New Online learning platform

By Jemma Findley

The Permaculture Association Britain has started discussions around commoning its online learning platform. Testing of its first ‘Foundations of permaculture – Design for Resilience’ online course is already underway but planning how the platform and its future resources will be collectively managed by permaculture educators has just begun. The platform will launch before September this year and many educators worldwide are coming together through the permaculture associations global educators membership and its highly experienced voluntary Education Working Group to collaborate – utilising an experienced online-course / blended learning design team, our Certified Teachers Register and 30+ years of quality teaching experience. If you would like to join in with these discussions, join the global educators membership now and benefit from the twice monthly calls about all things permaculture education. They are also a great opportunity to connect with your peers during isolation. Last month we had calls in from all over the UK and France, Italy, Germany and Australia. Educators chose the topics in the NOG meetings – On the 11th we meet about ‘Maintaining teaching standards whilst teaching remotely.’ 

Building permaculture bridges in Kenya

Text and photos by Kipper, SONED – Travel (Project) report Kenya 18.02.-17.03.2020

Exactly 31 years after I started my first trip to Africa at Diani Beach, south of Mombasa, I have now started this trip again, this time accompanied by Sonja. The reason for this was a wedding invitation to Kisumu and the long-cherished wish to visit some Kenyan project partners, to exchange ideas and to explore opportunities for cooperation. In the short term we have received funding from the Schöck Family Foundation.

After 4 days of relaxation and acclimatization on the beach, we took the new Madaraka Express from Mombasa to Nairobi. The stations of the new train route are huge steel and glass structures and appear completely oversized, especially since the trains only run twice a day in each direction. In my perception, the security checks seemed a bit exaggerated; the fear of terrorist attacks also seems to be of great concern. From the train you can see the animals of the Tsavo National Park; we could see Giraffes, Gazelles and several herds of Elephants.

In Nairobi we were picked up by Karin and Tim, 2 master brewers from Berlin, from the train station and immediately taken to a large night club, where the beer of their brewery was promoted that evening. Then we drove together to the farm in the Rift Valley where the Bateleur Brewery brews its varieties of craft beer. We were allowed to visit the brewery and taste some of the 16 types of beer. A joint trip to Lake Naivasha was the only joint venture, as Karin and Tim are very busy in the brewery and work 10 or more hours a day.

We drove on to Kisumu, where we were expected by Steven, the director of CADIF (Community Aid Development International Fund) Kenya. The next day we went to the wedding of Nina and Jack, a German-Kenyan couple who met in Malawi over a year ago after an Erasmus + workshop in our presence. A huge festival on the shores of Lake Victoria with many visitors, some priests and a lot of hallelujah in scorching heat. On the following days Steven showed us some CADIF projects, among other things through the placement of international volunteers: at Dunga Beach an ecostation in a Papyrus Swamp with a mini-museum and an observation tower for bird watching; a new fish market with an attached biogas plant for the conversion of  market waste into energy as well as Jacks Watersports Academy, which was partially flooded because the lake has been overflowing in recent weeks. The next day we visited a small clinic in a slum of Kisumu.

Then we drove to Rusinga Island to visit the Badilisha Ecovillage. Evans was waiting for us and showed us the area with offices, library and seed bank, seminar rooms, pizza oven, lake water treatment and removal station for the neighborhood, tree nursery, forest garden, fish pond, market garden etc. An impressive demonstration project for applied permaculture. In the evening Evans took us home, where a Swiss volunteer also lived. The next morning, we accompanied Evan to a reforestation project on a bare hill where his team built check dams to stop erosion and plant seedlings of endangered tree species. Through awareness raising with the local herdsmen, the afforested areas are no longer grazed and some parts have start form a dense young forest. Before leaving the Island, we visited the Kanyala Little Stars Academy in Mbita, which was supported by SONED e.V. between 2010 and 2012 and again in 2018. Visiting the different classrooms, we experienced interested, happy schoolchildren who, according to the school principal, achieved very good learning results in a national comparison.

