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.
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!
Over the past nine weeks I’ve participated in the construction of an agricultural dam, a swale, a couple of terraces, a large urban garden, several compost piles, 1000 liters of compost tea, an aid proposal to a Nepalese orphanage, and 600 square meters of food forest. Aside from exploring a nearby rainforest, swimming in the ocean and the occasional night at the local pub… it’s been a non-stop permaculture marathon!
Imagine, you’re perusing the Sunday paper, thumbing through various articles, world news, sports, opinion pieces… yea, we’ve all been there. What feelings arise for you as the images pass by your eyes? Article after article, world news and local… everything seems so dismal.
In disgust and with a freshly drained world view, you fold the paper up and drop it back down on the table. Just before you look away and try to forget the morning sorrow, a small advertisement catches your eye.
DESIGN & INSTALL
Over the past three plus weeks myself and 15 other cohorts have been fully engaged in farm life. And, although there are several aspects of this lifestyle that you might expect out of a typical farm experience (i.e. milking goats, turning compost, planting veggies, etc…) this is far from a typical farm!
Several, all but empty, gift shops line the main drag here in the small town of Kaunakakai, Moloka`i. Two meager grocers dominate the square’s activity. On the edge of town, which is really only about a block wide, there sits a quant old natural food store that reminds me of more than one ol’ town co-op on the mainland.
A doddering old codger directs me around the store and points out all the things grown on the island without every having to leave his seat behind the counter.
“This is the stuff Robin brought by yesterday” he explains to another customer, pointing to a box of produce just over the counter from where he sat.
Robin, that’s who I’m supposed to meet up with later. She’s coming into town to meet me discuss possible camping accommodations. What are the chances this store clerk is talking about the same Robin you ask? Well, on Moloka`i, as I would soon find out, the chances are pretty darn good.