simple living, home grown food, clean air

John and Sharon Champagne teaching at Maemut Garden

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Last month Maemut Garden hosted its first official event, a Permaculture teacher training course led by our good friend and teacher John Champagne and his wife Sharon. John first introduced me to Permaculture at the Panya Project in 2011 and we have been in contact since, he has been our mentor since the beginning of our work here and has visited twice.

The course was small but all the participants were experienced permaculturists, apart from me of course…YJ from Kailash Akhara, Shen from Tacomepai, Bruce from Permaculture Phayao and Karl a long term Panya Project resident and permatraveller.

A lot was packed in a short five days, following the course, doing homework and keeping an eye on the management of the course took a bit out of me, I was pretty wasted by the end, but very happy.

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Everyone was really supportive of our work here, we were greatly encouraged and we have renewed energy to tackle a few more jobs that are still at a halfway stage, the greywater disposal system,  a couple of rainwater collection tanks and one more small hut to use up some wood before it goes bad.

This is what John had to say about Maemut Garden:

“As a Permaculture teacher for 20 years now, nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing what students from courses do with their education. This was the case when Sharon and I visited Marco and his wife Nok on their 10 acre property Maemut Garden, south of Chiang Mai recently.

It’s been 3 years since Marco completed a Permaculture Design Course with me at the Panya Project and the transformation from run down rice paddies to what you see today is truly remarkable. We were there to deliver a Teachers Training course and all the infrastructure was completed and in place to deliver a first class course that will remain an educational venue for decades to come.

The many natural buildings on the property are a feature, with the use of the local subsoil to construct mud brick structures specifically designed for the tropical climate. Outdoor cooking and eating areas allow an edge of privacy from the main residential house and visitors. The landscaping of edible plants is a cornucopia of what can be grown in northern Thailand with a rich diversity of species providing fruit all year round. Animal systems, agroforestry and rice production also combine to make this an excellent example of an emerging Food Forest and permaculture in action.

It’s not only the physical landscape that is impressive, but also the social aspect of permaculture at play here. Marco and Nok settled into a small remote Thai village and employed local villagers in their development. So rather than ‘preaching’ permaculture to a culture well evolved in the art of self reliance, it was a soft approach in them learning new skills and ideas as they earned a livelihood. The result is their acceptance into the community and the potential for future conversations if times and circumstances change.

Maemut Garden is now a registered WWOOF host farm to visit, work and learn from and I’d encourage anyone visiting this beautiful northern region of Thailand to make contact… won’t be disappointed. Sharon and I look forward to repeating that Teachers Training course here again next year.”


Author: marco

growing food and making do with less

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