Permaculture at EL NAGUAL
the network we belong to
The term Permaculture, although initially regarded only to some Agricultural Practices when it was originally coined by Bill Mollison e David Holmgren, has now grown to encompass a series of concepts and practices about Ecology, the Environment, Personal and Community Human development. This development has turn Permaculture into what we consider a philosophy of life.
At EL NAGUAL we see how Permaculture tackles the key aspects of what is missing now a days in society, a lack of understanding of how interconnected and codependent everything is. There is a network of energy, chemicals and cycles that depend on one another and it includes everything, even us as individuals and as a community. We must not only acknowledge this network, but also take an active responsible part in it, enjoy it and work for its conservation and growth.
This is why Permaculture makes such a difference, it is a practical philosophy and series of concepts and techniques, some small and applicable easily throughout anyones day to day, and some with such a big impact we believe they can heal human societies and the world’s ecosystems as a whole. This massive potential of Permaculture require a whole new set of knowledge, habits and production practices, and many can only be carried out if we work together. People have never done anything alone, there was always a tribe, a group, a family, a society. Just as we need the ecosystem to survive, we need each other, each one doing our part personally, and working together as a community.
EL NAGUAL does this exactly, we develop, learn, apply, teach and share this practices, at all levels, from the small changes in daily habits that lead to a better, healthier lifestyle with less negative impact on the environment, to new agricultural production techniques using Organic Farming and Agroforestry, Sustainable construction techniques using Bioconstruction and perhaps most importantly through striving to create and sustain an inspired and responsible community, one that aims to have and share a culture and a set of personal and comunal ever evolving values that help people and nature coexist and live life to it’s fullest.
Many explanations and definitions exist online about what is Permaculture, and if you wish to learn them from us we invite you to come and Volunteer with us to experience it directly. But here we want to share to you what Permaculture is for and at EL NAGUAL.
caring for water, land, air and nature
The key elements to sustain a healthy environment, a healthy life and an effective organic agricultural production is land, air and water. In our eco-village we started by identifying the natural resources available, sadly we also had to identify the damage that had been done to this territory as well. The cutting of the trees for carbon, the lack of plant biodiversity due to the constant use of this land for grass production for cattle left the soil un-protected from rain and drought, and this cycles washed most of it’s nutrients away and with reduced or contaminated water sources. Initially the land was incapable of sustaining even an organic garden. Although many see this as just a problem, we also saw the possibility to start a long learning process through healing this land.
Healing the soil
By recycling organic local waste, creating natural compost, liquid organic fertilizers, collecting green bio-mass on top of the soil, and increasing the plant biodiversity through the use of non-traditional eatable plants and native vegetation we managed to naturally control pests, return fertility to the soil and increase the microbial, fungal and botanical biodiversity necessary to maintain soil alive, soil capable of sustaining a healthy ecosystem. And by avoiding harmful chemicals and poisons this balance kept stable and did not affect nearby ecosystems with pollutants.
Healing the water
Finding sustainable ways of using and taking care of the available water resources. First we get our water from an underground source, in this way we don’t contaminate or disrupt it, second we made sure that all the water we use in our domestic activities, for our agriculture practices and our natural pool is not exposed to harmful chemicals, we use only organic and biodegradable soaps and no chloride. And when it comes to our sewer water we use a Biodigester not only to protect the ecosystem from the impact of this residue, but to produce useful methane gas, natural fertilizers and algae in the process of filtering and cleaning the water before it flows back into the ecosystem.
Healing the air
Although somehow nature has managed to kept oxygen levels stable though this industrialized centuries, and we still don’t know how, it is undeniable that we have drastically affected the delicate balance of many gases present in our atmosphere, and that we do know for a fact how. Co2 being the main problem here.
As an important greenhouse gas it has the function to trap part (not all) of the sun’s energy inside the atmosphere, preventing it from escaping back into space, which would leave this planet frozen and dead, it is a nice blanket keeping all of us warm. But the drastic increase of Co2 in the atmosphere as byproduct of the current energy-hungry human societies throughout the last couple of centuries is rapidly throwing this delicate thermoregulation system of our planet out of balance. Too much of this protective blankets covering the planet and not enough heat will scape back, most of it trapped here, over-accumulating and we will all overheat, water cycles will be disrupted and with that every other natural cycle will become unstable, from the weather and the seasons, to bird migrations and global average temperatures.
To solve this (not prevent, since it is already happening) we need to do two main things:
1) Reduce the amount of Co2 released into the atmosphere. At EL NAGUAL we contribute to this by doing local production. Through keeping our activities local and using local resources we drastically reduce the need for motor transportation, allowing us to spend entire weeks carrying out our production and consumption activities without the need to turn on any combustion engine. We also contribute through the production and use of our natural Biogas, and although we have a waterwheel generator which produced all our energy from the river for 20 years, now we need to be connected to the electric grid to satisfy the high demand generated by more people and their electronic devices, we’re actively working on this so that at some point in the future and through sustainable and renewable technologies we manage to satisfy all our energy needs without affecting the environment. And lastly at EL NAGUAL we encourage a vegetarian diet, although we acknowledge and respect people who do not want to stop eating meat completely it is undeniable that even reduced meat consumption, once or twice a week, has a massive positive impact in our ecosystem’s health, and human health as well for that matter. Numbers don’t lie, opting not to eat meat at all, or at least reducing the consumption of it, is perhaps the biggest single thing we can do for our planet at this point.
2) Capture Co2 back. Many technological advances and new machines are being develop to capture Co2 from the atmosphere, this are necessary and we encourage them, but at the moment there is no way of applying such technologies at EL NAGUAL, the good thing is that nature has being perfecting a way to capture it back into the soil and the planet’s biomass in the form of carbon for millions of years, it is efficient, widely available and helps solve many other environmental and social problems at the same time, it’s very simple, planting more trees! At EL NAGUAL we practice reforestation, and by turning it into agroforestry it has even more direct benefits for people. Each forest has the potential to capture massive amounts of Co2 through it lifespan, it also helps to regulate the temperature and water cycles, and with a bit of help from the sun, the soil and even responsible humans, it can turn all that harmful excess Co2 in the atmosphere into much needed resources like food, oxygen, water, natural fertilizer for other plants, wood, paper, increased animal biodiversity and wellbeing and much more, plus they are truly gorgeous.