13th International Permaculture Conference and Convergence - Part II
The convergence happened right after the conference. It was a totally different experience from the conference because it was a complete immersion into permaculture. The convergence took place at Polam Farm, some two hours away from Hyderabad in the Indian countryside. The physical space was put together and built by volunteers over the course of several months before the grand event, so a huge kudos to them for all of their hard work and dedication!
I’ve been to a few festivals and I absolutely love the idea and experience of creating a village or city out of nothing, especially when permaculture design has been used to make it a more enjoyable and ecological experience. At the convergence, we were bathed in permaculture day and night and couldn’t help but become and take part in this alternative way of thinking. You could see and feel it in everything from the physical configuration of places and activities, to the design of compost/dry pit toilets, outdoor showers, medicinal gardens, vegetable patch, and so on… We camped, ate, learned, danced, and spent time with old and new friends from across the globe. It was truly an unforgettable experience I will always cherish.
Some of the highlights from the convergence for me included attending talks on:
· Natural Building with Agari Farm (Dani Wolff-Chambers)
· Applying Permaculture in Refugee Camps and Mass Migrations
· Biochar, Global Ecovillage Network, and Rocket stoves (Albert Bates)
· Integrating Permaculture and Yoga (Brigitte O’Brian)
· Food Forests in different countries and climates
· Gift Ecology: moving from consumption to contribution
· Permaculture and Spirituality (Starhawk)
· Herbalism (Penny Livingston)
· Permaculture for the body: “Self Care is Health Care is Earth Care”
I also had the opportunity to translate for my friend Patrick Mucia Evelio during his talk on how to start and maintain a seed bank for indigenous communities in Guatemala. He was representing the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP: Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura), which is a nonprofit working to revive ancient Mayan farming practices to improve food security and preserve Mayan culture.
And just like this one, there was always an abundance of compelling and inspiring talks or hands-on workshops to take part in. It was often hard to choose from so many happening at the same time! But alas, one had to pick, or opt out and just chill.
The convergence was also an exciting time because the next IPC was announced for 2020, which will be hosted by none other than Argentina! I met Tierra Martínez and Betty Ramírez, who will be hosting along with the Permaculture Institute of Na’Luum. I’m really stoked because I’d like to be more involved in that convergence and this gives me enough time to plan and prepare myself for it.
Aranya Farm Tour
For the final day of the convergence, we decided to go for a farm tour of Aranya Farm, which is the farm of Narsanna and Padma Koppula, who were the organizers of the convergence. It was wonderful seeing their established food forest with so many different varieties of fruit, nitrogen-fixers, and a beautiful seed collection. A few things stood out to me. Firstly, they make sure that the workers on the farm are the first ones to reap from every harvest. They work the land everyday so they have the right to feed themselves with those goods before all others. I think it’s wonderful because nowadays farmworkers are not respected as they should and they usually don't reap benefits from the very land they work. Secondly, seed saving at Aranya is a continuous activity throughout the year. This emphasizes the importance of saving seeds in any system. And thirdly, there is always something to harvest in all seasons throughout the year at Aranya! I think this is so important so that at least one can be eating something from your own farm year-round, even if you have to supplement with other things from off the farm.
In conclusion, I think Narsanna and Padma did an incredible job of hosting the IPC. Organizing an event like this takes colossal effort, especially when it is upon the organizers to raise funds, bring in speakers, etc… The meals were delicious every day. There was always a plethora of delicious Indian food to feast on and the nighttime entertainment was also so wonderful! We were treated with traditional dance, a musical performance/poetry by a revolutionary, and a jaw-dropping martial arts performance (Kalaripayattu). I was so delighted to see familiar faces that I had met at past convergences and even more happy to make new ones and create networks with like-minded people from around the world! I left feeling inspired, refreshed, but also ready to leave the convergence bubble and see some of the real India. :)
I don’t think permaculture itself is the end-all do-all answer, but I do believe it can provide important and useful guidance together with other disciplines and fields such as agroecology, using traditional knowledge, and rekindling our human intuition and connection to the earth. We already have all of the solutions to all of the crises (economic, ecological, social) we face. It’s just a matter of organizing and taking action to implement them! We can be healers if we just choose to be so.
If you have any questions or comments about anything related to the IPC, permaculture, or anything really, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email! I would love to continue the conversation with you.
With lots of light & love,