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An Update on our Sustainable Classroom!

Permaculture Discovery Centre

Things have been moving along on our sustainable classroom here at Never Ending Food.  Due to the growing number of visitors that we are receiving each week, we decided to work with a local sustainable building group–Grassroots Ecobuild–to construct a classroom made from a combination of rammed earth, earth-bags, and recycled materials.  This helps to eliminate the need for cutting down trees to burn bricks and the purchasing of cement.

This classroom, dubbed the ‘Permaculture Discovery Centre‘, will be able to comfortably seat 50-60 participants, as well as having a small store-room for keeping our food and resource display.  We are hoping to be able to use the space for teaching about Permaculture, conducting demonstrations, showing videos, and even allowing the public to use it for various events.

We broke ground for the foundation back in May of 2016, and the first rammed-earth construction began in October of the same year.  The pictures below are from those beginning stages:

Breaking ground

Rammed-earth walls

Rammed-earth foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

By November of 2016, the crew began to construct the earth-bag walls.  Both the earth-bags and the rammed-earth were made from soil dug on-site, mixed with sand, water, and lime.  The earth-bags are filled with this mixture and used like large bricks.  A strand of barbed wire was used between each layer to help hold the bags in place.  We also used the earth-bag technique to create the foundation for the auditorium-style seating for the classroom:

Earth-bag walls

Earth-bag seating

 

 

 

 

 

By June of 2017, we were able to begin the process of plastering the walls.  Again, this plaster was made with a sustainable mixture of soil, sand, and lime.  We were also able to start creating recycled bottle windows, which provide security while still allowing sunlight to shine through:

Plastering

Recycled glass bottle windows

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along the way, we’ve had a few setbacks due to the rainy seasons, but we are now steaming ahead again full-throttle!  In the past few months, we have been able to finalize a lot of the plastering, flooring, framework, and roof supports.  We are now quickly approaching the point where all that remains is to put on the roof and hang the doors.  The roof will be made with a combination of corrugated tin sheets, recycled tin cans, and recycled plastic bottles (to create a sunroof effect for natural lighting within the classroom).  We are also using the area where all the soil was dug during construction to create a large fish pond that will eventually become an area for fish-farming and the raising of ducks and chickens!

If you would like to help support the work we are doing at Never Ending Food, and donate to the construction of the Permaculture Discovery Centre, just click on the PayPal tab on the right of this page.  Every little bit helps, and a little bit can go a long way in Malawi!  A HUGE thank-you to so many of you who have already given us support!  Below are a few pictures of the current status of the classroom:

Inside classroom

Fishpond area

Inside wall

Permaculture Discovery Centre

Recycled glass bottle window

Outside wall

Front door

 

NEF’s Newest Intern–Kondwani M’dale

Kondwani M’dale

Never Ending Food’s newest intern, Kondwani M’dale, comes from a nearby village known as Mazoni.  He was introduced to Never Ending Food through his interest in reading about Permaculture.  We maintain a small lending-library of resource materials, and Kondwani was coming every couple of weeks to check out new books.  Seeing that his passion to learn about Permaculture ideas was genuine, he began spending more time with our Manager, Peter Kaniye, and our other intern, Jacob Jumpha.

We took Kondwani on as an intern back in March of this year, and for the past five months, he has been coming three days a week to learn more about the implementation of Permaculture designs.  His practical experience has involved learning about Permaculture ‘zones and guilds’, regenerative soil management (e.g. compost making, mulching, worm farming, the making of liquid manure, etc), water management (building swales, rain-water harvesting, banana pits, etc), nursery establishment, seed-saving, solar drying, eco-sanitation, and much more.

Kondwani speaking about plastics and Permaculture

In June, Kondwani was part of the team which represented Never Ending Food at the anti-plastic campaign held in Malawi’s capital city of Lilongwe.  At this function, he gave a public address on how Permaculture aims to achieve ‘zero-waste’ and the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling, and refusing plastics.  He was also able to show the audience some of the products that he and Jacob Jumpha make using recycled plastic bags (e.g. mats, hats, bags, shoes, etc).

