Seeds of Permaculture – Tropical Permaculture


According to the 13th Permaculture principle:
This film was made free to the world by you. Thank you. a special thanks to One of the reason we are shooting this film, and we havenít really touched on it yet,
is global climate change. All around the world, as you know,
places are experiencing odd weather events. Right now, weíre in Bangkok, Thailand. Itís the end of March, the dry season in Thailand,
and there is not supposed to be any rain. This, whatís happening behind me,
this stormy kind of weather is intended for June, July, August,September.
But here it’s happening in March. This is the new normal in this world. All around the world,
wether youíre in South America, in North America, in Europe, in Asia, people are experiencing weather patterns
that are out of the norm. So, one of the reasons that Permaculture
is getting so popular right now, growing faster than ever before, on an exponential curve of growth, is because our planet needs it. Itís time for the important changes
that Permaculture has to give. The Panya Project and Rak Tamachat
present Most of the students that come
to our PDC courses are really in this wonderful,
interesting time in their life, right on the edge,
deciding what they want for their life. They have done college,
or most of their college life, maybe theyíve entered into a career, and theyíre just thinking,
this isnít really doing it for me. And as far as I’m seeing from the world,
itís not going to get any better. Seeds of Permaculture
If it’s beautiful it’s better So theyíre looking for an alternative,
They’re looking for a way to change whatís going to play out in their lifes.
Theyíre trying to take it into their own hands. I quit my job to come to Thailand,
to learn a bit about Buddhism and Permaculture… While I care about nutrition
and health care… I have a bigger concern
about conservation and sustainability. What weíre doing right now isnít working… We stopped farming
because the land was no good and we wanted it to be a real family thing like it was with my grandfather,
and my great-grandfather. Iím very interested in sustainability. People are becoming less
and less self-sufficient, around the world, these local communities that were previously
growing everything themselves and knew how to build their own houses
out of natural materials are completely dependent on
big foreign powers and import from other countries… So I guess, I grew up around heaps of trees,
and the rain forest, and animals… I have always had that connection with nature, and so if Iím away from it
I feel like somethingís missing. So what brought me here
is learning about a new culture, the different kind of environment
and habitat, and… Iím staying on a farm in Chiang Mai, so I want to learn as much as I can
in this place, and take it back with me. And see what I can do. One of the challenges
that Permaculture has out in front of it is proving to the world that it can be
a viable form of profitable agriculture. Through the development of a master plan
for your site or your project, itís possible to really lay out
enhancement strategies that make it more likely that you
and your project can become profitable. One of the most important aspects
to our ecological farm here is the making of compost,
about improving the soil, and constantly bringing more organic matter
and more life into the soil. The compost production process
is actually really easy. Itís accessible to anyone,
it doesnít take expensive parts, it doesnít take that much space.
All you need are three simple ingredients, and those ingredients can come
from any number of sources. Weíre going to use brown matter,
which on this farm we use corn husk for it because they produce
a bunch of corn at this farm, and this is kind of tossed aside
to be used later. So using corn husks as our brown matter, itís going to be the high carbon component
of our compost pile. Then we need green matter.
Youíre looking for a green, leafy matter. The green colour in the leaf indicates
that thereís still quite a bit of nitrogen left in it. If I was to leave this out in the sun
after a couple of days it would turn brown, and thatís indicating that the nitrogen
has been lost into the atmosphere. So we want to cut it fresh,
use it fresh in our compost pile. We just had a bunch of weeds around our farm and this morning we went out and collected
them up and put them in a big pile, and as we add it to the compost pile
weíre going to chop it into little bits. We also have a bunch
of food scraps from the kitchen that weíre going to layer into the pile as well, and thatís also considered part
of our green component. For the nitrogen component of the compost
pile, generally we use manure in the pile. You can get away
with using the greens from legume plants, ëcause theyíre also high in nitrogen,
but weíre going to use, in our local area there are lots of cows around,
so we just went to some local farmers and got their manure from them. So weíre just using
some manure out of their cow yards. So weíll layer this in along
with the green and the brown and add moisture and oxygen
and thatíll make our compost pile. All the different countries represented, the place can reach
some kind of resilience… Another important component
to our compost pile is an inoculum of microorganisms
from the previous compost pile, so weíre going to take
some high quality compost that we produced previously
and sprinkle it into our pile as weíre making the layers. That way all the bacterial life,
all the fungal life, the microorganisms
that are thriving in this pile will be added to that pile and will start just to flourish
as we create the right conditions. This is going to make our new compost pile,
beautiful and wonderful for our site. Alright, when we got to build
our compost pile we need to get the correct proportions
of our different components. What weíre looking for is a 30:1
carbon to nitrogen ratio in our pile. Generally weíd do it based on recipes
and then adjust your pile as you go. So one of the most common recipes is
a 40% brown matter 40% green matter and 20% high nitrogen. So then you layer those in your pile watering it pretty heavily
the entire time and then let it sit. Now, depending on
what materials youíre using, youíre going to have to adjust that, so what youíre going to need to do
is build your pile with the materials you have readily available to you
in your area and then see how it goes. If the pile gets too hot,
which we often experience here in the tropics because the microbes are so active
and so ready to do their job, that means we have
too much nitrogen in the pile. So, when you go to turn the pile,
we should mix a little bit more carbon matter, that can be saw dust,
that can be strips of paper and that can be our corn husks,
thatís what weíre using here. If your pile is not really doing anything,
itís not really getting hot, it doesnít seem to be breaking down, that means you donít have enough nitrogen, so basically get a little bit more manure,
or a little bit more of your legume greens and mix those in as your turning the pile. If youíre pile smells completely like sewage,
if it just smells like shit, then that is a
sign that itís going anaerobic, which means
you donít have enough oxygen in the pile. Itís really important that we donít allow the
compost pile to go anaerobic. So the best method for that is
