P1090405.2Upcoming apprenticeship dates:

  • July 10 – September 1, 2017
  • October 9 – December 1, 2017

If you are interested in this program, please, fill out this contact form. You will receive a PDF document with all the detailed information such as prices, recommendations and requirements.

The program is composed of eight thematic modules over the course of eight weeks. It is a great combination of theoretical learning and practical implementation of what has been learned working in the agroecological farms of cacao and other tropical fruits that farmers produce. The student – volunteers may come at any time of the course, although it is advisable to do so in the first week of each month, when the modules in Permaculture design are taught. Classes and work will be held in the morning from 7.30 a.m. to 1.30 pm approximately. In the evenings you will have free time to support community processes, teach English to children and women in Caimito, go to the beach to relax, learn how to cook the local cuisine, etc. In addition, Spanish classes are offered.

The modules of the program are detailed below:

MODULE 1: INTRODUCTION TO PERMACULTURAL DESIGN

George, Rogelio and Isidro talking about the design of a farm

George, Rogelio and Isidro talking about the design of one of the farms.

The current conventional system of food production, as well as all human activities, works based on the prevailing principle of mass-production without any limits and without taking into account the social and environmental impact involved. The consequences of this model are disastrous, involving the daily extinction of 150 species (according to the UN data) and the inhumane exploitation of millions of disadvantaged persons.

In this module you will learn the principles and ethics of Permaculture, which we consider crucial to counter the current conventional model, as well as concepts and techniques of ecological design.

MODULE 2: MANAGEMENT AND IMPROVEMENT OF SOIL’S FERTILITY I

Soil Fertility1.2

Fabiola explaining how to make natural terraces to improve soil’s fertility.

In the forests where there is no human intervention, plant development is dependent on a permanent feedback effect: leaves, grasses and shrubs die and decompose on the ground creating a layer of organic compounds that infiltrates inside the soil and becomes food for the other plants growing there. Furthermore, animals give organic fertilizer for plants through their manure, and even when any organism of the forest dies, the compounds released during the process of decomposition also become nutrients for plants. In the conventional farming system, deforestation, erosion, monocultures (the planting of just a single species), and the use of chemicals all break this cycle, causing a progressive loss of fertility of the soil.

In this module we will teach the origin, classification and structure of soils and you will learn techniques for good management, preservation, and improvement of soil fertility. The practical part will take place in agroforestry systems (agro-ecological farms from local people) in which biodiversity is promoted to imitate the functioning of forests.

MODULE 3: WATERSHED MANAGEMENT AND RESTORATION AT A FARM LEVEL

Watershead2

Working on watershed restoration.

Conventional agriculture and cattle production contribute directly to the progressive deterioration of water sources: pollution by agrochemicals, extreme sedimentation due to erosion as a product of deforestation, periods of strong droughts and floods…these are just some of the implications that  conventional agriculture and cattle industry have on water, perhaps the most valuable resource not only to humans, but to all organisms on the planet.

The cycle of water and its physical properties, ecologically-minded planning for sustainable development, and the determination of important conservation areas for wildlife will be studied in this module. Basic concepts in aquaculture will also be incorporated. In the practical portion, we will work on watershed restoration and management at agroecological farms where little rivers pass through.

MODULE 4: BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION, NURSERY MANAGEMENT AND REFORESTATION

Biodiversity

George explaining about how important is the conservation of biodiversity.

It is estimated that every day 25,000 hectares of forest are lost in the world. The majority of these forests are destroyed to establish areas for the mass production of food. The loss of biodiversity and climate chaos that this destruction produces is devastating and serves as evidence of how harmful and irrational that human beings can be.

Vivero

Fabiola working at the community nursery.

In this module you will learn how to identify conservation areas and biological corridors on a small scale for biodiversity conservation. Practices will be held at the community nursery working in the management of wild and cultivated seeds, grafting of fruit trees, preparation of substrates, and formation of irrigation systems. We will also be working in reforestation in the agroecological farms and in the forest.

MODULE 5: TROPICAL PERMACULTURE DESIGN

permaculturatropical

George and Greg explaining about the permaculture in the tropics.

The system of intensive agriculture and cattle production has increased exponentially in the past few years in tropical countries. Owners of lands cut the forests to implement monocultures of mass produced cultivars such as soybean, african palm, and other plants, and the impact of these monocultures is particularly negative on native ecosystems. We really need to work for the conservation of these forests since they are crucial to mitigate the effects of climate change.

This module will explore basic concepts about the ecology of the tropical rain forest and ancestral agricultural knowledge from these kinds of forests. We will learn permaculture techniques for ecological design in this type of ecosystem.

MODULE 6: MANAGEMENT AND IMPROVEMENT OF THE SOIL’S FERTILITY II (MICROORGANISMS)

TerrazasComp

Natural terraces to avoid erosion and improve the presence of microorganisms in soil.

There are very few farmers, regardless of whether they follow conventional or organic management, that have knowledge about the enormous influence that microorganisms have on soil fertility. Through the use of agrochemicals and other conventional agriculture techniques, the diversity of fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms present in the soil decreases, which, in turn, affects the processing of organic matter and availability of nutrients for plants.

In this module we will learn extensively about the soil ecosystem and how to identify different microorganisms present in it. Different techniques will be applied to improve the balance of beneficial microorganisms in the soil in order to increase soil fertility and productivity.

MODULE 7: DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT OF ECOLOGICAL FAMILY GARDENS

Geoerge explaining how to design a garden2

Designing a garden from the start.

We are firm believers in the wise words of Bill Mollison, widely considered to be the father of permaculture:

The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”

Thus, in this module, we focus on important concepts such as food sovereignty and food security, agrobiodiversity issues, and other topics (such as organic pesticides, mulching, etc.). You will learn to design and manage gardens in the tropics to promote the agro-ecological production of vegetables and medicinal plants.

MODULE 8: ECO-CONSTRUCTION

Bioconstrucción2

Building with bamboo, an amazing material, in a beautiful place

The construction of houses, buildings and different structures can have a very negative environmental impact on both a local and global level. The consequences of mining for materials, the pollution that cement and other conventional construction materials, or the poor management of waste treatment facilities, are just a few examples.

In this module you will learn about the construction and production of renewable and biodegradable materials (e.g., wood, bamboo, vegetable fibers, etc). You will apply techniques for the sustainable management of waste, such as the use of dry toilets and greywater.

Comments are closed