S39 Permaculture Academy

In partnership with Arkleton trust and the Permaculture Association of Britain

at Andrew Kalema's bamboo farm
S39 team at Nakaseke, on a forest farming field trip visit. Andrew Kalema is a leading light in this field

This is the beginning of a very big journey, one that we hope will create not only a network of permaculture demonstration and training centres in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda but also train and develop the careers of the students and graduates from those centres. We are calling this the S39 Permaculture Academy and work is already well under way setting these ambitions in motion.

Title banner from the academy website
We will develop the branding of the academy as it evolves, but it all started from an idea generated n 2014 and tentatively launched at the 2015 International Permaculture Convergence. It made every sense to us to use the experience and networks built up from teaching so many PDC’s in UK over the years and link up with our new found friends and colleagues in Africa. In 2018 we launched the idea at the first East Africa Permaculture Convergence
Touring the 6 acre plot at Budumba where we are working to develop one for permaculture training hubs
Touring the land at Butaleja

We have identified three contrasting sites so far, each will serve as the nucleus for a training centre that over time will reach deep into its surrounding community. Experience has taught us the power of demonstration to draw in interest, the next step is to covert this into knowledge via a range of both practical and theoretical educational approaches. The centre’s will also serve as resource points, multiplying plants, tools other materials so that graduates and surrounding households can replicate and learn first hand from these permaculture techniques.

plants with multiple functions
Purchasing a set of plants ready to take to the first training centre at Butaleja

Early days, and this is my first post on a three week trip that feels like a mammoth journey really, we met and connected with so many people and places, i feel we are at the start of something very interesting. The potential to accelerate the uptake of permaculture across the region seems huge. Most people if not small farmers are still very much connected to the land, there is a strong local food economy and a great need to boost productivity and income in a way that harmonizes with both community and landscape. Permaculture is very close to an African way of thinking, or as S39 trainer Hellen Auyo put it, “its God’s way of farming.”

Permaculture design grows from the active observation of nature’s systems.
Creating a keyhole bed in Mbale as an example of a permaculture technique
Working together to create a key hole bed garden in Mbale

Paul Odiwour Ogola, overseeing the work in the above picture has already proved his incredible worth when after the 2016 PDC he went home to his native Kenya and opened his own training centre. He in turn has trained many hundreds of small farmers in the Homa Bay region and is now targeting reaching thousands more. He is one of the key inspirations for the Academy and demonstrates how ongoing support work with key educators enables the spread similar approaches to different regions.

  • Kumi, Teso sub-region, Eastern Uganda
  • Budumba, Butaleja. Eastern Uganda
  • Save School, Butare, Rwanda
  • Homa Bay Kenya, Mfangano