Non Profit organisation Jordanian Association For Environment Quality To establish a model project of sustainable arid land development, demonstrating that all the basic needs for a healthy, meaningful, peaceful lifestyle can be affordable, understood and achieved by poor local people. The project site is typical marginal arid land settled by poor people of the area. It will feature demonstrations of energy efficient appropriate housing with natural cooling systems and a plant nursery attachment, solar electricity, solar hot water, biological waste water treatment recycling, dry compost toilet, rain water harvesting earthworks, diverse inter-active plant animal and tree systems for local food production and processing. The demonstration house will function as a classroom, administration office for the project and the local community permaculture group. Once established the project will serve as a model that can be replicated throughout Jordan and other counties in the region.
The Permaculture Research Institute has already purchased the land using a donation fund and the site is in the Jordan Valley also known as The Dead Sea Valley on the edge of and between the two villages of Al Jawfa and Al Jawasreh. The project's aim is the setting up a demonstration site and education centre of an appropriate size, cost and style that is acceptable to the local people and affordable.
Nadia and Geoff Lawton have developed many working relationships with people of this area and region and understand what it is that they need and require to improve their lives. They will benefit greatly from understanding the components and design systems that can create a sustainable community, meaningful life and peaceful existence.
The house is constructed in a style that is locally accepted and used, but orientated to be most efficient from a passive solar aspect for the local climate. It has a tiled floor, concrete support pillars and a concrete roof. These materials are locally used and trusted. The south west wall is filled in with straw bale and the rest of the walls as well as the walls subdividing the house are mud brick. This will mean the basic appearance of the house will look very similar to the conventional houses of the poor people in the area and the region, while the insulation factor will be extremely high creating a very comfortable living environment and a very low energy use house. The windows have been designed and placed so as to maximise the energy efficiency of the structure. The various attachments to the house, such as a shade trellis, plant nursery and an outdoor summer kitchen, will also increase the energy efficiency of the building.
The electricity for the house and project will be solar powered, using a 24 volt battery bank with a charge controller and an inverter so that the house will run on standard power voltage, and the most energy efficient locally available appliances will be purchased and used.
The toilet system is a dry compost toilet of the faralone design which is a simple design that works very well and can be easily constructed from a plan.
The grey water from the house is cleaned using a small gravel reed bed system that allows the water to be re-cycled onto the fruit trees in the garden. The water requirements for the site will eventually be supplied by a well bore that will be drilled and pumped during day light hours using a solar pump to a header tank at the top of the site and all water will be gravity fed throughout the site.
The site is designed on contour with the main features being stone walled earth backed swales and small gabions that trap, store and soak all seasonal rainfall into the subsoil of the site and greatly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the drip irrigation system. This system will begin the process of reducing evaporation allowing the growth of nitrogen fixing and very hardy desert pioneer trees that will shade the area, reduce evaporation from wind and allow the establishment of a mixed food garden and small mixed orchard. Once mature, these trees can be regularly pollarded to produce surplus leaf material that can be used as garden mulch and animal forage and, the surplus small branches can be used as a cooking fuel.
Small domestic animal systems will be placed around the site to take best advantage of their nutrient flow of manure. A pigeon loft built over the vegetable garden will both fertilise the crops and provide shade. Rabbits will be housed in strategic positions so that their droppings directly feed compost worm farms that will be creating organic fertilizer. Chickens will be in a deep litter mulch yard system so that they process the mulch into high grade compostable material, and they will also be housed in small mobile pens that will be used to tractor across the garden to prepare areas for planting. A duck pen will be built at the top of the site with a small pond that will have the facility to be drained into the gravity irrigation system as a fertigation element. A small aquaponics system will be established in the shade of the plant nursery, and this will be run on solar electricity and will produce both fish and leafy vegetables and herbs.
Compost is being produced to increase soil fertility and extended using a micro compost tea brewing system, and will be run on solar electricity.
A small digital microscope will be set up to show and explain the effects of increasing beneficial soil life on the fertility of the soil and the health and quality of the crops produced.
The house is set up to cater for education courses on all the associated systems involved in how the site works, operates and can be replicated. The lounge room will function as a classroom and is equipped with chairs, desks, a laptop computer, digital projector, white board, information posters, pamphlets, plans, maps, digital microscope and small laboratory work bench. One of the bedrooms functions as the administration office staffed by a local administrator with telephone, laptop computer, internet connection, digital camera, photo copier, office desks and chairs. Two bedrooms will set up to be used for the accommodation of students attending courses and internship programs. The kitchen will be equipped as a normal house kitchen and will cater for students and visitors and there will be an additional outdoor summer kitchen in the shade of the attached plant nursery which will also include a traditional wood fired bread oven. Examples of efficient solar drying of surplus food and natural methods of food preservation will be set up to extend the life of garden and value-added products.
A small separate bedroom will be built for a full time local farm manager.
The site will be operated by the local non-profit community permaculture society group which has already been established and will run educational courses and internships with all food produced on the site consumed on the site and all income from the education programs going back into staffing, maintaining and encouraging the set up of similar projects in other areas.
The installation and establishment of the project will be fully documented with reports, digital photo journal and an ongoing web page journal with photos.
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