Day 5: Using Natural Resources

vetiver

Practical facilitator Grace with a clump of vetiver grass ready for planting

As the course is rolling on, just like a stone stone downhill, its already the fifth day tackling the fifth principle as put down by David Homlegren. Our 5th day out of the 12 days started with weeding which was by 6 out of the 8 home teams. One of the two groups headed by Uncle Ritchie performed some pruning of the mango trees.

The team headed by Nina were the time keepers of the entire day on top of filling up the hand washing facilities. Health issues are not to be taken for granted, most especially when we’re living as a family.

We are lucky to be joined by Jane Wegesa from Kenya who is a specialist in working with vetiver grass. In line with our pricniple of valuing natural resources we are learning how to use plants to stabalise lanscape, encourage water infiltration and generate biomass to feed animals and for compost.

Swale dig

The technique of swaling traps water in the landscape. instead of heavy rains running off the land and causing soil loos, it infiltrates into the ground where it reamains available to plants.

Later in the afternoon during the practical session, there was a practical session headed by Richie of digging Swales which is a method of water storage. This helps to keep water in the soil and also to stop surface fun off. Grace and the other participants were planting vetiver grass which is also a method of water retention and can also be used for water purification. Vetiver is a deep rooted grass which was carried along by Jane Klegea a participant at the Permaculture Design Course. It was shocking to learn that nearly 70% of all the perfumes contain oil extracted from vetiver grass.

vetiver plant

Facilitator Paul Ogola from Kenya oversees the planting of vetiver grass. It will quickly grow forming a natural hedge which will act as a swale, trapping water and soil run off

We highly appreciate the facilitators for good information being relayed to us aluta continua.

pri-z

PRI-Zanzibar team presented on their impressive work on the island

On day 5, we were introduced to principle 5:

“Use and value renewable resources and services”.

We started the day joining our home team and Richard took us to a mango tree to show us everything about pruning. After giving us a warm welcome, he explained the reason why we should prune. Pruning is important to get more air moving through the tree, which is stimulating the photosynthesis process and give us a better yield quality. Richard showed us the tools we needed to cut and the importance of the technique.

Using the right technique is important to avoid diseases on the cut parts. As mango trees can grow really high, the best thing to do is to cut the middle branch. Branches can be used for firewood, biochar, mulching, compost… When you have a big forest full of trees, you can use the wood after having it cut into very small pieces and putting it together to produce energy by letting the oxygen interfere with it (aerobic composting).

After lunch, we had the opportunity to dig swales right behind the library. Swales are very useful as they trap the water in the landscape to help for farming or house holding purposes. It was a sunny day but as soon as we started swaling, it started to rain. We loved it, it was so refreshing! The practicum ended by planting vetiver. During the hard work of the hyppos, Dan introduced the girafs to the benefits of coppicing. Coppicing is providing you a permanent supply of wood.

Our guest speaker of the day was Laura from Zanzibar. This amazing lady told us everything about the Practical Permaculture Institute Zanzibar. The school, situated close to Stone Town in Shakani, created a tropical food forest, where people live in a sustainable environment and in total harmony with nature. Their mission is to spread permaculture knowledge through organizing different kinds of courses. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your project with us!

One thing is for sure, we all slept like babies (Evans words!) after having learned so many things in one, beautiful day…

 

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