El Nina has well and truly settled in, the plains of Canberra a vividly green, dams are full and rivers a rushing downstream to reach the coast. Keyline properties will be fully recharged and swale designs are being tested. We are seeing extreme weather events not only here in Australia, but all around the world.
But, with 10 years of Permafund Australia activity, there’s lots to celebrate. Why don’t you join us, the Permafund Team, and host a long table lunch under the lush foliage of your garden?
Now more than ever, let’s come together and feast on the abundance your work has provided. Let us think about our growing global community of people, the less fortunate and cook or prepare something from a culture other than your own. Use and value diversity.
Put on a feast, whether it’s a Kenyan or Indonesian, Nepalese or Indian inspired night, that is up to you, share the love through food. Ask people for a donation, whatever they can afford, and let us continue the great work of Permaculture direct action globally.
Donations to Permafund are shared with grateful recipients who put their grants to work in a wide variety of creative environmental and community building projects around the world . All donations are warmly welcomed. Donate here.
Permaculture for Sustainable Communities in Kenya has provided this report after receiving a Permafund grant of $2,000 to promote local food that is more climate-friendly and less energy-consuming to improve food security and support a vibrant, resilient community.
The project was implemented in the Matungu District in Western Kenya for period of a year. It was to help the marginalised communities to grow their own healthy food during the COVID-19 crisis as a powerful way to reclaim communities and change the dynamics so that people would have wealth and power to combat hunger and the COVID-19 pandemic.
As background, Permaculture for Sustainable Communities reports that it’s estimated that 42% of Kenya’s GDP is derived from natural resource related sectors such as agriculture and forestry. These sectors are highly sensitive to climate change, a fact that makes rural based economies highly vulnerable. In the agriculture sector for example, smallholder farmers are the backbone of the economy, generating about 70% of their agricultural production while also being the custodians of precious agro-ecosystems. Conversely, land, water resource base and populations whose livelihoods and food security are dependent on such resources have been subjected to the vagaries of land degradation, deforestation and the declining productivity of croplands. This has undermined the sustainability of food systems and productivity of natural landscapes.
To address these challenges, the Permaculture for Sustainable Communities project focuses on the development of regenerative farming to rebuild healthy community gardens as a nature-based solution for addressing ecosystem degradation and build climate change resilience.
It is therefore a practical intervention that serves as an entry point adaptation strategy to improve the productivity, efficiency, profitability and fairness of production from the landscape while also establishing an approach that builds rural land restoration. In essence, the ecosystem-based adaptation approach will ultimately reduce environmental impact of production while addressing food insecurity. To ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, the project focuses on building healthy soils.
The long-term goal of developing sustainable food systems is considered a high priority for Permaculture for Sustainable Communities.
Activities carried out included the training of farmers in permaculture practices and skills, the distribution of farm seeds and tools plus monitoring the project and evaluation of the outcomes.
Project achievements: Through the intensive training of 50 farmers in organic farming, synthetic fertilisers are now not used in their farms. Building and maintaining a rich, living soil through the addition of organic matter is a priority for the farmers as the solution for sustainable healthy soil for healthy food production.
The community’s farmers have knowledge in planting and then tilling in cover crops, which help protect the soil from erosion off-season and provides additional organic matter. They have learned about non- tilling and digging in of nitrogen-fixing cover crops, such as mucana or thithony whihc also adds nitrogen to the soil. Cover crops are commonly planted before or after the cash crop season or in conjunction with crop rotation and can also be planted between the rows of some crops, such as tree fruits.
The farmers have been in trained in pest control. They can make organic pesticides that are derived from naturally occurring sources. These include living organisms such as the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, which is used to control caterpillar pests, or plant derivatives such as neem, alvora and peepe leaves.
Organic pest control integrates biological, cultural, and genetic controls to minimise pest damage. Biological control utilises the natural enemies of pests, such as predatory insects (e.g., ladybugs) or parasitoids (e.g. certain wasps) to attack insect pests. Pest cycles can be disrupted with cultural controls with crop rotation the most widely used.
When local varieties of crops disappear, this can compromise food sovereignty and the ability of a community to access culturally appropriate food at a fair price. The region’s farmers are turning to traditional planting of numerous crop varieties that are resistant to specific pests and are diseases to restore food sovereignty in the community.
Finally, because of a permaculture practices and knowledge the farmers have harvested plentiful green vegetables for home consumption. Two farmers have established herb gardens. Beans, maize, soya beans and potatoes have been harvested, making the region a food security hub.
The project has benefited 50 farmers directly and benefit 350 directly.
From the project outcomes lessons have been learned.
There are multiple benefits from teaching farmers about building healthy soil by making organic fertiliser, including green manures, designing and adding swales into gardens to increase soil water content, growing native seeds, improving soil pH to benefit plant growth, increasing the availability of P and K and increasing microbial activity.
