Angie circulated a great email which prompted me to reply below, i surprised my self as I have hardly the strength to hit the keys i am so tired out.. but there is much to say and be celebrated
Well said and much appreciated. (I will add Angie’s email when i have her permission to share it on here)
Permaculture is a different way of thinking. It helps us see the bigger overriding patterns. Life is complex, we face complex challenges, permaculture builds on common ground and common experience. It is very powerful and it works.
Never forget that we are all people, we need each other for survival if nothing else and we are connected together by food and our connection to the soil. Microbes and mycelium run his planet as they connect everything else together.
Personally struggling a bit to get back on top of things. really tired and running on empty but that said is because i put 100% of myself into these things – because that is what it takes. i will be fine, only been here a few days and had to go straight into teaching and funding reports back logs. back 7 days and 6 of those have been work days and the other a work day missed because i was asleep all day. normal service will be resumed.
BUT, WOW, thanks for putting it so well Angie, we delivered a top rate PDC took many unanticipated challenges in our collective stride and came out not bankrupt, which was a real possibility a couple of months prior to start as the fundraising had been less successful than I had hoped and literally the last pot of money to come in, like Sisters Carbon, Angie etc really saved the day.
The convergence actually made a profit. I have $400 us dollars at least from that for reinvestment. more but we haven’t done the books yet.
The EA convergence was totally shambolic and revealed many flaws and oversights in our planning. Luckily none of this mattered, no one noticed except for us, mainly poor Helen, BUT, it was a really successful event and one that vastly exceed my and many other’s expectations. Maybe if there was one thing Helen hadn’t realised was after all this is Africa and everything is shambolic most of the time anyway.. so people are patient and easily pleased by what does work and dont worry about all the things that didn’t. The quality of the conversation around the edges and the networking made alone it a run away success before the first PowerPoint show or bed bug bite. Everything else was a bonus and people really loved it and were and are buzzing since.
We should all feel really proud of what we have accomplished at Ssanje. I see Charles and team are keen to follow up withe Dec course at Sabina so I hope also what we have done there will create momentum of the school. Of course a PDC is about the participants not the venue.. and there were many complications arising from the blurred edges between course and venue. I am glad to see Charles is working there again, i wont be hurrying back for my own reasons. but it is important to build on what is there.
The contrast that really brought things into sharp focus, was working at the Vocational Skills Training complex in Adjumani. It was just a compound of about 4 acres with a series of simple buildings, designed and built as an adult training center. the catering was by professional caterers , on a three stone fire as ever, but the food was cheaper and far superior than at Ssanje and the prices are 20 or 30% higher at the refugee areas. We had 2 sodas a day, 2 waters each, choice of 3 meat and 3 veg dishes and everything worked because there was an onsite team whose job it was to make things work. Logistics people in back up. it was a very different experience. It really underlined how much of the venue management responsibilities we had to take on at the school.
We taught 42 refugees who between them spoke 8 languages (we even added a little welsh seeing as everyone else seemed to have their own language) . It was more like 50 or so, we had 2 simultaneous translators and everybody worked it out between themselves. made it very slow. but boy does that focus you on what is the key content, no amusing anecdotes and no videos really as it is all too slow. I showed 10 minutes of Geoff Lawton soils the intro bit i always show to start the conversation on souls, with translation and discussion that took 45 minutes ad we only had 2 1/2 hour classroom time am and 30 mins pm. many did not read or write. we had to invent everything about how we teach.
The team were so great, Han earned hers stripes and Grace did so much of the front-line contact time; holding the space and Han especially got to know all the people very quickly. A big unfamiliar group became a family before our eyes. it was truly amazing.
Paul Ogola gets a special mention from me, great teacher, calm but forceful,. very good at getting people into action. We were all good so maybe it is unfair to name check anyone, everybody did so well.. Not least because it was hard, we had to think on our feet and we delivered a life changing experience for all involved. You have to understand the drivers, people hired by NRC to drive the buses around attended the course and took notes. so did the translators, when they weren’t translating. The center staff and manager also took part and apologized and asked for a recap if their job had taken them away for a session. It changed the ethos of the whole centre. actually it gave them an ethos because all they had ever had before was a budget.
The kitchen crew will use the energy efficient stove we built for them, the compost the water recycled.. it was like the whole compound suddenly got permaculture in one collective realization. It is a changed place, for once everyone is in agreement. Permaculture really works, it buts priorities in the right order to think about things in terms of opportunists rather than limitations.
