Hello everyone! We are a group of five people, two from Congo, another from Rwanda and two from Uganda and would love to share a little bit about our experiences here at Sabina where we are eagerly learning more about permaculture in order to apply it in our communities… One of the things we enjoy here, is that we aren’t only learning, but also really getting an opportunity to share our knowledge and experience with the tutors and other students on this course….
Today we had a very rainy day and this really allowed us to observe and understand how water was replenishing the soils, feeding the crops as it was following the water irrigation system based on the permaculture principles on the grounds of the school… Despite the mud and getting wet, our day was full of intensive learning interlaced with practicals and lots of fun…..
We especially enjoyed the sessions today on trees and guilds, which are; in Olivier Niyomugenga from Rwanda’s words “groupings of plants, trees, animals, insects and a range of other components”. We didn’t get to all do the banana cycle since some of us were making a cob rocket stove, but Olivier and Stephen Baguma really enjoyed digging the holes for the banana circle, the inner compost pit, planting banana, papaya trees and comfrey in the circle before covering them with the mulch which will preserve the soil and ensure the young seedlings to grow happily together, one species becoming the companion of the other in the circle. Banana circles really are a very interesting and amazing thing because of their association with other crops….
The others, Présence Mutundi Kambale, Justin Matsitsi Kambale and Victoria Katumba on the other hand really enjoyed learning how to make a cob rocket stove with our bear hands after preparing the soil by literally dancing on top of it…. Richie, Steve and Dan really put all their energy in teaching us this session in 1h time, making us realize how great it is to build such a stove, using our own resources… What a great thing to bring back to our communities and help women avoid cooking without having to breathe all the fumes from burning charcoal or wood…. The other great thing about the stove is that it uses so little wood and will thus not be a great burden to the sustainability of our forests….
This brings us to the other session that really stuck in our heads, and that was Angie’s amazing session on trees. We really enjoyed learning more about them, their interconnection and many uses. We concluded the session with building a “group wind break”, this helped us figure out all the elements that we must consider when building one ourselves. We were also surprised by all the different uses of trees, which can serve as medicine, covers for the earth, providing oxygen and adding to swale fertility… We thought trees would only give us shade, but it was great to find out about all their other functions…. And Angie added to the session by also sharing her personal experience which made it all very tangible and real.
We also realized today that its really important not to separate ourselves from nature… We are really just one thing… If we realise this and also really look after our soils, we will really improve our yields. The day was concluded by a talk of one of our sister’s Jane, who spoke to us all about the uses of the amazing Vetiver plant –something that could also be very useful for the DRC, where erosion is a very big problem. This plant is yet another example of the multiple benefits we can get from one source…. Whether for parfume, rope, pots… reversing erosion – Vetiver seems to be a plant that will do a lot of good for us all in the future….
When we observe nature what we see is plants reaching out in all directions to trap the energy of the sun. Only plants (except some odd exceptions) can do this, using chlorophyll to turn sunlight into sugars and starches; stored forms of energy, photosynthesis.
Simply put they use the energy of sunlight to join CO2 and H20 together, forming sugars, starches and carbohydrates. When we digest these sugars we break the bond, releasing the energy and the CO2 and H2O becomes available to the environment again.. it’s a simple system and pretty amazing in its power when you think about it. This idea of catching and storing available energy is the backbone of the second of David Homgren’s permaculture principles.
Here at Sector39, as a training enterprise we are developing an ambition to evolve our teaching processes into a permaculture academy. If we are to reach more people and spread permaculture wider we will need to train more teachers.
Permaculture is all about learning by experience, so in this PDC we are trying to create the opportunity for new teachers to learn and gain experience. Along with 43 participants we have 6 trainee teachers and three experts as well developing practical tasks relatiing to the course content. Early days maybe but we are reciving invitations to teach in more and more places and this is driving us to think more seriously about this proposition. So in some ways we have the aim of catching and storing the experience of the course by providing learning experiences that will in turn create new teachers.
What we human do in the next 50 years dictates what will happen in the next 10,000 for planet earth.
Professor Johan Rokstrom
On the evening of day one we watched the WWF climate change lecture from Dec 2015 led by Johan Rokstrom. We are confronted with the stark reality that humans have passed the carrying capacity of the planet. Human activity is now the most significant factor affecting the atmosphere and climate of planet earth. This new era of human driven global change is to be known as the ‘anthropocene’.
