C.A.R.T. - Centre for Appropriate Rural Technology

Permaculture Gardens

The centers gardens are at the very heart of our work both in terms of developing the local community’s skills whilst enabling the center to be self sufficient and creating good nutrition via a varied and balanced diet. Due to the climatic conditions (4 months drought per year) the local community grow one crop once a year (mono culture). The garden’s provide a template for an alternative – growing a diverse range of crops using the principles of permaculture: raised composting beds, companion planting and organic pest control. All these methods serve to nurture the soil so in turn the soil can nurture and nourish the plants.

The raised beds resemble a compost heap with green matter placed on the very bottom of the structure, decomposed material (wood chips, leaves, etc.) is layered on top of the green matter, followed by a mix of soil and compost. Seedlings are planted and mulch is added to protect the soil on top of the bed, while herbs are planted on the sides, creating a network of strong roots to help contain the soil in the garden structure.

These beds can be implemented anywhere but are ideally suited to areas that have high clay content in the soil structure. Though clay-rich soil is ideal for keeping nutrients in the soil, it can also retain too much water. The raised structure design allows better drainage, minimizes the threat of root rot, and enables rooting vegetables (carrots, beets, onions, etc.) to grow significantly larger than when planted directly in the ground. The structure's unique shape also makes monitoring the fertility easier and the overall planting surface is greatly improved.

Whilst most of the gardens products are harvested some are allowed to go to seed, thus enabling us to create a seed bank and allowing us to continually plant without having to source seeds externally. Unused green matter is either composted or thrown directly back into the beds allowing the release of nutrients back into the soil. All materials used in the design of these gardens are easily obtainable and locally sourced therefore easily replicable by the local community. A group of local women have successfully built their own gardens using these methods following learning the skills in the center’s gardens.