Trees are a nation unto themselves — they communicate through various methods including fungal root associations, aerial chemical messages, physical displays, leaf movement, colour and through other life forms. — Miles Durand
In this day and age there is so much knowledge available, it can be too overwhelming to learn it all.
At the beginning of my journey, the charm of Permaculture was overshadowed by my realisation that I knew nothing at all whilst knowing that I had to understand all of it. I wished for a simpler way. Or, if all else fails, a mammoth sized brain.
The Tree Management course with Miles Durand that was run at the Jordan Valley site this November, however, was much less complex. It catered for beginners, like myself, who had yet to make a proper acquaintance with a shovel and who definitely did not run in the same social circles as a pick-axe.
The two and a half day course began with a mind map on tree care, time spent inspecting trees on site and testing the soil’s pH levels. Mr. Durand discovered that the fruit trees were suffering from a highly alkaline soil and too much calcium that was compounded by the possibly high calcium content in the water pumped from the government supply. The following day and a half were spent planting pomegranate, guava, hibiscus, cassia and grapes, all local varieties, with a goal of adding up to two hundred more trees to the site. Also, pruning took place with a good amount of chop and drop, as well as painful thorns in my soft, city hands. There was also a visit to the local girls’ school that hosts a lush Permaculture garden designed by Geoff and Nadia Lawton.
The course was also attended by locals, with Nadia Lawton doing a precise and culturally relevant Arabic translation of all the content.
Knowledge gained: much
Confidence: measured by leagues
At the end, knee deep in compost, I understood that gaining knowledge is a kind of dawning — a subtle shift in perspective. It is not instant as a light bulb, but rather like drifting into the silent arctic, where one awakes and certainly knows, that now, they know. And that, is a good thing.