Thursday, September 12, 2013

This Summer’s PDCs

We only did two courses this summer as there’s been lots to do here on the land and in building our house (more about that later), but boy were they great experiences full of beautiful encounters with some amazing people from around the world.

First we did a 16 day course with 15 attendees at Corga da Pereira, where the Green family live. Their well developed 5 year old project gave us plenty of living examples of permaculture in practice (including a solely ram pump fed irrigation and pond system, pedal powered green wood turning lathe, etc) and with the locally sourced food we were all daily treated to scrumptious meals. We  implemented a few new features (herb spiral, raised beds, the moving of the chickens, swales, a hugelkultur bed, worm compost, etc) on the site throughout the course in the many more practical sessions that this longer course allowed time for. We also had 5 other teacher for three of the days teaching their own specialist subjects (ram pumps, 12v systems, mushroom cultivation, eco building & natural beekeeping).  Thanks to all of you for raising the quality of the course with your knowledge and experience.

There were some great designs and budding designers emerging, we have no doubt that many will go on to do some awesome work in regenerating their home lands and local communities.

A lot of fun was had by all, especially around this very long table where we feasted on delicious food, thanks to Jullie, Emma and Alice
   We even had a film (click the link!) made over a few days of the course thanks to Rowan

 Below are a few of the designs from this course

Next we went to Quinta do Sabugueiro, home to Ivo and Carla, in Felgueiras near Porto for a 14 day course. The 1 hectare suburban farm is in the process of becoming a permaculture oasis of tranquillity, for workshops and retreats. There were only 5 people on this course, Ivo being one of them, so it was a new experience for us. Despite the small number of students the course went very well, (though we did have to adapt some of the activities) we all got a lot out of it and by the end we felt like one big family. 

The farm is situated between a wonderful 7 hectares of richly diverse (though mostly unproductive Zone 5) forest on one side and a monoculture (destructive though productive) kiwi plantation on the other. This gave a very interesting dynamic that illustrated that both extremes of industrial farming and conservation forestry are not enough and that through permaculture we aim to design a balance between ecology and production, (eg notill grain production, agroforestry/food forests, holistic management/planned grazing  and aquaculture systems). We create systems that are both good for the environment and habitats of local species, whilst also providing a surplus for our needs and giving us goods to trade. In the words of Bill Mollison, systems that are both ecologically sound and economically profitable.
Even with this smaller group we managed to get a  lot done

Excellent vegetarian food from Susana, our wonderful chef/hostess.  Thank you Susana.
Below are some of the final designs





A big thank you to everyone involved in these two courses, from hosts, students, fellow teachers, helpful supporting friends and a camara man there's a lot of effort that goes into these courses and a lot of joy and learning that comes out.
Thank you

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