Arboretum Marbella Offers World-Class Permaculture Course

Arboretum Marbella is an environmental project which has been operating on the Costa del Sol for two years and held the first Permaculture Design Course in the area in 2012. This course will be held again in October and is an internationally recognised qualification which in the words of Director Alejandro César Orioli, “is one of the most effective ways to face the current financial crisis and build a sustainable future through education, enabling and taking action.”

We spoke to Alejandro to find out more:

First of all, can you define permaculture?
Permaculture is a holistic system which deals with the design, planning and construction of spaces where people can relate to nature in an ecologically sustainable way, but which is socially beneficial and economically viable.
By applying different techniques into the various components of a system you can make all the elements work to their best ability, reduce energy use and get the best returns in a sustainable way. Techniques can be applied to the construction of homes and buildings, food production, energy use, water use etc. to make them more sustainable and productive.

Why is it a good way to do things?
Permaculture is based on some key principals – taking care of the planet, taking care of people, sharing what we have and distributing everything equally. The tools and techniques of permaculture design create complex systems which are resilient, environmentally friendly, productive and stable. As the co-founder of the concept Bill Mollison said; “permaculture offers a way to design human dwellings and developments which are productive, diverse, stable, sustainable and adaptable in the same way as natural ecosystems.

Can you give us a few examples of permaculture in practice?
Of course, but before I do I would like to clear something up – in years gone by people applied permaculture without knowing it, as it’s no more than using common sense, being aware of the results of our actions and taking more care when we interfere with our natural environment. The best example is our food, starting with the location of where we grow it. We can’t locate a vegetable garden far from where we live, if we’re going to consume these things daily they need to be close to us, right by the house. If we have this we can dispose of our organic waste to create our own compost and feed our plants at the same time, giving back to the land.

If there is a problem with insects destroying the crop, it’s best to introduce chickens into the garden to both eat the insects and get good nutrition and turn over the soil when they are walking around and pecking the ground rather than treat with artificial pesticides.
You can see in this simple example that managing the system in a sustainable way is easy and efficient. This can be continued, so that you use the water from the kitchen to water the garden and much more.

An example from Arboretum is that the grass of our park is not cut by people using machinery which uses energy and generates emissions, but instead by sheep. They are happy because they have delicious grass to eat and so are we as we save work and don’t contaminate the environment. The sheep enrich the land with their dung, cut the grass and stimulate seeds to grow through their digestive system, this natural cycle benefits Arboretum.
In these and many more simple ways permaculture offers a solution for minimizing man’s impact on the land and helping us to work with nature and not against it. If we apply these skills across the world, the impact on the environment would be significant.

What will you learn in the PDC Course?
The objectives of PDC 2013 at Arboretum Marbella are to enable the students with permaculture techniques and give them a holistic vision that they can then develop in their own homes, businesses or communities. The course is for anyone interested in acquiring practical skills and theoretical knowledge in order to develop a sustainable and productive way of life.
During the 13 days of the course (of which 10 are obligatory) you will obtain a clear understanding of the theory of permaculture. At the end of the course we want you to be able to confidently create your first permaculture design plan.
We hope to offer spiritual nourishment and intellectual stimulation, as well as providing tools and practical techniques to enable you to realise your personal objectives.

Do you need to have any prior knowledge or experience to take part?
No, the PDC is an international course which is an introduction to the methods and knowledge to implement permaculture, so you just need to bring interest and enthusiasm. The International standards require a minimum of 72 hours of study to complete the course, but ours is 80 hours as we feel a little more time is required to fully cover the curriculum. In addition to theoretical study, there is a three day practical training course at the end which is optional.
The first course was taught in 1972 by the co-founder of the movement, Bill Mollison, and since then many people in more than 100 countries have taken the course.

How can the PDC help me?
If you wish to apply permaculture to a private project, the course will give you practical and effective tools and a better understanding of sustainability as a whole. Once you have completed a course like this it opens the doors to taking it further and developing a career by studying for your diploma, as you need the PDC to commence further study.
On completion of the course, subject to a good understanding of the topic, you will be given an internationally recognised certificate which can be used as a base to continue studying the subject.
Many universities around the world offer academic credits for completing this course, amongst them Cambridge in the UK, Lausanne in Switzerland and the majority of Australian universities.

Arboretum Marbella’s PDC 2013 takes place from 18-30th October and all the information is available on the website www.arboretummarbella.org/pdc.
This course will be taught in Spanish.

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