Final preparations for the Permaculture Design Course!

The Permaculture Design Course is starting this week, and it doesn’t feel real. Even though the work we have been doing has been in preparation for the course and convergence it still feels like we are just going to keep on doing what we are doing. This week has been about preparations out of the garden; sorting beds for 50 people, cleaning the school and the site, washing everything in the rooms, ensuring there is enough water, fruit and other foods for the UK teams arrival and then welcoming the UK team onto site.

With Jagwe’s help we replaced the nursery bed shade, replacing the heavier more useful papyrus with reed matting which will provide a more even coverage over the nursery. We climbed up the rickety ladder that gets smaller and smaller as it goes up, and is balanced precariously against the nursery structure. Grace and I finished the job when Jagwe had left Sabina, fighting against ants that had moved into the reeds while they were being stored.

 

 

With some help from the students Grace has been working on removing the lemon growth from the orange trees in the food forest. The roots of the lemon tree is stronger than the orange and so the two are grafted together but without proper management the stronger lemon growth fights through the oranges. Jagwe observed that the trees were diseased which made us aware of how important it was for us to work on the trees.

The UK team have arrived with energy, ideas and projects of their own which is making everything seem so much busier around the site. Richie is working on 407 projects all at once, building a beehive is his own personal project which he is doing around all the other woodwork that has been needed doing for weeks. The library has been painted, creating a brilliant white wall to be projected onto during the course for the big presentations . Han and I are working on making signs to put up around the site helping the participants navigate the grounds as well as making the site seem like an event space rather than just a school site. Helen and Charles have been able to work together to make plans for the Convergence, it has been great to get the team together so people are no longer just familiar names and email addresses.

Dan has been working on making an estoufa finca (with Luigi’s help) which is a wood paralysis stove that burns from the top and cooks the wood below releasing the wood gasses and water vapour, little or no smoke is produced once it’s got going. When fully going it burns at 800 degrees c. Most people in Uganda live cooking on wood, the population is set to double in the next couple of decades and in the last couple of decades the forests have halves. Burning wood on the ground is at best 25% efficient and so there is a huge potential in exploring fuel efficient stoves.

A few days after the first load of UK team members the rest of the team arrived. Now as a complete team we can focus on the course in more detail, everyone is helping each other prepare lesson plans and presentations. If there’s anything that someone on the teaching team is unsure about with everyone who’s here, there will be someone who they can ask.

With more mouths to feed, we have had to change what we eat in order to be able to cater for so many people all at once. Aunty Agnes taught us how to make Chapattis which have been a staple ever since Richie perfected the art. Thankfully we collected enough avocados before the team arrived and so we aren’t missing our daily 3 avocado intake. It’s nice to share each meal with so many people, going from just the three of us who would eat together daily to more than five times that number now that the team has expanded. It’s a bigger affair with more people to get to know and more inspiring minds with a bigger range of conversations to be had. 

With participants arriving today and the course starting tomorrow everyone is working hard in the hot African sun trying to get themselves and the site ready. It’s very exciting how massive the course and convergence are to permaculture in East Africa. Hopefully this is just the beginning of something bigger than any of us can imagine.

Local to Global

team 39 portrait
team 39 portrait
Team Uganda: Nina Duckers, Angharad Rees and Grace Maycock with Richard Stephenson outside Dragons shop in Llanrhaeadr.

This month three ex Llanfyllin High School pupils will be heading to Sabina school in Uganda, where teachers and students alike are embracing permaculture as a tool to aid learning and to build a climate smart school.

Llanfyllin High School may not realize it, but three of their ex pupils are planning to work together on a ground breaking project at Sabina school in Uganda over the coming months. With a good 15 year age gap between the three, they did not know each other whilst at school, but there is enough in common to draw the three together and onto this project in post school years.

Their work is a testament to the ongoing work of the school and the wider community to develop and maintain these essential international links that both broaden all of our horizons and remind us of the interconnected nature of the modern world.

The opportunity has come about via a collaboration between locally based enterprise Sector39, Sabina school and Dolen Ffermio (Farming Link), also local and a charity with long-standing connections to the Llanfyllin High School. Dolen Ffermio go back to 1991 and began from the desire to link communities in the wider Llanfyllin area with communities in Uganda. The charity’s work now encompasses supporting orphan projects, facilitating links between schools and promoting environmental projects.

The seed has been sown

Mid-Wales based permaculture enterprise Sector39 have been expanding horizons by partnering with friends and colleagues both local and global. They had already started to work with Dolen Ffermio  developing permaculture education in Uganda before launching The One School One Planet project here  in Llanfyllin. This has drawn in and created links and partnerships between Wales and Africa, opening exciting new opportunities.

poster and ticket link WORLD BRIDGER
Event Poster and link to Eventbrite ticket window
  • Teachers and students alike are embracing permaculture at Sabina as a tool to aid learning and to build climate resilient food and energy systems for the school.
  • Llanfyllin high school has also been working with One School One Planet project over the last 18 months to explore how to better embrace the challenges of the 21st century.

More recently Sector39 have been approached by the Norwegian Refugee Council, requesting us to devise training packages for South Sudanese refugees entering Uganda from the North. Early surveys for this work will begin  in April, and one of the tasks for the three ex-pupils wil be to meet and interview some of the trainees, helping assess the imapct of the work.

So the connections grow! It will be fascinating to see what comes from it.