I am a Peruvian Canadian and I am preparing myself for the high jungle amazon of central Peru. I will be joining forces with a non profit orphanage/lodge and I would like to introduce basic principles of permaculture to hopefully spread the much needed knowledge across the uneducated amazonian communities. I need a good start up guide for permaculture. Anybody have resources?
It's not a complete course but you could try and make Terra Preta soil. There was a Ted talk recently that spoke about it as well. It seems to me that in trying to create terra preta you would invariably be doin' some permaculture. Like using mulch plants, sheet composting and adding fine ash/charcoal. The whole picture of terra preta is still foggy, so anyone who can crack the puzzle of how to deliberately make it would be well off for sure.
From my understanding the defining points of a jungle are that most of the carbon/organic matter is up in the tree canopies, and the nutrients at ground level leech away fast as a result from the first point. You could go along with those two trends, and grow a lot of (possibly difficult to harvest) tree fruit and vines and other jungle edibles. Or you could work somewhat against the natural flow and try to improve the depth/fertility of the soil you are working with in order to grow/harvest continually the type of plants that spring up after a tree fall in the jungle, as well as any more conventional fruit/veggie.
I'd say do both of course. And spend a lot of time in the Zone 5 just observing the insane amount of plants you have at your fingertips in the jungle.
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I am in the Peruvian amazon and we are working on projects as well. PM me if you would like to brainstorm. There are some great people working on small permaculture/agroforestry/conservation farming type stuff, but it is still small and no real network yet. I, for one would love to help change that! Let's talk.
What land tenure issues will you be dealing with? I family friend wanted to create an experimental agroforestry plot on 40 hectares near Puyo, Ecuador, but could not proceed because he was required to clear the land and fence it in order to protect it from invasion or expropriation. I have read that land tenure laws based on Spanish tradition and more recent agricultural reform have played havoc with tropical ecosystems in latinamerica.
Pre-colombian inhabitants used a rotating slash-and-burn agriculture that allowed population densities much higher than those of today. Rotating slash-and-burn may also be the origin of the famous ribboned terra preta soil.
You may also want to research Chagga home gardens, multi-story agroforestry on Mt. Kilamanjaro. Similar gardens exist throughout tropical Asia as well.
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