GAYO PERMACULTURE CENTRE, INDONESIA
Sabar was adopted into the world of permaculture at the age of 12 when he and his brother were orphaned in the 2004 tsunami. He was taken in by IDEC, a centre for permaculture and sustainable living in Ubud, Bali, which became his home and the place where he learned all about permaculture.
Now back in his home province of Aceh, Sabar is the farm manager who designed and runs Gayo Permaculture Centre (GPC). GPC was established two years ago in conjunction with Lush Handmade Cosmetics and the Orangutan Information Centre, a Sumatran NGO.
Sabar’s challenge is to show by example that permaculture can maintain soil fertility on the 10 hectare site. This is important because it will give local farmers a reason to stay on their land rather than reaching up into protected areas.
In 2015, GPC started repairing the soil, composting and removing unstable pine trees. Locals are marvelling at land they’d thought only fit for grazing but which is suddenly producing bumper crops of tomatoes, eggplants, chillies and squash. Now GPC is tackling bigger challenges by providing a larger-scale agroforestry of main crops, such as vanilla, lemongrass, patchouli and citronella. Small dams have been sympathetically constructed, enhancing natural springs on site to allow a predominantly gravity-fed water landscape.
RURAL TOURS, CHINA
Experience the rural wisdom of the villagers in the Chinese countryside and you’ll be delighted at the resourcefulness of a people used to making the most of every leaf, flower and bug. Nothing is wasted with their observant mindset and healthy respect for nature. On your tour you’ll find out how these kind and hospitable people grow and store food, market their produce, and build traditional houses sensitive to the local environment.
During corn harvest you’ll see locals volunteering to help farmers peel corn off corn husks to use as baking paper, sitting mats, baskets or beautiful crafts. Cobs are dried and used as fire kindling and crushed as a cheap mushroom growing medium. Stalks are used as firewood. You’ll see examples like intercropping peanuts between rows of fruit trees, sorghum stalks used for roof construction and insulation, wild foraged weeds and flowers used in cooking, and even use of the stink bug as an inexpensive medicine!
Shaoying grew up in the mountains in rural China. She strives to bring appreciation, income and pride back to rural communities, and show us how beautiful these places and people are. You will experience authentic culture, meet locals and chat about their lives, eat delicious local cuisine, and live and work with local farmers.
HAY BALING, TANZANIA
As droughts in Tanzania become longer and harsher, one group is finding solutions for an agricultural people used to travelling long distances to find pasture for their animals. Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) has brought the innovation of hay baling to a mostly pastoralist people who need to migrate to find pasture, which can lead to conflict over scarce water and grass.
Madumba Kosianga, a pastoralist from Kichangani who lost 20 out of his 30 cattle in the last drought, says, ‘when the rains have fallen and there is pasture, I collect as much as I can and then store it in bales to prepare for the dry season.’
The practice is done mostly for grass which becomes inedible at maturity. It is sustainably harvested, dried and stored locally, then used in periods of drought. SAT teaches farmers sustainable farming methods through demonstration plots and face-to-face workshops in villages around Tanzania.
‘I had 40 cows and 25 remained after the drought that hit our village. Now that SAT has brought us hay baling innovation, we see potential to improve our livestock and provide feed in times of scarcity,’ says Kitaliti Mwanduja, a pastoralist from Vianzi Village, Mvomero District.
SOLAR LIGHTING PROJECT, INDIA
Named by their own government as one of the ‘most backward districts’ in the country, plenty of people in Adilabad, India, still live in darkness. While most villages in the district have no access to electricity, things are changing for five of those villages. Solar lighting has been provided, with community solar panels being installed to charge home lighting devices.
The project is being run by Aranya Agriculture Alternatives, an organisation that provides permaculture guidance to communities, organisations and governments in India. ‘Aranya’ means forest in Sanskrit, and the group aims to provide alternative agricultural solutions with a focus on forest farming and natural/traditional agricultural practices.
To explain how the solar lights worked, Aranya organised a village meeting and gave demonstrations on how to install the solar lamps. One person from each village manages the community solar centre and is trained in how to charge the solar lamps. Each village pays 20 rupees per month for upkeep of the centre.