Permaculture Courses at La Bruguera in November

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We were fortunate to host Rico Zook for a month here at La Bruguera, in November. Rico has almost three decades of experience working in the permaculture realm and is a fountain of knowledge on all things regenerative design. We met him when Mike did a water course of his at Can Lliure earlier this year (the Catalan centre where 5 of our team have now done Permaculture Design Certificates). During his stay we ran two weekend permaculture courses at La Bruguera based on two fundamentals of any regenerative design: water and soil.

The first weekend we hosted 18 people on the course learning about water’s chemistry, rain/surface/ground water harvesting, water retention earth structures, understanding watersheds, “keypoints and keylines” for energy-free water distribution, ponds and water in a forest-garden design.

Permaculture Water course at La Bruguera
Rico Zook teaching the students about watersheds

The first day was the conceptual foundation of the course, and had us learning the basics in the classroom, and on day 2 we got out into the forest garden at La Bruguera and began applying what we had learned in “hands-on” ways. We learned several “appropriate technologies”, for working with topography and finding level, without the need for any complex or expensive technology, as well as playing a nifty role-playing game to understand system dynamics.

Rico demonstrating how to find level with an A-Frame

The second workshop we hosted a week later was on soil, again attracting another 18 or so people over the two days (some of the same as the water course, some new folk). We followed the same format of one day of conceptual work, and the second day practical work in the garden. Rico took us through the fundamentals of soil, the components which make up soil (air, water, organic matter, micro-organisms, minerals), the cycle by which soil is created and utilised, compost, vermi-compost (compost using a colony of worms), and the harvesting and use of indigenous microorganisms (IMOs).

harvesting indigenous microorganisms
Rico unearthing some IMO cultures we pre-prepared, to show the students

On the second day we looked closer at IMOs, getting to see some pre “made” IMO capturing technology, and their harvest. Indigenous microorganisms is another way of saying “local” micro-organisms.  These microscopic critters are invisible as individuals to the naked eye, but we “attracted” them in bulk to our pre-cooked rice, which we buried in bamboo pods, with only a tiny slice on each side to keep macro-organisms (like bugs) out.  Check out how colourful they are!

indigenous microorganisms cultured in rice
The colourful range of different micro-organisms who colonised the rice over the course of 2 weeks underground

We then cultured our IMOs, providing them with loads of food (unrefined sugar in the form of “miel de caña” in this case. They duly multiplied, and we were able to deploy them as a foliar (leaf) spray to strengthen our plants, fight off nasties, in full knowledge that these are perfectly well-adapted organisms to our soil and water conditions (because they came from our soil to begin with).  They can also be added to compost piles to speed up the composting process, and even – get this – put in a drain that is blocked by organic matter to chew through the blockage!  

compost tea making
Lining up a range of ingredients to make a “compost tea” – a nutritious concentrated liquid feed for plants

Being able to host these workshops on permaculture at La Bruguera was such a pleasure, and we’re so pleased they went down so well. Next year we’ll likely be hosting a week-long Introduction to Permaculture Course, a Planet Positive Living course for people looking to take easy steps to lower their environmental impact, among other courses and workshops, so keep your eyes open for those to be announced! If you’re in the market for a space to host a workshop, please do get in touch

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