The pictures and stories that you will see below are taken from the doctoral research of David Yisrael Epstein-HaLevi, whose dissertation is rooted in the work of permEzone and C-MRA, and draws on the experiences of the farmers of Asumbi who participated in the Phase One permEzone pilot.
In his dissertation, David describes photo-voice as follows:-
"The methodology of photo-voice is a broad category that can include" ... "many different aspects for ways of storytelling, via video, photos, drawings, film, and so forth. The key aspect is that it is participatory in nature, cultivates dialogue, and engages in a form of sense-making and knowledge sharing. Ideally it leads to some form of community building and collective action that may influence policy as well."
Emily's smile shows the joy, happiness, and hope that has come to the farmers of Asumbi Village exposed to the permaculture curriculum, who have learned how to thrive in normal conditions, and survive in drought and erratic climate change conditions.
Emily discusses the variety of crops she began growing after exposure to permaculture (sweet potatoes, nuts, onions, kale, etc.) and how by producing surplus some can be sold to pay for education for her children, some can be used for breakfast and other meals and food security, and some "also improves our soil to be healthy and fertile." Moreover, Emily specifically links the modeled behavior and knowledge they are bringing to the village to that of a NIC, as her home garden has attracted attention from neighbors for the knowledge it offers, "and my neighbors also, when they need [to learn to grow better], they come to me, and I assist them and they learn"
Many of the villagers as they adopted permaculture techniques began to make specific references that interwove two themes: The first is that of the deep interconnectedness between all forms of life – and how life cycles can be used via biomimicry to create more regenerative ecologies that also provide for human needs. The second is how by engaging in a process that is more in tune with natural ecologies, that NICs emerge that allow for improvements to the knowledge system of the community and raise the ability to provide for family units and the village at large. This was often expressed in proximal sentences linking the growing of more varieties of crops, or linking crop rotations, or not using pesticides, to the ability to work together and thus elevate the resilience and food security of families and villages.
In this photo Jerry discusses how the women are harvesting together, which they will sell to other villagers who have come to purchase (purple shirt). The women will keep this money.“
"All this I have planted to help my family – it is good to have vegetables" –Jerry
Lucas can be seen in this photo weeding – notice the beautiful example here of intercropping, and maintain tree covering in the field to help maintain deeper soil and prevent erosion.
“This is my farm that I have grown kale. Here I have adopted the kale with other different crops, like grafted oranges and sugar cane. Next to the sugar cane there is cassava. I have grown this so that I can have ease of getting foods and different fruits that can help. It also has maize and next to maize is banana. All this I have planted to help my family have food. It is good to have vegetables. It makes it easier and there is no time when people will sleep hungry because of lack of food. The fruits that are here have helped me in nutrition especially, fighting certain diseases. Thank you.” –Lucas
"Some diseases are brought about due to the pesticides currently sprayed on them. Let's try and make farms so that we can help our families and neighbors" -Eunice
Another villager Philip stated: "I have established my compost here to use it during planting and also to apply to my vegetables. I don’t use commercial fertilizer from the shops. This is what I use and it has allowed me to eat. I use it also with my maize and other crops. I urge people to use this so they can get the help (they need, without spending money)." Note the connection once again between interconnected bio systems, food security, and helping others.
Another villager, Emmanuel, further enforces this worldview when noting, "I have planted kale which has helped me in getting food, by having the kale I can take some of it to the market and this generates income for me. I also eat it with my family. Second it also helps me to slow down soil erosion, after getting training on permaculture, I began mulching and this helps in keeping the soil cool all the time [and thus retaining the water content]." Emmanuel went on to describe recycling of cow manure into nitrogen rich fertilizer, seed recycling and storage, and the joy of learning from others and passing on such knowledge "God bless."
Monica who brought in the importance of local solutions and working together, "Let’s work hard to grow local vegetables and use methods based on local resources for fertilizer like animal manure rather than synthetic fertilizer. Let us work hard." “"I want this group of us - of Village Assumbi - to develop as we encourage others so that we can work together, I want this group to have togetherness so that we develop and do things that will bring development among us."
Leonard adds a similar perspective when noting that she grows fruit such as papaya for "my children to eat and it helps the kids when they are hungry" and that it can also be used in "preventing some skin diseases" and that ultimately she wants them to "take this to a cooperative society" so that by working together they can "better help families."
Emmanuel references cows and their importance in providing manure to maintain healthy soils. Most farmers included pictures of cows, and none referenced them as sources of food. They referenced them in spiritual ways, providers of Earth. Creators of soil.
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