Today was the culmination of 6 months’ preparation in Australia, two weeks on the road in Mongolia, and two intense weeks of classes in the Suvraga Aguyt Co-Operative of Tosontsengel.
Students were assigned the task of redesigning the hasha we have been staying in over the last 12 days to be as intensively productive as possible, including 6 gers out on the river flats for managing livestock, if they choose to incorporate this into their design.
The 5 Design Teams must demonstrate an understanding of the Permaculture Design Principles they have learned, for example maximizing use of available resources, maximizing use of biological resources, and diversifying crops and income sources. Each team member will present a portion of the design to the class.
- Incorporate Permaculture Ethics of Earth Care, People Care, Resource Share
- Intensive as Possible
- Environmentally and Economically Sustainable
- No imaginary streams! …or sheep… [some imaginary elements were incorporated into earlier design tasks]
Some teams were awake until 2am last night putting the final touches on their designs. A couple team members didn’t get to sleep until 4am.
Presentations begin at 10am and go all the way through until 7:30pm, with Kat and Rick asking questions and giving detailed feedback after each team.
We saw some great ideas, including:
- A ger design with a root cellar
- Compost tea irrigation systems
- Compost heaps in greenhouses to help warm them biologically from the inside during colder months
- Greenhouses adapted for use as animal shelters during winter
- Compost toilet designs
- Adaptive re-use of existing abandoned buildings in the hasha for restaurant, information center, more greenhouses, sewing & felting businesses, a welding business, food processing facility, and even a hot shower houses
- Mulch crops, herbal barriers, and green manures
- Intercropping and crop rotation strategies
- Use of vertical space for crops such as beans and squash
- Food forest design
- Orchards with future planning for grafting cultivars onto wild root stock
On a personal note, it was very gratifying to see that each Design Team started their planning with a SWOT analysis to further establish parameters for the design brief… such a wonderful feeling to have immediate feedback that the single session I facilitated was understood, internalized, and implemented so quickly.
I can only imagine what a profound feeling it must be for Rick and Kat, having taught the entire course and seeing how students have understood, internalized, and implemented so much information thoroughly enough to start making their own connections and create effective design solutions – not only to the parameters set by the design brief, but even further to the detailed parameters each team discovered through their own design process.
Each student demonstrated a solid understanding of the skills and knowledge acquired in the past two weeks. It is a foundation that will serve them well in their lives going forward.
One would be hard-pressed to find a better example of how to effectively Educate, Equip, and Empower a group of individuals looking to make a positive change in their lives, and in the lives of others around them.
I am truly honoured to have been a part of this team, to bear witness and participate in the life-changing work that was done.
The work continues tomorrow, when the two day ‘Teach the Teacher’"course begins to equip students to go back to their projects and communities, and effectively transfer the skills and knowledge they now have.
It has been a long and intense day, we will all sleep soundly tonight…