to acquire a compost thermometer and watch the temperature of the pile. We want to watch the temperature
is going up to about 65∞C. At 65∞C then we want to turn the pile, get more air into it and allow it
to go through its process again. If the pile gets to 70∞C, itís going to start
killing beneficial microbial life. Thereís two main reasons
why that would happen, one is that the pile is too wet, which means you just need
to add more dry material or spread the pile out a little bit
and let it dry out. The other reason why it might be going
anaerobic is that you have too much nitrogen, and so the nitrogen is reacting a lot
and eating up all the oxygen really quickly, before it can re-aerate itself. So really important to keep our piles
as an aerated pile. So, with those tricks
and over a couple of times of trying it, you should become really comfortable
at making a really high quality compost. Oh yeah, thereís one other thing, if youíre not so concerned
about creating the best quality compost but instead you want to focus
on making hot water for showers, you can run a black plastic tubing
through the pile and then get the pile to get up
to those really high temperatures and you can have hot water for weeks. I was travelling in central America,
after finishing my studies and I was doing
some NGO work there. As I was working,
I met somebody who told me there was a project
where he was going to volunteer where they were trying
to make the houses and make the life with whatever
was available on the land. I was really attracted by going there
and checking out the place. Which I did and I staid there for a few days and when I finished my time there
I was so pumped for learning more. NURSERY So I said, if by any chance
thereís any other places in the world where people actually do that, so the guy said yeah,
there’s plenty of places, many, many people living
this kind of life and he gave me the address
of a good friend of his who lived in Thailand
and organised a lot of workshops, so I wrote him an email
and got a reply right away and very friendly, I felt like I was
chatting with a friend right away so directly I thought
that was a good place to go to. But I wasnít aware yet
that I was going to learn even more things
than just natural building and learning about like life in general. Which is whatís happening living in community
and gardening and building and managing water
and electricity, power, anything. Itís like a mini world here. So another thing thatís interesting in this
area on a permacutlure point of view is that because weíre very high in altitude
itís just as if we were going higher in latitude, so from a tropical climate
where we are at Panya, weíre kind of going
to a sub-tropical climate here. Therefore it allows people to
feel a bit more of the niches that are in the landscape
and grow more temperate vegetables, strawberries, spinach,
artechoke and asparagus. That allows them to have also a better diversity
in the commercial ascpect of view. These vegetables have
a bit more value in the market. Itís pretty interesting
to see the landscape here, ëcause itís a very good example of what working
along the contour lines of the landscape is. And here theyíre doing gardening
with the same technique and that allows the nutrients and the water to sink into the soil
wherever you grow your vegetables and it prevents from erosion as well. Like working on a slope. Whenever we have a big rain
it just washes away everything. Itís nothing new and people in China
and in South East Asia in general have been using this terracing system
for thousands of years and itís been working
for thousands of years, so… Modern agriculture has changed that and doesnít work along the contour
because it doesnít fit with the big machines, but it makes so much more sense
to use these ancient techniques for respecting the land
and growing things in a more appropriate way
according to laws of nature. So, this is the permaculture version
of a drive through. We’re just eating from the car. The plant we’re eating is Nasturtium. Yeah, we’re definetely
taking it back to Panya. Try to get some cuttings,
bring some little seeds and see whatever we can grow
back at the farm. That’s Mimi. We call her the little slut. Because every night she sleeps
with somebody different, in a different bed. She’s been here for a while, but she does a good job
catching the rats and the mice. So, after a big day of work,
I like to have a good shower, and having a simple life doesnít mean
that we have to get rid of all the comfort. So, this little system here, itís very very easy to install,
itís just basically a big black tank. Itís our water heating system that allows us to have two hundred liter
of hot water every night when we want to take a shower. So itís very easy, just get a glass in the
front and some insulation on the sides. Itís pretty easy to make, my guess would be in the thinking,
probably half a day to make the design, another half a day
to collect the materials, and then probably it needs to take
like two days to build it properly and to make the connections and everything and thanks to the sytem itís about
two hundred liters of water which allows about 20 people
to take a nice hot shower every evening. And when we open the tap, the water is fed by
gravity, it comes through the tank. And that allows us
to all have a nice shower in the evening, after a big muddy day of work. When a client approches us
about having a master plan done for their project we go through a whole series of steps
to make that happen. We start generally with a goals analysis
of their site, their family, of their project, of the enterprise that
they want us to work on. After that we generally do a site analysis, weíll do a visit to the site and spend
a number of days up to a week with the client establishing what are
the preexisting structures on site, what resources are available to the project and what might be useful in terms
of moving forward with the design. Weíre going to put on top soil, so that way we obviously wonít lose
vegetation gardening around our landscaping. But at that point I think you need
just to lay out where youíre going to be. I think you can get ten
or twelve of the bungalows… It is a great way to create shade really fast
and get something delicious from it. … we were saying on the swales, we were speaking about
if we put the dirt up too high, then in the dry season
the water table can drop so far that whatever youíve planted dies. I think that just watching the water, the flows, how is that gonna work out,
then observing it. There is actually a principle of permaculture
that says you should go observe for a year. In Chiang Mai you donít have
to worry about the blowing rain as much. Like you said you have the macro and the microclimate. – Yeah
– No problem. But here, youíre going to end up with a… We need more overhangs to protect against that. So thatís something weíve already learned,
it can be a lesson learned. – Yeah.
– Yeah. It’s a direct resource from
the local community right here. Every single baht is going
to those people that worked for it, – you didnít buy anything in Tesco Lotus.
– No. …to be able to supply
these materials, which is nice! You know, we thought we wanted
to support the local environment. Yeah, thatís cool. Should we go…? – Wow! That’s cool, actually.
– That’s very useful in the garden. – Yeah.
