Torri Superiore Ecovillage, Northern Italy
Not far from the north-western coast of Italy, near the French border, is a beautiful and fascinating ecovillage created out of a crumbling medieval village. The Torri Superiore Cultural Association was founded in 1989 to restore and re-inhabit the abandoned village and create a cultural centre.
Torri was an early adopter of permaculture in Italy, and continues to lead permaculture education programs. The restored stone village is surrounded by farming terraces, many of which the Association manages as permaculture gardens and orchards. It also tends free range chickens and produces many homemade products such as bread, pasta, olive oil, honey, jam, yogurt, ice-cream, culinary herbs and herbal teas. To produce the olive oil, the Association worked with neighbours and the local community to restore the old water-powered olive press in a nearby town.
The ecovillage works in many ways as a cooperative – in its enterprises and management; for example sharing daily meals and transport – there are five vehicles and two donkeys for the twenty residents.
Volunteer programs and workshops offered include ‘Living in transition’, sustainability and eco-friendly living.
Balçova Community Garden, Turkey
The Bal.ova Community Garden, near Izmir on the west coast of Turkey, is an oasis of food and community. The garden was designed and constructed through a participatory permaculture design workshop with local residents in 2003, with support of the local government. The garden emerged in just nine days.
The workshop began with a slide show of community gardens from around the world, to inspire possibilities. The garden members then assessed the site, created a shared vision and designed the gardens together. Ideas were collated and agreed on, and the garden plan was drawn on the ground with chalk dust. The participants, young and old, walked the design to get the feel of it. The members accepted the design with only a few refinements, and immediately selected their lots to begin preparing the soil for planting. The final weekend was spent on site: establishing the community compost system; demonstrating permaculture gardening techniques; digging the pond; and developing ideas for the collaborative organisational structure, community meeting areas and shared orchard.
The garden continues to thrive – full of diversity and abundance, with spaces for shared meals and gatherings.
Himalayan Permaculture Centre, Nepal
The Himalayan Permaculture Centre is a grassroots organisation established in 2010. It runs two centres, near Katmandu and in Humla, to support sustainable rural development. The centres demonstrate permaculture, offer permaculture education, provide resources (seeds, seedlings, information) and research good farming systems. The centre near Katmandu is based at Sunrise Farm, a community permaculture farm started in 1995, which has well-established agroforestry systems.
Last year the Centre’s popular Farmers’ Handbook in Nepali was reprinted; it’s distributed to farmers with the support of donations. An earlier edition is available in English as an ebook.
Volunteers are welcome. See www.himalayanpermaculture.com
Taman Petanu Eco Neighbourhood, Bali Indonesia
Taman Petanu Eco Neighbourhood (TPEN) is a small permaculture neighbourhood being established just fifteen minutes south of Ubud, to demonstrate sustainable living and community empowerment. A number of Australian permaculture designers have contributed their expertise to this project.
Central to TPEN’s design is the Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, which describes a harmonious relationship between the environment, other beings and God or universal energy.
On just one and a half hectares, twenty plots for eco-homes have been designed; seventeen have been claimed. The common land has a range of facilities: permaculture landscape; eco-pool; community area; wastewater treatment; and an amphitheatre and pavilion for workshops and events.
The adjacent eco-farm and living classroom are being developed as a training area, where children and adults can learn about sustainable living and organic farming practices. The farm aims to produce food for the community, and become a base for a sustainable-food hub.
Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Hong Kong
Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) is an inspirational project on the mainland (New Territories) of Hong Kong. Founded in 1951, the 145 hectare site was established to create partnerships with farmers to support sustainability and resilient local food systems. KFBG is located on Hong Kong’s highest mountain, and its stream provides all the water used on site.
The entire KFBG landscape is managed organically. Agroforestry and permaculture gardens have been established throughout, and a variety of sustainable living courses, including permaculture and urban farming, are offered. KFBG supports local organic farmers, farmers’ markets, and communitysupported agriculture. Over the decades, the sustainable agriculture program has benefited hundreds of thousands of local farmers. KFBG also encourages hospitals, schools and housing estates to grow food and connect with local food.
The richly diverse gardens are designed to inspire visitors, and are filled with winding pathways and signs for self-guided discovery. The project also focuses on the protection of biodiversity, and the conservation of habitat and threatened species.
A recent outreach project is the Green Hub in the nearest town, Tai Po (population 300 000). KFBG converted an old police station to a sustainable living centre with: local vegetarian caf.; community markets; a venue for residential courses and retreats, and for local grassroot groups to meet and develop integrated strategies for sustainable living. The centre provides a model for how towns in the region can pursue such transition.
Visitors are welcome. See www.kfbg.org.hk/