Learning together with community members has led to improved problem solving and more effective work strategies.
Through the supply of seeds and farm tools farmers worked harder to rebuild acidic gardens into organic food producing farm systems that have produced food security for many beneficiaries.
Working in groups helped many farmers learn how to establish herb gardens both for human medicine and for insect repellent.
The community working together helped permaculture knowledge reach more people in regions where many need this education.
Long droughts are making certain crops to fail.
More encouragement needed for local climate- resistant crops to be grown.
Support needed for the community to adapt to setting up small home gardens irrigated by water harvesting. A shortage of tanks to capture water from rooftops is an issue.
The shortage of farm seeds and tools to equip more farmers is a problem. For example in one village you may find that only one home has a wheelbarrow.
There is a high demand among farmers for training in permaculture practices and the establishment of working farm models. Financial support is needed to replicate the project in order to reach more people.
Donations to Permafund are supporting community organisations like Permaculture for Sustainable Communities around the world.Contributions of $2.00 of more are tax deductible in Australia and can be made here.
The team from the OTEPIC Peace Project, represented by Coordinator, Philip Odhiambo Munyasia, thanks donors to PA’s Permafund for their support in promoting permaculture in Kitale Kenya.
In 2020, OTEPIC received a $2,000 Permafund grant for a beekeeping project. This included establishing ten bee hives initially and training a core contingent of 70 local community members in beekeeping. A further 100 community members are being introduced to beekeeping as a means of generating personal incomes and reducing local poverty. Youth leadership training is ongoing.
As an alternative local farming enterprise, beekeeping is already creating employment at a low level. Four people are working on the bee project while learning to build bee hives to sell to the local market. Farm yields have also increased due to the availability of bees as pollinators.
OTEPIC’s apiary was established in April ’21 providing ongoing beekeeping business management training and demonstrations for members of the Biddi community. By December 2021 members of the community will be sharing roles for the collective management of the apiary and the surrounding bee attracting gardens and food forest.
Honey has been harvested twice already with a beeswax and propolis extraction process to be established by the end of 2021. Hives have been bought collectively and are being managed by OTEPIC project community members as a group demonstration site at the Upendo garden.
To keep the bees in good health for the long-term sunflowers and nectar rich flowers have been planted, water sources made available and bee feeding stations are set up when required.
There are many social and economic factors that cause division among communities and bee keeping has helped to bring people together to exchange and share, promoting unity and diminishing the divides of political and resource-based disagreements and conflicts.
The project has its challenges including transportation of materials, bee hives and volunteers to the working site. The unpredictable rainy season has affected the swarming season which helps add colonies for the bee hives. There wasn’t enough shade when the hives were first installed so fast-growing trees are being grown around them.
A lot has been learned during the project planning process, which has served as a reminder to look at how each element is connected to the others and the importance of looking at whole systems and the complete vision when planning one aspect.
Members of OTEPIC and its neighbours have learned from every step of the installation of the bee keeping project and will be able to replicate the process in future projects. They have been inspired by the experience of collaboration and exchange with other regional projects such as the Garden of Hope project and will continue to look for these opportunities, Monitoring and evaluation of the project is ongoing.
Donations to Permaculture Australia’s Permafund over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and support environmental and community building projects like the OTEPIC Beekeeping project. Find out more including how to donate here.
Thanks to your generous donations, PA’s Permafund has supported 59 projects in 17 countries. Each month we’ll bring you a wrap up of some of the projects being supported, so you can follow their progress and fantastic outcomes.
They say a picture tells a thousand words, so scroll through and check out the photo updates shared from Sustainable Communities Kenya. The team have been busy training farmers in organic farming skills, with more activities still occurring before the crop harvest occurs in July and August, and “are happy how our farmers have benefits so much because of the Permafund grant.”
The IRDS Project team in India have completed the training for fifty rural tribal farmers in growing tomatoes, brinjal, beans and castor oil and provision of seeds. This included a focus on eco friendly farm inputs, low cost crop tonics, and intercropping. Criteria used to determine the farmers included: young, has interest to try new methods in agriculture especially the integrated agriculture, allocate time to training and other project related activities, and has land to practice the new permaculture skills.
“IRDS expresses its sincere thanks to PA’s Permafund for their partnership. The farmers are taking care of their cultivation crops now, and they are happy to raise various crops in their lands that will ensure diverse crops and various out come as a result for their sustainable livelihoods.”
The reality and impact of COVID in India, was shared in the project update from Aranya India, with many team members, family and the project communities negatively impacted by COVID directly.
“The situation here isn’t as great. Many of our family, friends , staff and the farming community have been affected with COVID. We have started working on the one acre permaculture projects, however couldn’t continue with the sudden resurge in COVID cases. The villagers shut their boundaries and are not stepping out of their homes whatsoever. However, we have managed to work a little bit with the help of our ground level staff and volunteers. As the monsoon is nearing, we have procured the plants for plantations and earthworks have started.”
