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Interview: Permaculture as one element of future sustainable farming

Global Society & Global Goals
At work: Permaculture Volunteer Kam Sandhu feeding the animals of the farm

One of the Global Society's journalists, Muriel Ayari, arranged to speak with permaculture-volunteer Kam Sandhu. He talks about the different activities offered at this retreat and why more and more people are joining these sustainable farming projects.

Muriel: What’s the project you participated in about?

Kam: L’Asino e la Luna is a permaculture project set up by Manuela Bocchino. She brought 8 acres of farmland, there are 5 people living on the property, eating off the land. They have chickens and ducks for fresh eggs, a sheep called John and a donkey called Silvio.

They grow all types of fruit and vegetables trying different techniques in growing in hot climate.Manuela is on the permaculture community of Italy so they hold two week permaculture retreats to give people a starter in permaculture and world wide recognised certificates, and retreats for children to teach them how to grow plants and trees.

Muriel: How did your everyday life on the farm look like?

Kam: Volunteers usually work 4-5 hours every day (5-6 days a week). We help to prune the fruit and vegetablegardens and gather anything that is ready to harvest. I was mostly helping build extra bits like a new wash area and fixing up gates and things, and also feeding the animals every morning. By the end, you are deployed where your strengths lie.

Muriel: What are the retreats about?

Kam: The retreats give the land a different vibe depending on the age group and what is being learned. Retreats for younger ages are to teach practically and hands on. They will be taught about soil types and how to use the verities of food that can be grown right down to insects. In general, there is a lot of teaching about learning to live as a human being in a synergy with nature. The activities always differ depending on the farm, size, and specification. Our main work consisted of gardening (Cultivation and harvesting of plants according to the season), construction and do-it-yourself projects, taking care of the animals, but also general maintenance and group cooking. We where also learning about Fertiliser from all types of manure. But they also take volunteers through the year for a couple of weeks at a time to help with general running of the site feeding, pruning ,harvesting.

Muriel: And would you do when there is nothing to harvest? In winter for example

Kam: There is always something to do as different plants produce fruit all through the year

This is also some of the knowledge taught. It’s really interesting I will find out more next time I go. I am going to try and book onto one of the courses which give you a world recognized qualification.

Muriel: What do you know about the permaculture community? Do you think it’s a growing trend and new way of living?

Kam: “Italian Permaculture Academy” has been around for a while. Manuela, the owner is a member and teacher. It’s becoming bigger as people are making themselves more aware of what they can do to save the planet and build community’s around it. I think it is growing worldwide.

Today one has to strive for compromise. Improving insulation and upgrading heating controls can save energy and of course, driving less, buying less and eating better can all help too.

If everyone does a little, an alliance can make a big difference.The world is full of people peddling magic solutions to the world’s problems. Just get on with doing something yourself, and not making it a secret.

Pushing people towards permaculture will not change their behaviours. One has to find out by himself, that a different and more sustainable way of living can make him happier is so many senses.

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