Angie do you mind if i repost your email on the blog. its not too personal is it? i wan tto share this far and wide.. we have done something truly amazing
Although the setting and format was different, the Ssanje course set us up perfectly for Adjumani course. we did 16 practicals, all rehearsed and tolled up and we didn’t fit everything in that we could have. it was all learning by dong the classroom sessions were either explaining water filters and swales or they were a closing plenary when i related what we were doing to the principles and ethics. it really worked for them, they really got it. we also really hit on a good idea fo rthe designs. Instead of trying to teach SADIMET to a bunch of semi literate cattle herders (and a vast assortment along side) each participant worked on their own personal action plan. so the design was on themselves and how they were going to bring permaculture into their respective communities. Each participant will be incentivized to train 5 second tier trainers, through our on going support.
so what comes next is 6 months of hard work, 2 of which will be back in Uganda, maybe a trip to Zimbabwe to network, who knows… but we have a contract signed with NRC worth US$55,000 that’s going to get burnt up pretty fast but we can create real momentum with a budget like that over 6 months. we are going to get good value from taht money for sure.
Watch this space, tell me how you want to be involved, Everyone who was at Ssanje and Adjumani is in for the longer term as far a I am concerned I think a few us learned what our strengths and weaknesses were, but that is why we came with a big team. we must not lose the great value of learned experience we created there.
Jagger is keen for us to do a PDC in Kumi and I see why as they have a really active core team there already. I see a real value in creating clusters in places where people can support each other and build projects rather than just sending loads of loan rangers out there. Permaculture needs nurturing especially in the early days of a project or a career, we need to support each other better. and build that into the overall strategy of what we are doing.
I would like to do on on Mufangano island. Those who remember George and Bernard, two teachers who came for the pdc all the way from there and could only stay 2 days as there school was still in session. I will explain why i think is a great opportunity another time, but yes it will need planning and an advance team to go there and report back. 20 months away that one i would hazard a guess, plus no idea how to fund it.. but its a community of 12,000 people on an island. a place where people really understand limiting factors and finite resources. The 2 guys who came are both headteachers and community leaders.. we could reach the whole island through them, create a mini permaculture nation.. i am serious it could be really significant/ I see it as such anyway. But reality will kick in, it will be a challenge, that said it is not far from Kisumu, 2nd city in Kenya I think its a significant place and Paul Ogola and his mates as well as the islanders all speak the same language, Luo. All of these tings work in our favour. So i want us to find ways to make that happen.
My greatest joy is to see progression in individuals S39 team members growing as people or getting to know each other better, but also seeing the course participant blossom into great teachers.. I remember writing some of these objectives on the first funding application 3 years ago, What a thrill to see it happening before our eyes.
Well done, I love you all, new opportunities will come from this!
Steven JonesPermaculture education and consultancy
On Jun 26 2018, at 3:43 pm, Angie & Andy Polkey <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
PPS please use this email from now on…
On 26 June 2018 at 15:42, Angie & Andy Polkey wrote:
Hi team (and Dan and Steve J – can someone pass this on please?)
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart 😍for being such a fantastic teacing & support team.
Everyone made my job so much easier by being willing to step up to challenges (even before we arrived!) – whatever I/we threw at you and you all went the extra mile whenever needed. Added to which your humour, friendship and acceptance of my limitations, as well as helping me with all the planning beforehand, all made such an incredibly memorable and fulfilling first time for me in Uganda. My fears were dissolved once I’d arrived and I hope I was able to give my best too – at least most of the time!!!
I’ll be pleased to help progress next steps, whatever they are and to feed in to any review process…meanwhile, a question for the teachers, with Steve’s agreement:
Jane Vetiver wants to finish her PDC with us and Steve suggested she could do this on line. I’ve spoken to her and am happy to send her the presentations but she may need some support – and certainly Steve will need to talk through his plenary presentations with her. We discussed her aiming to do one of the principles per week (7-12 which she missed) and she’s keen to do a design for her mother’s land.
Question – if i forward the presentations to her, would individual teachers be up for dealing with any questions relating to your sessions please? This could be by email or Skype, for example.
Steve – are you happy with this approach?
Love to you all –
PS it’s as hot here as Uganda so I’m pretty acclimatised already!
The development of Sector39’s East African Permaculture work has been funded by Hub Cymru Africa as part of the Wales for Africa programme. This funding covered the period of April 1st 2017 to March 31st 2018. This has been invaluable support and for which Sector39 are extrememntly grateful. The following report covers this time period the outcomes from the funding support.
Sector39 Permaculture Uganda project report for Hub Cyrmu Africa 2017 – 2018
Feed back and outcomes regarding the £10,000 of support given to Sector39 in March last year to be used between then and March 31st 2018.
Develop Sector39 as a leading supplier of permaculture education and facilitation in both Wales and Africa
Deliver a full permaculture Design course for 25 participants in Kamuli Uganda, May 2017
To use the course to develop strong networks in Uganda and across East Africa to reach both individuals and organisations that can help further these objectives.
Create opportunities for permaculture practitioners from Wales to gain experience and to develop as teachers
Disseminate information about this work in Wales and to raise awareness of Wales Africa links and support work.
