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No longer at Eco Centro Soneva Fushi
No longer at Eco Centro Soneva Fushi
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Soneva Fushi , Baa Atoll, MV
Climate zone:
Wet/Dry Tropical

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Back to No longer at Eco Centro Soneva Fushi

there is not only one Permculture Job

Project: No longer at Eco Centro Soneva Fushi

Posted by Mark Garrett almost 13 years ago

this update looks at the role of Permaculturist working for a corporate company and the links roles and responsibilities that come with working in such an environment. For full article and pictures go to www.permaculturemaldives.blogspot.com

There is not just only one Permaculture job !

 The role we take on as a Permaculturist is to facilitate and participate in Caring for the Earth, Care for the People and Fair share. We design systems with abundance as the outcome, abundant supply of produce, energy and resources to sustain the system and all elements within.

 Sustainability is defined as “a system that produces more energy than it consumes and enough in surplus to maintain and replace that system over its lifetime” Geoff Lawton

 Using the principles of Permaculture design this is all possible and doable whether you have a back yard, balcony, roof top or for in my circumstance a tropical island.

 Working in the corporate world of Permaculture is a little different from growing veggies in your back yard. There will be more opportunity for Permaculturist as more companies appreciate the role a Permaculturist can play in addressing the global challenges of today faced by all. “Global Warming, Food Crisis and Peak Oil” Permaculturist can support and achieve environmental sustainable goals organizations now strive for...

 Six Senses goal is to have all resorts Decarbonized by 2020 in line with the Government of the Republic of the Maldives directive. Soneva Fushi is to be decarbonized by 2012.

 Eco Centro over the period of 2009- 2010 achieved a carbon emissions reversal of 19 tons of CO2 as a result of efforts in recycling. Eco Centro was designed by Australian Permaculturist Wayne Wadsworth. His design incorporated the use of pyrolysis ovens for making charcoal / bio char that captures green house gasses in the wood to then be sequester into soil as bio char for soil improvement, we have taken that a step further and add 10% to our hot composting system. A Bio Gas plant to capture methane from decaying vegetable waste has also been trialed and proven to work. This system along with the charcoal making can reduce the impact Peak oil can have on a remote island by supplying renewable cooking fuels against imported LPG Gas and commercially made charcoal.

 Include the composting system, water harvesting techniques, guild selection and planting green manures, mulches, various garden bed designs for soil improvement and coping with the climatic conditions of living in the wet/ dry tropics all seem pretty straight forward for a Permaculturist to handle. After all we have the books to fall back on? As Bill Mollison said to me “you know what you are doing, pick a country you would like to help and take a few reference books”

 I packed more than a few reference books, Permaculture A Designers’ Manual (Bill Mollison) , Natural control of Garden Pests (Jackie French), Introduction to Permaculture (Bill Mollison), Outdoor Classrooms a handbook for school gardens (Carolyn Nuttall & Janet Millington ), My PDC notes and a Seed Catalogue from Green Harvest www.greenharvest.com.au , Permaculture 2,  Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture (Bill Mollison),  The Global Gardner Series by Bill Mollison. A series of DVD’s from www.idepfoundation.org and Geoff Lawton’s’ Establishing a Food Forest, and  Water Harvesting The Permaculture Way Series, Introduction to Permaculture Design and Bombora the history of Australian Surfing!!! All have been used and referred to either by myself or during the education of others.

 Education is a very important aspect of the role here. I am often asked “what is Permaculture”?  To answer this I have prepared a Introduction to   Permaculture presentation that covers the meaning of the word “Permaculture “ the Philosophy, what Permaculture is Design, values and ethics, the challenges faced by the world today: Global Warming, Food Crisis, Peak Oil and how Permaculture offers solutions to solve these issues. Then it covers the Ethics and principles with a pictorial representation of each of the principles. I then show one of Bills documentaries from the Global Gardner series depending on who is attending and which climate zone they are from. In all this takes around an hour.     

 Education is also woven into conducted Eco tours of the resort to the various gardens and the Eco Centro “Waste to Wealth” Centro where “Waste” inputs can be traced to the “Wealth” outputs of bio char, compost, mulches and renewable cooking fuels, gas and charcoal.   

 Education is ongoing and has been delivered to management, staff within my team which includes a horticulturist and 11 workers in 3 different garden areas. Eco Centro, Fresh in the Garden and the Vegetable Garden. Other hosts, guests, guests and hosts children, government officials, local communities and schools plus members of private organizations. It never stops which is great as I do get to meet people who can make a difference and do.

 Guests to date have included French Organic Wine documentary maker Isabelle Legeron  www.thatcrazyfrenchwomen.com , Michelin star chief Skye Gyngell of Petersham Nurseries, Darina and Tim Allen of “Ballymaloe Cookery School, Organic Farm and Garden” Ireland www.cookingisfun.ie  and most recently Clive and Phyll of Ata Rangi, Martinborough organic wine makers of New Zealand www.atarangi.co.nz.

