At Eco Venao we strongly believe in, apply and encourage environmentally friendly practices; now including Permaculture! We recognize and appreciate the value behind the holistic solutions that Permaculture offers as a conscious design for the maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems, which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. Permaculture is a complimentary design that includes; water harvesting and hydrology, energy, natural building, forestry, waste management, animal systems, aquaculture, appropriate technology, economics and community development.
With the objective of creating our own sustainable farm, we started our very ambitious Permaculture project in May 2015. Guillaume Barros has spearheaded the project bringing incredible enthusiasm and determination. Guillaume and his team have since been working on the project’s main objectives:
- To produce organic food by creating our sustainable organic Permaculture farm using the existing resources and by maximizing their functions;
- To transform and recycle any usable waste resources into productive organic material;
- To increase consciousness among our community and help them learn ways to lead a more sustainable life.
How did we start? Our first step was to transform trash into a valuable resource: our organic compost. Now, for example, we don’t have smelly trash anymore and we grow tomatoes in our organic compost that are currently for sale. Voila! We were able to produce tomatoes by giving value to our trash. That is how brilliantly permaculture works! It sounds easy, but being able to grow our own tomatoes did required some “smart work” as Guillaume would say, meaning: putting effort into maximizing our existing resources (trash) to produce organic fruits and veggies (tomatoes) that grow well on our land.
In fact you can grow anything anywhere but is important to consider the maintenance required. For example, lettuce is not a tropical plant and it would require a lot of maintenance if planted on our farm because of the climate conditions that Venao has to offer. So instead, we work with nature and find edible greens and other vegetables and roots that grow fantastically on our land, such as; moringa, sweet potatoes, sorrel and papayas.
We are very pleased to grow and harvest truly local foods that can complement any meal. This illustrates what Permaculture can do “it integrates land, resources, people and the environment through mutually beneficial synergies – imitating the no waste, closed loop systems seen in diverse natural systems.” as defined by the Permaculture Research Institute.
After studying our natural resources, we concluded that if we wanted to grow organic in our particularly arid land, first we had to restore our soil. After almost two years, our design is done, seeds are planted, the compost has been spread and now Mother Nature has a favourable environment to develop herself. Our work however is never done. So what have we accomplished so far?
- We received more than 35 interns from all other the world through our volunteer program
- We planted more than 3,000 fruit trees in 2016
- We dug more than 300m of swails (trenches) to control erosion and efficiently irrigate the land
- We created three ponds to provide microclimates at the farm and enhance biodiversity
- We produced around 70 cubic meters of organic compost
- We removed one hectare of an invasive grass species
- And we even have lots of bees!
We feel very proud about our new Permaculture project and look forward to keep growing and maintaining the farm with the support of the local community and international volunteers. As we get deeper into the concept of Permaculture we have discovered many more ways for its application – more synergies, more solutions, more interactions and definitely more hope.
Stay tuned for our future newsletters on Permaculture. More tips and info!