Present in local schools and community groups regarding this work and its wider potentials.
Create opportunities for on going developmental training and work experience for African permaculture practitioners to develop and acquire teaching skills knowledge and experience.
The grant obtained from HCA has been utilised largely as planned and as outlined in our project bid so I don’t have any major changes to report. What I do want to report and forgive me for stepping outside the structure of the report form is that our feet have hardly touched the ground since began our project in May 2017. We have found East Africa to be very fertile ground for permaculture and have had a great deal of success in meeting these objectives.
-I am currently in Uganda having just completed another successful round of training and realise I don’t have the final report form blank available so I am submitting this full report instead and will be posting this on the project website as well for reference.
Sector39 have been teaching permaculture in the UK since 2005 and in 2014 we came out to Uganda with Dolen Ffermio (Wales/ Uganda farmer’s support charity, based in our community) on a study tour which prompted us to explore the possibilities for working in Uganda, teaching permaculture and building on the links we gained through our trip out with Dolen Ffermio.
We did submit a bid in 2016 to HCA but were unsuccessful as we had not fully identified the beneficiaries and how we would measure the outcomes.
Instead of funding Sector39 took out a business development loan and proceeded to run our first full permaculture design certificate course (PDC) in Kamuli Uganda using connections we had made via both Dolen Ffermio and by using social media.
This experience allowed us to write a fuller bid for 2017/ 18 which was successful and it is this I am reporting on now.
Full permaculture design certificate course in Kamuli Uganda.
The May PDC reached 25 participants and Sector39 took out a team of 6 trainers from the UK as well as working with 2 Ugandans and 1 Kenyan we had met via the first course. This was the first big development for us, in that we connected with the Uganda permaculture networks and training organisations, dynamic and vibrant groups mainly populated by people much younger and less experienced than us but of course much netter connected to the grass roots of permaculture in East Africa.
Several of the graduates from our first course were keen to return and to contribute to the teaching and running of the course as well as having met teachers and community leaders who were keen to introduce permaculture into their own schemes of work. So not did the numbers involved grow, we found ourselves reaching far beyond the networks we had originally worked with right into remote and much harder to reach groups.
Training team from Wales of 6 people gained experience in teaching in this context and many insights and new connections were made.
25 Course participants completed the 14 day training, these drawn mainly from Uganda with 4 from Kenya. Our strategy was to recruit trainers, or people who were very active in their own communities. We wanted to identify participants who would in turn train others, start projects and demonstration plots and amplify the benefits gained from their training.
We also understood that in this circumstance we needed to work with English speaking individuals with a degree of education behind them so they could benefit fully from the opportunity we were providing. The design to reach much harder to reach groups could be achieved indirectly through the work of the course graduates.
Via connections and past students from our previous course
Following on from PDCUG16 we retained those people who were most likely to develop as teachers and project initiators them selves. These included a Kenyan farmer and black smith, Paul Ogola who had since started his own demonstration plot in his home community and who returned with 3 individuals who had been inspired by his work and wanted to follow his example. A school teacher from Busoga High, Kamuli who wanted to initiated a student support project by developing growing and micro income initiatives within the school and who can connect us to regional educators.
New contacts recruited via social media.
Social media opens up the possibility to easily develop a dialogue with pro-active individuals who are keen to learn and keen to disseminate information. Through the Sector39 website and social media we identified several really keen and able individuals who demonstrated a keenness and aptitude for permaculture that convinced is of their potential to enable us to meet our project goals
Those who can be recruited and funded for course fees by other organisations with similar objectives. In process of developing and promoting the course S39 connected with like minded organisations who wanted to to access training for their stakeholders. These included Dolen Ffermio from Wales and Kumi Orphans project. Kriegskinder, from Germany supporting child soldiers and those training and supporting vulnerable people in conflict zones.
The single most successful strategy to monitor outcomes from the PDC has again proved to be that of utilising social media and blogs to enable graduates to report on their subsequent work and to document their successes and challenges. This has also enable a cross fertilisation of experience between graduates from the course, using Facebook, WhatsApp and blogs mainly as communication tools.
The PDC itself was reported on daily via the blog at
This Facebook group East Africa Permaculture Students union is populated by our PDCUG17 graduates and has been a highly effective way to maintain contact with graduates and see the outcomes of their work
Graduates form PDCUG17 who initiated projects of their own include:
PermoAfrica centre Kenya – Grass roots permaculture education in Homa Bay Kenya (FB and blog)
K5 village permaculture (FB). Omito Abraham Owiour
Nyero School Project, Godfrey Opolot
Nateete Urban permaculture project: Ali Tebandeke (FB)
Busia region Kenya Uganda out reach: Prince Sebe Maloba (FB)
Busia region farmers and villagers training: Aramadam Mutebi, Send a Goat foundation
Busoga high school forest garden and permaculture project Kamuli, Connie Kauma. (blog)
PRI-UG network. S39 signed a partnership agreement with the Uganda permaculture network, which subsequently has linked us to PRI-Kenya and PRI-Zanzibar. Which has challenged us in turn to convene the first East African permaculture conference, which is planned to follow on from our May 2018 PDC.