– Yeah. – A lot of baby worms.
– There’s like ten worms in one handful! We always find them
in the compost at Panya, always! You can feed them to the chickens. Ultimately with the master plan what weíre looking for
is to achieve our holistic goals. We want the economics of the site to be in line we want the ecology of the site
to be continuously improving, we want the personal needs
of the residents there to be met. In the fields behind me, weíre implementing
a combination of orchard fruit forests and alley cropping
corn systems over here. One of the first steps weíre going to do
with this is to put in swales. About 600 meters of swales, three contoured lines of swales,
will be put in behind me in the coming months. And those swells primarily
are intended to sink in all the water that falls during the rainy season
and benefit the land throughout the year. That water will penetrate the soil and be held down in the water table and be accessible to the
plants throughout the year. The benefits of the infiltration
of the water from the swales system will be felt on this land and beyond. Additional water into the water table and accessible water
to all the plants on site will bring a lot more greenery to this
land throughout the dry season. Itís just incredible
to see the amount of growth thatís taking place
in a short nine month period here. I mean, this was just cornfields
nine months ago. Iím surrounded by a sea of legume trees. Fixing nitrogen, creating shade and even providing food for the community here. This plant here is pigeon pea. It is one of the permaculture all stars
in the tropical climate. We can eat the shoots of the plant,
we can eat the seeds of the plant, and all the while itís fixing nitrogen. Thereís edibles around me, thereís young fruit trees around me, and basically for as far as I can
see on this land is a water harvesting swale that over the course of the last 9 months
has probably harvested an area of 20 million
liters of water. Perfect. Through the implementation
of these enhancement strategies weíre looking to reduce erosion, to build healtier soil,
to increase yelds and in turn to make it more profitable
for the farmers here. Ever since they discovered this pile
a couple of days ago, we find ourselves returning here often, mostly because it has the most dense
microbial life of any soil on the farm. Yeah, thatís true, itís a wonderful resource of microbes, especially here,
theyíre starting, new farm, they need it to build soil
to really improve soil fertility. And we would expect that this pile
has the best microbial life because it provides the best environment
on the farm for those microbes. It has all the food that these microbes need and the cover on top
is protecting it from the sun and holding the moisture inside. So the microbes in here have everything
they need to be growing and flourishing. And, they haven’t really touched
this pile in two years, so, it hasn’t been turned
like the agricultural fields, so there is no disturbance for the microbes
and they can just grow freely. We were invited here to teach about the soils, and set up a basic soil biology lab, which is really exciting for us, because the soil is something that nobody
really even talks about or understands. And it’s just so important, because there is so much life
underneath the soil. In one teaspoon of good healthy soil, there are
over one billion bacteria, 900 feet of fungi,
50.000 protozoa and several dozen nematodes. It is feeding the plant, right? So, we all have this idea that we need
the nitrogen in the fertilisers, to feed the plants to make them grow but for millenia Mother Nature
has been feeding the plants, making everything on earth grow
without our input. And it’s the soil microbes which do that. The plants have a relationship
with the soil microbes, which allows them
to obtain all the nutrients that the plants need in the soil. The microbes help produce
good soil structure, they cycle various nutrients,
such as nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus… They interact with each other
at the root zone of the plant and provide all the nutrition
the plant needs. So, we all know that the plant
undergoes photosynthesis, the sun hits it, there’s the chloroplasts,
they create these sugars… And we all think that’s what it uses
to make itself grow. But really a plant is taking
more than half of that, like 60% of all the energy
that it makes from the sun and it’s feeding it
through this root exudates to the microrganisms in the soil. These little guys use these fungi,
these bacteria, they can’t photosythesize, so they rely on the plant
to get all the food that it needs. But there is a little trade
going on here, so in exchange for the sugars
that the plant is giving it, the soil microbes are providing the food
that the plant needs to grow. It’s really important
to understand the difference between an orchard
and a food forest. An orchard is a kind of
less intensively managed area, usually it’s larger in size
and focuses on one or two species. With the whole purpose being
high production of those one or two species
to send to market. A food forest is usually
much smaller in area, a little bit more extensively managed, it has multi-funtions, it has many more
functions than an orchard does. So, once this food forest is finished, we hope to have mimicked many of the layers
of the forest, of a natural forest, including the trees, shrubs,
herbs and vine layers. What we’re actually doing here,
right now, is trying to take the orchard
and turning it into a food forest. We’ve actively tilled this land, we are going to alley crop
in the meantime, until this trees grow
quite a bit bigger, and currently we are adding in
different herbs and vegetables, to the understorey of the trees. Right now, they’re planting cassava cuttings. Cassava is a pretty incredible plant, in that it’s so versatile in tropics, it can grow in a desert situation,
it can grow in a really wet situation. It’s not the most nutricious food item, but it is a security plant. We look at it if there’s
some sort of emergency, if there is a huge drought, or if there is a hurricane that wipes out
all the fruit crops off the trees, we can still dig up
these giant roots of cassava and get the needed calories. One of the features
that is missing from this orchard, an important feature
to transition it into food forest, is the addition of legumes. Legumes are a classification of plant that the vast majority of them
fix nitrogen into the soil. It’s really important. Through
an interaction with bacteria in the soil the bacteria is able to pull nitrogen
out of the air and put it into the soil. This is a huge boon for us. Some of the important species
that we’re going to use in the legume family are gliricidia,
gliricidia is a really great tropical legume, that you can plant by cuttings. Very similar to the cassava
plantings back here, you can just chop it
in a little one foot lenghts, and as long as you plant it
the right way up, it will grow. Another great one is leucaena. Leucaena grows around here
really commonly. Some of the Thai people consider it a pest, but the multiple functions of leucaena
make it well worth planting it out here. It’s a fodder for animals,
it fixes nitrogen in the soil, it’s a great chop and drop
nitrogen fixing plant because you chop it
during the rainy season, chop it up into little bits,
