Perma Terra is a social agriculture project based on the principles of permaculture, which covers all areas of human life. Earlier this year I attended one of their free workshops, that I found out about thanks to an acquaintance, on how to make natural house cleaning products. That is how I end up knowing about their project which I think is very interesting.
Perma Terra is currently carrying out agricultural work on a finca in El Islote, where they also carry out training and volunteer activities. They also want to build links with the community through workshops on sustainable living, healthy cooking, bio-cosmetics, art, children activities, yoga, meditation, recycling, composting, phytotherapy, etc.
They are also working on different projects in Lanzarote and the Canary Islands on urban gardens, composting, working with disabled people and immigrants in the countryside, inter-island seed exchange meetings, local farmers’ round tables, etc.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Perma Terra started as a project back in July and was established as a non-profit association later on in in September.
Paula San Martín, an Argentinian who used to run the vegan café “Green Tara” in Playa Honda, is the creator of the project but her knowledge of agriculture is very limited as her area of expertise is cooking.
One day she bumped on the beach with Ezequiel Lasso Betancor, born and raised in Lanzarote, after two or three years without seeing him. He told Paula that he had left his profession as a lawyer to dedicate himself to ecological agriculture and that he was just venturing into the world of permaculture. He was the one who began to give shape to the finca and Paula managed the project.
Javier García-Morato Valera, who is originally from Madrid, turned up on Perma Terra’s very first day of volunteering. He stayed on board ever since because not only he has great charisma but he has a solid training as an organic and biodynamic farmer. That’s how he also became part of the project’s management.
On their website you have a brief biography of each of them (soon to be available in English) alongside the collaborators that have joined in along the way: www.permaterra.es/nuestro-equipo/.
The project was basically born from Paula’s need as a vegan chef and nutritional advisor to complete the food circle. Cooking food with a slight gourmet touch was becoming a bit superficial for her and she started to give more importance to raising awareness about the process from planting a seed, taking care of the plant, picking the fruit and cooking it. To change a traditional vegan cuisine for a “zero waste” one, taking advantage of the local “kilometre zero” resources that the land of Lanzarote has to offer. She decided to start studying Permaculture Design because she was aware that soil regeneration and caring for the environment are also extremely relevant to the project.
Ezequiel found in Perma Terra a place to deposit his infinite knowledge and love for Lanzarote and Mother Earth.
And Javier fell in love with the project the first day he came to volunteer. He saw some crazy people who didn’t know much about agriculture (except for Ezequiel) at the time but who had a lot of enthusiasm, very clear objectives and tones of energy. So he decided to join in to contribute with his knowledge too because he thought this was the place and the people he wanted to be with.
Cristian Caleri Fajardo, a neighbour and friend from Playa Honda and a customer of the Paula’s former vegan café, granted them use of a plot of land located in El Islote. Perma Terra has use of it for 10 years with the option to buy it or renew for another 10 years.
Both the volunteer activities and the workshops are mainly conducted in Spanish but if someone speaks English it’s not a problem. They already have volunteers that only speak English and Perma Terra’s team speak fluent English and many younger volunteers do too, so everybody goes out of the way to make everybody feel welcome.
In winter time volunteering takes place on Wednesdays at 3pm at El Islote’s finca and on and on Fridays at 9am, sometimes at El Islote and sometimes at the houses of the volunteers that want to start a vegetable patch.
Volunteering days are an opportunity to strengthen social ties, to make friends and enjoy a healthy snack while being trained in the tasks required to be carried out at the finca.
It is essential to sign up for it because spaces are limited to 15 per day. If someone does not have transport, they always find a way for people to meet up and share a lift.
The agricultural workshops take place at the finca. The rest of workshops change venue depending on availability. Workshops are free of charge for the attendees but a volunteer contribution is welcome. Out of these donations, a percentage goes to the workshop instructor and another to the association. The money collected is invested in materials for future workshops or for tools or anything else that we might need on the finca.
Also, if anyone would like to propose a workshop to be held, please feel free to contact Perma Terra.
HOW TO HELP… EVEN FURTHER
If anyone wants to help, besides the volunteering and the workshops, Perma Terra has a teaming account: https://teaming.net/permaterra where for only €1 a month you can support their work. Note: You can read more about the “teaming” micro-funding on Lanzarote Information’s post here: https://lanzaroteinformation.co.uk/teaming-every-little-helps/
The Triodos Foundation is supporting Perma Terra and they are working on the crowfunding for the opening of an agricultural, cooking and sustainable living school and for the purchase of a windmill to get our water and energy, as the water problem on Lanzarote is very big.
Finally in December Perma Terra will launch a calendar to collaborate with their cause, there will be a Christmas raffle and in January there will be a fruit tree sponsorship campaign.
You can read more about Perma Terra’s mission, vision, objectives and activities on their website www.permaterra.es, currently available only in Spanish but the German and the Italian versions are ready and hopefully it’ll be available in English soon too.
Also, follow them on social media for their latest news and upcoming workshops, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/permaterra-104604111405973 and on Instagram: @perma.terra.