Living in cities, I have always tried to be as sustainable as possible. But in reality, most of the products and services we buy have travelled across the world and are made either using fossil fuels or in places that once had ecosystems such as forests and woodland. We want to create a place that doesn’t harm the planet but instead heals it.
Our goal is to be in a position where there are zero degrees of separation between us and where we source our food, products and services. This means we will either grow it, make it ourselves or buy what we need from the people that made or grew it. We don’t plan to buy energy but to create it ourselves. We will turn our waste into resources for things like composting, building and art. In fact we won’t have waste; everything will be viewed as a resource. We will even take this one step further and take waste such as broken tiles, plates or car tyres from the local community and use them for projects on our land. We won’t pollute our water with our human waste. Instead we will save every drop of water we use from the spring and well, naturally treat it and then store it in the lake and ponds we will build in order to add biodiversity to the farm. We will experiment with different permaculture principles to create a place where people can come and learn how to integrate some of these same systems into their homes or businesses, saving them money as well as helping the environment. If each person learns just one small thing and takes it home with them, together we can make a difference.
Permaculture has many principles and we will write our own principles over the coming months. However in short it means that there are multiple mini systems in place that are all linked together and that compliment each other. The waste from one system is used to fuel the next, creating a sustainable way of life.
These are some of the systems that I am looking forward to building with friends and volunteers. I will write a bit on each of these over the coming months:
Energy will come from:
Ground source heat
Excess heat from cooking
Excess heat from greenhouses and structures for animals
A natural, uphill spring supplying the plants with water through a gravity fed irrigation system
A borehole to supply clean drinking water
A lake to store harvested water, add bio-diversity, and to swim in
Ponds, swales and streams to harvest water and slow down its flow through the land, bringing the water table up
This ingenious invention uses twigs and branches to heat the oven
Excess heat, usually lost in the chimney, will be used to heat the stove and water
A second one is used to heat an additional stove, the kitchen water and will power an oil burner, eliminating the use of candles
Pipes heated by the stove will supply the showers and will go through the tropical greenhouse to keep it warm
We love trees
Trees will be planted to provide shade in the summer and wind protection in the winter
The food forest will provide nuts, fruit, firewood, timber, sawdust for the compost toilet and bark for mulching
The trees prevent soil erosion, create biodiversity and a place for climbers to grow
Permaculture not agriculture
We won’t buy woodland, cut down the trees and use the open space for agriculture
We will buy agriculture land intending to replicate woodland but with edible trees, shrubs and plants. Nature doesn’t need fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides, and this leaves the natural woodlands abundant with life
Natural woodlands provide biodiversity of food so food is ready for harvest all year round
Biodiversity continues up the food chain; bacteria, insects and animal life help prevent the need for pesticides
All food will come from our farm or local organic farmers with zero degrees of separation in the use of permaculture principles between Keela Yoga Farm and the products and food that we grow or buy
Leaves won’t be thrown away but will be used as mulch, imitating the natural process in the the forest. This will prevent weeds, keep the ground moist, and will eventually turn into compost and soil
Compost toilets will turn human waste into compost
A collection of worm composts will be used as a quick natural fertiliser
Additionally, the worms are feed for fish and chickens
The waste from the kitchen will fuel the abundance of the farm
There is no such thing! Water is a precious resource and we will not be contaminating it by putting toxic chemicals from food, cleaning products, cosmetics or toiletries down the drain
A series of filters, followed by a bog and then a stream to the ponds and the lake will naturally treat all collected water
Greens will be grown in and near the kitchen. Herbs, lettuce and vegetables will not be refrigerated but instead will go directly from the garden to the plate. With less time passing between harvesting and eating food more nutrients are available for you to benefit from
Micro-greens, the saved food in the root cellar and the greens grown in the greenhouse will see us through the winter
The greenhouse will be heated using deep underground heat, hot water pipes, homemade solar panels and the heat from inside the composts
Heat is used by placing pipes through the ground and compost and into the greenhouse. Since heat rises a flow of warmer air is created when the pipes are laid correctly
A part of the greenhouse will be placed above the chicken coop to collect the heat from the chickens.
Earthships can literally be built from waste, with walls made from car tyres or beer and wine bottles
Broken plates and tiles will be used to create beautiful mosaics on the walls and floors
Home made bricks and cob buildings are easy to make
Yurts and wooden buildings will be made from materials from the land
Not a SINGLE resource will be wasted!
There are so many other systems we have been learning about, from aquaponics (I built my first one of these in Singapore!) to building an Earthship. Above are some of the first and most essential ones we will build into and on the retreat. I have saved helpful Youtube videos on our Youtube channel for us and for you for easy access.
In early 2016 we will be on a one month permaculture course at Rak Tamachat in Thailand. After this we plan to spend 3 months working on a permaculture farm in Portugal to further our skills before buying our land. We will make videos on these systems as we go.