Our project partner – PermaCultura Cantabria hosted a 5-day staff training between the 19th and 23rd of last May for 11 participants from the 7 project partner organisations. The training served as a learning base to increase the participants’ know-how of Social Permaculture theory and approaches towards working with vulnerable youths through different methodologies to create permaculture gardens. The aims of the training were the following:
- Develop further capacities in working with young people with fewer opportunities
- A common understanding of social and nature permaculture methodologies
- Capacity and tools to work with vulnerable communities
- A common understanding of nature-therapy and permaculture for inclusion
- Wider knowledge of various non- formal education methodologies
- Understanding of technical aspects related to permaculture in their climatic condition
- Capacity to support permaculture garden creation in urban and rural areas
The training was held at PermaCultura Cantabria’s residence in Penagos, a village 25 Km south from Santander in Spain. Here we got to experience sloping green hills and lush meadows along with the peacefulness which accompanies such landscapes. The participants also got the chance to explore the city of Santander doing some sightseeing, visiting beaches and museums, and enjoying the promenade.
The group included 2 participants from Spain, 4 participants from Malta, 2 participants from Cyprus, 2 participants from Italy and 1 participant from Germany. The participants were chosen according to their direct work on the project, as the skills obtained during this training would be needed for the project implementation. Every one of the participants brought a different skill and experiences, and plenty of goodwill .
During the training, the participants were familiarised with the ethics and key ideas of Permaculture theory. They were introduced to the concept of a food forest and the supporting importance of soil biology. A whole session was dedicated to the importance of rainwater catchment, storage and use. Participants also gained insight into the permaculture design process which then was applied through a practical group work. Here they had to come up with a use for an outdoor green space and design a plan for a permaculture garden respecting the 12 ethics of the theory, then present it to the group. Finally, the group made a visit to a local community ‘La Garma’ to learn about the social aspect of permaculture and bioconstruction.
Here is what one of the participants had to say about the experience:
“Till two weeks ago, I had heard about the topic of permaculture. However, I had little knowledge about it. My only knowledge or information about it was the fact that permaculture involves a sustainable form of farming. Attending the training course in Spain, helped me start to understand better what permaculture is, what is the thought behind it and how to actually implement it. The environment that the training course was held in helped me feel more part of the environment which is a process that permaculture also works to achieve. The training involved various interesting factors from the ethics of permaculture, to why it is important, how to implement it and also some good practices in this regard from around the world. This gave us a better outlook on the topic and also made the learning process more interesting for us. Visiting a community that lives together in the Spanish nature through permaculture was an eye opener as there I saw first-hand practice of how people use permaculture to live in a more sustainable way. Now back in Malta I am looking forward to starting to share with the youth that we work with what we have learned.”
Equipped with this knowledge and experience, the next step is to train others, specifically youth workers and educators with the aim of developing their social permaculture competencies. In the coming months our project partners; PRISMS (Malta), RESET (Cyprus), APS La Fenice (Italy), and Jugend- & Kulturprojekt e.V. – JKPEV (Germany) will be trialling the non-formal online course’s content currently being developed by Friends of the Earth Malta – FOEM and Permacultura Cantabria. The online course will be hosted on an online e-learning platform developed and managed by RESET.