The upside of reality is that if we humans are the most significant force for destruction on the planet, then we can also be a force for repairing it. Catching and storing energy means building soils, adding carbon via humus, compost, mulches, biochar, low tillage and no dig systems, working with the biology of the planet to heal at least some of the damage we have done. It was only in about 1990 that humans became this dominant presence, and over the coming 30 years we will have to fix it, if we wish to preserve any semblance of the world we evolved to be part of.
Permaculture is fun, a PDC generates a huge amount of positive energy but underlying the work we do are huge challenges and potentially terrifying threats. Facing these challenges will take a great many people working together towards common goals and with a common vision, I honestly believe permaculture is the best tool we have to achieve this.
As we prepare for the course beginning tomorrow I was pleased to see a post from Prince Sebe Maloba who was a graduate of the #PDCUG17 course held in Kamuli last year. Permaculture is a set of strategies that really work, to restore land, build soil and fertilitity where previously it has been depleted. If we are to successfully fight the on set of climate change and build food security then I know no better way. Permaculture is the most powerful tool we have to secure a sustainable future. Follow this blog over the coming fortnight to see the progress of the course.
This land was barren due to over use of chemical fertilizer and nothing could grow beyond two feet,we decided to use permaculture techniques of fixing nitrogen in the soil using velvet beans and calindra trees as green manure and organic fertilizer after one year now the soil fertility increased, own my among my best farmer now harvest 25 bags of maize on half an acre of land.
Green manure is effective in soil restoration there is big change as crop cover control weeds, temperature, hold more water,control soil erosion, provide soil fertility ,this is one the best farmer have, maize plantation is purely organic, its the way to go. Prince Sebe Maloba
Volunteers have been on site for weeks prior to the event here at Sabina. Grace and Nina from Wales and Luigi from Uganda. Beds have been planted, compost toilets made, and enournous amounts of preparation has been underway that i cant do justice to here. I have seen all three volunteers blossom and benefit form the hard work as the benefits begin to show. The school is already transformed before the course has even begun.
Meet Helen’s home group!
There are about 40 people on the course so we have created ‘home groups’ of 5 or 6 people with a facilitator from the teaching team. These home groups will give people a chance to get know a few people in more depth. They will also be allocated a task each morning to help with the smooth running of the course and site. Today Helen’s team were given the task of developing material for the blog so we decided to share our highlights from day one.
The theme of day one is observation and interaction and in that spirit the afternoon practical was a walk round the site seeing what was there and thinking about how the natural systems work.
John Robert was interested to see how water can be caught in the landscape and how many different crops can be grown in a small area. Joseph was interested in the concept of planting food forests and making compost.
In the evenings we watch relevant videos and Laura was moved by the one we watched on the eve of the course starting. It showed astronauts talking about their emotions on first seeing earth from space. They became intensely aware of the fragility of the earth hanging in space and the importance of everyone working together to protect and improve it.
Enock was amazed by the compost toilet, he has never seen one before. The toilets are not quite ready so he is looking forward to making his first deposit!
Helen has been on site for a week now helping to get ready for the course. It is very different now that everyone has arrived and the number of new people feels a bit overwhelming. It is humbling to see how many people have come, some traveling a long way to learn about Permaculture. It won’t be long before we go from being a group of strangers to becoming friends.
Most of the participants are staying in dormitories near where the children at the school stay. This morning they were woken up at 6.30am by the sounds of the children doing their morning exercises. Realising they weren’t going to get back to sleep many joined in with exercises instead.
Sabina was honoured by a visit from the regional representitive of the East African Parliament, Mr Mathias Kasamba. Also a farmer, Mr Kasamba is an enthusiast for jack fruit. This tree is originally from East Asia and its amazing fruit has many uses and health benefits. The PDC has been attracting interest from a wide variety of local dignitaries and the Head Teacher here, Jude has been quick to capitalise on that. It is great to be noticed and our intention to create a wave of interest in Permaculture seems to be paying off.
We must thank Mr Mathias who as donated 200 jack fruit seedlings to Sabina School, which we will be planting in the school forest garden as part of our design practical work.
We kick off on the 12th May. Follow the PDCUG18 here with daily posts, interviews, pictures and content from the ground breaking permaculture course and the first east Africa permaculture convergence.
This site is dedicated to the PDCUG18 and EAPC18 Uganda