joining the permaculture network
JCROPPE at aol.com
JCROPPE at aol.com
Wed Apr 24 12:00:13 EDT 1996
From: John Cropper, 245 E 63St, Apt 1802, New York, NY10021.
Tel: 212 752 9774; Email: jcroppe at aol.com
To: Permaculture Network
In the current issue of IFOAM's Ecology and Farming magazine I read of your
permaculture network. I'm a new internetter, so I'm not sure of the protocols
for this or any other network, but I am very interested in getting into a
permaculture discussion group, particularly with those interested in tropical
Please confirm that this message has been received and give me details about
the network. Do you have links with the sustainable agriculture network?
I'm an ag economist, who as worked in ag research organisations in the
Caribbean - first at the University of the West Indies, then at the Caribbean
Research and Development Institute. I then turned more to communications,
founding and editing a newspaper for farmers, and doing contract work
producing technical reports, newsletters etc for a variety of organisations.
I was in Europe for the last couple of years, and did a permaculture design
course there last year. I came to New York (where my wife is with the UN) at
the end of 95.
My particular interest:
I'm now in the early stages of planning two pilot projects with residential
squatters on the hillsides which surround Port of Spain, the capital of the
Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. The hillsides have been denuded of
rain forest by slash and burn farmers, and are now in a fire climax of coarse
grasses and a few palms. The squatters, driven by the high price and relative
unavailability of land close to the city, each year climb higher up the
hillsides, cutting tracks and house sites at random. The down slope effects
are predictable - siltation, flooding, destruction of property and
infrastructure, and occasional loss of life.
The government has been unable to do anything, except to study the problem,
no doubt daunted by the cost and complexity of regularising the tenure and
installing even a minimum of infrastructure. Meanwhile the problem is
becoming worse and more widespread.
I hope to be working with two communities to assess the impact of encouraging
householders to establish 'forest gardens' - multiple stories of food trees,
shrubs and annuals - which will mimic to some extent the natural forest in
protecting the soil and slowing run-off, as well as providing them with basic
food items, and perhaps some limited opportunities for cash sales. In one of
the communities there is still some rudimentary farming on the remaining
unoccupied land, and we shall be looking at opportunities to improve the
output of the systems employed while reducing the negative environmental
impact. I feel sure that there is enormous potential for a permaculture
approach in these circumstance.
So far my role has been to conceive the idea, identify and interest two
communities as possible pilot projects, and begin the search for funds. I
expect to have a continuing oversight role, to document the experience, to
look for opportunities to spread the lessons to other communities, and to
learn a lot myself, since unfortunately I will have to do this from a
distance, making only occasional visits.
Does anyone have experience of projects in the tropics like this with the
urban poor? I'd be interested to hear of it, and would be happy to provide
more details of our ideas.
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