 There is also dealing with journalists and TV crews doing stories and making programmes on sustainability aspects of the resort or the Maldives in general. A couple had won a competition to be stranded on a deserted island to experience the Robinson Crusoe ordeal. We were asked to plant a few vegetables and herbs for them and on the boat trip over I got to see a Manta Ray and flying fish, all in a days work as the Permaculturist.

 There are also numerous guests who come for holidays that have shown great interest in the commitment the resort and the company Six Senses has made to a sustainable future for tourism in the Maldives and offer their support to help achieve company objectives.

 I have been asked to share my knowledge and expertise (or any written materials) to assist communities who intend to start composting as waste management is one of the key areas of concern in Maldives. The request has come from a local environmental consultancy firm (CDE Maldives); they are putting together an awareness program on Permaculture which is to be a part of the National Solid Waste Management Project currently on going in Baa Atoll region.

 On the other hand guests ask questions like:


 Sorry to be a bore but it would be great if someone could explain both the process and the nature of the building required to grow the mushrooms and any photos would be really welcome

 Many thanks for the tour of the eco-centre and the gardens we much enjoyed it

As ever


Internally questions are frequently being asked all in a days work from applying for the importation of bees to the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, finding more varieties of mushroom spawn, sourcing a fan belt, costing of a bio gas plant and the writing of a care plan for a nature reserve.  The best is, can I find another Permaculturist to work for the company in Thailand. This is what has spurred me to write this article as there are and will be more paying jobs for us (Permaculturists) and I wanted to give an insight into what they could be like.  At my PDC taught by Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton, Geoff said it was time for Permaculturist to put the suit on and sit side by side with the big businesses of the world. Fortunately I don’t have to wear a suit or shoes but there is a uniform and codes of conduct and life rules for living on an island resort that apply to me as with all living and working here.

  I have only touched the surface really as there is another world you have to enter, the world of hospitality a whole new language, Pax, covers, F&B, housekeeping, HR, IT, purchase request order, purchasing department, GM, MD, Assistant Director, supervisor, Spar, GRO, Life, A&G, BSPM, monthly report, training hours, managers meeting, one to one, pest control, budgets, output figures, financial controller, Chairman, Marine Biologist, Projects director, Decarbonising team, PR ….. The list goes on!!!!

 Then there are 20 different nationalities all living and sharing the same space which requires another set of communication skills, understanding of cultural differences, customs and norms, foods, entertainment.

 The isolation of living on an island far from home and what may have been the norm in the past .. leaving work behind at the close of day has faded.  

 Island life as a Permaculturist J

 There is not just only one Permaculture job !

Comments (4)

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Tim Auld
Tim Auld : Thanks for writing this interesting article, Mark. It's heartening to see permaculture taken seriously and employed successfully. One vulnerability islands have is liquid fuel. Methane can be compressed, but there is also ethanol, which Bill often talks about. There is an american permie named David Blume who does excellent work in this area. It is possible to integrate ethanol production which many other systems to eek just about every joule of energy and nutrition from the feedstock. If done properly it's also a great way to sequester carbon. The topic is huge, and don't be put off by the anti-biofuel propaganda. Have a look at Dave's material here: http://www.alcoholcanbeagas.com/
Posted almost 13 years ago

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Mark Garrett
Mark Garrett : Hi Tim , thanks for the information , at this stage we would be more interested in compressing methane ... how easy is this and is it capital intensive ? I read your article on bees too we are reintroducing bees here shortly so reading natural beekeeping by Ross Conrad any suggestions a never done before and bee keeping courses in Srilanka are in their language .. i am sending our Horticulturist to a course next month so hopefully we can work it out together ??
Posted almost 13 years ago

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Hannes Dettmann
Hannes Dettmann : hey mark, i really enjoy your blog. the pictures look great, especially the ones of your gardens! i will go to south india soon to gain some practical permie experience there during my first year as an aid worker. hopefully i'll manage to swing by your place afterwards to check it out. would love to lend you a hand in the future!

"reintroducing bees"? were there bees on your island in the past? or do you want to introduce them for the first time? i was wondering... :)
Posted almost 13 years ago

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Tim Auld
Tim Auld : Hi Mark, from memory Bill says you bubble the methane through lime then use a French compressor to put it into a bottle. I don't think it should be capital intensive.

I've learned by a workshop and mentoring mostly, but I also used the e-book and (free) hive design offered at http://www.biobees.com/ to construct mine. I decide to add my own small hive beetle trap to that. I have photos of that I'll have to put up here. It's not all that hard you should be right.
Posted almost 13 years ago

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