BEU Permaculture, Charles Mugarura has developed its focus on permaculture following on from the PDC and has been working with UG partners to link Sector39 to educators, politicians and grass roots activists.
Following on from the PDC in May 2017 the Sector39 team carried a series of visits until late June, following up contacts we have generated through the training. These included:
Mr Mula, permanent secretary office of vice president,
We were invited for a meeting on education and enterprise and development in Uganda with the OVP. Interesting the P.A. to Mr Mulla who was present at the meeting followed up the session by researching into permaculture which she followed by attending the 2018 PDC at Sabina school that we have just completed. The intention of the meeting was to seek support for permaculture at a political level and we have been offered support in any way needed as an outcome of the meeting.
With Gerald Jagwe, course participant and key staff member at PRI-UG, we were invited to meet Mr Bakka on whose land is based the demonstration and research farm for the Permaculture Research Institute of Uganda. We had a site tour and discussed future collaboration. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed and we agreed to collaborate on future ventures. I have since been invited to act as a trustee for the organisation and we are still discussing this. Mr Jagwe is now working with Sector39 on our follow on project with the Norwegian Refugee Agency and he has proved to be an excellent contact.
Hon. Mary Kabanda, MP
Mary is the patron of St Jude’s school Masaka as well as the minister for education for the region. S39 were invited to the school where we met the principle, staff and pupils before been given a full site tour. The purpose of this visit was to promote permaculture as a learning tool in schools and as a site management strategy to increase food yields and reduce waste at the school.
We were invited to present at a regional head teachers conference the next day for 38 regional head teachers from both primary and secondary schools. I showed a full slide show for an hour followed by questions, the slides covered the PDC training in Kamuli and practical work we had done with Busoga High School where we had designed a planted an Agro-forestry/ food forest garden for the school.
Following on from the head teachers conference we were invited by Charles Mugarura (BEU permaculture, Kampala) to visit the school/ orphanage where he had been a pupil and had grown up. Sabina had been founded as an orphanage and school as it was central the area with the highest HIV- Aids infection rate and consequently high orphan rate. Links to the World bank had led to an international team coming to the school in 2008 where a permaculture course had been held and subsequent design being implemented.
I met with Jude the head teacher and we discussed the possible placement of volunteers from Wales at the school, to help maintain and renovate some of the original design work and the possibility of their hosting a full PDC and conference there in 2018.
BEU permaculture agreed to sponsor and oversee three Ugandan placements at the school in a build up programme to the 2018 course and this would support the 2 volunteers from Wales who would join the team in late March. The flights and costs to bring the two volunteers out (Nina Duckers and Grace Maycock) were met from the HCA funds.
I returned to Uganda in February, utilising funds from HCA to further these develops and firm up plans for the volunteer placements, the 2018 PDC and conference and to report to other contacts we had generated on the previous visit.
Sector39 had been invited to present at Makarere University business school conference to around 150 students and future leaders in business. As 5th top business school in Africa this was n ideal opportunity to network and promote permaculture to future leaders.
Steve Jones with some of the BEU team as well as some of the participants at MakarereBusinessSchool Feb 2018.
I was also invited to return to the Office of the Vice President to report on developments. Further offers of support were extended
A visit to Sabina School, (Ssanje, Kyotera district) confirmed the May PDC and set up the permaculture internships for Grace and Nina (both ex Llanfyllin High School pupils) and we developed a plan to establish permaculture gardens to demonstrate the key principles of organic cultivation.
Norwegian Refugee Council
This is a very interesting an unanticipated development to come form this work. Happily in February whilst I was in Kampala the opportunity to meet with NRC came about. A co-incidence is that our new colleague Charles Mugarura attended a conference in Nairobi and was seated next to the head of the NRC and they chatted about permaculture. Sarah King from NRC commented she had done a full permaculture course in Wales back in 2006, with Sector39 so of course Charles mentioned my name as his permaculture tutor and mentor so the connection was made. The Ugandan head of NRC operations is also very interested in permaculture so a meeting was planned.
Following on from several skype calls and a Kampala meeting I was invited to travel to Western Nile district to visit the South Sudanese Refugee settlements and to help write a proposal to bring permaculture into the refugee resilience programme as a tool for training and developing action plans. I spent three days in the settlements and then followed this with meetings in Kampala with various representatives of the organisation.
In April I was invited to submit a bid for the work pan I had helped develop and Sector39’s bid was successful, beating a great many other applications (over 100 I was led to understand). This work commences in June this year and Sector39 have been able to recruit and train a team to lead on this work drawing directly on the contacts and training generated by the HCA funded work.