From Kisumu, we traveled on to Kitale to see the projects of OTEPIC (Organic Technology Extension and Promotion of Initiative Center). Philip Munyasia first showed us the Amani garden, which his team had created in 2012 and which, has since developed into a lush forest garden with magnificent avocado, medicinal and useful trees. It is nourished from its own well water, which is pumped with solar power, a self-built biogas plant that fires the stove and a lounge, as well as a mushroom station, tree nursery and vegetable garden. Everything in a confined space, which is why in the last 3 years, there has been an extension of the project to another area just outside the city of Kitale. The new permaculture center will be built here, on a 5ha. piece of land. There are also a few things here: banana trees, avocado trees, a young forest garden, vegetable garden, and some traditional round huts for living quarters, mushroom cultivation and crop storage. Philip was particularly proud to show us the herbs and vegetables that he had grown from seeds that he had brought with him from Germany. So we immediately tried a stem cabbage (Kohlrabi) and realized that Philip had never tried it raw.

What impressed us most, however, was the huge uncompleted conference center that is being built on the site. This shows the visionary power of Philip and his team, because many around him may have thought that this group of young slum enthusiasts could not cope with such a construction site. But the building is almost finished and already roofed, there are four large water tanks on the roof, other huge underground cisterns are bricked and are supposed to collect the rainwater and the gray water separately. A biogas plant and a sewage treatment plant are planned for the black water. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to do to build a functioning center here and we hope the OTEPIC team gets the necessary support.

On Saturday we drove to the orphanage that Philip initiated. In a rented building with a garden, 22 orphans of different ages live together like an extended family, supervised by a volunteer team led by Millicent, a student teacher. On Sunday, we visited Philips mother in the slum where Philip also grew up and where his engagement started. His mother’s little house seems to function as a center for the neighborhood, with frequent visits of locals and one gets an idea of how Philip’s strong commitment came about. In the neighborhood, Philip showed us the first community garden, which he started with friends and neighbors as a peace initiative to give young people a perspective. In the house next door, there is a room for meetings by OTEPIC and an urban tap water that Philip has fought for from the administration, ensuring easy access to water instead of locals having to walk to the river.

The last stop on our visit was KIPEPEO near Luanda. After Julius and Jethron showed us the office and community farm and brought us to our host family, there was little time to prepare for the agreed workshop. This should take place in the Community Center, which is only partly completed.

From March 12-14, 2020, 14 participants from six Kenyan organizations (CADIF Kenya, OTEPIC, Badilisha, Kipepeo, Books for Trees and Ndoto Zetu) came together for this network workshop. After participants presented themselves and their organization, we gathered individual expectations of the workshop in a dream circle. These were recorded in a dream protocol and rated by the participants according to priorities.

Subsequently, the prioritized topics were discussed in 2 rounds of group work: 1. Criteria for permaculture learning centers; 2. Involvement of the community / neighborhood including people with special needs; 3. Permaculture and sustainability for children / in schools; 4. A strategy for a “Permaculture diploma process for Kenya” 5. Intensive Permaculture gardening in small areas; 6. Lobbying and public relations, 7. “How should permaculture design courses in Kenya run (special needs) and 8. Perspectives for this network. The group work was then presented to the plenum with further discussion. The next day, four topics were taken up again and worked on. In an open space we exchanged knowledge and tips about composting, fish farming, tree cultivation etc. A seed sharing circle closed the day.

On the last day, the next steps for the network were agreed, we planted the over 50 tree seedlings delivered, the workshop was evaluated together, and everyone involved received a certificate.

Conclusion: Everyone found the workshop good: the content, the other participants, the exchange of experiences, the inspiration, the location and the fabulous hospitality and accommodation by the community. Further cooperation has been agreed and is to be written in a Memorandum of Understanding. A Permaculture network was initiated and the establishment of permaculture demonstration and learning venue was agreed: PLANT-Kenya (Permaculture Learning, Action, Networking and Training Centers in Kenya). We rotated to arrange a series of Permaculture design courses with a list of regional peculiarities / needs. A group developed a draft for a Kenyan Permaculture diploma course and a strategy for implementation. In addition, the organizations involved discussed further avenues for cooperation. Everything else went well, except for my proposed concept of a self-managed conference did not work due to the lack of participation and I had to moderate the three workshop days. In the end I got a nice certificate, but also good reviews. In any case, I have the impression that the workshop was very successful and is an initial spark for further network activities. For SONED in Berlin, too, there are many opportunities to work with this new network.

Towards the end of the workshop, I only got a call from Berlin that our return flight was canceled by Turkish Airlines, then Karin called me to come and bring 3 boxes of beer as a giveaway from the brewery. So KIPEPEO’s invitation to the community evening was a cheerful one. Karin and Tim came to dinner with Njoroge and we all had a lively evening. The next day we drove to Kisumu again because Njoroge really wanted to see Lake Victoria and we had no objection to stopping by Dunga Beach with the eco station and the hippos before heading back to Nairobi and then the next day towards Corona Berlin or into the unknown.