And finally, we are thrilled to introduce a new project in Zambia. The Youth Empowerment for Development Initiative (YEDI) plans to train rural communities to improve land, become more resilience and sustainably produce food using permaculture principles.
Permafund will follow YEDI’s progress with interest, as its goals of land conservation and permaculture ideas may provide lessons for many projects in such hot, subtropical areas with limited rainfall.
For more information:
PA’s Permafund provides small grants for permaculture projects implemented by community organisations across the globe. Since 2012, we have supported 59 projects in 17 countries, thanks to generous donations. Permaculture Australia is a registered charity and registered environmental organisation, and donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia. To find out more, including how to donate here.
A huge thank you to our generous donors to PA’s Permafund in the lead up to the end of the financial year. Here are two updates from donors Permaculture Central Coast and Permaculture Principles on why they donate to PA’s Permafund as part of their ‘Fair Share’ ethic.
“Most people have no difficulty defining and living the ethics of ‘earth care’ and ‘people care’, but when it comes to ‘fair share’ it can be challenging. After all, in a world where some of us live lives of considerable privilege while others suffer poverty, wars, displacement, and the loss of their homes due to climate change, who decides what is fair?
Many permies adopt the philosophy of living simply so that others might simply live. This commitment asks us not to buy what we do not genuinely need and to remember that every human-made thing must take resources from the natural world. Others adopt a philosophy of donating a set percentage of everything they earn to charities that care for the earth and care for people.
The executive team of Permaculture Central Coast recognises that our organisation also needs to actively demonstrate the ethic of ‘fair share’. We have chosen to support Permafund because it is volunteer run and the Committee includes some highly regarded permies such as John Champagne, and Rowe Morrow is one of the charity’s ambassadors. PA’s Permafund’s focus is providing small grants to permaculture-aligned activities and we see this as an extension of the principle of ‘the least change for the greatest effect’. We all know what difference permaculture can make to people’s lives, particularly in places where there is financial disadvantage.
Projects are as diverse as tree planting, regenerative farming, seed saving and household food gardening. Perhaps my favourite is a recent project aimed at teaching women in India how to grow food so that they don’t need to rely upon the turtle population for their dinner. This project managed to combine earth care and people care in a truly inspiring way.”
Meg McGowan, President Permaculture Central Coast Inc.
“Permaculture Principles (the business, PcP) is all about practicing the ethics and principles of permaculture. Supporting PA’s Permafund through profits from sales of the Permaculture Calendar is one of the ways in which PcP demonstrates the ethic of Fair Share. We must practice our values. The vision for the calendar is of a collective process; to engage with the permaculture community and to illustrate practices and promote examples.
In order to run a growing business like ours, we need to constantly evolve. The principles that are illustrated in the calendar are the design tools we use to adapt to changing needs. As support for Permafund and the calendar grow, we are expanding our reach to support other permaculture enterprises and projects. This multiplier effect will increase our collective impact to help create a positive future in tumultuous times.”
Richard Telford, Co-Director of Permaculture Principles
Richard Telford and Permaculture Central Coast Inc are PA Professional and Organisation members respectively. You can find out more including how to sign up as a member of PA here.
The 2022 Permaculture Calendar and a great range of permaculture books and resources can be purchased from the online Permaculture Principles shop here. PA members receive a generous discount as one of their member benefits, access the discount code via the members only section of the PA website (log in).
The Turtle Survival Alliance – India has a focus on conservation efforts with local communities to safeguard threatened freshwater species in four (of the five) turtle priority areas in India. The project received a 2020 Permafund grant to offer training in vermicomposting and food growing to reduce the reliance on aquatic wildlife for food.
In the three months leading up to February 2021, the project outcomes include the:
successful completion of a household-based survey to gather nutrition information of riverine women communities. Preliminary analysis of data suggests the women living in riparian and fishing hamlets bear major responsibility for their families, work harder in the agricultural field and poor economy, and have limited access to a nutritious diet.
completion of an awareness and capacity-building program providing training in nutrition, small-scale farming and the benefits of Indigenous crops, and
provision of vertical bamboo frames to use for gardening in water logged areas, as well as vegetable seeds and gardening tools.
To reduce the use of chemical fertilizers a large vermicomposting pit has been developed. The lined pit was filled with manure worms, organic materials (such as straw, grass clippings, vegetable peels, manure), and covered with soil.
This is what PA’s Permafund is all about – enacting the the three ethics of permaculture (Earth Care, People Care & Fair Share) and supporting grassroots projects around the globe to build stronger communities.
How can I get involved?
Want to make a difference too? Donate to PA’s Permafund today here and help build food security and stronger communities across the globe. Donations over $2 are tax deductible.