Permagarden Training Initiative – Worldwide
Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association are pleased to announce our new Permagarden Training initiative – Worldwide. Under the direction of Peter Jensen, training and support will be provided to Peace Corps staff, Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and their local counterparts, Peace Corps Trainees, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) around the world.
The initiative is underway, with the following:
The training is centered around the “Terra Firma Method”, a time-proven training methodology developed by Peter Jensen, Permagarden Training Specialist, over a lifetime, but more specifically through many years as a Peace Corps trainer.
The Terra Firma Method is a simple, visual technique suitable for the training of families in low literacy populations. It requires little to no capital outlay by the family itself and can be accomplished without external inputs. It is easy to learn, do and teach.
The method is based on Five Steps, which revolve around a circle showing continuity. These steps are: Assess, Capture, Protect, Produce and Manage. Each step has corresponding tasks that are small and doable by even the most marginalized individuals and families.
A critical behavior change philosophy employed throughout the training and the ongoing outreach is The Rule of CLOSE. This Rule, also developed by Jensen, requires that all actions be close to the point of daily management, use ONLY locally accessible materials; are organic in terms of content and evolution; are small in size to appeal to anyone; and, are easy to see, do and teach others.
By implementing the method, families can achieve remarkably high productive yields of nutrient-dense grains, greens, fruit, root and legume crops throughout the year, regardless of the dry or rainy season. By using the Climate-Smart adaptation, mitigation and intensification principles (berms, double digging and intensive intercropping, respectively) it is possible to achieve family level nutrition security on a daily basis.
The youth, elderly and the disabled can become not only active participants but community-level educators as well, leading to even further psychosocial empowerment through resilience skills. By learning how to maximize even the smallest landscapes while minimizing the impacts of heavy rains and long droughts, large parcels of land are not necessary, leading to greater landscape resource management and income generation from value-added products close to the home. As the method requires no additional materials, such as fertilizers, special tools or irrigation, it can spread rapidly from neighbor to neighbor in any community, including densely populated IDP camps.
These family and school-based Permagardens can serve as the link between agriculture and nutrition as they directly address a broad array of agronomic, environmental, health, economic and social challenges. Through Permagarden actions, these issues convert into agroecological resilience on the small scale with eventual translation to the agroecosystem as a whole leading to sustainable resource management
The initiative has been started through the generosity of an anonymous donor, who has provided the funds to begin the program and ensure its success over the first year. In addition, he will match all outside donations, dollar-for-dollar, to enable rapid expansion.
Additional funding will be raised through the National Peace Corps Association Community Fund.
The initiative is designed to be unlimited in its scope and duration. Starting as a series of week-long training at Peace Corps posts in various countries in Africa, it is envisioned that the technology will be quickly spread to other continents with amazing results.
The skills taught will be easily implemented and result in lifelong changes in the lives of those touched. The results will span all areas, including health, education, food security, economic benefit, and preparation for and remediation of the effects of climate change.
Not the least of the benefits of this program will be the impact on the Peace Corps community. It will further the objectives of the Peace Corps, make the service of PCVs vastly more productive and satisfying, and create a platform for the continuing involvement RPCVs and the entire community.
This video below is a time-lapse of a 20-minute rain shower followed by 40 minutes of sunshine, compressed into 25 seconds. It highlights that even during these brief showers, just 4 mm of rain falling from a 30 square meter roof will result in over 100 liters of water. You can see how the “saturation pits” hold the water, keep it from running off and taking valuable topsoil with it, and then, ultimately, put it back into the earth where it is needed.
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