Permaculture and Composting!

April Mandaliti
GCELE – Pathways to Community Food Security – Sancti Spiritus, Cuba (May 2017)
Bridging to University Nursing – Flex

Permaculture, to be put simply, is magic. Permaculture is not a job, it is a lifestyle. There are three basic rules that Permaculture follows:

  1. Care for the Earth
  2. Care for the people
  3. Share the surplus

Rule #1 is self-explanatory; care for the planet, reduce, reuse, recycle, care for nature, and care for animals. Rule #2 is again self-explanatory; care for yourself, and care for each other. Rule #3, on the other hand, is something that will stick with me – share the surplus. Sharing in Cuba isn’t just a rule; it is intuitive within the Cuban culture. Cuban people do not have much, but that does not stop them from giving, whether it is back to the Earth, to each other, to nature, to animals, even to those who have more than them. This is something that I will forever cherish, and implicate into my life at home – hopefully gravitating this energy towards others.

More about Permaculture theoretically: it is a chemical-free, self-efficient food forest. All aspects of nature are needed, and are also nurtured. For example, one female farmer explained to us that she use to pay for horse manure. She eventually bought a horse, who now gets to live on a farm and eat fresh crops. In return, the farm receives fertilization from the manure. This manure adds to the composting aspect of Permaculture.

Composting is a massive part of permaculture. It requires four basic elements:

  1. Nitrogen
  2. Carbon
  3. Water
  4. Oxygen

Compost helps to sustain life on the farm, and allows the cycle of permaculture to move along smoothly. For example, one farm that we visited was unable to find a way to control weed growth without the use of chemicals. Eventually after months of trying different tactics, a truck broke down right outside the farm. The truck was carrying rice husks, and was on the way to the dump to be disposed. Rojer, the owner of the farm, came up with the thought that maybe they could use the rice husks for the weed control. Rojer asked the truck driver to dump the rice husks in their farm, more specifically in between beds and in the walkways. It has been incredibly productive, and this farm now receives rice husk deliveries to maintain the weed production. More “waste” products that are used to help manage permaculture are tires, empty wine and beer bottles, and many more. The composting aspect of permaculture has changed my life thus far in regards to not wasting food, water, clothing, toilet paper, etc. Everything has more than one purpose, and Cuban farmers taught us how to find these purposes.

These stories that I have shared do not remotely commence our experience, or our knowledge. We also learned about the Cuban culture, and were able to analyze Cuba in regards to social justice, and compare it to life in Canada. We also learned about different fruits and vegetables, climate changes, economical standings in Cuba, and so much more. The amount that we learned cannot be put into a blog. The amount that we learned cannot be put into words. A GCELE must be experienced in order to understand it. I could not recommend anything more than this trip for fellow Centennial College Students. My life has changed because of this 10-day experience, and I will be forever grateful!

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