The principles of permaculture

Mark Garrett, Permaculturalist, Soneva Fushi

Mark Garrett, Permaculturalist, Soneva Fushi

 

Posted by: Mark Garrett, Permaculturist, Soneva Fushi

Adopting a sustainable system for growing food and managing waste clearly makes sense on any level.  But in the Six Senses grand plan of reducing our dependence on polluting fossil fuels and improving our financial overheads, can it really make a big impact?

The answer is a surprising and resounding yes.   By adopting a practice that mimics the ecology of the area, we are designing a food production system that will be self-perpetuating, without the constant need for labour and fertiliser. Permaculture improves soil fertility organically, increasing varieties and yields of fruit, vegetables and herbs.  Our sustainable composting system uses food waste and other available organic materials onsite to produce organic fertilizers, and can increase yields by up to 10%.

Vegetables and fruit grown on Soneva Fushi now include over forty varieties of salad, vegetable, herbs, spices, fruits, mushrooms and other items, contributing 30 to 35 % of the resort’s food needs.   Historically, we continued to grow what was already growing and in the process we generated a lot of waste.  Now we are growing for the menu: we inform the chef 24 hours in advance what is available, and he designs the day’s menu accordingly.

Soneva Fushi produce from the organic garden

Soneva Fushi produce from the organic garden

More produce and less waste is only one financial benefit – Eco Centro, Soneva Fushi’s unique waste management plant, was accredited with 17 tonnes of CO2 emission savings during 2010 -2011 through our recycling and waste management system alone.  Further improvements to the composting system mean we have stopped buying cow dung and compost from abroad, saving an additional $10,000 a year.

Soneva Fushi compost system

Soneva Fushi compost system

The use of permaculture design, values and ethics helps us to improve our carbon footprint and contribute to the eventual decarbonising of all three Six Senses Maldives properties.  Our emphasis on the use of biological resources over fossil fuels contributes to our ‘whole system thinking’, creating a closed loop between food production, waste, water and energy.

And the benefits don’t stop with Six Senses.  We have designed an ‘outdoor classroom’ to demonstrate permaculture systems for the benefit of school groups, guests, our hosts and our local communities.  One of the motivating ethics of permaculture is the forming of more companionable communities.  The Oklahoma National Guard is currently taking training in permaculture, with the troops planning to apply the principles to farming and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.  Let’s hope they share the same degree of success as we do at Soneva Fushi!

1 reply on “The principles of permaculture&rdquo

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  1. Mark, this is very inspiring. Perma(nent) (agri)culture is very much common sense and it’s great to see a pc project being implement in a commercial setting as well as sharing the experiences gained.