Grace and Nina placement at Sabina school
As placements in Sabina school in advance of the 2018 PDC Nina and Grace travelled to Uganda on 27th March 2018 using the last of the HCA funds to establish them selves at the School.
We have planned and hope that this opportunity can be extended to future participants as well, now that the precedent has been established.
Other Outcomes from the HCA supported training and network
This is a training centre created directly as a result of the training delivered by S39 in Uganda. It is in Homa Bay Kenya and was directly inspired by the PDC training.
The class room pictured was crowdfunded, using skills learned on the course. They are already running regular courses and Paul Ogola the project initiator has already become an adept permaculture teacher.
Students from the course set up this Facebook page to record their subsequent work, it stands as a great testament to the training and the outomces are out going.
Permaculture East Africa Stuents Union Facebook has proved a successful way to keep track of some of the outcomes following on from the course.
You will see contributions from Prince Sebe Maloba, one of our graduates, he and colleague Ramadan Mutebi are reaching very remote and poor regions in Uganda Kenya border area, extending the reach of our training work way beyond anything we could have anticipated. The key thing is that they are making the work their won. They have taken the ideas an concepts we gave them and adapted them to suit different circumstances. Really this is permaculture in its true form.. Infinitely adaptable and flexible to many situations
One technique for integrated farming demonstrated and taught on PDCUG17 was that of the banana circle. Using a mixture of ground profiling to catch rainwater, a mulch pit to promote water retention, composting and nutrient availability this mix of perennial and annual plants creates a more stable plant guild that can be both highly productive and restorative to degraded soils. A second technique demonstrated on the course was that of making and using biochar as a soil additive. Creating high quality charcoal with all the volatile oils driven off by heat enables a pure carbon soil additive to be used that both increases water infiltration into soils, boosts habitat for soil microbes and remains stable in the soil for log periods of time. You can see it being added here in the image above.
What has been noteworthy is that course graduates, esp Prince Sebe Maloba, Pual Ogola, Godfrey Opolot and others have taken these ideas and made them their own. They have experimented with different biochar making retort kilns, different inoculants to boosts fertility in the biochar, different planting combinations in the tree guilds as well as different shapes and sizes of the circles themselves. Permaculture encourages the adaptation of ideas and techniques to suit local conditions, materials availability and cultural preference. Literally a hundred or more of these have been planted since the training in May 2017 and we have received numerous photos and reports back on the progress of the idea as it continues to morph and evolve.
The final tranch of the HCA funds, as mentioned before were utilised in Feb in a follow up visit to Uganda by project leader Steven Jones who lectured at Makarere business school on this and other work, visited the vice President’s office to report on potential s for permaculture in schools and education and to set up the net, bigger and more ambitions PDCUG18 and conference.
Building on the work of 2017-2018 we have retuned to Uganda with a team of permaculture practitioners largely form from Wales, all taught by Sector39 giving them opportunity to develop professionally and gain new and valuable experience in the field. Together with our African partners we have been able to deliver a much larger course, embedded at a key regional school followed by a permaculture conference bringing people from the wider East Africa region
Steven Jones (Wales)
Grace Maycock (Wales)
Han Rees (Wales)
Nina Duckers (Wales)
Dan Grove (Wales)
Steve Jagger (Wales)
Richard Stephenson (Wales)
Sofia Fairweather (Cananda)
Angela Polkey (Wales)
Gerald Jagwe (Uganda)
Charles Mugarura (Uganda)
Paul Ogola (Kenya)
Tom Yaga (Uganda)
Barbara Carbon (Belgium/ Wales)
Helen Wright (England)
We now have a network of Uganda and Kenyan partners and trainees we can draw from for further project work and in turn these has broadened again to include Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo, Zanzibar, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
All of this experience has led to S39 winning a highly competitive bid to take Permaculture education to the Western Nile region to work with South Sudanese refugees. S39 will be working with another welsh partner Jack Hunter PhD in Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochant to share this experience with schools in the area, namely Llanfyllin High School and also to develop teaching resources in Welsh, English and Arabic to share the experience and insight of permaculture in both locations.
We helped develop this website and host it on our own server. BEU is a training and enabling enterprise in Kampala who are supporting our longer term objectives for permaculture education in East Africa.
The May 2018 PDC has now been completed, with 42 participants and 18 staff and trainee teachers.
This was followed by a 2 day permaculture conference, which drew participants from 12 countries and was the first East Africa permaculture ‘Convergence’.
This event was funded by selling places on the PDC’s donations from supporters in the UK, US and elsewhere and was made possible by the groundwork in the preceeding 12 months which was supported by the Welsh Government.
Visit from Honary Rosemay Seninde
A final outcome was a visit from the Honourable Rosemay Sininde and Minister for Primary education Matthias Kasamba, East Africa legislature representite who closed the PDC and expressed great enthusiasm for the achievements of this work.
