The Permaculture Challenge - Meeting the Permaculture Group Kiel
Written by Kaja When the tandem-project started in the beginning of the semester I was very excited to meet my tandem partner Anna, because I had never done such a project before and didn’t know what to expect. But as it turned out, we were a good match. Our interests were very similar, so when we discussed which challenge we wanted to participate in we were able to agree fast on one of the proposed challenges. Our decision fell on the permaculture-challenge, which is taking place in the Alte Mu, a center for alternative and/or sustainable projects in cooperation with the permaculture group Kiel, which is located there. To get the challenge started, Anna and I send the group an email to set up a date on which we would meet them and get shown around their garden. Despite us being a bit nervous about being introduced to a group of people we had never been in contact with before, the both of us were also looking forward to meeting new people and learning about a sustainable way to garden, or maybe even a sustainable way to start growing our own food. As it turned out our sorrows were unfounded. When we arrived at the Alte Mu for our first meeting with the group, some of the members were already working outside and gave us a very warm welcome. One of them took on the task of showing us around and explaining the different projects the group had already finished or was currently working on. The ideas the group members came up with for solving different kinds of problems was very fascinating. They have, for example, build a seedbed that is laid out in a star shape, so that a lot of their members can work on it at the same time. Another inspiring project is the furniture that they made out of living willow. But the probably biggest project they finished so far is a fairly large area, where they planted trees of varying heights and also different kinds of herbs and bushes to imitate a forest. The idea behind that is to be as efficient as possible with the amount of sunlight that there is in that specific area, hence the varying heights of the plants. What was most interesting was that the use and placement of every plant was incredibly well thought out. Most of the plants had more than one use for the small ecosystem the group had created (for example hindering weeds from growing, absorbing specific minerals that would kill other plants that are not supposed to grow there, or to deter insects from eating the other plants). But not only the practical things the group are doing are interesting. The way in which the group is organising itself is also very noteworthy. They are using a structure called sociocrathy 3.0 in which there are no leaders, instead every member is the same and roles like timekeeper or transkript writer aren’t filled out by a fixed person. Decisions are made in a consens, which means that nobody in the group is strongly opposing a decision that is taken. Even though working-groups are formed and take on different topics (for example finances, social media, events and such), everybody needs to have the opportunity to access every information concerning the group and its projects.
After our first visit to the permaculture group Anna and I were taken by the idea of taking on our own little project with the help of the permaculture group. So we met up after one of the group meetings and started talking about the question on how to start one of the projects we were thinking of. Luckily the members were open for our ideas and even threw in some of their own. But before we could start a project we had to learn a bit more about the idea behind permaculture. So the both of us started reading about the principles behind it and also talked to some of the group members to get a more detailed idea of the whole concept behind permaculture. We then settled on building our own little seed beds in old wooden fruit boxes, so that we would be able to garden on our own balconies, too. Sadly we didn’t finish our seedbeds before the semester ended, but the both of us agreed that we will meet up to finish them as soon as we can, so that we can maybe grow some plants next spring. As the tandem-project is now over, both of us are pretty glad that we could be a part of it and that we were able to get into touch with so many new and always also very nice people.