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Hello from northern Morocco - interested in permaculture and no idea how to start

 
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Peace community,

I am glad I finally took this first step in joining a permaculture community in order to learn and hopefully one day have a good forest like all those I see online.

I recently had the chance to get a little piece of land in northern Morocco, a mountainous village area close to the Mediterranean Sea. Without experience in farming, I hope I will get ideas and help from sisters and brothers in this platform.

Looking forward to start this journey, and welcome to anyone who wants to visit Morocco.

Peace
 
pollinator
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Hi, Jacine,
I'm from Málaga, Spain. Permaculture is a method for designing things. Here in permies, the focus is on homesteading, farming/gardening and appropriate technology, but permaculture can be used pretty much in every aspect of life.

What do you want that piece of land to be? A natural forest? A farm? Your living house surrounded by food forest gardens?

If you want to start with something, start with water:
- Find your water sources (rainfall, rivers, wells, pipelines) and learn about them (price, availability, quality)
- See where you can capture and store more water. Do you have the resources for making some earthworks?
- Make sure you have at least three sources of water.
 
gardener
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Hi Yacine
Welcome to Permies! I've added your post to our Africa forum also.
Although North America based we have members from all over the world with similar climates, or similar problems (we are all human beings!) The main rule is "be nice" as we work towards a better world.
 
Yacine Leb
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Abraham Palma wrote:Hi, Jacine,
I'm from Málaga, Spain. Permaculture is a method for designing things. Here in permies, the focus is on homesteading, farming/gardening and appropriate technology, but permaculture can be used pretty much in every aspect of life.

What do you want that piece of land to be? A natural forest? A farm? Your living house surrounded by food forest gardens?

If you want to start with something, start with water:
- Find your water sources (rainfall, rivers, wells, pipelines) and learn about them (price, availability, quality)
- See where you can capture and store more water. Do you have the resources for making some earthworks?
- Make sure you have at least three sources of water.



Hi Abraham,

Glad to read from and hear that you live literally across the sea from me!

Even better that this is a homesteading community because it is the ultimate goal, the most important is I would like to do it in a natural way and found the permaculture principals appealing.

For my piece of land, I want it to be a living space surrounded by a natural food forest and gardens. I want it also to be en example to the surrounding villages where people can come and learn more about being self sufficient.

Thank you for the tips about water I will definitely study that to start with the 3 water sources. Although for now there are no sources of water but rain (no rivers, falls, pipelines...). I will have to see maybe if there's a possibility for a well.

As for earthworks, I don't know yet what they are and how to do them. But I will look into it and yes there is a bit of resources for necessities.

Would love to hear more about your place in Malaga. Is it mountainous like ours? How long have you being homesteading?..

Regards
 
pollinator
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Welcome Yacine, I think this may be a good place to start:

https://permies.com/wiki/105809/MEGA-List-Resources-Learning-Permaculture

I have found Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway to be excellent for smaller sites (<2acres), as well as Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture, which also goes into broader acreage techniques. Permaculture: A Designers Manual by Bill Mollison is still an essential in my opinion for really getting into the design science and philosophy in depth. Restoration Agriculture is an excellent resource that ties into food security, ecology, economics and business concerns for regenerative agriculture. Geoff Lawton has great free videos on his website and his work with the Permaculture Research Institute is informative and inspiring. I wish you all the best in your endeavor!
 
Abraham Palma
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I highly reccomend watching the permaculture videos of the Oregon State University, by Andrew Millison.
It shows very clearly where and how to catch water, where to place roads, where to place the house. Here he explains earthworks too. It does not go into the specifics, so this is just a preview of the possibilities.

Another very good source about rainwater cathcment is 'Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and beyond', by Brad Lancaster. If you plan to do some farming, then take a look at the FAO's guide on water catchment for farming.
Short, if you only have rainfall then you have to store every drop of it. The best place is the soil itself, and you have to protect it from evotranspiration, using trees, shrubs and cover crops. It takes some years to achive this, though. Earthworks can help slowing down runoff water so it soaks in. The second best place is in a big pond, placed in the highest humid place, so you can irrigate by gravity. Then, it is useful to catch clean water from your rooftop in big tanks, for personal use and watering the pots (for your seedlings, basically).
You can use a well if there's underground water, but be careful. Underground water is salty when the water level is low. Earthworks can be used to increase water infiltration up in the hills so your well might recharge.
You can use gray water. This is the water you have used at home which is not contaminated or has poo. There are a number of soaps and cleaners that do not contaminate (potash soap for doing the dishes, for example), and there are plants that naturally filter grease from the gray water, such as vetiver, so you can safely use it for watering. Even your washing machine can water your plants!