We are excited for what may happen next.
Sector39 and partners would like to thank Hub Cymru Africa and the Wales for Africa network for their support, without which we would have not been able set this work and its many outcomes in motion.
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.
As we are getting closer and closer to the permaculture design course there seems to be more and more work to be done. This week Charles has been in Kampala sourcing beds, bedding and basins for the course, Grace has been talking to him daily trying to sort out the logistics and prices for everything we need to make this course a success.
Here at Sabina we have been transplanting everywhere, but there are still so many beds to fill! The rains have been forcing us to halt our work again, the rainy season is coming to an end and so we have to be thankful for the growth the rain has helped us to achieve in such a short space of time. We have been heavily mulching the beds before we transplant into them in order to keep the weeds under control. It has made the task longer as we plant but in the long term it has meant that we are not worried about weeding every other day. Yesterday, we bought 1kg it ginger from Sanje market which we will be planting today in the hopes of having an example that we can replicate during the course.
With the rest of the UK team joining us in the coming week we are super excited for everyone to see what an incredible place Uganda, and especially Sabina school, is. We are preparing the site for them and are looking forward to having those extra hands ready to help in the days leading up to the course in order to make the site extra ready.
As the UK team arrive, the pupils of Sabina school are heading home for the holidays. Today the majority of the children we have gotten so used to seeing every where are heading home to their families. Some of the older students will be returning in a week or so to study over the holidays but I’m imagining the school site will be feeling very empty without them for a few days.
Its been great having all the children around while we have been here, as it’s their school and I’m amazed by their willingness and want to work, getting involved in every project we are doing. Not only in their permaculture lessons but in their free time too. Maria has been an especially consistent shadow to Grace, cheekily following her around as she works, chattering away in Lugandan patiently repeating herself until she is satisfied that Grace has understood what she is saying.
Over the weekend Grace, Luigi and I left the site for two nights to celebrate Grace’s birthday on the Saturday. We were deciding between two lakes, Lake Mbara and Nabugabo sand beach and in the end we decided to visit the closer of the two as we didn’t like spending all day on a Matatu. We definitely made the right decision, we had the run of a campsite right on the lakes edge where monkeys were the only other guests. We woke up on the Saturday morning to the most incredible sunrise and the whole day we were blessed by glorious weather. We swam in the lake and when we got tired we could dry off reading in the sun. On the Sunday the weather was a contrast, it rained really heavily and we were forced to seek refuge in the restaurant playing cards and learning how to play pool. It was nice to be able to relax together, so we don’t just have a work relationship and we were able to chat about things other than weeding, plants and the permaculture design course.
Jagwe has returned to Sabina for a few days and he is working on upright sack planting, a type of vertical planting used in urban permaculture to save on space. The idea is to keep the sacks strong and in place using a stone tower as a central pillar which also helps with water filtration throughout the sacks. He has been planting into the sides and top of the sack, in the sides he is planting light, leafy vegetables such as kale, pak choi, spinach and into the top the fruiting, heavier vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes or passions running from the sack to a post. He is using compost and we’ll balanced soil in order to secure adequate nutrients for the plants.
Each week here at Sabina is very different, and it helps keep the monotonous tasks interesting. This week we have lots of people around the site helping us out. First Charles came back from Kampala, then (while he and I visited another primary school that he’s hoping to create links with) Gerald Jagwe joined us at Sabina. Later that night Luigi returned from Fort Portal. On the Saturday we had the help of 6 local workers who helped us to reshape the Mandela garden into beds ready for us to plant into. There have been more people around the site which has been a great energy lift and it has made everything move along so much quicker.
Due to the fact that we have such a big team that stays here at Sabina, we have been able to also leave the school to make visits elsewhere. On Wednesday Charles and I went by Matatu and BodaBoda to Alpha and Omega school just outside Kalisizo where we were shown all around the school and we saw the crops they were attempting to grow in order to supplement the children’s diets. We were given a huge welcome by all of the children where they sang and danced for us before Charles spoke to them and invited the head teacher to the convergence.
On Thursday Grace and Charles went to Masaka in order to cordially invite the local member of parliament, the regional education minister and the district chairman to open and close the Permaculture Design Course in May. They also were able to buy all of the things we have been unable to get in Sanje.
In just one day Charles, KB and a group of children managed to build us a new shower that we really needed- it means we no longer have to bucket wash! The team worked really hard to finish the project in a matter of hours. It is a really a very peaceful feeling to use this shower at night as the moon has been getting bigger and so there has been enough light to shower without torches!
Tom has been working further on a permanent toilet structure that will have removable buckets underneath. The idea is to dry the waste and use it as a fertiliser in the gardens in the future. Tom has been trying to make the structure with completely natural resources but has had to resort to using other materials in some places to better suit the structures function. We will have two latrines, one squat and one seated which will be accessed by steps enabling us to get to the buckets underneath the base easily.
