On the east side of Austin, Texas, tucked away at the end of a road in a lower income neighborhood, there is something… different… happening. What was once a derelict lot has now grown into a forest, and not just any forest, a forest of food and community. Welcome to Weirder Austin – East Austin’s own Urban Permaculture Education & Demonstration site!
I returned to Thailand in November with a goal to connect with permaculturally minded people and projects around the region, making as many contributions and exchanges of resources as possible along the way. What I discovered in my travels was far more than I ever could have anticipated! I am excited now to be able to share my experiences with you in hopes that it will provide a resource for all those interested in exploring the expansive world of Thailand Permaculture.
In Part 1 of this series I described my revisit to Rak Tamachat, a Permaculture education centre in central Thailand that I had participated in developing only a few months prior, and the community integration work that was taking place there. Then I traveled north to Chiang Mai where I connected with many friends and allies in the region. I visited Chiang Mai Life Construction, PermaPai, and ended the with more community integration and development at The Panya Project.
I returned to Thailand in late November of 2012 after 3 months visiting friends and family in my home state of Texas. Following a brief respite, getting grounded and recovering from the disorienting 33 hour journey and 13 hour time difference, it was time to start designing my travel itinerary. While resting in Bangkok, I ventured over to the infamous Khao San Road for the first time. Given my previous experience embedded in a rural village in Thailand’s agricultural heart, Khao San Road was not exactly what I had in mind for my travels ahead. In drawing up my plans, I had no intention of following any well trodden guidebook tourist track. There is something much more exciting happening in this country than the bars and souvenir peddlers of Khao San. Just outside of the facade of Thailand’s touristed market streets, there is a wealth of precious gems waiting to be discovered. The most prominent on my list, although appearing a bit rough on the surface, turns out to be a glimmering diamond of hope for the country, and the world. This is the story of my adventures in exploring the many treasures of Thailand Permaculture.
Over the course of the past few months, this website, along with much of my personal life, has been through a wealth of transition. If you are close follower of my blog, you may have noticed that my posting has become a bit sparse and irregular. At the same time, if you still have found the time to visit this site on occasion, you might have seen some significant changes. I am now very excited to introduce you to the new Eco-Pioneers and share with you all the great new additions to this Grand Web (re)Launch!
These last few weeks of traveling and adventure have been something of a dream. In three weeks time, I’ve transitioned from living in a tent, waking each morning at dawn and milking cows to, jogging in the city, meditating on the beach while the sun set across the pristine Indian Ocean, Sleeping in three airport terminals in two separate countries, to finally find myself in this fascinatingly beautiful city of Mueang Phuket, Thailand. I have one week to absorb and immerse myself in the culture here before making the trek north to meet up with team Panya CQ. After a very brief sojourn in Bangkok the crew and I will make our way north again to Korat and the 50 acres I will call home for the next year. Continue reading
In January of 2012 I will embark on a journey to transform a conventional Thai farm into an example of abundance and profitable permaculture. Equipped with a Master Plan developed by Terra Genesis International, a global permaculture consulting company which includes Edible Forest Gardens co-author Eric Toensmeier, Panya Project founder Christian Shearer, and Appleseed Permaculture’s Ethan Roland, I will be called upon to test the limits of permaculture design.
Through the implementation of design strategies crafted to reduce costs, maintenance and external dependancies, Terra Genesis International aims to increasing fertility, health and productivity of all aspects of the farm.
An extension of the Panya Project in Chaing Mai, Panya CQ (as it is currently known) is an opportunity to showcase the ecological and economical advantages of permaculture design. By reducing overhead and external dependencies of food and fuel while increasing diversity within the farm, Panya CQ looks to provide a model for struggling farmers throughout Southeast Asia and the world.
You can be apart of this amazing Thailand Permaculture Project by joining us for one (or all) of several upcoming workshops and courses that will lay the foundation for this inspired work!
Well ok, I didn’t raise $400 in 15 hours. But, thanks to all the generosity you’ve all demonstrated, I have raised over $400! I know, the progress bar on my ChipIn widget only says $355… but that’s because it’s not counting the cash donations I’ve received. I tried to find a way for it to include that but apparently they want to charge me service fees for that little transaction, so… I’ll just keep it where it’s at!
In exchange for that four hundred plus dollars, I’ve racked myself up a healthy bit of consultation hours. I’m excited about the prospects of this little experiment. This is a great opportunity for me to put my current permaculture knowledge to good use, expand my experience a bit, and really get myself thinking critically about various topics related to my upcoming ventures. Not only is it a good chance to test the proverbial waters of permaculture consultation, it’s a good way for me to dip my toes in the models and systems I’ll be completely immersed in before too long.
In the meantime, I’ve been continuing my work with Community Cultivators and ape99 at the Permaculture Park (aka Deadend Homestead and Farm) on the East Side of town. Every Sunday at around noon we break into whatever new or unfinished project that still needs doing… and believe me, there’s never a shortage of projects to work on! After the work is done, there’s great potluck food (almost always fresh and local) and occasionally some live music and/or campfire to help fuel a great community spirit.
The past few weeks it’s we’ve been finishing up a natural building project for the future greenhouse. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, check out the video and write-up I did on that project as published on the Permaculture Research Institute’s website here!
In addition, I’m currently working on a story about the happenings of the Co-op Think Tank project as well as a more complete video documentation of the Permaculture Park. You can check out the Community Cultivators blog to follow those projects and various others that might crop up over the course of the next few months.
|An outdoor shower made from woven bamboo…
one of many projects we’re working on at the
Deadend Homestead and Farm
Feel free to contact me if you are interested in checking out any of these projects first hand. We’re always happy to have extra hands helping out but we don’t expected it of anyone. Everyone has their own priorities and we just want to share what we’re learning and hopefully inspire others to start their own projects (we’re more than happy to lend a hand with those as well!!)
If, for some reason, Sunday afternoons don’t work well for you but you’re interested and want to get involved, just drop me a line! We’re normally putting on potlucks and other events throughout the week and we’re always interested in new peoples and new ideas!
Thanks again to those who’ve contributed to my fundraiser! It really is amazing to see generosity of the world in action. I’m looking forward to the adventures and opportunities your contributions will open up for me… and I’m looking forward to sharing your kindness and generosity with the world at large!
If you haven’t contributed yet, you haven’t missed your opportunity. For only $50 you get two hours with me talking your ear off about whatever permaculture subjects are of most interest to you. I promise, I’ll make it worth you’re hard earned investment!
In addition to getting some quality permaculture time with yours truly, you’ll also get to see your contribution go to good use as you follow along with my adventures through this blog. The $405 I’ve collected so far are currently resting safely in a savings account. With this blog, I plan to detail what each dollar donated goes toward. Forget the Red Cross, I intend to spend each and every penny on real aid work! On top of that, I intend to show where and how each of those pennies is being spent so that you’ll know your contributions have made a real impact on the lives of those in need.
If you’ve already contributed and are waiting to collect those consultation hours, you should have seen an email from me explaining how you can collect. If you haven’t seen an email, not to worry, it’s really easy. Just shoot an email my way! I’m happy to make myself available to you and work with whatever areas are of the most interest to you. If you happen to have a curiosity about a particular permaculture technique or field of practice for which I am not experienced I’m happy to spend some time researching for you so that I might be better equipped to provide you the best possible knowledge and advice on the subject. Besides, it helps to fulfill my goal of becoming more versed in permaculture theory and application prior to my excursion down under.
Thank you so much for your interest in sharing this experience with me and for all your support, be it monetary or motivational… I honestly couldn’t do it without you!