Day 3: Obtaining yield

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….

cob making #pdcug

lots of feet stamping on the clay

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….

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