Fencing has been put up all around Sabina site, it encourages the children to avoid walking on the plants and instead to use the pathways. The school children have also found a use for them, so, not only have we created boarders for the gardens but also the school now has extra space to spread their clothes after washing them.
One of the big changes we have made to the site this week has been re-landscaping the Mandela Garden which is just outside the kitchens. We had a group of workers come in to dig the beds and since then we have been sewing and planting into it with all sorts of vegetables that the kitchens will have easy access to once they have grown.
Last week we mixed together some comfrey, chicken droppings and water to create a fertiliser tea, we stirred a few times over the week and it’s beginning to get nice and smelly! The kids can’t believe that something so foul smelling will be so helpful in the garden.
After the rapid growth of the seeds we planted, we have begun transplanting them into the newly dug beds. The cabbages, chard, tomatoes, peppers, onions and kale have been especially successful in their growth and so we have been trying to dodge the intense heat to transplant them with the best chances of survival. The peas have been shooting up getting bigger and bigger everyday, we ventured into Sanje and purchased some local beans from a shop there which we have sewn this week and hopefully they will begin to show in the coming week.
The weather here at Sabina is very changeable, if in the morning it is really hot then it’s almost guaranteed to rain in the afternoon and vice versa. We have had some ridiculously hot days where everyone has to stop working outside and also torrential rainstorms which again disrupt our work schedules.
On Tuesday the 27th March, we left Wales and made our way to Manchester Airport, our first point of call, after one short flight we geared ourselves up for 10 hours on an uncomfortable airplane seat and some unsatisfying sleep. We touched down in Entebbe (Uganda) late on Tuesday night and as soon as they opened the airplane doors we were hit by a strong humid blast of Ugandan air!
Charles met us at the airport with a big smile, on our ride to our hostel in Kampala we were brought up to date on all the business affairs and we discussed a plan of action. When we finally got to bed it was past 3 am and we hadn’t had a decent sleep for about 48 hours!
We spent the next couple of days around Kampala, getting used to the heat and planning our trip to Sabina School. We watched as Kampala buzzed about us, with all the Boda Boda’s weaving in and out of the traffic and people selling their goods on the street sides.
On Thursday afternoon we left Kampala for Sanje, Charles went on ahead to sort the Taxi because if the drivers saw a Mzungu we would be charged high prices. We loaded all of
our possessions onto the top of the bus and climbed aboard. As soon as the bus was full we set off on our way South on the road towards Tanzania.
We arrived at Sabina School late in the evening where a group of children came to meet us from the bus and helped carry our luggage to our new home, the Banda. We have been working on the site at Sabina School since, getting to know the children and the land.
We visited some projects of a local man in the Rakai District who farmed two areas in a town between Sanje and Masaka. We toured around his land and marvelled at his coffee plantation, jackfruit trees and aubergine plants. We went on to his 25 acre plot of land where he was growing oranges and mangoes with great success and kept pigs in order to use their manure to enrich his soil. He told us about his hopes to build an animal sanctuary and further develop his produce, creating a seed bank for the local community.
At the school itself we have been working on building up compost heaps around the grounds with natural resources from the school site as well recycled papers from the school buildings. Grace has began creating a nursery for seedlings with Luigi’s help and Charles planting orange and mango trees as well as improving the layout of the beds and gardens.
As it’s Easter weekend, the school only has a few children around but everyone who has stayed for the weekend has been getting involved with our projects. Learning about growing and compost with Grace and a few of them are picking up how to use a camera with me, with Charles they are learning how to make structures and helping to clear the space for beds to be made. As the future generation of Uganda and the school they are vital assets to our work here at Sabina.
For Easter Sunday, there was a football match between local sides at the school that had a huge turn out just before the sunset. We have gotten used to our new way of living, eating delicious fruits and I have been discovering lots of the Ugandan foods.
One thing we were concerned about was our access to clean drinking water, and we didn’t want to be buying bottled water everyday and produce loads of waste. Thankfully when we were in Kampala we so
urced a water filter from a market and carried it with us to Sabina, the water is filtered by using a clay pot with holes made by sawdust that has been burnt out of it creating holes for the water to filter through and we now have safe drinking water at hand.
Yesterday we got electricity in our Banda and now we can use lights at night and charge our phones.
After just one week in Uganda I am already starting to feel at home, thanks to the kindest of people and the welcome they have given us.
Around the world people are facing up to the huge set of challenges of tackling climate change by addressing its many causes.
Creating a sustainable food supply by transforming agriculture into a force for environmental restoration is at the heart of the response.
Africa is ready for permaculture as it brings together environmental restoration, food security and local economy.
