Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Empowering others through Fair Trade

by Kevin Mascarenhas
(this post originally appeared on natural flow)

coaching josh josh head shot
Joshua in traditional dress
This post is the first in a series from Kevin Mascarenhas. Kevin is a Permaculture Association member, teacher of permaculture, working on an exciting project in Cameroon that focuses on fair shares.

I met Joshua, the director of Better World Cameroon (BWC) at the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) training at Sieben Linden Ecovillage in Germany back in September 2013. I was so impressed with Joshua, his passion and commitment, I was determined to find a way to support the BWC project. We spent many late nights, swapping stories and sharing our life’s journeys. Through this engagement, we dreamed up a roadmap to support BWC reaching it’s ambition to become the Bafut EcoVillage for 2020.

To make the Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage Project (NPE) truly self sustaining, we need to create something beyond an education and training centre for eco literacy. We recognised the wonderful work already done by the BWC team through the summer work camps and wanted to build on this. We understand that a social enterprise could be the economic “engine” at the heart of BWC. We see the potential to harness the creative talent of the youth while alleviating poverty. At the same time, we can address such global concerns as brain drain to the city, food sovereignty, food security and mitigate for unpredictable effects of climate change.

Upon returning to London, I met with Robert Simpson, a long supporter of BWC and CSA UK network director. He recognised the strengths of my strategic plan by introducing me to Ndanifor Garden Trust (NGUKT) board president Malcolm Green, who has fund raised for the purchase of land to create the permaculture demonstration site. Together, we teamed up with Steve Mangan and Jo Sugrue, Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) fund raisers to develop a workable proposition to connect a local farmers cooperative to NPE to supply a high value product into the global fair trade market. We have named the project, EcoVillage Fairtrade Initiative (EVFI), “For the alleviation of poverty within indigenous small farming communities, growing High Value Agricultural Product (HVAP) using permaculture techniques”.

My view is that all citizens of the globe have a right to a fair income for work done and that this precept should be recognised as the norm and not the exception. I believe there is a rising consciousness amongst the global North of the associated issues and there is a willingness to pay a fair price to purchase goods grown in the global South.
EVFI is a framework that can be replicated by any ecovillage that is part of the GEN network. The model is to set up (as existing for BWC)  a permaculture hub of demonstration, education and business enterprise. We select an appropriate HVAP that will be processed by a workers cooperative of BWC, and then supplied into the global fair trade network. This organisation is managed and administered by BWC which takes a profit for the HVAP processing. Together we will build a network of local farmers who grow and supply the product and they make a fair income in return. What is really exciting is the holistic benefits that this model offers using permaculture thinking and design. We create a financial income, raise quality of life and health of local people. We conserve soil, raise fertility, capture and store water, translate all waste streams into valuable nutrients and build biological capital. All this makes for a more resilient and vibrate community that can support local people, regenerate the local ecology and generate a surplus income that can be ploughed back into the community. Truly a “win”, “win”, “win” scenario!

Trial Plot
The first step will be to create a baseline quarter acre plot at Ndanifor to quantify the yield of an average selection of local food crops typically grown by local farmers. Then along side this we will plant up the same crops but this time reduce the planting to intercrop our HVAP crop. This comparison will enable us to assess yields and demonstrate the viability of the overall project. The BWC team are already working hard with Elke Cole, our natural builder extraordinaire to set up the land based infrastructure. Through our funding stream the team will be able to recruit additional resources to manage and support this on going enterprise while still generating a surplus income that can be reinvested into building more infrastructure.

Joshua in abundance
Next steps
The UK team is now busy generating funding proposals to realise the vision. In parallel, we are researching high value plants suitable for this venture and setting up the fair trade supply channels. This is a exciting phase of the project and we feel sure that the seeds of hope planted in the work we are doing now will bear lasting fruits in the years to come. Please send us your blessing and we look forward to sharing good news in the near future.
“Towards a Better World Cameroon”

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Members Enjoy Green Scythe Fair 2014

Last month, on 15th June five members of the Permaculture Association got together and enjoyed a great day promoting permaculture at the Green Scythe Fair in Somerset.
This is a one day event that takes place in a beautiful setting on the Somerset Levels and is run entirely on wind, sun and muscle power. The day features excellent live music, over 70 stalls displaying traditional skills, crafts and produce, and lively environmental debates.

