Written by Tine Engedal
I’ve been really lucky to recently have gotten the opportunity to move to the country side. What’s even luckier was that I’m actually now quite prepared for the projects that we want to launch because I finally got hands-on knowledge on something I have actually somehow studied for years at university.
Something that is supposed to go on, sustain itself, while producing foods, feedstuff and well-being for us. A bigger us? A holistic approach to production systems. And productive it is! We just need to mimic nature, as nature sure knows how to exploit every tiny niche out there.
So what did we do? First, we talked a lot. Then we thought a lot, and then talked again. Then we walked and talked. We started observing, “listening” to the landscape; what did it want to tell us? Something about the suns path and the very different temperature under the shade of a tree, something about the water movement on the heavy slope, something about the poor infiltration of the water into the soil. Apparently, a saying in permaculture is “100 hours of observing for each hour of doing”. That was not exactly what happened here, as we all willingly signed up more or less to get our hands dirty.
Therefore, when the permaculture guru of Africa, Tichafa Makovere (btw an extremely loveable man in his sixties) finished talking on day two, we began moving outside in the heat of a climate where the latest seasons complete absence of rain have abandoned everything but indigenous perennials. We started building terraces to slow the pace of the rain when it eventually came on day five (hallelujah!). After that, we anchored the soil on the terraces by transplanting trees with extensive root systems. We covered the soil with organic litter (mulch) and compost (which we also learned how to get going) in order to increase the humus layer of the topsoil (which is the holy grail of the soil). And then we planted legumes. Several types of beans were broadcasted over the whole field to fix atmospheric nitrogen and feed the soil with the most needed nutrient. Eventually, mission initiate land regeneration; complete!
Then we moved to a plot with better soil, where we wanted to exploit an excess of water. Waste water in particular. We trapped the water in holes and planted ‘banana’ circles around them. We also learned about grafting, about exploitation of vertical spaces, and then suddenly I found myself spending several hours coloring this “After Map” I drew of the to-become-permaculture garden here in the country side of Denmark. The feedback I got from the Barefoot Soulution team as well as the rest of the class (who came from anywhere and knew so much different stuff) already saved me from the first nine oops!eshere.
Thanks guys. Let’s save some more degraded land together soon again. I’m diggin it!