Permaculture resonates perfectly with traditional knowledge and practices, permaculture is the African way. Eston Mgala, Malawi
Here in Wales are working closely with East African partners too significantly raise the profile of permaculture across the region. Partners from Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda are working with us to create first East Africa Convergence, following on from a 60 place PDC at Sabina school and orphanage in Central Uganda next May.
We are linking pioneering education with food security, education, public health and government outreach. We are working with a key regional school as well as the ministry for education to create a learning hub for permaculture in Central Africa.
We are open for donations, sponsorship, contributions in any form to help us make the event a huge success.
A convergence is a coming together, in this case we are hoping to bring together leading practitioners and advocates for permaculture design in East Africa. The aim is to accelerate the already considerable momentum in the region by profiling some of the amazing work already underway in the region.
Since 2015 Sector39 have taught two full PDCs in Uganda and are planning the third currently. We have also formed a supportive partnership with two Ugandan organisations to enable us to extend our regional ambitions. East Africa is literally hungry for permaculture and there is so much that can be done to significantly improve people’s lives and resilience utilising resources that are largely already available.
It seems an obvious step forward for our East African partnership to try to raise the profile for permaculture by creating an event that demonstrates the many possibilities for its positive application. We are inviting some of the region’s biggest enthusiasts as speakers and workshop leaders and planning for an event that can bring together students from our first three courses with school heads, politicians and other scoial and financial gatekeepers with whom we might build new and mutually beneficial relationships.
The planned venue couldn’t be more ideal as it is home the most mature designed food forest in whole region and the school has embraced permaculture design and ideas within its core curriculum, even the Head Teacher has completed a PDC!
Sabina school is near to Rakai in central Uganda, the region that was the epi-centre of the global AIDS epidemic. They are still in recovery from the terrible loss of life, creativity and human resource but are well on track to have the situation fully under control by 2030. Modern drugs have massively reduced the mortality rate, it is no longer a death sentence and people are open about their HIV status. That said there are still many orphans in the region and a great deal of work to be done to compenstate for the terrible effets of the epidemic.
Sabina students in the school’s forest garden. Bananas, avocado, pumpkin, jack fruit, there is food everywhere!
The 2-day conference is intended to both bring permaculture practitioners, students and pioneers together as well as creating a platform to celebrate and showcase achievements to inspire and demonstrate possibilities for new and interested parties. There will be talks, demonstrations, a permaculture futures forum and a school partnerships proposal launch.
As well as site tours and demonstrations at Sabina there will be a chance to visit The Permaculture Research of Uganda, (PRI-UG) which has an ecological farm and demonstration site less than an hour from the intended venue and that is en route for anyone traveling from Kampala. The day immediately before and after the actual convergence will be open days for the site with guided tours and discussion forums planned
Permaculture belongs in schools. Imagine the anxiety for young adults when confronted with the fact that the next 30 years of their lives is going to dominated by climate change, a dwindling oil supply and the possibility if never-ending resource wars accompanied by ceaseless waves of refugees.
Currently it feels like no one in the main stream is offering solutions or ways forward they are battoning down the hatches and tightening border controls. We need to offer more than vision of a sustainable future, we need to provide the mechanism for change and pathways for empowerment and inclusion in that process and where better to begin than at school?
We have the support of the minister for education for Buganda and the national minister for education was a founding force behind Sabina school where the event will be held so there exists a solid foundation to link the event to movement on a political level. When arrived in Kampala some 6 weeks ago our first meeting was with Mr Mula, permanent secretary to the Vice President of Uganda, he offered us his full support and strongly endorsed the work of Charles Mugarura and partners BEU Permaculture. We are looking to the younger generation to take the lead he emphasised.
Launch of BEU permaculture, Uganda’s most dynamic permaculture team and partners with Sector39 delivering this event
Sector39’s education team have since began work on 12 educational units for use in school that will introduce permaculture’s key principles to the curriculum, not as a subject but as cross curricular themes.
The East African Convergence gives us a timeline now to develop and profile this work. We have a key partner school in Wales to develop and trial the materials with as well as an emerging school network in Uganda so we are absolutely ready to take this work to the next level.
Pre booking and sponsorship packages are available to help us develop these potentials and we are also reaching out to teachers and educators to help realise these ambitions.
The Sector39 education team are taking a lead role in organising this event, please contact us for bookings, sponsorship and other offers of help. There will be volunteering and internship opportunities as well.
On the ground logistics, site development, volunteer hosting plus marketing support and branding services are being provided by BEU Permaculture, Kampala.
PRI-UG are offering demonstration visits, networking a practical support fir workshops and site development.
PermoAfrica centre and K5 community permaculture are linking us to on the ground community permaculture practical work in Kenya and will be profiling their 2 years of developmental experience for the conference.
Key note speakers tbc. We are inviting a leading Author on East African botany, a leading agronomist and politician in the educational field to outline the key themes of the conference.