Building Community Resilience Through Observing Nature

“More people are starting to see the value and relevance of small scale, diverse farming methods as a way of creating food and community resilience”

Syntropic Farm: Seeding Community ResilienceNestled into the lush green hills just inland of Aotearoa’s beautiful Northern coast, lies the PermaDynamics farm and education center. Aotearoa is the indigenous Māori word for the land commonly known as New Zealand. This family-run farm is an inspiring example of what it truly looks like to live regeneratively and in harmony with the existing ecosystem. The land is surrounded by a bountiful syntropic agroforestry system that farm stewards Klaus, Vanessa, Frida, and Josh have been tending to for the last sixteen years. 

“On the farm education is a passion of ours”, states Frida, “to share, exchange and inspire others and ourselves how to observe nature, design with intelligence and interact with dynamic awareness.” 

The farm is a complex web of interlinking systems. From the biodigester that supplies gas to the kitchen, to the wood chips used to produce mushrooms that are later recycled into bedding for the goats.  

With his machete hanging from his waist, Klaus walks through the hillside forest, explaining the multifaceted matrix that shapes the syntropic farming system. Syntropic farming is a practice that utilizes ecological succession and companion planting in order to create a synergistic grouping of plants that serve as a productive farming system and are capable of regenerating the land. Klaus was one of the first apprentices of Swiss farmer and researcher Ernst Gotsch in Bahia, Brazil where he originally learned about syntropic farming practices.

Reflecting back on that period of his life Klaus states,  “Ernst showed me a work ethic I had never before encountered. Not just hard work and long hours but of total dedication without entitlement and other excuses for choosing the more comfortable path. Constant inquiry and observation of the way the soil can become unlocked to full potential by using the right plants in the right combination and timely management. Our role is to orchestrate not to impose. And when you figure out a plan then be bold and put it to some scale, systematically and in a manageable pattern”. 

COVID19 & Community Resilience

It is that very plan that has resulted in a thriving food forest and market garden that serves as a vital local hub for nutritious food during the pandemic. The COVID19 pandemic actively threatens global food supply chains and highlights the dire importance of small farms that strive to promote food sovereignty.  “More people are starting to see the value and relevance of small scale, diverse farming methods as a way of creating food and community resilience”. 

That resilience also translates to human health, as homepath and nutritionist Vanessa reminds readers that during this time “a diverse diet is the basis for a resilient immune system. Learning about our traditional ancestral diet and incorporating such food choices and preparation techniques is the foundation of a healthy immune system”.

There is a plethora of ecological wisdom to be found on this family-farm, which strives to educate those who yearn to deeply connect with regenerative practices. From natural building, to fermentation, to food forest management, those at PermaDynamics are strengthening community resilience through teaching a wide range of valuable skills.  

Images by Brooke Porter



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