Once you are done with your earthworks and have a solid plan for water catchment, you can start learning about food forests. 'Gaia's Garden', by Toby Hemenway is the most comprehensible and detailed I've read so far.

Once you know what a food forest is about, you can start looking for plants. Plants must be adapted to your climate and your microclimates. Ours is a coastal mediterranean climate. Rain is strong in spring and automn, and summers are very harsh with high temperatures and draugh. Altitude is important, the higher you go, the cooler the temperature. This means looking for native mediterranean plants that are draugh tolerant, or anuals that yield before midsummer. I don't think you will experience frosts, but in this case you have to look for frost tolerant plants.
You can go to pfaf.org for a database on plants, sorted by their needs. Here it also shows their ecological functions. In order to build a good food forest you have to include plants for all the ecological functions it needs. Dont' plant them yet.

Plants that we are currently using in our garden: Plums, figs, olives, almonds, carobs, that's the major crops. Also jujube, blackberry, grenates, bay, loquats, quince, grapes,  pinons, oranges, lemons, custard apple, ... We also have some wild brooms, thyme, rosemary, lavanda, a variety of thistles, asparagus, wild garlics, ... that were there before us.

If you want to eat from what you grow, you will need also a market garden where you can grow potatoes, carrots, parsnip, beans, and other crops that fill the stomach, in addition to fresh vegetables.
Learn how to make a good compost (aerobic and fungal dominated). You can start composting now. The compost is a microbial community you are adding to the soil so plants can use for eating. There are many variations (worms, bokashi, hot compost, Johnson-su), but as long as your compost is aerobic it cannot be bad; it must smell nicely.

Then you can learn about management. How can you manage your farm as if it were a natural ecosystem? The most inspiring film for me was 'The Biggest Little Farm'. But I found 'Sepp Holzer's Permaculture' as much inspiring.
You can watch any Elaine Ingham presentation on soil health to learn about how plants really get their food.
If you have time, you can dig how Jeff Lawton, Paul Wheaton, Ernst Göstch, and others manage their farms. But beware their climate is different than ours. Even in Greening the Desert project in Jordania I think they have access to tap water, and they have many visits and workers, so your mileage may vary.

Too many things to learn? Well, now it comes the most critical one: Observation. After you have learned about things above, now be ready to throw everything to the bin. Watch your property before doing anything permanent. You may plant here and there, you may dig or plow in a little corner, whatever you do watch the changes. The usual advice is to observe your land for at least a complete year. Of course, you can study it if you already have the data, but you won't have your microclimates covered. How can any database know that a corner around your house is specially humid? Or that birds love to hang near that other tree?
Be realistic about your resources: how much you can do alone, how much you can pay to others, how you can increase your income to pay for more work. Then get a clue on how much work it will take any of the projects, or the time that managament will need.

A Diego Footer's advice on gardening: "Do what you enjoy doing". Meaning, if you dislike composting, don't do it, just buy compost from another guy who loves composting and makes great compost. This way you can expend more time doing what you like, which probably will give you a better yield too. This follows the same advice from Göstch: "Ecosystems major force is Love, all the elements in an ecosystem do what they do for the pleasure of doing it." He believes our place in Nature is as seed spreaders.
 
Abraham Palma
pollinator
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Would love to hear more about your place in Malaga.



I live in a condo in the city. My place for playing gardening is a public lot that was used as an urban market garden managed as ecological agriculture. However, water for irrigation was retired. This is a very arid place with hard ground. Olive trees, almonds and carobs fare well, but little other things survive without care.
I started woking at the garden just after the lockdowns. I tried some sunken market garden beds (more info here https://permies.com/t/152917/permaculture-projects/sunken-bed-time-tips). They reduce the need for watering, but crops still die without watering. There's an anarchist community sharing the garden, so I spend most of my time trying to convince the others to switch to permaculture and restoration agriculture instead. People love to come to the garden as a recreational place, but they don't like working on it too much. Money is almost non existant here (We brought some planks for capturing water from the cabinet roof, but we don't have the resources to install them).

Given these conditions, our project is to let the land restore itself with a little, very little, help of ours. We are introducing plants and propagating trees. I keep working on making more sunken beds. And we have stopped killing bugs.
Right now we are in a draugh. This automn we have had very little rainfall in Malaga. I bought some wild prairy seeds for restoration, but the soil wasn't wet enough for seedling.

 
pioneer
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Hello,

Welcome to this community!


