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Permaculture in Practice by ‘Hope On Africa Programme’ – Kenya

Permaculture emphasizes the use of native plants or those that are well adapted to your local area. It aims at a site that sustains itself and the gardener. Its ultimate purpose is to develop a site until it meets all the needs of its inhabitants, including food, shelter, fuel and other benefits.

Permaculture enthusiasts love plants for their beauty and fragrance, but they seek out plants that offer practical benefits along with aesthetic satisfaction.

Sunflower

Photo: Ingrid Pullen

In Permaculture, one avoids disease-prone plants such as hybrid tea roses and plants that need lots of watering or other pampering. Instead opt for native persimmon vegetation like trees that don’t need spraying and pruning eg fruit trees that provide food as well as shelter and shade.

After attending a course in Tanzania with FoodWaterShelter on matters of Permaculture, double digging, kitchen gardens, farming God’s way and other agricultural techniques in improving our environment and ecosystem, many lessons have been taken and some of them include the benefits which are listed below:-

  • Reduced cost.

These systems like Permaculture, use all the natural components of the ecosystem like composting the waste into useful organic matter and manure. In putting that into mind, one saves up to a lot of money which would otherwise be spent on conventional farming. Costly inputs like purchasing of the artificial fertilizers is done away with, as methods like compost manure are enhanced in the system.

  • Less waste.

Among the benefits of Permaculture is the reduction of waste products in the environment. Most of the waste products as a result of farming are recycled and manured back to the earth in the form of compost. Once these agricultural practices are followed correctly, the waste material is later used as a natural fertilizer. There is less waste because all the present resources are optimally utilized.

  • Chemical resistance.

These agricultural practices like Permaculture and farming God’s way solely involve the use of natural means and ways of farming, including natural fertilizers and mulch for farming and gardening. This helps in resisting the produce from being exposed to the harmful chemicals that are used as pesticides. The agricultural system employed in these methods like Permaculture, lets the natural ecosystem predators perform the functions of the pesticides for you.

  • Less pollution.

After putting these practices in to use, besides their benefits, the other most influential benefit has been the rate at which pollution has been reduced. All of the agricultural ways involved use natural ways of cultivation, hence cut a very large percentage of chemicals usage in the soil. The use of organic manure, timely use of the micro climates and other natural ways have led to the abandoning of the chemical fertilizers and pesticides, thus the zone remaining pollution free.

  • Zoning.

Zoning is another benefit, particularly from Permaculture. Zoning means arranging the produce depending on what ripens first and what needs more attention. Following this way, the ripe fruits and vegetables are plucked first and the latter ones, as and when they ripen.

  • Self reliance and Diversity.

Basing this argument on Permaculture, it has aided so much in self relying to oneself. One can produce a diverse range of produce in his/her land. It brings about the sense of self-reliance in the view that, one can grow whatever he needs and consume it. Also, incase of some surplus, then, there are always ways of preserving them and later putting them into use.

  • Helpful in improving Environmental conditions and promoting green living.

Upon practising these natural cultivation ways, among the lessons taught is the different ways of attaining sufficient and sustainable agriculture in a way that is beneficial for the environment. By following these methods, one produces agricultural goods using a harmonious integration of human dwelling, micro-climate, plants, animals, soil and water in a productive and stable way. One also uses natural fertilizers, natural pesticides and fresh water reserves, thus undoubtedly promoting green living of the backyard style.

  • Can be applied in already functioning systems.

Permaculture can be applied in different agricultural systems that are already functioning. Though it is necessary that the land is suitable for it. It can be practised in areas where agriculture is traditionally practiced and is not located in a commercially developed area, where most of the constituents of our ecological systems have perished.

All of these concepts have been implemented on my own Permaculture garden.

The main objective of this project has been to empower people living a sustainable life that is not over dependent to one issue or thing. Other objectives include the following;-

  1. Support learning & practice. To develop an effective framework for supporting learning and practice of Permaculture at farm scales.
  2. Support on-farm research. To develop an effective framework for supporting on-farm research in order to build up the evidence based of best practice.
  3. Demonstrate. To create a network of financially viable farms for research, demonstration and education of Permaculture principles and practice.
  4. Promote. To make Permaculture more accessible to farming communities through outreach, networking and ambassadors at regional, national and international levels.

Other ways involved in the natural agricultural system are Farming God’s Way, double digging, putting up of kitchen gardens etc.

The ethics and values upon which the practise of Permaculture is based on include:

  1. Earth Care. This means that we humans should try not to increase situations in which we destroy or perish the natural functioning of our planet earth. As this in turn will lead to consequences which will compel the extinction of human beings. We need to understand that we are merely a part of the earth and not its conquerors. If other animals and creatures will not exist, we will not exist too. There can be no better example than global warming to explain this.
  2. People care. The principal of people care can also be termed as the principal of cooperation. In Permaculture, it means that we all should work together and help each other instead of competing. One cannot develop a community by only helping oneself and staying alone. To live in a better culture and community, we have to work together and stay together.
  3. Fair share/ setting limits to population and consumption. Fair share indicates the equal right of using natural resources by all individuals. Natural resources are scarce and moreover, no one really owns them. Therefore, each one should get share of what they deserve. These resources should not be concentrated in just a few hands, but optimally allocated.

After Learning this I have put a double dig plot for vegetables for my family and my family are very happy as they now have healthy source of vegetables.

Dig-Garden-plot

Organic-sukuma-Kale

My gratitude go to Food Water and Shelter for the sponsorship for me to get this knowledge.

Benjamin Kigan Mugara

Hope On Africa Programme – Kenya

This article is part of an initiative by FoodWaterShelter to promote permaculture networks in East Africa, and to support the hosting of PDCs in Tanzania. This and other articles are written by PDC students in exchange for PDC scholarships.

If you would like to support the ongoing work of FoodWaterShelter, then why no go along to their next permaculture course? Learn more at www.foodwatershelter.org.au/pdc.aspx

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