EUPN Next steps

We are currently planning a smaller meeting to develop the next phase of the EUPN, more details in the next issue. We are considering an online summit next year. If anyone has experience/ideas or motivation to get involved, please contact us.

Valerie Seitz (on behalf of EUPN)
Permakultur Austria – Leitung Akademie 
www.permakultur-austria-akademie.at

The Swiss Permaculture Academy is born!

Photo by Chalinée Sirinok

It is with great pleasure that we inform you of the birth of the Swiss Permaculture Academy!

According to Barbara Garofoli “it was a great co-creation process where everyone gave their best for a common goal. There has been so much cooperation, attention, sensitivity and commitment from everyone, so touching.”

A special thanks to Massimo Candela and Elisabetta Dallavalle, both presidents of the Accademia Italiana di Permacultura and the Ellipse group, who repeatedly supported Barbara Garofoli from a distance and helped to “untangle” some knots in Switzerland and to clear the way. A special thanks to Elena Parmiggiani who came directely from Italy to support the birth of the Swiss Permaculture Academy.

As a diploma-holder of the AIP – Accademia Italiana di Permacultura – Barbara Garofoli organized in 2013 the first PDC in french-speaking side of Switzerland and since then accompanied a group of students in their Action Learning Pathway.

In 2016 the first diplomas were delivered in French Switzerland by the AIP and on 2018 the Swiss Permaculture Academy was born, in collaboration with the AIP and the Permaculture Association of the Italian Switzerland.

Working in connection with the AIP is a great example of simmetry, a complimentary criteria during the accreditation but so important to built cooperation, partnership support and sharing.

At the moment in Switzerland are 21 diploma holders and more than 70 students involved in the Active Learning Pathway .

To support students the Academy offers an Action Learning Manual as well as a list of tutors with a description of each diploma-holder.

The objectif of the ASP is to be a reference for the permaculture movement in Switzerland, supporting students in their active learning pathway and working in collaboration with other permaculture experiences around the world.

The ASP engages to co-create a structure interconnected with all the permaculture institutions in Europe and representing the different visions of all the actors involved in the permaculture movement in Switzerland.

Official documents are available in French, Italian, German and English, about PDC curriculum and criteria as well as Accreditation criteria for the diploma of Applied Permaculture Design.

For further information you may contact : secretariat [at] permacultura [dot] ch

News from the Resources for Action Working Group

by Steve Charter

R4A is working towards submitting a funding application in March to Erasmus Plus for a 2019-21 ReLeaP project, for partners to deliver a Regenerative Leadership Programme across Europe to support the activity and development of permaculture pioneers and leaders, including those involved in national organisations, teaching or organising courses, LAND centres and so on, with the hope that Youth in Permaculture will also be very involved. Already 7 national organisations have confirmed they want to be core partners, with invitations going out soon to invite as many EUPN members organisations as possible to be participating organisations, so that the benefits of ReLeaP can be spread widely across Europe. If the application is successful ReLeaP will start in September and it is intended to have options for in-person and online participation in ReLeap events. So look out for more information on this in the next newsletter … or in your inbox!

IPEN News: The EUPN Education Working Group

by Steve Charter

IPEN has launched its iLAND intiative to help spread and support the growth of LAND Centres – learning and demonstration centre projects – across Europe and globally. IPEN is inviting applications from permaculture demonstration projects that have active education programmes to apply for iLAND status, subject to meeting a set of criteria which have been adapted a little from the UK LAND project, which inspired iLAND. IPEN plans to support up to 12 centres more actively as pilot members of the iLAND network, with a spread of pilot projects around the globe. IPEN also wants to support national organisations and networks in establishing their own LAND centre systems, if they are ready to do so. For more information see IPEN’s iLAND pages.

IPEN Case Studies are being steadily produced on good practice projects from around the world, with 8 Case Studies produced so far and a goal of having around 20 produced by mid-2019. The case studies sit within IPEN’s Education Resources page which includes a number of examples of Curriculum Guides, Teachers Guides and other useful education resources.  

IPEN expects to have a new improved website up within the first quarter of 2019, to include additional functionality, and more ways to support the development, growth and maturing of permaculture education across Europe. To receive direct updates on IPEN’s activities go to their Sign Up page as there’s only so much we can include here in the EUPN News!