I would like to suggest building a composting system,

This is a great way to start, you will be getting resources, from this,
You may find food scraps growing and seeds germinating starting to grow!
This may be a very cheap and easy way to start practicing and learning.

I would also suggest spending time looking at plants in your area, looking at nature to learn from it.

I would suggest looking up, Geoff lawton, Neal spackman, John Liu, Al baydha.

Above all I suggest starting small, and undertaking slow changes.

Please note: that this online community is made from people all around the world, speaking many languages, people who are rich, poor, people who live in apartments in big cities, people who live in very large areas of remote areas of land, People from all different climate zones, People many decades of experience, people who are just starting.

If you have questions, Permies.com is a place to ask!

Sincere regards,
Alex









 
Yacine Leb
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Thank you so much all for the advice, resources and encouragement. I can't wait to start this journey!
 
Yacine Leb
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Abraham Palma wrote:I highly reccomend watching the permaculture videos of the Oregon State University, by Andrew Millison.
It shows very clearly where and how to catch water, where to place roads, where to place the house. Here he explains earthworks too. It does not go into the specifics, so this is just a preview of the possibilities.

Another very good source about rainwater cathcment is 'Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and beyond', by Brad Lancaster. If you plan to do some farming, then take a look at the FAO's guide on water catchment for farming.
Short, if you only have rainfall then you have to store every drop of it. The best place is the soil itself, and you have to protect it from evotranspiration, using trees, shrubs and cover crops. It takes some years to achive this, though. Earthworks can help slowing down runoff water so it soaks in. The second best place is in a big pond, placed in the highest humid place, so you can irrigate by gravity. Then, it is useful to catch clean water from your rooftop in big tanks, for personal use and watering the pots (for your seedlings, basically).
You can use a well if there's underground water, but be careful. Underground water is salty when the water level is low. Earthworks can be used to increase water infiltration up in the hills so your well might recharge.
You can use gray water. This is the water you have used at home which is not contaminated or has poo. There are a number of soaps and cleaners that do not contaminate (potash soap for doing the dishes, for example), and there are plants that naturally filter grease from the gray water, such as vetiver, so you can safely use it for watering. Even your washing machine can water your plants!

Once you are done with your earthworks and have a solid plan for water catchment, you can start learning about food forests. 'Gaia's Garden', by Toby Hemenway is the most comprehensible and detailed I've read so far.

Once you know what a food forest is about, you can start looking for plants. Plants must be adapted to your climate and your microclimates. Ours is a coastal mediterranean climate. Rain is strong in spring and automn, and summers are very harsh with high temperatures and draugh. Altitude is important, the higher you go, the cooler the temperature. This means looking for native mediterranean plants that are draugh tolerant, or anuals that yield before midsummer. I don't think you will experience frosts, but in this case you have to look for frost tolerant plants.
You can go to pfaf.org for a database on plants, sorted by their needs. Here it also shows their ecological functions. In order to build a good food forest you have to include plants for all the ecological functions it needs. Dont' plant them yet.

Plants that we are currently using in our garden: Plums, figs, olives, almonds, carobs, that's the major crops. Also jujube, blackberry, grenates, bay, loquats, quince, grapes,  pinons, oranges, lemons, custard apple, ... We also have some wild brooms, thyme, rosemary, lavanda, a variety of thistles, asparagus, wild garlics, ... that were there before us.

If you want to eat from what you grow, you will need also a market garden where you can grow potatoes, carrots, parsnip, beans, and other crops that fill the stomach, in addition to fresh vegetables.
Learn how to make a good compost (aerobic and fungal dominated). You can start composting now. The compost is a microbial community you are adding to the soil so plants can use for eating. There are many variations (worms, bokashi, hot compost, Johnson-su), but as long as your compost is aerobic it cannot be bad; it must smell nicely.

Then you can learn about management. How can you manage your farm as if it were a natural ecosystem? The most inspiring film for me was 'The Biggest Little Farm'. But I found 'Sepp Holzer's Permaculture' as much inspiring.
You can watch any Elaine Ingham presentation on soil health to learn about how plants really get their food.
If you have time, you can dig how Jeff Lawton, Paul Wheaton, Ernst Göstch, and others manage their farms. But beware their climate is different than ours. Even in Greening the Desert project in Jordania I think they have access to tap water, and they have many visits and workers, so your mileage may vary.

