It’s crunch time as we have our first formal 2-week Permaculture Design Course As our Permaculture Field School takes shape the wet season approaches making construction and gardening challenging. In the kitchen garden I go out on vegetable patrol and spot the damage the rains have done to our seedlings. Some seedlings like beans and peas have survived but the young greens have been pulped. Where there was a healthy seedling popping out of the red soil yesterday, not there is a green porridge in its place where the heave raindrops mash the delicate leaves. I make a mental note to start building mini shade cloth tunnels on the upcoming PDC as a solution to pulped seedlings.
Our three throned compost toilet is almost ready for opening day. We custom made two western style thrones or seats and one squat toilet, Asian style. I think we could have 3 people simultaneously christen this simple but useful waterless toilet system. There are always willing volunteers to be the first to try out the new toilet. Maybe we could place bets on which of the three users will be first… These guys love to gamble!
The kitchen will be a field kitchen with our new “Goddess” rocket stove. This stove is super efficient and our team got intensely creative in building it. Using a mixture of red clay, sand and rice husks with a touch of cement our mud warriors whipped up a very interesting looking stove. This is just a prototype to get everyone understanding mud-ology. We can use rocket stoves for many applications including drying food products and smoking meat.
Our outdoor classroom has a rice husk floor and wooden slabs for benches. We dropped a massive standing dead tree on the first week here so now its bits are benches and tables and a variety of useful wooden things we need to make our school work. We use everything to its highest purpose.
The caribou or buffalo arrive every hour dragging 6 huge bamboo poles, which are stacked on the “resource pile”. As they come in, tails swishing the flies away I watch hoping they drop a load of manure. I need a few kilos for my liquid manure demo. It’s hard to find manure here in this area because the buffalo roam around and aren’t penned.
The Klig-klig is the other means of delivering materials to site. It’s a single cylinder diesel 2-wheeled hand tractor pulling a makeshift trailer. I hear the diesel hammering away as the machine climbs the hill into our farm. What a beast! The muffler is gone and the noise blasts my ears as the driver manoeuvres this weird vehicle into the unloading area. Finally the noise stops as the pilot shuts it down. Once the black smoke clears I see 3 guys sitting on the trailer with he grins. Black oil drips off the motor and I see it has all kinds of strange modifications. Out here in the rural Philippines a farmer has to be creative to keep his machines running. I see bits of plastic oil bottles. Coke cans and rubber inner tubes as stand-ins for spare parts. Very ingenious and it beats carrying 2 tons of timber on your back!
This first phase field school is rough but comfortable with the hygiene and water supply sorted. What more could a permaculture teacher ask for. The students will build more gardens and small permaculture projects adding to the schools food production and infrastructure. Slowly as this field school grows it will be one of the few schools in the world where the students built their school. I see also in the future some of those students will be teachers here one day or they may build their own field school and spread Green Warrior energy across the planet.
With a week to go the energy on site is intense. I am co-teaching this course with Wycliffe Yongo from Kenya and some of my cadet trainers from the Philippines. I’m sure the students are in for an amazing 2 weeks of permaculture action and learning. The air is pure and there is no traffic noise. I see the mountains and the jungle nearby. What a wonderful place to learn. Don’t you wish you were coming too?