A year and a half ago, AI Programs Director, Emmanuelle Vital, ventured over to the village of Ambalona, Madagascar with the intention of developing a perma garden project that would create a nutritional food source and provide additional income for the community. Bringing with her little more than extensive knowledge on the subject of permaculture and few pieces of supporting literature, Emmanuelle was met by Hope For Madagascar’s (HFM) Executive Director, Fanja Rakotonirina, and Field Technician, Fidi Rajaonarivelo. Together they began working directly with the locals to take stock of what renewable natural resources exist in and around the community of Ambalona. What they found was plenty of fertile soil, manure, bamboo, water, sun and compostable biomass, or in other words, the perfect ingredients for perma gardens. All that had to be brought in from outside the community was organic vegetable seeds.
Once these resources were identified, a strategy for implementing a community perma garden project was devised. The people of Ambalona, eager to learn about this new gardening method, received a crash course in permaculture principles during the construction of the first several test plots. With seeds planted and no certain knowledge of what would come of her instruction, Emmanuelle returned home to Steamboat Springs Colorado, leaving behind Fidi to monitor the progress of the project and continue helping the villagers create and tend to their own gardens.
Following a year and a half of encouraging reporting from Fidi and Peace Corps Volunteers, Brittany Priselac and Rebek Caton, AI volunteers traveled over to Madagascar to check up on the project. They described what they found as a “frenzy of permaculture.” Villagers from all over the community had adopted the practice of creating and planting their own gardens, successfully improvising upon the knowledge Emmanuelle had shared with them and fusing new and traditional gardening techniques. Having found success with this initial project in Ambalona, AI is now endeavoring upon the creation of a large permaculture garden capable of growing enough food to feed the 100+ children at the community school. Here are some photos of the Ambalona community gardens project in action.