put it around these fruit trees and by just a few months later,
the sprouts are growing big again and by the dry season, it’s putting up enough shade
to keep these trees healthy and happy. A third great nitrogen fixing plant, which we’re actually planting today,
is the pigeon pea. I can’t wait to just be able
to come out here and pick my own jackfruits
and durians and star apples. and jujubes and atemoias, soursops,
these jackfruits, oranges, pomelos, pineapples on the ground,
Jamaican cherry and… Oh, when the durian season
comes around, it will be so good! Loquats, Surinam cherries,
mangosteens, the queen of fruit. Lychee and mangos… Thank you. Okay, beautiful. So, I’m sitting in this little shop here,
in the village of Hua Ka Teng Thai and I’m having a beer with a couple of locals
and a couple of people from the farm, kind of talking about how we are going
to plant the food forest, what species we are going to put in, what different layers we can achieve. And… trying to strategize about
how exactly to get it going. And I raised my eyes up
and I was looking out into the yard while I was thinking… They’ve got a food forest
going right here! In the yard. That’s really beautiful,
we should walk out there. Do you harvest and eat
from your garden everyday? Yes, I eat from there every day. The garden does not have pesticides. It grows organically. That’s good! Thank you. You’re welcome. After a closer examination
of this woman’s yard, I can identify at least
12 varieties of edible, almost all perennials, that are existing
in this backyard food forest. Straight behind me here is the over-story of
this area, is the jackfruit tree. A tree that produces more fruit,
in terms of kilos per year, than any other fruit on the planet. Beyond the jackfruit tree,
which is actually in the neighbours yard, we can see what they call ‘Gluay Hom’ in Thai, which the western style banana,
the big long ones. Thereís actually jackfruits on the tree, I can see about ten
of them just in the lower branches. As we come closer here,
we’ve got papaya growing. A nice Thai papaya. Also, as you start to walk
around this garden, there’s a couple
different varieties of eggplants. Here is the Thai style eggplant,
a little round version. and right here, look closer, are the longer versions,
a little bit closer to the western style. These ones have gone beyond
the best point of eating, but they can still be saved for seeds. This is lemongrass. I’m sure it’s used almost every day
in the family’s cooking. There’s more of the traditional
Thai banana behind us. There’s actually a couple
small bunches of them, they’re kind of like a little
lady fingers style bananas, smaller, much more flavourful
than the bananas we have in the west. You can see, beyond these little papayas here, you can see a little bunch
of bananas up on the tree there. And as we turn around that way,
we’ve got the kaffir lime. This plant is used often in Thai cooking,
in the coconut milk soup. They use this and they
often fry it with peanuts and other things. Really amazing, delicious herb. Kind of in the ground here,
in the wetter area of the yard. This wet loving plant called pandenas. which is used often in… It’s this plant here. Used often in desserts
and herbal drinks in Thailand. Some others hanging from the tree up here. They look like little, small perennial cucumbers
on it that you can eat, but what’s mostly eaten in Thailand
is just the shoots off of this plant. So, I don’t know how many I just named,
but there’s close to 12. And another one, which I saw popping up
in the corner over there, which I don’t even think they’ve planted,
is some emerand. Probably just a weed
for this family, but totally pickable and edible
in their stir fries. Beautiful! If we can get our food forest to look
half as good, we’re golden. Now they have about six families
as members of the network that is regularly bringing their products here to sell and also the villagers in the village, they buy these products here, they just buy some amounts that they need,
something they like to eat not everything that they produce. We don’t drive our own produce
individually into town. Everybody shares a space
on the truck for their produce. If we go alone, it is not worth the cost
of gas because the market is far. If we sell it locally
we can only sell so much. Local neighbours could still buy
from each other here. But again, we cannot sell out
all the crops locally. Also, our gardens do not always yield enough. So everyone gathers their crops
on the truck to the market. At the market everyone has
an allotted space for their products. If we go individually there’s not
enough space for all of us. We will be selling in cramped conditions
because the market is small. So, she’s been doing this
for 7 years already, growing organic and selling organic products. And she said it changed her life as well, because she’s become healthier,
both her mind and her body. Because she really enjoys
when she goes to her garden because she doesn’t have
to be careful of all the chemicals, she never has to use the gloves in,
like, working and she enjoys seeing things grow,
seeing the product of her work. She just feels like itís healthier,
mentally and physically. Pun Pun project is very involved
in our community Jo, who inspired me,
is the reason why Pun Pun is involved. He made me change for the better. With Jo’s help I rallied people
to stop using chemical fertilizers. However, there wasn’t much change. When Jo came,
he was a crucial turning point for us locals. If Jo wasn’t here, we wouldn’t consider
stopping the use of chemical fertilizers, because we don’t have enough patience. Since Joe lived here, he is my source
of insipiratio whenever I am down. When I meet Jo, I would have the energy
to rally people. After he taught us self-reliance. The next priority for most of us
was our children. Since we live in a rural area and don’t have money for our kids’
English lessons. This can hinder our children’s English skills
when they attend school later on. But when our community has foreigners
from Pun Pun and Panya over, kids learn not to be afraid
to interact with them. In addition, they also learn
to speak English! Nowadays when our kids go into the city, they speak better English than city kids. This is something that we didn’t expect
from Panya and Pun Pun. Our children can learn English
and are not afraid of Westeners. As you have noticed them interacting
with foreigners casually. So, we have looked at how
a food forest is made and if you haven’t got
enough space for it, a forest, you can always make a garden
in your backyard. So, when people think of gardening, they might think of food, maybe soil,
maybe even hard work. For me, when I think of gardening,
I think empowerment, because my garden is a little
mini-revolution in itself. It’s a way for us to work
from the grass roots and really cut the ties between
these big business and agro business which causes all this
environmental degradation. And if every dollar that I’m spending
is saying, “I support you”, then I’m just not willing to support
supermarket chains. So it also means a lot about nutrition
for me as well. When I searched the world for what was
the healthiest thing to put into my body, and I read and read
and I found in every book, it always went back
to the healthiest thing you can eat, it is something