Permaculture Association members stall at the fair

The Green Scythe Fair is now in its tenth year and has as its aims:

1. To raise environmental awareness through creative activities2. To promote sustainable communities in South Somerset3. To engage the local community in Green Issues

Scything master classes are run over three days prior to the fair, and attendees come together to camp, relax, enjoy each others company and sample the local cider in the camp site next to the event.
“None of us knew each other before so it was lovely to meet other permies in the area!  It's a lovely little one day event, very green, where local farmers and travellers seem happy to share the space and men and women alike compete in the scything competition. There's live music going on all day and everyone joined in and danced to the last band." - Linda Philp, Permaculture Association Member
Special thanks to Linda, Marion, Graeme and Anna for helping us to promote permaculture to a different audience!
Getting together to run a local stall is a great way to make new friends. Want to meet other members in your area? Just reply to this email or give us a call and we'll help put you in touch!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

London Permaculture Festival

by Lucy Purdy 
With just days now to go, the team behind the London Permaculture Festival are poised and excited to welcome people to Cecil Sharp House in Camden on Sunday July 6.
With innovation and solutions taking centre stage, we’ve gathered together a truly inspiring group of people, workshops and stalls this year. We hope there will be something at the festival for everyone: from whetting the interest of people new to Permaculture, to innovative and exciting projects to inspire the most experienced of Permaculturalists.
On the practical side, speakers will include ‘Vertical Veg Man’ and guardian gardening writer Mark Ridsdill Smith, who will explain how to create a self-watering container garden. No batteries, timers or outside taps needed! Annie Levy will discuss lacto-fermenting with a Permaculture twist, Juliet Kemp will explain the huge wealth of possibility by practicing Permaculture in pots, while nurseryman and rare plant collector Paul Barney of Edulis nursery will tell you about 10 edible perennials which he promises will “float your boat”.
Shamaila Akram, of Tuba Seed Permaculture, will hold an interactive introduction to Permaculture, while Maddy Harland of Permaculture Magazine and the Permaculture Association’s very own Andy Goldring will speak on Big Picture Permaculture and Permaculture in Cuba respectively. Andy will also talk about what was discussed at the IPC and how this will feed into this September’s Convergence, and the next global event, to be held in London 2015.

Hart will bring a taste of music
and culture of the Baka
to Camden on July 6.
A workshop which has drawn lots of interest in the run-up to the festival is run by Su Hart who has formed a fruitful musical partnership with the Baka people of the Cameroon rainforest since first visiting there in 1992. She formed a band, Baka Beyond, and produced two albums with the Baka too. Hart – a veteran of the likes of Glastonbury Festival - was drawn instinctively to the Baka’s relationship with music: a binding force in their lives. They live in the rainforest, hearing nothing but natural sounds, so learn from birth to listen acutely to the natural world around them. They cure illness and argument with song, they raise their voices to enchant animals, to bring luck in the hunt, to soothe babies and to unite the group in purpose and in joy. Hart will bring a taste of this to Camden on July 6. Read more here.
Also unfolding on the day in a beautiful, colourful celebration of Permaculture will be experts in straw bale building, cob making, seed-bomb sculpting, and an introduction to aquaponics by a man who keeps tilapia fish in his garage! Plenty of kid-friendly events will take place too for budding Permaculturalists of the future.
A thriving new staple of the London Permaculture scene, and one which will be explored at the festival, is the Permablitz. Permablitzes involve people coming together to create or improve a community or household edible, wildlife-friendly garden, according to the principles of Permaculture. This is learning about Permaculture and gardening as you work, building community networks, sharing good food and enjoying the feeling of coming together on something worthwhile. The concept will be explained in detail on July 6.

A thriving new staple of the London Permaculture scene, 
and one which will be explored at the festival, is the Permablitz.
We urge you to come along on the day, dip into those workshops and activities which really grab your attention – all of which are explained
here – and spread the words among friends and family via Twitter and Facebook. There has been a real buzz about this year’s festival. We’ve had articles published about us in Sublime Magazine, in which Permaculture was described as “dynamic, evolving and inspiring” and on Recycleopedia.com too. This piece read: “The festival looks set to be an inspiring, action-packed day out, suitable for all ages, and most importantly, a chance for people to connect over the ideas of Permaculture. Warning: many find that once it takes root, it becomes a way of life.”
The festival will unfurl in the heart of the capital, where diversity and abundance of human spirit abound. This is what Permaculture is all about! Hopefully you can be part of this wonderful day.