The first Earth Day permaculture workshop at the STENAPA Botanical Gardens on Statia was a great success. We think so anyway 😉
About 14 people in total showed up for their first introduction to permaculture. Amongst them the head of the Statia Health Department Ms Carol Jack, the Senior Policy Advisor of the State Representative’s office Ms Rita van der Zee and a cameo appearance of the new acting Governor Mr Kenneth Lopez.
Permaculture is working with Nature instead of against it. So to see ‘how Nature does it’ we first went on a brief hike to the unmanaged part of the Miriam Schmidt Botanical Gardens. There we saw that Nature always keeps her soil covered, with living plants, stones, dry leaves, dead wood and whatever else is locally available. Plants and other organisms live in communities that support each other. Each producing something that is of use to its neighbours and using what the others produce. The trees ‘recycle’ themselves in place. They don’t pull up their roots to go shopping for food. They turn their leaves to the sun to make biofuel to grow and reproduce, while recycling dead leaves with the help of soil creatures into useable organic building materials they can absorb via their roots. The soil is moist, springy and smells delicious. Lizards rustle through the leaves, birds sing and there is a wonderful energy in the air.
Then we did a walk in the private veggie patch of the garden. Here we looked at some of the design principles of permaculture, like ‘chop & drop mulching’, ‘companion planting’ and ‘working on contour’.
Then we did some soil testing, comparing acidity (pH) of forest soil, bare garden soil and potting soil. All were a bit acidic, with the bare soil the most acidic. Then we planted some kholrabi and pak soi seedlings out in a bed covered in sheet mulch (cardboard with a mulch of leaves on top).
We finished off with delightful refreshments prepared by Park Ranger Claire Blair. All participants received a certificate of attendance, a resource list and a packet of free seeds to start their own veggie patch at home.
One of the participants was interested in following up with a school project and all left with a positive feeling about growing some of their own food.