that is picked directly from a plant and put directly into your mouth. Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy humans. It’s also really cheap. You know, you can grow a lot of food
in a very small area for not much money. Pharmaceutical companies use the garden,
the herbs and spices and the root plants that are growing right in our garden beds. They put loads of chemicals in
and dilute lots of fossil fuels and sell it to us, where we have got it
growing in our own garden beds! So let’s just cut that tie all together. So if we think about gardens
we can think cheap, we can think easy,
you can meet your neighbours, you can meet your local community
by learning from the garden, learning from your surroundings. And it’s fun! So much fun to garden! Watching things grow can be really beautiful. So, here in the tropics there’s a few really good
strategies that you can use in your garden. One would be mulch. Everything is kept in the biomass in the tropics, so we need to cover our soil
with as much organic matter as you can. And that can be straw,
or you can grow your own mulch lemon grass or comfrey… Throw anything onto the soil,
as long as it’s covered. Another one would be water. So, when we’re facing the wet
and dry seasons of the tropics, we have to really design
around our water systems. So one good water strategy in the tropics is using swales or planting on contour,
like Geoffroy was speaking about. Another good strategy is
using drip line irrigation, which you would place
underneath the mulch, that waters the plants exactly, because we are trying to reduce,
reuse and recycle as much water as we can. So you can also use things like grey water, that’s a really great use of grey water,
is in your garden beds. Another good strategy
in tropical gardening is weed barriers. So, in the tropics we have huge bursts
of growth in the wet season. And they’re all there for a reason. In permaculture we think
that the problem is the solution, so we look at the weed and we think
“How can that be our solution?” And a lot of weeds are doing
the things that we want them to do, covering the soil and protecting it. Which gives us the amazing plants. So, covering the soil would be
the first thing that you would do when you’re trying to stop
the weeds coming up. So that comes back to mulch again,
that cuts down a lot of our weeding needs. And you can also plant weed barriers, so put things around the edges
of your garden, that can stop the weeds from coming in. That can be logs, or bricks, or rocks, or anything. Or you can plant weed barriers. And that way you’ve got veg and things
growing around the edge of your garden that you can harvest from as well. Things like comfrey, again lemongrass,
calla lilies, daylilies, edible flowers… Plant them around the edges of your garden and you will have extra things
to harvest from and stop the weeds. There’s a couple of permaculture plants
that I love to use in the tropics. One is comfrey. Comfrey is one of my favourites! It’s an amazing, amazing plant.
It can do so many things, as I said before with the weed barriers,
really good, grows in a big clump, so it stops any weed from coming in. It’s also what we call a dynamic accumulator. So it sends tap roots really deep down in the soil, and holds up a lot of nutrients
that are not acceptable for other plants and stores them in really
concentrated forms in the leaves. Then when the plant dies down
at the end of the season the nutrients become accessible
to all the other plants around. So that’s really super good for the plants. And because it has
so high nutrients in the leaves, it is really good for making weed teas, so you just ferment it in water and then spray it
onto your garden, diluted. And it’s just like a little fertilizer. You can also use it as a compost accelerator. If you put it in your compost,
it makes it go way faster. Even just a few leaves does the trick. It’s also a medicinal plant,
they call it knitbone in some places. The Roman soldiers never used it march in war,
unless they had comfery and garlic. Those are the two antiseptic, antibacterial,
anti-amazingness of plants. The other really good plant that we use
in tropical permaculture is neem, and this is a really good pioneer plant. Christian probably spoke a bit in the food forest
about plants that pioneer up. It’s a really fast growing tree, and it’s also very medicinal,
the Indians eat like 5 leaves a day. A neem leaf a day keeps the doctor away. It’s really bitter, but amazing
for every part of your body. Bulding immunity, immune system,
it’s really good for digestion, you can even use the branches
to brush your teeth with. You can get oil from the leaves
and from the fruit and from that you can make shampoos,
you can make detergents, and it can get rid of things like lice and fleas,
so it’s excellent for your animals too. And because it’s such a bitter leaf, it’s a really good insecticide,
a natural insecticide. You can turn it into a spray
and keep all the bugs away. And because of that you can also use it
as a mulch on your garden, and that prevents pest and things
from coming into your garden as well. So both of these plants are my favourites. Grey water is something
that we can utilize to the extreme, there’s so many nutrients and amazing things
that come from grey water. And grey water is anything
that comes from your kitchen sink, your shower, your bathroom sink. Black water comes from your toilet. From your kitchen, you put a grease trap
and then directly into your banana circle, so you can be washing
your plates in the evening time, and watering your banana circle
which is right at your door. And banana circle is a beautiful way
of using tropical permaculture. To make a banana circle,
you basically dig a mulch pitch, fill that mulch, organic matter,
cardboard, newspaper, rice husk… Anything that can decompose down
and feed the microbes and the worms below. Then you plant bananas
around the outside of the circle, and those grow down and their roots
form like a net underneath, and that holds the whole thing together
and supports it in a beautiful structured way. Then from there, we add loads of guilds,
we stack in the amazing plants, so we can plant papayas, or mulberries,
or coconuts, all amongst there, and then we can plant ground covers
of sweet potato and taro, and yams, we can plant beans to climb up
and support the papayas. So we can make this a very abundant system
of tropical permaculture, that is like an ecosystem within itself. A great way to take that even one step further, is to cut the distance between
the house and the banana circle by actually creating a banana circle shower. So you can stand in amongst
your amazing ecosystem of food, and shower directly under
this beautiful banana circle, knowing that the water that you pour on yourself is feeding directly down
into these plants beneat you, and then feeding you. So we can create this beautiful ecosystems
and microclimates right at our doorstep for a crazy amount of abundance. This is our little participation on how to solve
some of the biggest problems in the world. It’s the humanure toilet. This one we call it the rocket toilet. So the way that it works:
you come up the stairs, you do your little business,
and cover it with some rice husk. Rice husk is the most
locally available organic material. The goal of it is just to cover your business, so that it doesn’t smell,
it doesn’t attract the flies, People come and go,
