S39 Academy of Permaculture
29th October 2020

Day 3 & 4 EUPO PDC Kumi

imlil, morocco

Observations:

  • These terraces are orientated towards the south and the prevailing solar direction – catch and store energy.
  • The stone on the upright parts of the terraces can also soak up and hold the energy of the sun, in the form of heat – another energy store. It gets cold in the high Atlas mountains, so these features of microclimate are very important.
  • Fruit trees are carefully placed to catch the sun and not to shade each other out.
  • There is a fodder grass growing under the trees to feed the donkeys the people use for transport. This is early in the year and trees have not come into leaf yet, so the grass can catch and store the energy of the sun.
  • The dung of the donkeys and mules is highly valued and added to compost heaps, another store of energy
  • You may also notice ridges within the terraces, to catch and hold rainfall and encourage it to soak into the soils.

The Berber people have been farming in the these mountains for may hundreds of years, maybe 1000’s. As Arab people, the Moors moved into the lowlands of Morocco, the Berber people explored higher into the mountains and have become very adept at farming in these challenging areas.

High seasonal rains and steep slopes are a challenge for any farmer, and when you are carefully building soils through compost, green manures and terraces you come to value that soil very highly.

Over decades and centuries they have transformed these mountains into a highly productive farming system. There are many lessons to be learned by studying these systems. Especially once you realise the designers have also been allowing nature to be the teacher, they are learning lessons by interacting with nature and building on the lessons learned through the process. Permaculture strategies come from thoughtful observations.

Revision questions, day three

  1. Can you list the main ingredients of soil by volume?
  2. Can you give 3 reasons why it is important to keep soil covered?
  3. Say, something about mycorrhizal fungi?
    Where would you see them?
    How do they help plants grow?
  1. If nature is our teacher, can you share some of the lessons you have learned so far?
  2. What is the most important way to help catch and store water in the soil?

Answers are:

1: Air, Water, minerals, soil biota (living), organic matter (dead)
– this breaks down to form humus, this very a important part of soil.

2: Reduce evaporation, to feed the soil microbes and protect it from sun and rain.

3: Mycorrhizal fungi are in the soil and roots of plants

– they increase the surface area of the roots by up to 1000%.

4: Nature teachers that everything is connected, nature works in cycles and recycles all the materials – there is no waste.

5: The best way to catch water and return it to the soil is to keep the soil covered with plants, with mulch – as we saw in the soil and water video.

Thank you everyone for listening 🙂

Patterns in nature lecture.

How does order emerge from disorder? – the World seems chaotic and random but life seems to conform to patterns everywhere we look.

There are 6 basic pattern forms that we can see again and again in nature. We can use this pattern language in our own designs.

  1. Branch – explores area and edges
  2. Lobe – strength in numbers
  3. Web – surface area
  4. Wave – energy
  5. Spiral – incremental growth
  6. Scatter – random assembly

First video is a short fun video exploring the Fibonacci series in plants. A good introduction to the idea of patterns in nature.

Chaos theory. This is a briallint hour-long video exploring the phenomena of spontaneous pattern formation in nature, what can it mean?

Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to uncover one of the great mysteries – how does a universe that starts off as dust end up with intelligent life?