Observation is of great importance for any Permaculture project. At the end of the 2015/16 El Niño we could reflect on how nature responded to the greatest drought in our area in decades. Read about it here.
A few days ago we were in La Mesa for some groceries, and the talk of the week there was all about water… Because there wasn’t any. La Mesa has no drinking water as the last effect of El Niño. Most of our neighbors are in a similar situation. Nobody here is really prepared for extremes in the weather. We’re a little proud that our dams still have water so we can irrigate our gardens every day. As a result we got some carrots, a cabbage leaf and a squash for lunch and dinner today. In our water tanks we still have over 6000 liters of drinking water. We are slowly starting to get somewhere.
(Published today on permaculturenews.org)
This article is about how we figured out our mainframe design for roads, swales and ponds/dams. The pictures that show how those were installed you can see in an earlier article here.
Because the terrain of our farm was totally overgrown and the topography is a bit complicated, it took us two years to finalize this mainframe design. This process has taught us a few good lessons which I will mention as a possible help for people working on their own design.
In the picture below you can get an impression of our land. Most of our terrain is quite steep, with slopes ranging from 1:3 to 1:1. Only the central part is semi flat, with slopes varying between 1:8 and 1:3. The dotted line is the border of the property.
Until now over one million of insect species have been identified, with an estimated 5 to 9 million still to catalog. This makes the species of insects by far the largest group of animals on our planet. (Source). It’s no miracle then that we sometimes encounter some of the more exotic types on our land (or in our house). For example this mantis:
Because of their posture, with both of their front legs up, they’re also known as ‘praying mantis’. Margoth expected it to bite me, but they’re rather calm creatures. Continue reading Amazing Collection
I think most people would have difficulty recognizing our garden. There are no neatly kept beds filled with straight rows of vegetables. Instead our garden follows the contour lines of the landscape and all plants are mixed with other vegetables and weeds. This morning our garden looked like this:
The work on the garden started last year in October. Continue reading The Wild Garden
Within Permaculture circles there is some discussion if having a zone 5 is useful or possible. We think it is and we feel quite strongly that our land needs to provide space to other life as it does to us. So we designated the entire mountain slope at the west and northwest side of the farm as zone 5. That’s 5 hectares (12 acres) which is about half of the land of the farm. It’s better like this, because it’s mostly steep slopes, so it should be forested anyway.
Wildlife obviously doesn’t always limit itself to the zones we identify. That leads to a nice encounter every now and then. Like this turtle below:
The activities we develop on our farm are fully aimed at education in and demonstration of Permaculture. We do this work without the desire to make a profit. This does not mean we refrain from earning an income or receiving donations, it means that any type of income we gain, after deduction of the costs, will be invested in our project. We will also build capital, but instead of financial capital we focus on building natural capital.
Our project has different parts. Continue reading Not For Profit
If our house would be located in my country of birth (The Netherlands), I have no doubt a city official would show up to board up the entrance and put a sign ‘unfit for human use’ on the door. But since we’re in the tropics and things around here work a little simpler it’s not that big of an issue. Still, it’s not a quality house, especially on sunny days the metal roof heats up so much that inside you feel like you’re in an oven.
We started our adventure end of March 2014 after completing Geoff Lawton‘s online PDC course the year before. Armed with lots of theory and next to no practical knowledge we bought a suitable farm near the top of a watershed with a gigantic view over the valley in front of it.