Too many things to learn? Well, now it comes the most critical one: Observation. After you have learned about things above, now be ready to throw everything to the bin. Watch your property before doing anything permanent. You may plant here and there, you may dig or plow in a little corner, whatever you do watch the changes. The usual advice is to observe your land for at least a complete year. Of course, you can study it if you already have the data, but you won't have your microclimates covered. How can any database know that a corner around your house is specially humid? Or that birds love to hang near that other tree?
Be realistic about your resources: how much you can do alone, how much you can pay to others, how you can increase your income to pay for more work. Then get a clue on how much work it will take any of the projects, or the time that managament will need.

A Diego Footer's advice on gardening: "Do what you enjoy doing". Meaning, if you dislike composting, don't do it, just buy compost from another guy who loves composting and makes great compost. This way you can expend more time doing what you like, which probably will give you a better yield too. This follows the same advice from Göstch: "Ecosystems major force is Love, all the elements in an ecosystem do what they do for the pleasure of doing it." He believes our place in Nature is as seed spreaders.



Abraham,

A special thanks to you for the details. Your comments and advice is making me think that I have a long road ahead and that knowledge is key. I already feel that this online community is amazing.

I wonder, is there a part of this forum where people can post pictures and information about their land to spark a conversation and brainstorm ideas about it?
 
Abraham Palma
pollinator
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Your comments and advice is making me think that I have a long road ahead and that knowledge is key.


And I didn't start talking about patterns.

I wonder, is there a part of this forum where people can post pictures and information about their land to spark a conversation and brainstorm ideas about it?



Use the growies section if it is about growing plants, or regional/Africa if it is about specifics of your climate. Homesteading is about pretty much everything about chores at home. Building is barns, houses, ... Purity is about alternatives to toxic products.  Projects for a broader scope to whatever you are doing in your property (in a project you usually mix a lot of strategies and interconect them together).
SKIP is about the certification program that runs Wheaton in his site, if you want to show a diploma for your earned skills. It certificates that you can run a property in an ecological and economical way, so maybe a landowner is more willing to employ you or even let you inherit his property. It's really basic old knowledge like how to make a rope, how to maintain wooden kitchenware, butcher meat, lit a fire or repair your wheelbarrow.
Any post with pictures draws more attention.

Subscribe to the daily mails and you will get some free stuff every week (mostly guides and worksheets, sometimes a book, sometimes a podcast). Daily mails also bring your attention to recent post that the community consider worthy readings.

PS: I really like Wheaton moto "Try a hundred things. Two of them will be great."
 
Ben Zumeta
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Along the lines of “try 100 things”, something that can be done for free right now (anywhere it’s autumn) is to collect seeds. The more you can collect, the more diversity you will have to try and find the plants best suited to your site. I do not know Morocco at all, but from the latitude (31N) and location with a west coast and I would guess easterly winds, I am imagining a climate something like San Diego(?). With any elevation you would get something resembling a winter, so I am guessing many tree fruits are ripe or just past right now(?)

If so, cider/juice pressing is an ideal way to gather fruit tree seed in large quantities from trees proven to produce in your area (I learned this from Sepp Holzer). Overripe fallen fruit will also have viable seed (look out for wasps!), but it doesn’t have the advantage of having fruit you will have tasted to know its at least good enough for juicing. If you have a spot you know will not get earthworks and would benefit from a tree regardless of what you may do in the future (like a steep slope to the west of something really needing shade), I’d spread the mash from pressing of a desired fruit tree, or rotting fruit, on unimproved soil. Cover with woodchips or some other organic mulch. It’s not hard to get thousands of seeds out there, and of those dozens, if not hundreds, will sprout. Even without irrigation, in most climates at least one will likely thrive and prove itself to be a good low maintenance tree for that spot, with others plugging along that can be transplanted all over. Without irrigation most will die, but some of those will thrive as well. Even if the fruit of these seed grown trees is sub ideal, it can be grafted later, and a hardy rootstock that thrive without irrigation is very valuable in itself. On the other hand there’s a chance it could be a new, locally well adapted varietal that is even more valuable. This is something that I would do, as a juice pressing party is worthwhile on its own, and could help build community support and collaboration. The happy bi-product is thousands of proven local seeds that you can work with at virtually no risk.
 
Alex Moffitt
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Yacine Leb wrote:
I wonder, is there a part of this forum where people can post pictures and information about their land to spark a conversation and brainstorm ideas about it?



Hello,

Try placing your thread with "growie"s, under "greening the desert" or "forest garden", staff may move your thread later to a better fitting place,

Regards,
Alex

Please note: I would really enjoy reading your thread!





 
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