Friday, March 6, 2009

Report back: Uganda's First Permablitz!

Uganda Permablitz #1 was held on February 28th at the home of Mathias and Ted and their four children, in the village of Ssanje. Ssanje is less than one kilometre from Sabina School and Boarding Home, where Clive and Kim are spending a year on a permaculture project. The day was made possible initially by Luke, a local School Teacher who had attended Dick Copeman’s (Brisbane City Farm) workshop at Sabina in late 2008. Luke connected with Kim one day walking in the village, and the idea of a Permablitz to help maintain momentum after Dick’s departure was born. We hope to have another 5 or 6 during the course of the year.

Before the blitz, our host Mathias working through the plan for the day with Kim. Mathias is already a skilled gardener/farmer, with chickens, cows, goats, bananas, maize in place, but precious little in the way of vegetables. His interest and quick understanding were evident from the questions he asked and the close attention he paid to everything that was happening

One of Mathias’ children, on the Ugandan ‘one-size-fits-all’ bicycle that he is quite able to ride as shown here. A group of kids stayed with us for the whole day, fascinated by the muzungus (white people) and the work being done, and especially by the camera.

More people arrived, including our Sabina volunteer Carl, and some neighbours, including Mathias’ sister Josephine, a qualified lawyer, who lives next door. Some of the neighbours had limited English, so Luke acted as an interpreter whenever Kim spoke. We had the involvement of some current and past Sabina School students, who also assisted with communication.

Work started with some clearing of the site, and collecting of materials like that wheelbarrow full of cow dung that Mathias had been drying out over the last few weeks or so since we first planned this day.

And that banana tree had to go. The site chosen was a gently sloping part of the front garden, covered before we started with leaf litter and twigs and the odd banana leaf. We cleared it initially to get a better view of the dips and humps we were facing, and also to help us get rid of some major roots and other obstacles.

Beds and swale-paths starting to take shape, with the help of an A-frame, and all the volunteer labour and sharing of tools. The work was completed in about 3.5 hours.

Planting – carrots, eggplant, green pepper, silverbeet, beans, zucchini, tomato (and some comfrey around the corner near the chook shed)

Happy family at day’s end, with Luke our co-organiser on the right. As we mostly planted seeds direct, not much immediately to show for our work, but we shall take more pics in a few weeks, hopefully showing a productive vegetable garden.

PS. It rained during the night of the Permablitz (as we suspected it might) .. so we applied mulch material the next day.

Kim and Clive


Anonymous said...

Permaculture blitzing at its best - you guys will definitely leave a lasting legacy. Love Bill, Lou, Georgie and Cam.

Ed Sears said...

Hi there,

I spent 6 months in Uganda in 1996 at the Permaculture Training Centre of Uganda/Natete Backpackers in Kampala with John Hunwick. I would be very grateful for any news of him and the project. Good luck with your work - I am a trustee of the Permaculture Association here in the UK so still involved on a regular basis. I will watch your blog with interest. Have you tried small plastic bags of passionfruit juice from the local shops?

Peace and plants
Ed Sears