Thursday, October 29, 2009
Today and yesterday were dedicated entirely to Permaculture/Permagardens (Permanent Agriculture/Gardens): growing family nutrition security for the fight against HIV/AIDS. The main aim of Permagardens is to provide food security (and more importantly, nutrition security) at the family level. The project is designed to be implemented by a family of five and to simply use the very small space that isn't being used (or most effectively utilized). For example, 1O meters x 1O meters is enough. The emphasis is on using nature and working with nature to maximize outcomes. Some gardens have seen a 4OO% increase in crop yield as a result of adopting a few basic and simple techniques. So we spent the last two days learning the proper techniques for making compost, preparing the plant bed (double digging!), and water management: creating swales, berms, and guilds to maximize minimum rain and minimize maximum rains (because in many parts of Africa it floods during the rainy season and simply doesn't rain during the other months). Before yesterday I had zero interest in having a garden at my site, but now I plan to have my own garden and to hopefully teach the Permagardens techniques to any people in the community who are interested. Something I learned today: bury charcoal in your garden, not only does it hold and filter water, but it is carbon negative, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and holding it in the soil where it is used by the plants! Yesterday was hot and sunny, but today was rainy and 6O's all day. It was the kind of day that makes you want a nice hot shower, but it's pleasantly suprisin how well a basin of hot water and a cup can do the job.