Sunday, May 25, 2008

Permaculture v Agriculture

Recently we had 140 students from an Agriculture school in Tokyo to the farm for a visit to get an understanding of Permaculture and sustainable living.

The night before the visit,staff and wwoofers as well as Masa and his wife were busy cutting vegetables and other ingredients for the lunch that was going to be served on the day.

We were making curry and rice to a measured quantity prepared by Kayco (Masa's wife).It included mushrooms,potato,carrot,onion,garlic,pork,cabbage,broccoli and Japanese curry stock.We had we very large pots in the kitchen on burners and it resembled a back alley soup kitchen.Kayco had everything very well planned though.Masa bought a plank of pine wood and Waka san and I cut it in half and carved out two paddles to use as stirring paddles for the curry.

Also we prepared apples, milk and rice for the lunch which is fairly typical of the package for a group visit.

The students arrived at the farm and Masa introduced himself and I and set about explaining a bit about sustainability including his pet harvesting solar and wind energy.They were told about worm farming and were able to inspect a couple of worm farms up close to see how soil can be built the natural way.The kids were also shown the composting toilet system and how the cycling of a waste product can be useful in a Permaculture system.

What we grow we eat and what we eat goes back to the soil as compost to grow the food we eat.A closed loop rather than the mainstream system of flushing wastes out to sea.

Throughout the farm is a series of reference boards that pose questions about the environment with a multiple choice answer key.The visitors here wander the grounds reading and answering the questions to get an understanding of our systems and the correct answers read out at the end.The winner receives an eco gift from the farm.

I did a small talk on Permaculture and an explanation on how we use the system to harvest water into the soil and grow with companion plants to help with pest control.I explained to the students that it was important to challenge the system they are learning and asked them to look for alternative and more sustainable ways to look after the soil as modern agriculture is responsible for so much pollution and soil loss.

As Masa is an electrical engineer and builds electric cars,he has been able to get 30 electric scooters donated to the farm for educational purposes.We charged the scooters before the visit and parked them out in the field for the students to ride.There were some pretty close calls as most of the kids have never ridden a scooter before.Toshi had given them a crash course in how to ride but he is blood type 'O' so anything could have happened.

The students had the curry lunch that we prepared and must have liked it as they mostly all went back for seconds.We had so much left over though,we were eating curry and rice for days after.

1 comment:

Grifen said...

hola ringo, nice blog...stumbled into it today searching for the lifeboat image. how the hell are you?