The first Permaculture Design Certificate course (PDC) at the Hare Krishna Permaculture Centre in Laguna, Philippines finished as a complete success. I have been managing the permaculture program there since May and it’s like building a boat piece by piece. The PDC is like finally fitting the rudder and sails for its maiden voyage. The ship is ready and the crew are trained.
It was an interesting mix of International students, Filipino students and Hare Krishna devotee students. I also had Brett Prichard as my backup teacher from Australia. Brett is more of a scientist type of guy where I’m a hands-on practical type so we had a good mix of training lined up for the PDC.
Of course it was a vegetarian menu all the way but the Hare’s cook up some wonderful food, most of the time. Sometimes I found there were just too many carbohydrates in a meal and a lack of protein. Their diet suits people who worship in the temple most of the day but switching to working on the land needs a new balance of carbs and proteins. A human body can gain a huge amount of energy from raw food, which can compensate for the missing animal protein. This is something they will develop over time.
From day 1 the students were super keen to get into the hands-on digging and forming up gardens. They were so keen they dug, mulched and planted a kitchen garden on day-2 of the course! The new kitchen garden is located next to their new Green Warrior Café joining the training centre so the chef can take food from the garden, as he needs it. Each day myself, and the students, would build more gardens from the fishbone vegetable garden to the keyhole gardens. They even came up with a “pizza garden” next to the proposed wood fired earth pizza oven to supply the fresh toppings on their organic pizzas. Slowly a whole new food production system emerged.
I could see the Hare Krishna students changing as the work progressed each day. In their eyes I could see a new awareness in the understanding that creating something tangible with your hands was extremely satisfying. In my view chanting Gods name all day needs to be balanced with doing some real service to the Earth and its people. By the end of the PDC the devotees were in complete agreement. It was like they were born again! If all religions balanced their spiritual activities with earth care our planet would be returned to paradise in no time.
Religion seemed to be the sub theme of the PDC. I saw students reading the bible as well as students meditating. The Hare Krishna’s were chanting and banging their drums from early in the morning. I could even hear the mosque in the next village sometimes as well as the born again Christians singing in their church nearby. All of them are probably praying that God come down and fix this ailing planet.
One student asked me what religion I followed. “I’m a free thinker” I replied. That raised a few eyebrows so I asked the class if you have to be religious to be a spiritual person….there was silence as their thinking gears began to turn. They shook their heads as they realized that spirituality is an individual preference and people don’t need a church, a mosque or a temple to walk a spiritual path. For me, I told them, God will be happier with me if I physically do something to help the Earth and its people rather than praying and begging God to help us all day! Collectively, us humans have the ability to repair this world. It starts with each of us taking personal responsibility and choosing to do something real to change this planet for the better. Permaculture is a great toolbox for us to get some ideas on what to start with first.
The last day finished with the students presenting their 3-D design models of the farm in 3 separate groups. We heard some very creative design ideas from each group. Each group was a mixture of international students, devotees and local Filipino trainees. The Swami and several senior devotees listened in with interest. After it was over one of the senior devotees came to me and told me he cant believe the change in the devotees that took the course. They are full of new energy and are committed to making this farm productive. I told him that training the devotees was one of the most challenging tasks I’ve had to do. Bringing people from the temporal world to the real world takes a huge amount of energy and strategy.
Now that the Hare Krishna’s have their own productive farm and a new batch of devotee Green Warriors, they can set the example needed for other religions but first they have to weave this permaculture into their own reality permanently. I’ve agreed to be their coach as long as they stay working in the field…