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The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook

Clockwise from above: Ego Lemos and Lachlan McKenzie; Home kitchen garden in urban Rwanda; Making compost to build a living soild food web for kitchen gardens in Rwanda. Photos by Lachlan McKenzie and Greg Knibbs

We are very conscious that climate change will hit the tropics, and especially the most vulnerable, very hard. The aim of the Tropical Permaculture Guidebook (TPGB) is to be part of simultaneously creating lifestyles that contribute to environmental regeneration rather than climate change and degradation and provide resilience and proactive adaptability in facing current challenges.

The TPGB is helping people all over the world have more food, cleaner water, better livelihoods, be more resilient, more sustainable and live in healthier and more stable communities. It creates the framework pattern of permaculture design from a typical tropical community perspective, then provides the details of how to actually achieve it, with step-by-step technical knowledge explained both in words and images.

The guidebook is the result of a collaboration from East Timorese NGO Permatil (Permaculture Timor-Leste), xpand Foundation (an Australian social enterprise working predominantly in Timor-Leste), Disruptive Media (design and strategic communications for social change) and a huge band of supporters.

We use the fair share ‘pay what you can’ approach to allow free access to all who wish to download the book, and for those with money to contribute to the project for those that can’t. We offer this service to accelerate positive change, and because knowledge should be accessible for everyone. All money that is contributed towards the guidebook goes back into this project—translating and reformatting new language versions, maintaining and updating the website, working with NGOs, education institutions, farmers and community groups across the tropical world to put this guidebook to practical use.

So far we’ve had over 20,000 chapters downloaded in 152 countries (even Iceland)! Our main focus though is communities and farmers in tropical countries. While there’s a focus on the tropics, we do provide knowledge and techniques useable by anyone, no matter what their wealth, location or status is. The guidebook can be used by farmers, field workers, development agency workers, community groups, schools and training institutions, and permaculture workers.

The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook is becoming an essential tool for teaching and educating the participants in programs all over the world. The ADRA EMBRACE program is a four year project operating in Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Rwanda. EMBRACE stands for Enhance Mother, Newborn and Child Health in Remote Areas through Health Care and Community Engagement.

The aim of the project is to significantly reduce preventable stunting and maternal-child mortality. To do this, the EMBRACE project supports the increased consumption of nutritious food and supplements by pregnant women, mothers and children aged under five years.

The clear and simple text of the TPGB, combined with over 2000 rich and detailed illustrations, enables readers with low literacy levels to understand and even use the text as a literacy tool.

Edge5 Permaculture was commissioned to provide permaculture education, training programs and support to the EMBRACE program over a two year period. He has made two visits to all four countries in the program.

Working collaboratively with ADRA staff, Greg provided the following workshops during these visits:

  1. A 10 day course on kitchen garden development. These workshops focused on how to create and manage highly productive kitchen gardens that produce large amounts of highly-nutritious food to support maternal and child health.
  2. A 12 day Permaculture Design Certificate course. Greg also conducted three days of site visit support in each of the four countries and continues to provide ongoing mentoring and support (by phone, email and Skype) to ADRA staff and former students.

A remarkable outcome of the EMBRACE training has already been seen in Rwanda. Between the first training held in May 2017 and the second training in June 2018, the ADRA national country leadership reported that over 11,000 families have implemented a kitchen garden. 13 schools involved in the program are also adopting these gardens to provide school meals. Permaculture kitchen gardens are now providing these communities, often featuring severely malnourished children, with a previously unheard of level of nutritional balance.

The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook is downloadable in high-res and low-res options, by chapter, volume or complete book. It will also be available in hard copy.



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