come and go, come and go… We have good food here,
so they come quite often. And once it’s full,
we just put the lid on, leave it for one year,
and then we open the little door on the side, and we’ve got black gold. And how this really helps to save
big problems in the world, is that by using no water at all we don’t have to clean water to use to flush, at the same time we get free fertilizer. And the more people come here,
and the more fertilizer we have for our land. So we really like to have many people around,
it’s plenty of fertilizer for our fruit trees. So, if it’s made properly, this is a system
that is actually very clean. There shouldn’t be any fecal matter
or any kind of patogens by the end of the fermentation,
and only good matter of compost. But here, because we are an education center, to make sure that we don’t spread
any disease or anything, we never use this kind
of compost in our veggie garden, we only use it around the trees
in the food forest. It’s important to have to keep it quite dry,
that’s what really makes the difference, and a long lasting process,
it’s like a long fermentation, which helps braking down anything
that could be harmful for us. You might want to consider
having some worms around. Because if you think of inputs and outputs
of having warms in a farm, and I’m not talking about the earthworms, I’m talking about these little guys here, these guys are called the red rigglers. They’re the ones that love to live
in nice, fresh vegetables. They’ll eat all your leftover food
and transform that into worm cast, which is a very nice, strong fertilizer,
very high in nitrogen. And you also get the worm juice,
which you can just dilute with water, and use as a fertilizer as well. The worms double their population
within a few weeks, that will allow you to have extra worms and with these extra worms,
you can also feed them to your chickens. That’s going to be always a nice treat for them. So there is no waste
with having worms around in a farm. Out here in the fields,
amongst the fruit trees, taking soil samples and things… It’s easy to forget about money
and not think about it. But money is an important part of our lives. When we consider money and profit,
and economic yield on a permaculture site we have to look at it
from a couple different angles. We don’t separate necessarily the enterprise
of the family from the family life itself. So, we can look at a reduction
in costs to the family life similarly to an increase
in profits from the enterprise. So what we’re trying to do
with permaculture systems here, is both to reduce our costs,
to reduce our fuel usage, to reduce the cost of all the implements
and machinery that we need on site, to reduce the cost of labour, to reduce our inputs like pesticides,
fertilizers, those kind of things. Reduce them down very low, while at the same time producing a product
that’s of higher quality. The organic and permaculture grown produce
can get a much higher cost in the market. We can seek out in niche markets, we can approach restaurants,
we can approach hotels, we can approach CSA,
community supported agriculture products, and see if our product can be sold through those avenues. One of the principles
of permaculture is multifunctionality. We’re constantly thinking about how
all the resources we have on site can be used in different ways. And when one stops being useful in one way,
it can be turned into something else. For example, not far from me over here,
there’s a row of jackfruit trees. A healthy mature tree can easily produce
over 500 kg of fruit in a year. That jackfruit tree can live to 800 years old. And at the end of its life
it’s a high quality timber. That timber can then be
cut down and put into a house that will last multiple generations. When that house is ready to come down,
when the wood starts to rot out, that wood can be pulled down
and made into a chair, made into a piece of furniture. And when that chair starts to fall apart, that would can then be used
as kinding in the fire. And then, when that fire is out,
we can take the ash from that, put that ash in our compost pile,
and mixed it back into our gardens, and grow another jackfruit tree with it. This is the way we want to think in permaculture. It’s already inside of us, inside of us. It’s only been in the last 50-60 years
that we’ve lost this knowledge, you know. It’s inside of us and I teach it,
and then I see it, people are so fast, they learn so fast,
they enjoy it so much as they go. And I really do think that it’s only over
the last 50 or 60 years that it’s been lost. Before that… You know, my grandfather built
his own house at the weekends, whilst having a job during the week. And… I think people have a fear about it, have a fear that they have
to employ somebody to do it for them, that they can’t do it themselves.
We’re told that we can’t do it ourselves. And… it’s really not the case, you know, we can. And if you put your own energy into it, it becomes something different,
you’ve invested… It becomes like a piece of art,
you’ve invested a piece of yourself in it. It has so much more,
you enjoy it so much more. Scrape back the excess,
rather than having it under full and keep it… So wait until they’re over full
and then scrape back the excess. Yeah, fill them all. Keep all the buckets clean as we come back. There are many styles of natural building and the one that we choose
depends on the local context, it depends on the local materials available. Permaculture tries to draw from local,
traditional and indigenous knowledge, and combine that with modern,
appropriate technology. Concrete or cement has its place
in natural building. But from permaculture point of view, we want to use it very mindfully,
and in the right places, and as minimum as possible. And it’s very different working with the adobe as opposed to concrete or cement,
which is a distructive system and in permaculture we’re looking
to move away to supporting distructive systems. The style that we have chosen
for this building is the adobe. The adobe has been used for thousands of years, it’s available to all,
it’s earth underneath our feet. It’s fun to do and it can be done by anybody. You don’t want more than 30% clay in the mix. The majority of the mix is sand
or some kind of binder. But you can use coconut fiber,
or animal hair, or chopped straw. So we can see the people behind me here,
they’re adding water to the pit. We want to get the water proportions correct,
so there’s not too much water. If thereís too much, when we lift the forms,
the bricks are going to slump, and if there is not enough,
we will have trouble lifting the forms up. A lot of people tend to put
too much clay into their bricks. And if there is too much clay,
they will crack, they will come apart, because the clay will expand when wet
and contract when dry. We dry it out in the sun and it will go very hard
and make solid brick to use. You don’t want the bricks to dry out too fast, we put straw over them,
so they dry nice and slowly. In this case we’re using shade cloth
that we’ll later use on the nursery on site. When working with natural materials,
we don’t need to use much safety gear, because it’s very kind to us. As opposed to working
with concrete or cement, we need gloves, if we spend all day working with cement,
we’re going to have blisters the next day, our hands are going to dry out. Working with the earth is beautiful.
