What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is a system that harmoniously integrates housing and landscaping, saving materials and producing less waste, while at the same time conserving natural resources; it is the design of sustainable human habitats and agricultural systems that imitate the relationships found in the patterns of nature, providing a supply of food, fiber and abundant energy to satisfy the local needs.
It moves towards a vision of a sustainable culture. Permaculture is also a network of individuals and groups that propose ecologically conscious design solutions in rich countries as well as in poor countries, in all continents. Permaculture activists are contributing to a more sustainable future. They are reorganizing their lives and creating local changes that are having an active influence, both directly and indirectly, in the fields of sustainable development, ecological agriculture, appropriate technology and the design of sustainable communities.
In Terramar, work with the land occurs daily. Day by day, students tend and care for the vegetable garden, the production of compost and the maintenance of the exterior areas. We have a dry toilet; our preschool classroom was built by teachers, children and their families with straw bales and clay. The middle school is looking forward to the construction of a farm in which the students will develop sustainable projects; any money they are able to accrue from their projects will go into a fund for trips and other community objectives.
The practical exercises are:
* The live vegetable garden: Students observe and care for the life process of the edible plants and their relationship to natural systems such as the sun, the rain, fertile soil, worms, bees and people. The process has been seed by seed, in constant movement, growing without hurry towards the light.Actively learning, children apply the principles to transform residuals into resources: making compost, recycling bottles, finding use for left over plastics as tools for construction, and the seeds, which have been cultivated and harvested by them
* The compost: The organic residuals generated in the school (food, dead leaves, grass and weeds) are treated through a compost system constructed by the children. Once a week these residuals are incorporated into the compost, which is turned to allow the biodegradation process. Here the principle of eliminating the concept of waste is implemented, taking advantage of the residuals to transform them into resources.
* Design and construction of the preeschool classroom: A process of participative design was developed in a construction workshop with straw bales and clay (both local materials) where students, mothers, fathers, and teachers from the school participated. The use of natural and local materials, the transformation of residuals into resources, and the environmental benefit of avoiding incineration of the straw and using it as a construction material, are some of the benefits and positive impacts that permaculture looks for.
* The dry toilet: We have built a dry toilet for school use, through a process of participatory construction with the preschool community. The objective is to reduce the amount of water wasted and to appropriately manage the waste to reintegrate it into the natural cycle without negative impact.
* Over-cycling of PET and residual plastics: As a result of the process of cleaning the nearby river of discarded PET bottles: recollecting, stocking, selecting, cleaning and filling the bottles with smaller plastic residuals, we have transformed these materials into resources, forming a kind of plastic brick, useful for constructing walls, benches or flower pots.
“Sustainable development to cover human necessities within ecological boundaries requires a cultural revolution greater than any of the tumultous changes of the last century.”