September 2021 saw the kick-off of a series of four Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses with refugees in Lesvos, Greece. Organised by Sporos Regeneration Institute and funded by the Emergence Foundation, the Integration Through Permaculture project gives the participants a thorough understanding of the Permaculture ethics and principles and at the same time supports them in developing their skills in designing and implementing different techniques for the management of natural resources and the rearrangement of human activity in a regenerative way. Moreover, it focuses on shaping supportive and restorative processes that will enhance personal and collective well-being as well as facilitating creative interactions between refugees and local communities that promote the integration of refugees into local society.
The courses included all the main theory subjects of a standard PDC, as well as hands-on practical sessions on natural building, mini-earthworks, mushrooms cultivation, permaculture gardens and olive harvesting and processing. Besides their obvious educational role, these courses also serve as an effective integration tool for refugees and asylum seekers while also contributing to the expansion of the European permaculture network – as most of our refugee graduates move on to other European countries where they develop relations with existing permaculture projects and initiatives and hopefully establish new projects.
The PDCs were taught by Fotini Georgousi from Nea Guinea and co-taught by Konstantinos Tsiompanos from Sporos. The first two PDCs took place in September and November 2021, with a total of 28 graduates from the refugee, international and local population on the island and brought together people from eleven different countries (Afghanistan, DRC Congo, England, Germany, Palestine, South Sudan, Netherlands, Uganda, Iran, Canada and Greece). The next two courses will take place in Spring and Summer 2022.
Author: Konstantinos Tsiompanos, Sporos Regeneration Institute