It feels so natural. Get your fingers in there, Steve.
But it’s all muddy! And run it through, because that’s exactly
what termites are looking for. Them little pockets that they send out. The guys they find it and they come back
and expand on that hole. Here in the tropics you want
to design towards staying cool and dry, also thinking about rains. A lot of this relates to the roof design. We want big overhangs on our roofs, to protect our walls
from the rain and the elements. Also, it multi-functionly shades our walls
to keep the interior of the house cool. We want to have openings in the roof, so the air can flow through the house
and create updrafts, which keeps the house nice and cool. Maintenance has to be done
after the monsoon season here in the tropics. And that could be re-plastering a wall, or often putting another lime wash
on to protect from the rain, also to patch up some damage that may have been caused
by strong winds and rain during that time of year. That can be done together
with the family or a group of friends, and be an enjoyable experience.
But some maintenance is always necessary. One of the projects here
within the community we’re really excited about is the earthen baking oven. Earthen ovens really bring community together,
they bring people together. It connects us with our food source,
it connects us with the elements of the earth. You know, we’ve built this oven using
the resources around us, using clay and sand. So, this oven is being built
not only to give these students an introduction to natural building, a first hand experience
of working with the materials, and the resources that are just outside of our
door, that are all around us, but also because we are so excited to be baking
bread, making pizzas, and roasting a turkey
that we’ve raised on the farm here. We’re putting our oven here in this area, that will become a really beautiful,
kind of garden patio, sitting area, for people to come together and relax,
and rejuvinate and have good conversation, and prepare food,and it’s going to be
a gathering place for celebration. It’s going to be surrounded by gardens and edible fruits you can go and pick
the herbs putting on your bread and your pizza. It’s going to create a very beautiful space. Earth ovens are also super efficient. Using all three types of heat, being radiant heat from the sun, convectional heat,
which is warm air circulating through, and conductive heat,
itís like frying an egg on a frying pan. Most conventional modern ovens use
only one type of heat, being convectional heat. And that can leave a lot
of air pockets, cool air pockets, so that you don’t get a as even as a baking. With the earthen oven you have the radiant heat
being stored in the thick earthen walls going back into the oven. We also have a thermal layer,
an insulative layer, so that heat is not lost to the outside. The heath goes back
into the center of the oven. Inside the warm air is circulating,
itís really steam filled air so you get this moist baking environment
which really creates nice loafs of bread. Then you also get the conductive heath
from the fire being built right on the bricks, and the bricks warm up
at such a hot temperature that the bread or the pizza
or the turkey is roasted, is baking from below so these three types of heath
create a really even, efficient environment for whatever you may be baking. A step I really like to do
is prep all my materials, A lot of times we are getting
our clay from big piles or excavation sites or holes we dug and it might have chunks,
clay clots in there, stones and pebbles. Working with a sifted material is so much nicer. You’re going to get a better product, you’re not
going to get air pockets and rock pockets, where heat can get in and kind of burst open
the area. Sand is also a good thing to sift,
a lot of sand has rock chunks in it. So, sifting material is great
and a really nice step to include. So when it gets to be… You’re happy with all the
seams and eveness, we’re just going to let it sit. Donít go over it too much. I know I repeat that,
but it’s so easy to just keep going over and over. Itís really detrimental for the… It’s not as good for the clay. And remember, your oven
is your own creative expression so make it beautiful
and put a lot of love into it. Permaculture is about an assembly of elements. It’s about how elements fit together
and how they relate to one another. And one of the most important elements
in any permaculture design is how the community fits into the design work. So today we have a very unique opportunity
to incorporate elements in a community that we never had before. Through the internet and just living in large cities,
we’re able to find people of like minds and assemble communities much more dynamically
that we ever have been able to before. My teacher Christian sent an email out inviting
all the previous students to this new project, we didn’t have a name for it at the time,
but I jumped on it. I was at home at the time, and couldn’t really handle the idea of staying
in the developed world with intelligent people and watching all the problems
and no solutions in sight. So, I came here to learn what I could learn
and I have been here for 11 months now. About 2 years ago I was still
in my final term of high school and the project I gave myself
was an in-depth study into Native Americans because I’ve always loved them in terms of like
the way that they were part of nature, it sounded amazing to me
and it sounded like a fairy tale. I did all the research that I could,
I read so many books on it and I ended up wanting
to study all the aspects of the culture and actually try implementing
the way they built shelters and the way they made fire
without matches, that kind of thing. And I started with fire, and ended up spending the whole month
trying to make fire without matches. But the point of that is that I have
a very deep passion for these indigenous people who were around before technology and all that. Not that technology is evil,
I’m not one of those people, but it’s just… There’s just something very beautiful to me
about that ancient lifestyle. If I reflect about on that time,
now, two years later, it’s pretty amazing to think about the kind
of things that I’ve learned just by being here and living a very real experience and before when I was reading these books
and it was all very fantastical and it seemed like this dream
that I could never achieve while I was living in a prep school
dormitory in St. Louis, Missouri it all seemed so far to my reach
and in just 2 short years I’m here. As an example, this community here, I have been
here now for little over a month, and I see this as one of those oppportunities. Kind of the age old problem in society now
is people working their life away for retirement and then they realise they have worked
their life away for retirement. So it’s not a very healthy way to live. And it’s very easy to avoid it, if you just accept
that you can’t really control time. And time controls you more, and you have to work
with it, you know, just accept it. We’ve been here now 8 days
