Jamboree Creek Yoga Resort, Goa – India
Volunteering with a Permaculture perspective
November – December 2016
Nicky and I arrived at Jamboree Creek late on a Friday night late November 2016. Tired and with our lungs full of thick Mumbai air we embarked on our first little Permaculture adventure as Workaway volunteers at the Creek. It became our home for five weeks.
After much needed rest, by day two we started feeling and tuning into the place, observing the energies using it and their needs for the space, the animals and plants that were growing there happily, and the ones that were not so happy. We observed the big expanses of parched land crying out for a living skin and listened to the needs of Pryianka, the owner and her staff.
Nicky and I set out to creating an updated map of what already existed and starting from it we focused on new areas that needed developing and coming up with easy to implement solutions to help Pryianka connect more to her beautiful piece of Goan paradise and make it a more fertile and productive sanctuary.
How we contributed?
Through observing and interacting we immediately responded by mulching and planting to fix nitrogen and break up the heavy clay soil in order to bring back some fertility to the parched land. Nicky was in charge of creating beautiful hand painted signs on scrap wood to document the plants on site and to inform guests and crew of the abundances growing before their very eyes.
With the crew we learned to recognize and celebrate seasonal abundances, such as using the lemongrass as tea, to make cordial and elixir and tuning in to better use resources on site. We mulched as many barren areas as we could with biomass found on site. With rice paddy straw, leaves, twigs to coconut husks and palm fronds we mulched all the new plants and some of the old and covered the land to help with moisture especially in the veg growing areas. We wanted to create ways of keeping the water in as much as we can so we created some moats and started a banana and coconut circle. This made an immediate impact and we started to plant all the newly mulched areas.
As opposed to the UK, Goa is very hot and dry in the winter, and very hot and humid during monsoon. Shade is very important and creating it wherever possible became a priority. We harvested bamboo onsite and build pergolas and shade structures for the newest additions to the creek’s arsenal of huts.
To help us with local knowledge and indigenous pioneer species we connected with Rosie Harding and her partner Peter, two wonderful humans who transformed a narrow strip of barren, depleted land near Anjuna in Goa in only three years. The 5m wide by 300m long derelict plot was turned into a sanctuary filled to the brim with edibles and medicinals. Over 250 species to be precise. They kindly invited us over for a tour of their kitchen garden, food forest and inspirational new demonstration site which in only eight short months was turned into an oasis of productivity and healing. This site is a project to help rehabilitate and train local former drug addicts and convicts. It is always humbling to witness how much of a powerful healing force the application of Permaculture can be for both land and people.
We left inspired and with a lot of knowledge and a trunk full of easy to grow and propagate pioneer plants to enrich the soil starting with Gliricidia, a local nitrogen fixer and rodent repellent that loves to grow in Goa. Rosie and Peter gifted sweet potato vines of two kinds to act as ground cover and break up the heavy clay soil, chicken spinach (a wild edible with a lemony sorrel like taste suitable as ground cover even for dry shade), Caribbean thyme, or throat plant as it is called in Goa, and a tall sunflower/Jerusalem artichoke type plant with edible tubers whose name I sadly forgot.
I am very happy to report that a month and a half after planting, Jamboree Creek is the proud new home of all of the species mentioned above. They are all thriving.
Many thanks to Rosie and Peter once again. It would be a great honour to collaborate with them on a Permaculture course I have been asked to run at Jamboree Creek in the near future.
We also inherited over 100 young trees, shrubs and climbers from the landscaping company that abandoned their inefficient and hazardous work. It was like a blessing in disguise and it soon became obvious that unless we acted fast, we were going to have many casualties. We landscaped the gardens of the newest additions to the resort and planted the young trees in the shade of some of the larger shrubs for protection. In five years, if all goes well, they will form an edible and medicinal canopy that will offer dappled shade to support growth of all the other plant communities, helping retain moisture and form niche habitat to protect more tender vegetables and salads that could be grown to feed the guests and staff.
We planted trees like mango, neem, papaya, passion fruit vines, banana, pineapple, hibiscus, roses, lemongrass, potatoes of several kinds, blue peas, chicken spinach, throat plant, bougainvillea and loads of flowering ornamentals to adorn this cute resort.
I am in awe at just how rich and abundant the place is and how quickly it thrives with a bit of help.
There is only so much one can do in a few weeks and our intention was to contribute in a positive and long lasting way to the project and connect with it from the heart.
Another valuable lesson was to learn how to let go and wish the project well once it was time for us to move onto our next adventure in Auroville.
I feel good about our small contribution the place and enjoy visualizing returning one day in the near future to pick a perfectly ripe mango from one of the trees I planted. It makes my heart sing with joy!