THE SCHOOL OF NATURE
The School of Nature (Escola da Natureza) is set within the Piracanga ecovillage, on the coast of Bahia in Brazil. It is a school of permaculture and ecological practices set up to promote – and immerse people in – planetary regeneration and engage children in nature- based experiences.
Since 2011, the school has been regenerating 10 acres of degraded land (within the 100-acre ecovillage), transforming it into a food forest while becoming a reference centre for ecological design and small-scale technologies. The School’s ‘Campus Floresta’ is dedicated to the development of immersion experiences including where people stay, the programs offered and the exploration of ecological awareness and action. Visitors are welcome to learn and volunteer at both the ecovillage and the school.
UNIVERSITY PERMACULTURE FARM
Right on the campus of the University of Massachusetts are thriving educational permaculture gardens. Founded in 2010, they form part of the Healthy and Sustainable Food System Initiative and experimental spaces for people to learn practically together. They produce nutritious food for the campus and change the way students interact with their surroundings.
These award-winning gardens are inspiring permaculture projects on campuses around the world. Ten years ago, they were honoured by President Obama as the winners of the White House Campus Champions of Change Challenge. As well as cultivating education, they create regenerative landscapes that sequester carbon, capture thousands of litres of stormwater and produce thousands of dollars worth of nutrient-dense food.
OUR (one united resource) Ecovillage is a 25-acre demonstration and education centre, established in 1999 near Shawnigan Lake, Vancouver Island in Canada, which is the traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples. The permaculture farm hosts a thriving experiential learning community that collaborates widely with academics, government, local business and grassroots organisations.
The project is set up as a community land trust with three key areas of education, a permaculture farm and an ecovillage cluster of off-grid homes. There is also a fourth area for conservation which is protected.
There are a range of programs, including tours, retreats and courses and it’s possible to volunteer and visit. This is where American ecofeminist and author Starhawk offers her activist and permaculture training.
OANA WILDLIFE RESERVE
Oana Nature Reserve is in the deep south of Namibia, in Africa’s southwest. In this very dry semi-arid ecosystem, landholders are using permaculture to restore and rewild 165,000+ acres of degraded farmland, regenerate habitats and ecosystems for wildlife, and support local communities. They have been inviting neighbouring farmers to remove fences to allow wildlife migration. Oana hosts scientists and conservationists from around the world, and runs regular expeditions, retreats, residential school trips and internships.
THE PAPILLON PROJECT
The Papillon Project is an educational charity based in high schools in Norfolk, England. A fabulous program creating and developing school allotments, promoting sustainable living, permaculture design and environmental awareness for young people.
These allotments are places for inspirational learning and the aim is to engage teenagers in getting to know how to grow food, grow community and learn valuable life skills. They can also be part of an international exchange program, a young environmental stewards program and an annual convergence of the schools.
The project is founded by passionate teacher Matt Willer (pictured), Royal Horticultural Society’s 2018 School Gardening Champion. The Papillon Project is a member of Permaculture Association UK and David Holmgren is a patron.