, the design and maintenance of agriculturally
productive ecosystems that have the diversity, stability
and resilience of natural ecosystems.
of the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP)
in the plant nursery.
It is in fact a way to mimic nature to maximise the agricultural
benefits one can achieve from a spot of land.
John Stollmeyer, who is part of the group bringing in Permaculture
specialist Peter Bane to T&T in January, said to understand
the Permaculture concept easier, one must first picture
a freshly ploughed piece of land; bearing in mind that once
the earth is exposed, natures answer is to cover the
soil with a mass of weeds and return the land to dense forest
that would protect the soil.
Stollmeyer said on the ploughed plot one can observe within
two-weeks a variety of diverse weeds appearing; within months
trees start poking through the weeds and a few years down
the road you have what modern man deems as useless
However, he said this bush is no way useless to the worlds
indigenous peoples who have learnt to pick out the plants
that are edible, medicinal or good for construction without
upsetting the balance of nature.
Stollmeyer said modern farmers undertake a heavy battle
to reap a successful crop after resorting to hard labour,
fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides while being in constant
conflict with nature.
Corbie, left, and Amos Joseph harvesting tomatoes in the
Zone 1 kitchen garden.
Stollmeyer said the inputs of commercial agriculture are
expensive and harmful, both to the environment and the farmer.
In T&T, as throughout the world, farmers are increasingly
dependent on hybrid seed and agri-chemicals sold by multi-national
Farmers have also become dependent on unsustainable methods
of production, there is a corollary inverse loss of knowledge
of sustainable, low external input farming techniques.
Because of the erosion of knowledge about locally appropriate
production models and the devaluing of traditional agricultural
techniques a diminishing number of farmers are capable of
producing food sustainably with local resources.
This jeopardises food security throughout the lowland humid
tropics because of the loss of agricultural autonomy at
the regional or national level and the increasing dependence
on imported agrochemical inputs.
Stollmeyer said Permaculture preaches that on the same piece
of ploughed land, instead of each weed and grass that would
sprout, a range of diverse and useful plants would rise
and cover the soil.
A few months later useful fruit and timber trees and shrubs
that were sheltered within these plants started to poke
through and, a few years later, what would be produced is
a diverse, environmentally sound and economically viable
The value, he said, lies within the diversity created; every
day the farmer would have something to reap and sell, instead
of waiting for a single crop to come in all at once.
The system also attracts wildlife as birds and wild meat,
and holds the possibility for ecotourism based on the size
of the project.
The trees, while initially providing wind breaks, shelter
and soil protection, would eventually bear fruit or be turned
into economic lumber. The huge value of the system lies
in the overall diversity and not in a single crop that faces
the risk should a natural disaster strike.
The term Permaculture was created by Australian
Bill Mollison who defines Permaculture as the conscious
design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems
that have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural
Permaculture is applicable in urban, suburban, and rural
environments and offers a proactive approach to addressing
the escalating environmental crisis.
Bane, a Permaculturist for 15 years and editor for Permaculture
Activist, the worlds oldest journal of permanent culture,
will be conducting a workshop to lay the groundwork for
Permaculture within Trinidad.
This programmes run for two weeks starting on January 3,
2007 at Wa Samaki Ecosystems in Freeport, Central Trinidad.
A free public lecture would be given at the Port-of-Spain
City Hall on January 3 at 5 pm, and there would also be
a short course within the two-week programme.
Participants would learn how to maximise the usefulness
and value of each plant, animal and structure within a project
and learn how to read a piece of land to make
use of all the microclimates it may contain.
Banes Permaculture programme would also focus on the
* Permaculture ethics, design principles and methodologies
* Patterns in nature
* Reading landscapes, site analysis, & mapping
* Climate, ecosystems and plant origins
* Earthworks and pond construction
* Hydrology and aqua-culture
* Forest management and agro-forestry
* Soil Fertility
* Appropriate construction and technologies
* Energy conservation and renewable energy sources
* Household waste treatment and recycling
* Design for fire and catastrophe
* Gardening and food production
* Integrated animal systems
* Perennial polycultures and developing food forests
* Plant propagation and seed saving
* Whole systems design
* Urban Permaculture and village design
* Community development
* Alternative economic systems & local self-reliance
* Ecosystem restoration / bio-remediation
* Presentation and networking
Details can be obtained by calling Erle Rahaman Norona (673-4180)
or John Stollmeyer (624-1341)