Permaculture Design, Revisited


In the wake of one historically dry winter, these late April rains of last two days are a most welcome blessing… But nowhere near enough, alas, to save us from the drought that is sure to come.  In fact: water level in the Bravura dam that supplies Lagos municipal water is so low that all farms served by the ARBA canal system have been given notice that the canal will not be flowing this summer.  This canal (pictured above) running through the centre of our farm, though it has been an important source for our irrigation system, is fortunately not the only source -and our adherence to principles of Permaculture Design means that we are prepared to “pivot” -in principle!  In practice: how do we need to ADAPT to the new reality?

As in any business, strategies need to be reviewed & revised, in light of changing conditions on the ground -so in this business of AgroTourism that is Vale da Lama Lda, having reviewed our  WaterWise landscape design for potential weak-points & opportunities, we are reinforcing it with the following strategic projects:
In Agriculture: Perennial AgroForestry over annual veg production
As our Organic Market Garden has developed to the point of achieving economically sustainable production, it is clear that continued growth should be more on the side of perennial and less water-hungry forms of production. So it is that our Syntropic Forest Garden (a.k.a. “The Food Forest”), now quite a mature system, will be continued with selective drip irrigation only (no more flood), and expanded into a new annex with drought-tolerant native & adapted species only. Meanwhile, as our new orchard of mixed soft fruits fruits -now in its 3rd year- is beginning to yield marketable fruits, we will be leveraging “the power of chicken” beyond the orange orchard where it has worked so well into this new field, where additional synergy of water & fertility resources is there for the taking.  As these developments mature, we see a solid belt of AgroForestry operations coming to encircle our veg gardens on 3 (wind-exposed) sides.
In Tourism: Casa Vale da Lama closes the loop on all water & organic resources

Even as facilities are planned to double sleeping & dining capacity from 30 PE (Population Equivalent) to 60 over the next two years, we are

  • a Rain-Garden to irrigate landscape on N side of Casa, and recharge the
  • a new Constructed Wetland to treat all household effluents, hydrate & fertilise new plantations in our north boundary zone
  • pre-composting via “Bokashi” method of all organic kitchen “wastes”
Just as Mother Nature knows nothing of waste (per the Permaculture maxim: waste = resources misplaced), by extending the FarmToFork strategy of our operation one step further, i.e. FarmToFork TO FARM), we can close this open loop entirely, achieving true circularity of all water & organic resources.
Finally: to leverage the impact of these initiatives, we are investing more energy into strategic partnerships -the most fundamental of which is with PND.  As their outreach into the community has grown to the point where groups of students are touring the farm practically every day, we are developing farm infrastructures to support these activities- e.g. a 1.6km nature trail in the LowLands, new woodland. wetland points of pedagogic interest, a SoilLab for Citizen Science, -and joining forces in some joint public activities, i.e.
  • 2 week PDC starting May 14, ollowed by
  • 1 week Permie-camp, for those wanting to deepen their practice
  • May 1 International Day of Permaculture:
All of this is to show- not just telling, but showing in practical terms- how we can adapt effectively to effects of global climate change like drought, and even mitigate those effects in our own backyard.  Working together, we CAN change our shared situation for the better -and have more joy while we are at it!

Written by: Walt Ludwick

Regenerative Farmer, Operations, and Owner.

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