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Applied Permaculture: Links between refugees and the local community of Lavrio

Applied Permaculture: Creating links between refugees and the local community of Lavrio

As in most places where camps are located, the interaction of refugees living in the Lavrio refugee camp with the local community is minimal and restricted to buyer-seller relationships in the market. Moreover, lately there have been a few unfortunate incidents like fires within the camp area, which have raised prejudice against the refugee community. In a wider effort to reverse public opinion and facilitate the integration of refugees in the local community, together with the DRC staff, we came up with the idea to organize a Permaculture educational activity in the neighboring area, in a piece of land owned by a local family.

This activity was a four day practical workshop on applied Mediterranean Permaculture and was designed with a special focus on the following:

– Up-skill a group of refugees, already trained in Permaculture theory and provide them with the opportunity to gain hands on experience in designing, constructing and maintaining sustainable food production systems using methods and techniques relevant to the climate of the area.

– Facilitate a meaningful and creative interaction with a local family that will have a positive impact on the local community’s attitude towards refugees.

– Introduce refugees as trained Permaculture practitioners in the local community and thus create the potential for emerging job opportunities in this field, as well as new connections with the locals.

The workshop took place in December and consisted of 4 all day practical workshops during which the participants had the chance to study and implement different methods and techniques in the design and construction of a vegetable garden and the regeneration of a neglected orchard. Focusing on sustainable water management, soil regeneration and sustainable food production, we explored the potential of Permaculture design in restoring the ecology and hydrology of a given piece of land as well as in supporting the self sufficiency of a small family. During the theory sessions, we produced a site and people analysis as well as a design for the site we were working on. During the practicals, we constructed and planted raised garden beds (with herbs, vegetables, small fruiting perennials), we shaped the earth around the trees so that it holds the water it receives, we amended the soil and applied different types of mulch.

The participants were enthusiastic and highly motivated for physical work. They responded with curiosity and willingness and they were always happy to share with us their empirical knowledge from the rich Afghan agricultural tradition.

We are very thankful to DRC for the support and the cooperation.