By: Maurice Otieno
Photo Credits: Karin Duthie | Illustrative Options
I had always wanted to undergo training in Permaculture
to acquire additional skills and knowledge to make me a better government extension worker, best provide for my family and be a more enlightened change-agent in my rural community of Bondo, Kenya.
My search of a permaculture training provider ended when I settled upon Barefoot Soulutions which was scheduled to offer this course in November, when my annual leave was falling due, alongside granting me the chance to have some sort of ‘holiday’ which we, from ‘upcountry’, often crave for but hardly ever have!
I dare add that I did a bit of research on Permaculture and in the process gained a fair grasp of the principles, ethics and patterns in design which, I later learnt during our PDC sessions in Kilifi, were just but a minute pinch of what Barefoot Soulutions provides in their trainings!
All went well, albeit a bit fast, and on Monday, November 5th 2018 I was among the first participants to settle in class, ready to receive my first dose of the PDC. Besides me, were another 26 candidates who had arrived and settled in class on time-I guess not to miss the minutest bit of this interesting course.
At exactly 8:12 a.m a tall, lanky and soft-spoken gentleman carrying a small-safari bag on his back arrived and went right in front of the class, welcomed everyone and introduced himself as Jeremiah Kidd; he was to be our lead facilitator. His co-facilitator- Ivan-whom I had communicated to earlier by phone and email without a physical meeting- was also in class ready to prop Jeremiah as need arose!
The next phase of introductions triggered even more of my interest in the course when I gathered that some participants had sacrificed all it took to come from as far as the USA, UK, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Botswana, Belgium and other corners of the globe to partake of this useful and unique course!
A glimpse at the time-table, which was quickly distributed in class in the interest of time, featured topics revolving around: Ecology (or is it Biology); Soil-Science; Composting; Water-for-Multiple-usage; Pests and Diseases control; Spatial (home and garden) Planning; Climatology; Hydroponics; Apiary; Forestry; Aquaculture; Rain-water harvesting; Range-management; Waste-management; Appropriate Technology; Sustainable use of Natural Resources; and, Permaculture-at-work- not to mention Mathematics because there were also calculations to be solved! I also checked and found there were topics on Energy (water, wind and sun/solar) with just a little on Physics which I have feared (actually dreaded) ever since my high school days!
Like a good permaculture design that promotes diversity and integration, Barefoot Soulutions and Jeremiah-Kidd designed our course to trigger deep learner-interest while providing extra flavor through offering us the chance to learn in ‘classrooms-without-walls’. I really enjoyed our visits to two private farms to interact with nature and practically apply skills of positioning both farm and fruit-trees in our home gardens. It was more than a great honor for me and fellow classmates to visit Nobert’s farm and tree-nursery and getting to know some of the coastal indigenous trees like ‘mkilifi’ (mwarubaini) and ‘mpingo’ from which the location name Vipingo area is derived.
An even greater learning opportunity came when we had to be taught how to utilize the A-frame on-farm to design contours and thereafter establish a food-forest comprising of cow and pigeon-peas, bananas, citrus, avocado, cashew-nuts, tamarind and cucubits at the Kilifi New-Year Festival site. ‘Learning has never been this interesting!’, I couldn’t help telling myself at the end of my PDC course.
Our course was made even tastier by the invitation of guest speakers (Anastacia Cheruiyot and Andrew Wright) who took us through the identification and production of traditional vegetables (and herbs) as well as bee-keeping, respectively, as worthy ventures to produce food for man and his animals and for income generation.
I have personally decided that I will provide leadership to my friends and neighbors in building the requisite over-story, under-story and ground-story in their farms; advocate for and guide my community in sustainably exploitation of common natural resources; and, henceforth promote recycling of all grey-water for banana and bamboo production for wealth-creation.
I wish to direct my thanks and gratitude to both the facilitation team of Jeremiah and Ivan and the management of Barefoot Soulutions for tailoring our course to be most palatable to ‘aging-learners’ like me; you truly spiced our learning experience through your intelligent use of lectures, group discussions , presentations (individual and group), video-clips and field-work (Practical-sessions). I doubt if there was a better way of delivering the PDC content in 12-days than this multi-pronged strategy!
Lastly, I wish to sincerely thank Barefoot Soulutions for granting me partial scholarship to study this course and in the process acquiring unique life-skills that I will be applying from now and into my sunset years alongside enabling me to establish worthy networks with persons with a range of expertise from all frontiers of this globe. A million thumbs-up salute to the management of Barefoot Soulutions and your associates and collaborators for all your efforts in promoting the application of Permaculture (and related practices) and being a leader in building people’s capacities to better take care of Mother Earth and All her Elements!