Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Basic Principles, General Land Management and Organic Farming - Day 3

First stop was Satya's land in Yeh Anakan. A hill-side where Satya plans to build a number of villas. Again today we had a very pretty classroom and the cows around us were very interested in our little gathering, at least in the beginning.
Once more we established the first and foremost need of any project, which is to stabilize the land. Since this was a sloping area, a good strategy would be to make swales to collect the rain water and plant trees to keep the soil from washing away and start generating the precious shade for the houses and other elements of the property. Another important permaculture principle emerged from the discussion: the cheapest and most effective way to store water in IN THE LAND. Norman keeps repeating it tirelessly: spend more time in planning and design than most people do.

Our list of local plants grew more and we had a chance to see young and old neem trees and their fruit, one of what Norman calls the miracle plants.

In the afternoon we went to see Kalisada, a piece of land shared among a number of the students of this course, namely Silvia, Brigitta and Satya. Silvia is the driving force of a project of an ecovillage creation in the property. This coastal piece of land has distinctive differences from the hilly area that we visited in the morning. For example, here there is a need to break the salty winds coming from the sea, and the water management strategies will be totally different since the land is pretty much flat and the water table is quite shallow. We saw the vetiver grass that Silvia has planted along the river bank running through her land with the aim, what else, to stabilize the land. We were all excited to finally see another of Norman's miracle plants, vetiver grass, which has an amazing root system, perfect for bioengineering, rather than boring, and often not effective, plain engineering. (We don't like engineers very much in this group although we have a few among us...)

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