Last month the world went into ecological debt day. We reached the point where we had consumed all the resources the world could produce in an ecologically stable way within one year and are now on track towards using up 1.6 planet’s worth of resources. We reached this point a week earlier than last year. What will happen next year and within 10 years? Will we be reaching that point in May?!
I’m no mathematics wiz, but I know it doesn’t add up. At some point there will be nothing left and we’ll be fighting for basic resources. It’s pretty much globally recognised that the next world war will be, despite America’s best attempts to obliterate the East for oil, for water. Already nations are having to fight corporations who are trying to privatise free flowing water.
Many of us are thinking more local, reducing our consumption, recycling what we can, refusing to buy products from corporations that are abusing the land and its inhabitants (tax evaders, frackers, modern slavery etc) and living more within our means. We’re at a pinnacle where that isn’t enough anymore. Finally the Catholic Church has officially recognised that climate change is indeed happening and the USA and China might be willing to discuss reducing their environmental drain on the planet.
There has to be another way to live that helps balance out the planet’s accounts. Where our impact has a positive effect in fortifying the planet, not draining it! I had heard the permaculture word being banded about by people I respect and admire for living their value and belief systems in a very visceral and tangible way, but I still didn’t understand what it was. Then everything lined up and fell into place when a road trip to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and a recommendation for Atitlan Organics put me on a permaculture workshops at Atitlan Organics in February.
Shad and his wife Colleen, are very admirably walking their talk, creating a positive impact on the local environment and in the local community. They are also offering an accessible way into permaculture for those curious folks like me who need to take a taste before signing up for a $2000 permaculture design course. The one week workshop I attended was excellent!!! Just enough theory, mixed with some great practical hands on experience and a whole lot of passion and enthusiasm for sharing this way of life with others. The other people taking the course were likeminded big hearted souls wanting to live authentic lives.
I can’t explain how it feels to put your hands in the soil to prepare it for life, plant seeds, nurture those seedlings, watch them grow, harvest their bounty and then prepare food using those very ingredients you yourself participated in. Going to the store to buy ingredients seems so empty now. The food I eat from there I have no connection to. The energy of the food is diminished and my body and soul is less nourished.
Bitten by the bug and wanting to learn more, more, more by doing I was so happy that serendipity took me to Belize and led me to Sattvaland‘s moon and sun gate. The combination of beautiful jungle with knowledge, capability, passion, authenticity and kindness is a potent and addictive mix!! I am now tethered to that place through the bonds of community and having your soul met in equal measure by others. Its charming allure is irresistible. Taking over an old orange grove, this beautiful family have achieved so much in the time they have been there! Every function is combined with devotion and style so the passion and love they have for their mission to live wholistically and share everything they have learned with others sparkles through everything. They inspire & catalyse so much in me that it’s not just about developing new skills, it’s self developmental and soul progression. Destiny took me there and helped me find everything I’ve been searching for since my eyes were reopened; everything has been about leading me to this permaculture path and this jungle.
Whether guests want to get their hands dirty in the work exchange programme, participate in a workshop, heal through a wholistic retreat or just enjoy the land staying in the guesthouse it’s impossible not to catch the infectious love for this patch of land in the jungle of Belize. It’s off the hummingbird highway, true to name, there are always hummingbirds flitting around; butterflies flutter, toucans caw, even a howler monkey passes through from time to time. In my time there I helped landscape and plant around the shower block, helped build the path and flower beds around the irrigation talapia pond, planted cacao, coffee, mayan tree spinach, plantain, purple malabar spinach, squash, bananas, teak, moringa, lemon, soap nut, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and mahogany. We fermented sauerkraut, kimchi and carrots and made hot sauces and salsas. We harvested leaves, herbs, bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, spinach, chills, cow foot, pigeon foot and sugar cane. We mulched, composted, raised beds, dug holes, filled holes, fertilised, watered and sweated. We learned, we shared, we laughed, we cried, we danced, we stretched, we celebrated, we centered, we enjoyed. We felt part of something bigger than us.
Permaculture, which has many definitions, but for me is primarily about living in a way that works gratefully using the gifts mother nature freely blesses us with, in a mutually beneficial way, is the only way that makes sense. Making our impact on the world as minimal as possible, ideally putting more into the earth than we take out, worker bees helping to bring the planet back into balance and righting some of the wrongs that have been inflicted on her, the mother of us all.
For now I’m exploring alternative ways of living in North America and other permaculture farms and communities before returning to Sattvaland in Belize and slipping my hands back into that sweet earth and reconnecting with those sweet souls again. Maybe I’ll see you there!