On the 4th and 5th of May 2013, The Panya Project organised the national Thailand Permaculture Convergence. Many projects from all over Thailand came to Panya and we had a blast! Last year, Nick and Adam represented The Panya Project on the SE Asian Permaculture Convergence in Hong Kong. It was during this convergence, that they decided that it was time for a National Thai Permaculture Convergence. The idea was born! A couple of months later, in February 2013, during the music festival at The Sangob Foundation, the permies from Northern Thailand all sat down and decided that it had to happen and the date would be the 4th and 5th of May. Because we have a lot of space and accomodation at Panya, we decided to be the host for this convergence and Nick took on the organisation of the event. This was the schedule:
The convergence attracted approximately twenty different projects. In the first session, everybody introduced their project and explained their goals and vision. It was inspiring and heartwarming to hear so many wonderful people share their ideas with the group.
After this introduction, we had a refreshing lunch with nice fresh vegetables from PunPun, Panya and our village. Over lunchtime, many projects connected and shared information as well as a couple of latecomers arrived. After lunch, we listened to Christian Carrow on community ethics. He presented his ideas on how a community can maintain the balance between hard physical work and deep emotional connections between its members. After this inspirational talk, Nick facilitated a session on Permaculure in the tropics. He started with a group brainstorm, in which everybody expressed interest in certain areas. Nick then wrote the different categories on the blackboard, everybody split into smaller groups and discussed the following topics: Water, Food Forestry, Natural Building, Vegetable Growing, Seed Saving and Thailand Interface. At the end of this session, the groups came together again and presented the results of their brainstorms to each other. It was interesting to hear about everybody’s experience in certain areas. Christian noticed how it could be interesting for the next convergence, to invite experts and organise workshops on very specific applications of permaculture in the tropics. Jeff also mentioned that there is a lot of indigenous agricultural knowledge in hilltribes in Thailand and that we should explore ways of learning from them.
During the break, we enjoyed fresh lychee’s from the Kailash Akhara Community in NorthEast Thailand, organic papaya from our village and green mulberry tea. The convergence was going great, everybody was enjoying themselves and we could relax a little bit more. (as we were all quite nervous before the start of the convergence, especially Nick, as he was in charge of the entire event) In the next session, Howard represented WWoof Thailand. He explained the history behind WWoof, how he integrated it in his project and how it can benefit our projects. Many questions followed and it seemed that he inspired many people to give it a try! More information on WWoof Thailand: https://www.facebook.com/WWOOFThailand.
Day one ended with a brainstorm on the goals of this convergence. There were two main goals.
1) To improve the connection between the different projects in Thailand, by setting up a website. This website will act as a portal for both visitors and projects. It should incorporate a calendar on which we can post our courses, a map that clearly shows the geographic location of the different projects and an information page on every project. This website has been launched two days ago and can be visited by clicking on this url: http://permaculturethailand.wordpress.com/. If you have a project in Thailand and want to be included on this website, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much Sam for making this website!
2) To improve the personal relationship between the projects by organising activities together. The suggested ideas were farmtours, permaculture blitzes and crop mobs!
Day two opened with Piejo Jandai from Pun Pun, giving a talk on agriculture in our current society and how small scale farming and seed saving offers a sustainable solution to our environmental problems. Just before Piejo started his talk, we received a surprise visit from P’Tongbai and 20 of her natural building course participants. (more information on P’Tongbai and her project in our village: http://earthhomethailand.com/) I have never seen so many people gathered at Panya, at a certain point, I tried to count but I stopped at seventy! After Piejo’s talk, everybody gathered for a group picture.
This big group then split into two smaller groups and we gave everybody a Panya farm tour. During this tour, we received some interesting feedback on our systems! Thank you to everybody who suggested solutions to some of our problems (or challenges 🙂 ).
The convergence then ended with a seed and animal swap. Panya got a turkey and three chickens from Jeff (thank you so much Jeff!) and many people exchanged seed and plant material. It was beautiful to see such an abundance of seeds and smiling faces. This also marked the end of the 2013 Thailand Permaculture Convergence. In two words: heartwarming and inspiring! Thank you to all! It was wonderful! – Brecht
“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Molisson