The Panya Project, established in 2007, is a small permaculture community and education centre nestled in the foothills of northern Thailand. The ten-acre site is a thriving example of low-impact, community-based regenerative living. The small residential community welcomes regular volunteers (pre-Covid, anyway) and together have crafted a number of natural mud buildings, composting toilets, permaculture production gardens and a diverse food forest.
Sitting between forest and conventional farm, it is a great place to learn what a permaculture approach can bring to the land and ecosystem. Over 2000 permaculture students have graduated from programs led by a collection of international visiting teachers. This centre is part of the global movement of permaculture learning centres. Panya’s hope is that those who visit, experience local Thai culture and are inspired to take home positive permaculture ideas into their daily lives – wherever they live.
KISUMU CITY PERMACULTURE ACADEMY
Kisumu City Permaculture Academy in Western Kenya is a wild and diverse 24-acre permaculture farm created and led by permaculture ambassador and teacher Maurice Obuya who is a member of the permaculture humanitarian organisation Re-Alliance. This centre is home to hundreds of species of food plants, indigenous plants and wildlife. The land is being transformed into a regenerative farm that has become a key education and demonstration centre in the region. Maurice hosts permaculture courses, tours and camps here, and invites international teachers to join via video link. He has an extensive bank of indigenous seeds from East Africa and, with the support of the Ethos Foundation, is currently creating bundles of seeds to send as starter kits to the Permayouth groups in refugee settlements. Maurice’s site convincingly demonstrates the abundance and regeneration a perennial permaculture approach can bring and he’s sharing this with ministers of agriculture, NGOs, refugees and the international community.
PLUM VILLAGE HAPPY FARM
It had always been Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh’s dream to establish farms at Plum Village, the Engaged Buddhism monastery he created 90 km east of Bordeaux in France. He imagined these farms to be beautiful sanctuaries for the members; promoting mindfulness, building community, practising sustainability and creating amazing food. The farms began just a couple of years ago, and they are now transitioning to permaculture practices. This year a group of eight farmers worked alongside the Permaculture Education Institute to integrate permaculture into the three sites, designing systems for soil and ecological regeneration, adding diversity and resilience at the same time. This permaculture learning journey has engaged long- and short-term farmers in a productive design process and introduced new ideas around the community. Usually the farms are open to day visitors through to week-long guests, however Covid has forced its closure for the time being.
HASERA PERMACULTURE LEARNING CENTRE
Located 42 km east of Kathmandu and overlooking the Himalayas, HASERA was founded as a research and training farm in 1992. The name HASERA is derived from taking the first two letters of the Nepali words for green (hariyo), white (seto) and red (rato), referring to plant, dairy and meat, reflecting the centre’s focus on sustainable food systems. Over the years, HASERA has offered permaculture and organic education programs for people from more than 90 countries, and many graduates have gone on to set up learning centres of their own.
Through its immersive courses and farmstay programs, HASERA welcomes travellers, students, researchers, farmers and development workers. Together, they generate, practise and share permaculture knowledge and skills as far and wide as possible, train trainers and share Nepalese culture. HASERA also hosts a seed bank and nursery, and offers a permaculture farm design service, as well as organic certification and marketing.