Model Farm and Farmer Field School

What is Permaculture?

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system”

Bill Mollison

Conventional farming threatens future food production by reducing biodiversity and contributing to environmental degradation which is why JustHope and our partner communities have chosen instead to invest in alternative practices. Permaculture is a farming approach that mimics natural ecosystems and is an alternative production method that can produce food with fewer resources in a sustainable manner. In practice, permaculture farms are organic, low-input, biodiverse and use techniques like intercropping trees, planting perennials, water harvesting, and resource recycling. Permaculture training builds farmers’ ability to devise feasible, simple, and efficient solutions to problems because it is rooted in local contexts and supported by local knowledge frameworks.

With farmers in Nicaragua facing severe crop loss due to climate change, our partners in Chacraseca decided to establish a Model Farm and Farmer Field School.

Here's how it works.

  • Land Aquisition
    Acquire degraded, community land and design applications for climate-smart agricultural methodologies.
  • Education and Access
    Offer community trainings on techniques and provide access to basic materials for participants to apply at home.
  • Follow Up
    Give regular follow-up to participants at home on application of climate-smart practices.
  • Demonstration
    Model innovative practices and have a living-learning center that demonstrates effectiveness of methods.
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Program Objectives

  • To create a permaculture training program that will raise awareness of permaculture techniques, their application in the various climates of Nicaragua, and their potential to improve local ecosystems.
  • To create a working model farm that will showcase new ideas and techniques, host training programs, and serve as an educational community center.
  • To support farmers in the application of permaculture methodologies at the household and production levels.

Program Phase

Description of Phase

Activities Implemented in Phase

Year One (2016)
This phase is comprised of acquiring the location and establishing the proper foundation to initiate the project. In this first phase, we are putting a heavy emphasis on capacity building and training to prepare our full-time perma-staffers for community outreach activities.
  • Staff training and certification
  • Site selection and site assessment
  • Site design and implementation
  • Identification of early-adopter participants
  • Integrate early-adopters into site implementation
  • Initial planting, compost piles, temporary catchment systems, seed bank
Year Two (2017)
Phase two is comprised of rapid scale up of the project including finalizing building phases and growth of personnel. During this phase, the educational curriculum will be implemented and follow-up will be conducted.
  • Follow-up course for staff training
  • Complete construction of training center
  • First round of banked seeds
  • Perennial plants planted, annuals planted according to season
  • Two trainings each month on site
  • Initiate ongoing demo projects on site
  • Follow-up at participant household on application
  • Add additional staff person
Year Three (2018)
Phase three is primarily focused on graduating subsequent cohorts of farmers and following up with alumni to strengthen their permaculture initiatives to support economic security.
  •  Implement curriculum that incorporates best practices for economic growth
  • Identify emerging markets & income generating activities
  • Seed library open to the public with classes on seed saving
  • Attract new cohort of farmers
  • Add additional staff person
Year Four (2019)
Phase four continues to build upon the efforts of the previous phases while also expanding the reach of the project to include local and regional policy recommendations.
  • Establish a Food Security Working Group (FSWG)
  • Attract new cohort of farmers
  • Grow market reach
  • Add additional staff person
  • Identify other potential locations for demonstration farm
Year Five (2020)
The final phase of this model program includes evaluation, modification, and potential scale-up contingent upon results.
  • Conduct post-term soil tests
  • Evaluate model farm program
  • Establish another model farm in neighboring community