Today is hump day! For the November Climate Compliance Conference students and facilitator hump day has a special flavour! Since January, Wednesday mornings have been pretty hectic at Richmond Vale Academy as we temporarily move to some villages nearby. From Wednesday to Friday, we have been living in Petit Bordel, Rose Bank, Troumaca and Rose Hall whilst we work on the implementation of 20 sustainable home gardens based on Permaculture principles.
We map, we follow the contour of the land, we dig, we cut, we chop, we build garden beds, we add manure and cardboard, we mulch, we plant seedlings and trees! We sing and dance, play with kids and the youth, meet the locals and learn much about fishing, farming and this amazing Vincentian culture! Most importantly, we have organised a number of community events involving a range of topics from Permaculture through to the impact of plastic in the oceans and beach clean ups! Our public is varied, from primary school kids through to elder farmers who have enthusiastically participated to important discussions raised during our events, in particular about irrigation and soil degradation.
The sharing of knowledge and experiences when we live in the communities is absolutely invaluable!! In my mind, that is where the magic happens most effectively! Most of our students come from developed countries where most things are taken for granted. Here they experience the opposite side of the inequality spectrum. And they also measure no effort to make the best gardens they can with the knowledge and skills they have and continually develop during their program. It is indeed a beautiful flourishing process to watch, both in the gardens (literally), but also within each student and how this transforms their connections with others.
When we get back to the academy we have plenty of stories to share. Stories about our home garden families, about life in the community, the meals we have prepared with local ingredients and the events we have organised in the communities. As part of each project we have a debriefing session where we discuss about lessons learned, what can be improved and what talents they used and developed during the projects.
My students have come a long way from the start of the program, in November, going through blissful days to difficult times as they push forward to evolve both individually and collectively. The learning curve for us all has been a steep one and I truly believe in our potential to be the initial drop of a meaningful ripple effect, for in movement there is life and in change there is power!!