[permaculture] Permaculture TALKING POINTS ?
permaculturecoop at gmail.com
Tue Feb 9 18:19:09 EST 2010
this is the second interview where I have seen Geoff Lawton talk as an
authority on permaculture in Haiti and he never mentions
can I suggest some Permaculture in Haiti TALKING POINTS get sent out to
permie leaders and organisations and that you get them to sign-on ?
A Permaculture Strategy for Port-au-Prince
By Geoff Lawton<http://www.policyinnovations.org/innovators/people/data/geoff_lawton>
, Evan O'Neil<http://www.policyinnovations.org/innovators/people/data/evan_oneil>
February 9, 2010
[image: Manioc planted on a steep slope. By Nick Hobgood,
http://www.flickr.com/photos/globalvoyager/2873947932/ (Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic).] Manioc planted on a steep slope.
By Nick Hobgood
*People struggled to feed themselves in Haiti prior to the devastating
earthquake on January 12. Yet techniques for sustainable local food
production are widely known. For advice on how this knowledge could be
integrated with relief efforts I sought out Geoff
the Australian Permaculture Research Institute <http://permaculture.org.au/>.
He answered my questions about how to strategize and deploy sustainable
permaculture solutions across the country.*
*EVAN O'NEIL: Given the ecological degradation in Haiti, and the need for
food and fuel, how can
help rehabilitate the landscape and provide sustainable livelihoods?*
*GEOFF LAWTON:* Permaculture projects can help through a holistic design
approach that integrates people's ability, ingenuity, and skill-sets with
the available resources that are locally understood. Integrating local
people's skills together with local resources can increase community
members' sense of self-reliance, have a unifying effect on the community,
and empower local people to provide for their own needs, with the minimum
amount of assistance from the outside world.
This process fosters and creates a sense of independence for local people in
a situation that can be portrayed by the outside media as insurmountable. So
the psychological and physical result of permaculture projects is that it
creates a beneficial turnaround for the people and the landscape from a
disaster situation to a meaningful future and recovery.
*EO: What role can permaculture play in urban environments such as
*GL:* Major solutions emerge out of major problematic situations. In
Port-au-Prince, there are many solutions that can emerge, including the
restructuring of built infrastructure in a way that creates hard-surface
water runoff aimed at productive urban gardens; creating a microclimate
through the recycling and redesign of the landscape; and implementing
biological cleaning of urban grey- and blackwater
Organic materials can be converted into high-quality inoculum
for the production of extremely high-nutrient-dense food gardens within the
urban and peri-urban landscape, where gardens would also include small
animal systems, small aquatic systems, and medicinal food gardens.
Introducing and demonstrating appropriate alternate energy systems that can
operate on a low economic investment and supply people with electricity
would be an ideal inclusion and inspiration for local people as part of an
empowerment and cooperative model.
A key reference and example for what is possible is given in the case of
Cuba <http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_18018.cfm>, with
further information being available atwww.thepathtofreedom.com.
*EO: Organizationally is there a management or ownership structure that
you’ve found most sustainable? Do permaculture projects work best at a
*GL:* The organizational structure most suitable for permaculture projects
is management by a local nongovernmental organization operating as a
nonprofit education and demonstration entity, where information is networked
by the project locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally with the
support and partnership of an internationally connected nonprofit NGO. This
helps to pool the international skills and experience of its students,
teachers, administrators, and project managers.
The education center functions best when it teaches courses for 25–35 people
per site, and it is crucial that the education facility be open not just to
local students but also to international students who are prepared to pay
first-world international prices for education and internship programs and
are inspired and encouraged by the fact their tuition provides a major part
of the project's funding.
The infrastructure on these projects needs to operate as a dual-function
example of local and renewable housing—i.e., energy efficient, constructed
of local materials which are readily available, and affordable to local
An ideal land area for a project is a site that is typical of local land
use, somewhere where the land is no longer productive or is a difficult
production area for local people; somewhere where the land is not the worst,
or the most difficult land and not the best or ideal land, but a piece of
land that represents an average example of what local people have to deal
with in their everyday life.
*EO: How would you strategize the best sites around the country? Are there
any challenges unique to the Haitian landscape?*
*GL:* The over-exploitation of natural resources and the depletion of
biodiversity in the landscape of Haiti creates a situation where the
prioritization of good key-point positions in the landscape would be an
imperative for a fast result, and getting a fast result would be a powerful
way to inspire local people to extend and replicate the permaculture model.
A key strategy is to identify specific water-harvesting points at the tops
to the mid-slopes of watersheds, in order to supply gravity irrigation and
organic nutrient flow to areas that are appropriately shallow in slope for
an intensified, diverse, and interconnected productive yield.
These systems need to be set up within a practical distance of the
population so that numbers of local people can be involved in the
implementation and establishment, and through their involvment in this
process they can get the added educational benefit of acquiring new
knowledge and skills that can support them in supporting themselves, now and
into the future.
*EO: Some conservation organizations use the concept of cores and
protect wildlife. Are there analogous benefits in permaculture? Would it
make sense, for example, to connect farms to the national parks, or to the
forested Dominican border, in a larger green network?*
*GL:* Ecosystemic processes and principles are inherent and central within
the design science of permaculture planning and recovery and blend perfectly
with natural and conservation forest ecosystems within a contoured corridor
pattern, watershed dendritic pattern, and also along human transport routes,
within the urban or larger landscape area. Permaculture project designs
always emphasize the integration and integrating benefits of harmonizing
with natural landscape forms and profiles.
[image: Creative Commons
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