‘Get more out of life by using less’: This is the essence of permaculture – an ecologically sound way of living that can be applied to households, gardens, communities and businesses. It is created by cooperating with nature and caring for the earth and its people. Today’s youth are embracing this concept and spreading the word.
Over the last few years a group of youths and young adults have been busy practising permaculture on Mallorca, the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands. They have planted and harvested forest gardens, built pallet structures, designed demonstration sites and raised funds through work exchange.
Members of the group used crowdfunding to pay for their Permaculture Design Courses (PDCs) and teacher training, and they’ve gone on to teach workshops in their local schools. They have interviewed their own mentors and are documenting all of their design and work in a portfolio.
‘Permaculture, originally “Permanent Agriculture”, is often viewed as a set of gardening techniques, but it has in fact developed into a whole design philosophy, and for some people a philosophy for life. Its central theme is the creation of human systems which provide for human needs, but using many natural elements and drawing inspiration from natural ecosystems. Its goals and priorities coincide with what many people see as the core requirements for sustainability.’ Emma Chapman
INTERNATIONAL YOUTH PERMACULTURE NETWORK
The youths have also made a little money and have ensured that they are all having fun too. While doing all of this they have identified the importance of including youth in the permaculture movement and now wish to build an international network to facilitate this.
The group are using Permacultura Mediterranea’s (permamed.org) Permaculture Pathway Program to skill-up, employing what permaculture teacher and author, Rosemary Morrow, refers to as ‘the freedom and responsibility offered through self-directed non-formal education.’
The network hopes to offer: opportunities for eager young people to learn permaculture skills through experience, access to mentors interested in supporting young people, and a community that recognises the value of including youth.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORING
Having access to resources and mentors can play a key role in empowering youths. One of the network’s participants, Elias Robson, points out: ‘Fortunately on Mallorca, we’ve had access to many great local and visiting mentors who have encouraged our participation in their workshops, including: Rosemary Morrow, Alfred Decker, Robina McCurdy, Robin Clayfield, Satish Kumar, Rob Hopkins, Darren Doherty and more. Locally Julio Cantos of PermaMed, Miquel Ramis of Artifex Balear and the Escola Kumar (a project inspired by Satish Kumar) have all provided experiential permaculture learning opportunities and have encouraged us to create our own projects and learning pathways. Each one of them has been an inspiration.’
YOUTH TO YOUTH INSPIRATION
Again, taking inspiration from Rosemary Morrow, whose teachings underscore the value of empowering young people, not only with the experience of working at sites, but also through teaching their own peers, the youths in Mallorca, invited by their local mentors, have thus begun going into local schools and assisting teachers in introducing permaculture into public secondary schools.
However, many youths don’t know about the opportunities permaculture offers and it is this that the group wishes to address in order to engage other youths.
During the 2016 European Permaculture Convergence in Bolsena, Italy, several young participants noticed the near absence of other youths at the event. They discussed the importance of including youths in the permaculture movement with members of the Children in Permaculture (CiP) project. These discussions inspired a new project to build an international network engaging youths in permaculture.
ENSURING VISION AND MISSION
The formative group – Rakesh Rootsman Rak (CiP), Lusi Alders-lowe (Permaculture Association), Mandy Merklein, Elias Robson (age 15), and Victor Pla (age 21) (all PermaMed.org/Escola Kumar) and Anna Gurney (Boodaville) – have created an initial vision and mission for the group, and have sent out a survey to attract people to form a core partnership. ‘We are impressed with how much interest the initiative has attracted. We plan to meet in spring 2017 to form the core group, learn how to use sociocracy as a governance tool, and co-create the project’s design.’
Youths will be a growing part of the decision-making team, providing a vital voice throughout the project. Ideally this will become a youth-run programme, designed by young people, with mentors acting in an advisory capacity.
If you would like to become part of the Youth in Permaculture movement and support this effort you can begin by contacting the initial team at: www.yip.childreninpermaculture.com
This is a great opportunity to open doors and include more young people in the permaculture movement. As Robina McCurdy told the youths in Mallorca, ‘Youths are the future. Take the tools and knowledge and power and go for it . . . make a difference for yourselves and the world.’
This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 (Issue 92) edition of Permaculture Magazine (https://www.permaculture.co.uk/), an award-winning, authoritative publication that educates and informs on the importance of sustainable living.
For further details, contact Tony Rollinson: firstname.lastname@example.org
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