The focus of the day 9 was to brainstorm ideas for the permaculture design and to revisit the site to gather and fine tune details on base map 1.
In the morning, using the information obtained from the Client interviews with sector 39, (Steve) and Dolen Ffermio (Moses), the group were given the design brief for the Dolen Ffermio land; to create an International permaculture teaching centre and model farm using permaculture principles they have learnt over the past week and a half.
The students were split into 3 design groups tackling the design from different angles; ‘Hard landscape’, ‘Soft landscape’ and ‘People’. Each group spent the morning brainstorming ideas and began establishing key functions, their supporting elements and considered how all the elements could be integrated to create a holistic design, the groups were in communication with one another during this process.
After lunch we took our second and final visit to the site. The single track dirt roads were very well navigated by our super driver Herbert! Who got us out of all kinds of potentially sticky situations!
Arriving on the land for the second time with a headful of new information and potential ideas was exciting but it is often quite daunting to visualise concepts on such a large site, though step by step we were able to work through some of the challenges of the day and gather more important information and test out a few initial ideas from this morning’s brainstorm ready for tomorrow’s session.
The first task to do on the land was to identify where we would construct swales for water and nutrient retention, edge and microclimate creation and to consider key access points for people and farm machinery to flow through the land. A small group began measuring out the land for swales and access points, whilst others set off on a plant identification hunt to find out what plants grow naturally on site, plants can be used as indicators to show a variety of information, such as what wildlife, soil types, pH, microclimates and drainage or compaction issues exist on site. It is also good to know what plant families already grow well on the land as potentially productive varieties in same families could grow well there.
The people group spent time consulting the local community. Local knowledge is invaluable to the designer. Speaking with and getting to know the local people, and building strong relationships with the neighbours is instrumental to the success of any design process.
Work halted for a short time whilst one of the groups set about poisoning a giant termite mound, some ingrained habits may be more difficult to change than others. Permaculture asks us as designers to be environmentally conscious and responsible; to look to nature for solutions and work with all elements of an ecosystem in an integrated approach to create a resilient and sustainable system.
On the journey home suddenly the bus slammed to a halt and a flood of delight rippled through the aisles as everyone excitedly reached out of the bus windows for a bag full of white ants which had been harvested by local villagers earlier that day.
Much to Han’s repulsion, Richie was the only one brave enough to put a handful in his mouth! With a contented smile on his face he sat chewing on the dark brown insects, he must have enjoyed them as he went back for a second handful!