and the transition has been huge. For me, personally. So much so that I almost can’t remember
what was going through my head 8 days ago. I know that, for me as a nurse, and travelling around the world
and seeing what we’re doing not only to ourselves but the planet is… has been almost overwelming, to the point I’ve been stuck,
not able to move forward, even not really sure
what direction I want to go in. And really pretty bummed out
and depressed about it. Travelling to places
to provide health care to people and realizing that corporations
got there ahead of me and they’re drinking soda
and their teeth are rotting out in the middle of the Amazon. I mean, it’s been a crippling feeling, and so… To come here and in 8 days
loose a feeling that I’ve had for 15 years is… That’s pretty mind blowing actually. I feel empowered. I feel like I can take the knowledge
that we’ve learned and go back to these places
I am so passionate about going and working with the Masai and giving them
the tools that I’ve been given. You know, it didn’t take that long. Obviously I don’t have any
as much practical experience that I need, but the knowledge is there now. And I’m really really excited
not to feel terrible. I’m really excited to actually feel like really positive changes are possible
without that much effort. I think there are many great examples of this kind
of work happening all across the world today. Personally, where I’m from, Austin, Texas, I’ve seen amazing changes
in development within the community there. In just a short… 6 months I witnessed one
neighborhood go from a lot of scepticism, drug and violence to an exciting
and revolutionary kind of development, where people were coming out
into their front yards and sharing food that they had made
and food they had grown and contributing and taking part
in the development of their community and within that same time frame, those elements
that were distablizing the community, literally went away on their own accord. I just thought like, how can I make this happen? And so I’m starting with food. I just really like good produce, so I started looking into how to grow
your own food in a very efficient way. That’s why I came across permaculture. Permaculture is pretty much…
Everything I would say. It’s just about life. So, I cannot just look at having good food,
I have to look at everything. To be fulfilled in life. Permaculture also includes communities,
so that conquers the next part. I want to create something nice for everybody,
that everybody can benefit from, instead of trying to focus on a career
that is just about me but not about anybody else. Where I’m going to end up I don’t know,
but that’s the beauty of it. Just being in the moment and stop trying to
control. Just work witheverything around you. That’s a… you cannot force anything. You can try to force things,
but you’re just going to create the opposite. All of our mistakes,
all of our great things we’ve done, the mistakes we’ve made,
it’s just been part fo the process. I don’t regret any of it for a second, because I know I’ve learned
a lot more from mistakes than from doing things the right way. Everything is connected and everything
is an opportunity to improve and to grow. To be better. We live in a very exciting time and we have a lot of opportunities available to us
to share and contribute to a healthy and sustainable world and we’re going to be able to do that best through
assembling communities work together. That’s what a lot of it is about, it’s building and creating fertile ground
for the community to establish itself. And through that process,
permaculture and these other elements that we talk about within Permaculture Design
begin to establish themselves. What is the life that I want to live? How do I want it to look? How do I want to relate to the people around me? How do I want to spend my time and spend my days? What do I want included in my daily,
monthly, yearly, set of activities? For me personally,
I want a life that is socially engaged. I want a life that’s full of really amazing,
wonderful relationships. I want to be able
to express my love on a daily basis. I want time to be able to play my guitar. I want time to be able
to sit in the morning and have silence. This is what I want in my life. I’m going to use permaculture ideas,
permaculture principles, to design around this to create that lifestyle. I look at our society in general and I’m really
confused by the choices that people are making. It’s kind of the normal choices to make
but they don’t make any sense to me. I really wonder, are these the choices
that we would really make if we were really designing our own lives? Each of us, I believe, can sit down
and think clearly about what we want in the world. I’ve got a new permaculture principle
that I would like to add to the permacutlure community,
to add to the list of principles. It’s a principle that I have discovered
over the years of the Panya project, over the years of travelling around, my time in a
number of different projects around the planet, and I think it’s really important
for all of us to bring it in. I think, actually,
that most of us have experienced it, just like all the other permaculture principles. From what I have experienced in my life,
if the area around me is beautiful, if things are put away,
if we keep things clean, if there’s some beautiful flowers,
if the gardens are nice then my life is more wonderful. I also see that when people come and visit the farm
and want to learn about permaculture They see that also if it’s beautiful, it’s better. Oh wait, that’s better. Do you want me here? Oh it’s starting to rain. Happy mudding!
Don’t use that one either. Happy mudding! I gotta see that again! We are finding ourselves
in the midst of Northern Tailand. Where the weather is dryer than arid
and where birds and crickets make all the noises. Here we are at Rak Tamachat,
trying to bring about some sort of permaculture plan. A year ago today there was nothing but dry desert. But now, but now! As we will discover, there’s fruit falling from the
trees and humans are making love next to the pond. You will love it. Here we go. I’m David Attenborough. Perfect plant for our swale… tops… We’re not going to get too deep into gardening
in this movie because it’s about to rain. And we need to get out of here soon. Sorry it’s really hard for me to focus. I’m here talking about gardening
on top of a building in the middle of Bangkok. What am I doing here? This is a perfect place to garden. In fact, we think more people should
do gardening on top of their buildings. Can you imagine
what this city would look like if all the buildings
were covered in gardenbeds and indigenous forest species producing fruit
for the people in those buildings. We can do that! In the next film that we’re making, we’re going to work on a permaculture film
about urban permaculture. If you have a great idea,
or a way than you can help, visit www.seedsofpermaclture.org
and help with our fundraiser.

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