At Kondwani’s own home, he has been working to establish Permaculture designs.  Despite several challenges, including neighbors who continue to over-sweep and burn organic matter, poor community animal management, and a reluctance by many to try new ideas, Kondwani has started small and is working every day towards bigger and better things.  Below are a few of the design ideas that he has been able to achieve:

Zone One–protected from chickens and using hanging gourd pots!

Eco-sanitation–a composting toilet using two 1-meter pits and a movable wooden platform.

Recycled Chairs–using old cement bags, soil, and recycled plastic mats

Over 50 Lutheran Pastors Visit Never Ending Food!

Whoa 001aThis past week (June 14th), over 50 Malawian pastors from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi (ELCM) visited Never Ending Food to learn more about how Permaculture ideas can be integrated into their mission work.  These pastors were able to get a glimpse of the true potential that Malawi has to turn itself into a literal ‘Garden of Eden’ and bring an end to things like ‘hungry seasons’, malnutrition, and poverty.  During the visit, the Never Ending Food staff tried to emphasize that church leaders have a moral responsibility to make sureWhoa 015a that people who are worshipping a ‘Creator’ must also be proactive in protecting and conserving creation.  Nature gives us all that we need for life: food, medicines, energy, building supplies, etc.  Humans must do everything in our power to make sure that we are caring for the earth, caring for people, and sharing resources equitably.

These pastors represented Lutheran churches throughout the entire country of Malawi, so we hope that the sustainable and locally-available solutions that they were able to learn about will travel home with them and be turned into action!  The ELCM has also produced a short video on Permaculture activities in Malawi, and can be viewed by clicking here.

 

Anti-Plastics Day!

004aOn June 9th, the Association of Environmental Journalists (AEJ), in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) held a ‘Green Walk’ with the theme of ‘Beating Plastic Pollution’.  This walk took place in Lilongwe, Malawi and was aimed at raising awareness of the growing plight of plastic pollution in the country.  Youth, politicians, journalists, and community advocates all took part in the event and repeated the mantra: “Reduce, Reuse, Refuse”!

NEF Intern Kondwani M'daleNever Ending Food sent our Manager, Peter Kaniye, and one of our interns, Kondwani M’dale, to set up a display of recycled plastic items made by a group in one of our local villages.  This group makes mats, hats, shoes, cell phone covers, and bags from recycled plastic bags.

Kondwani gave a speech to the group about the importance of reusing plastics and the income which can be generated when waste is creatively turned into a resource.  Permaculture aims at achieving ‘zero waste’, so this anti-plastic event fit right into Never Ending Food‘s mission to make a greener, cleaner, and healthier Malawi.

Smile 047aA big thank you to all those who attended and supported this event.  It is definitely a step in the right direction!

Visit from Bishop Mackenzie International School

BMIS 2018 107aThis last week we hosted two groups of students from the Bishop Mackenzie International School in Lilongwe.  The students are currently studying factors which lead to the collapse of civilizations, so they were interested in learning more about how Permaculture can help to avoid these mistakes.  The word ‘Permaculture’ began as a combination of the words ‘Permanent’ and ‘Agriculture’, but most practitioners now teach it as ‘Permanent Culture’.  The sustainable use of resources is at the core of every good Permaculture design, and the three ethics–Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share–are the guiding principles for ensuring sustainable civilizations.

BMIS 2018 048aWhen we asked the students what types of things they were learning about which led to the collapse of civilizations, their responses were all centred around the misuse of resources (e.g. water, food, natural resources, etc.).  We are currently seeing many unsustainable environmental practices increasing throughout the world (e.g. deforestation, monocropping, the use of toxic chemicals, an over-reliance on fossil fuels, etc.).  Permaculture offers solutions for many of today’s challenges.

BMIS 2018 007aThe students learned about healthy soil and water management, integrated pest management, rainwater harvesting, composting toilet systems, worm farming, nutritional diversification, renewable energies, seed collection, sustainable income generating activities, and much more.  By the end of this month, we are scheduled to have four more visits of students from the Bishop Mackenzie school.  It’s wonderful to see the excitement and interest growing about the potential of Permaculture to help create Permanent Cultures!