RVA is a place you can make a real impact

RVA is a place you can make a real impact

My name is Maria. I am from Latvia.

Richmond Vale Academy is not about theoretical exercises. It is a place where you can make a real impact. The six months teams are focusing on building home gardens for local families. It is really possible to make a change in peoples lives. Gardens are an important step towards self-sustainability, self-sufficiency and adapting to global climate change.

Long time ago people called St. Vincent: “The Land of the Blessed”. It is true. This place is magical: rainbows almost every day, fireflies, hummingbirds, diverse marine life, breath-taking views.

My 18 months FWP team was so blessed to participate in the Permaculture Design course. I am very grateful for this chance. We have an amazing teacher Leon-C. Malan who is not only professional in permaculture, but also a very good teacher. He gave us a very good theoretical base, awaking enthusiasm in things which at first might sounded boring. If before coming here somebody had told me that I would be interested in watching videos about soil and compost in my free time, I wouldn’t believe it. Permaculture reminded me about connecting with the Earth, and this place made me really curious and passionate about the environment and gardening.

As our final product we will design a home garden project based on permaculture principles. The most overwhelming part is that it won’t only be on paper, people will use our designs all their lives. So it is a great responsibility, because it is for the people, not only for us.

Permaculture changed my life, because it is a style of life, a philosophy.

Thanks to permaculture I found a goal, which is: my legacy will be a fruit forest. I decided that in my life I will plant trees.

It’s big potential:

  • Kids love fruit trees, they enjoy climbing, eating fruits
  • It’s a good place for outdoor learning
  • Fruits are better than snacks from shops, fruits come hand in hand with learning about healthy nutrition and nutrients
  • It is possible to make a fruit dryer and store fruits for a longer time, or even sell them, and have a small income! In countries where women spend most time working in the household and raising children, it can be important
  • Moreover, forests create a bio-mass, which is good for the fertility of the soil

Also here in Richmond Vale Academy I tried various things myself. For instance: our team made a compost pile from zero. In the near future compost from there will be used to plant sour sop trees. At the Building weekend we made chicken and bunnie cages for the home gardens. It was the first time in my life that I actually worked with a drill and a hammer.

Here it is possible to gain organizational skills, because everything here relies on us the students. Students run the school. You can learn how to organize cleaning, food production, shopping, your own studies, different events, investigations, logistics.

For the 18 months teams it is cool to have the opportunity of organizing a shop. There you are free. You can make coffee-shop, bakery, handcraft store. It is a fun experience to try to be a shop owner without any risks!

This place is great for a gap year. Sometimes it can get very difficult. It is not only a paradise island, mostly we work here, but in the end it is possible to get more out of this place. And experience gained here, of course, will be unforgettable.

Maria from Latvia

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