3rd March 2024

Permaculture Forum, meeting 1

Busegera community garden permaculture

Notes from Feb 6th

steven jones’ Zoom Meeting
Tue. Feb 6, 2024


The meeting began with Steven Jones introducing the Sector Permaculture Forum, emphasizing its purpose as a platform for open dialogue and networking around permaculture themes. He also introduced the idea of establishing a permaculture foundation to provide support and small grants for individuals in their permaculture journey. Participants shared their backgrounds and involvement in integrating permaculture into organizations, expressing their enthusiasm for participating in the forum.

The discussion then shifted to the practical applications of biochar and composting, with participants sharing their experiences and asking questions about using different materials and techniques in various environments. Steven Jones discussed the fundamentals of the soil food web, emphasizing the role of plants in converting solar energy into sugars and the subsequent transfer of energy through various trophic levels. He also discussed the importance of biochar and the balance of soil organisms, challenging the idea of pests and pesticides as controlling mechanisms.

Steven Jones and Polydord Wasokye discussed their experiences with using diluted urine to improve soil fertility, particularly in relation to growing moringa plants in Kakuma. They emphasized the positive impact of this practice on their agricultural projects. The conversation shifted to the challenges of water scarcity in semi-arid areas and the need for strategies to conserve and manage water for sustainable permaculture gardening.

Overall, the meeting provided a space for sharing achievements, learning, and discussing challenges in permaculture, with a focus on peer-to-peer learning. Participants expressed their interest in learning, sharing experiences, and connecting with the permaculture community. Despite technical difficulties, the meeting progressed smoothly as participants addressed the issues and seamlessly transitioned back to the agenda.

Chapters & Topics:

Introduction to Sector Permaculture Forum
Steven Jones welcomes participants to the Sector Permaculture Forum, emphasizing the aim of creating a two-way conversation and discussion about permaculture roles, learning, and challenges. He introduces the concept of a permaculture foundation to provide support and small grants for training and start-up enterprises. Additionally, Ella shares her background and involvement in integrating permaculture into organizations.

Introductions and Sharing of Permaculture Projects
The meeting section begins with introductions from Andrelutula6@gmail.com and Hassan, who talk about their permaculture and empowerment projects in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Kajosi from Kenya then shares about the work of Development and Empowerment Society in training refugees on permaculture and agroforestry, expressing the need for more support in knowledge and skills to empower fellow refugees.
* Permaculture and its Application in Challenging Environments

Technical Difficulties and Reconnecting
Gloire UG and Eller Everett address technical problems with Steven’s frozen screen, expressing hope for his return. They engage in casual conversation with other participants before Steven reconnects and resumes the discussion on soil, sharing a link for reference.

Understanding the Soil Food Web
Steven Jones provides a detailed overview of the soil food web, emphasizing the role of plants in converting solar energy into sugars to support various trophic levels. He underscores the significance of intimate and mutually beneficial relationships among organisms, and the essential role of microscopic organisms in unlocking soil fertility. The discussion also touches on the aerobic nature of these organisms and the importance of an oxygen-rich environment.

Discussion on Soil Organisms and Biochar Importance
Steven Jones emphasizes the significance of biochar and the balance of soil organisms, suggesting that the proliferation of a species considered a pest might indicate an imbalance in the system. Victor Cuadrat questions the identification of good and bad soil organisms and the use of products to control them, expressing uncertainty about the approach.

Importance of Soil in Regenerative Farming
Steven Jones delves into the fundamental aspects of regenerative farming, focusing on the pivotal role of soil in the transformation of organic matter into vital nutrients. He stresses the need for healthy, oxygen-rich soil and discusses the utilization of natural resources in permaculture to capture and store energy, emphasizing the dependence on healthy soil for these processes.

Making Biochar and Composting with Local Materials
Steven Jones shares Andrelutula6@gmail.com’s innovative use of biochar for construction, food, and habitat reconstruction. He details Andrelutula6@gmail.com’s process of making biochar using a brick kiln and composting with goat manure. Eller Everett asks about making biochar with other materials, and Steven explains the use of animal manure and observation in permaculture. Andrelutula6@gmail.com inquires about compost making, and Steven and others discuss the process of making compost with local materials.
* Composting and Soil Fertility

Introduction and Motivations
Steven Jones initiates the section by discussing the use of biochar, followed by introductions from various participants. They share their motivations for joining the meeting, including learning, sharing experiences, and connecting with the permaculture community. Maria Paez also expresses her interest in growing food and connecting with the international permaculture community.

Biochar and Composting Discussion
Participants engaged in a lively discussion about the practical aspects of using biochar and composting in different environments, such as allotments in the UK and desert areas with limited water resources. They shared insights on making biochar from materials like maize stalks and discussed the challenges and solutions for making compost in hot, dry conditions with limited water availability.

Discussion on Using Urine for Soil Fertility
Steven Jones and Polydord Wasokye share their insights on using diluted urine to enhance soil fertility, specifically in the context of their moringa growing project in Kakuma. They highlight the successful results of this method and its contribution to improving the quality of their moringa seedlings.

Using Urine in Compost and Water Conservation in Semi-Arid Areas
Steven Jones explained the importance of soaking urine into carbon to prevent the release of ammonia gas when using it in compost. The conversation then turned to the challenges of water scarcity in semi-arid areas, particularly in Kakuma, and the need for water conservation strategies to sustain permaculture gardening. Participants emphasized the importance of diluting urine with water to avoid killing microorganisms and discussed the critical need for aerated compost to promote healthy plant growth.
* Sustainable Gardening Practices
* Water Scarcity and Conservation in Semi-Arid Environments

Action Items:

* Share experiences and knowledge on making and using biochar in different environments to enhance soil fertility.
* Steven Jones will make the biochar in the field.
* Andrelutula6@gmail.com will experiment with making compost in a desert environment using limited water and share the results with the group.
* Cedrick will lead a discussion on the best practices for using urine in compost to avoid killing microorganisms and promote proper aeration.
* Steven Jones will plan a session on water conservation and sustainable gardening practices in semi-arid environments for the next meeting.
* Polydord Wasokye will research and share strategies for conserving water and making home gardening more sustainable in semi-arid environments like Kakuma.

Key Questions:

* Can maize stalks be used to make biochar, and can it be done by burying it?
* How can we make compost in a desert environment with limited water?
* What are the best practices for using urine in compost to avoid killing microorganisms?
* How can we conserve water and make home gardening more sustainable in semi-arid environments like Kakuma?

Practical videos, making and using biochar

Thank you to Ombija from Kenya for sharing these videos. they both illustrate technques discussed in the session.

  • Making biohchar from a controlled burn and adding that to make good compost manure
  • Efficient combustion of materials for cooking, by increasing the airflow and optimising the burn porcess, creating the opportunity to retain residues as biochar for soil improvement.