Permaculture in Zambia

The folks over at Greenpop asked Matthew Koehorst to reflect on our permaculture based missions in Livingstone, Zambia for their blog. Here’s what Matthew had to say about the project…

I’ve been deeply involved with the Zambia Festival of Action in Livingstone for the last 4 years, working as the program manager for all the activations, events, workshops and planting that gets done during those few weeks, as well as overseeing a lot of the ongoing monitoring and maintenance of projects after the Festival is over. For me, it’s always a wild, exhausting, stressful, exhilarating and inspiring time, and this year was no different. It’s amazing how much goodness you can cram into a few short weeks with intention, collaboration and a strong team.

Greenpop asked me to reflect a bit on the ‘permaculture’ elements of the project and to share some ideas of how you could bring some permaculture principles into your own food garden, so without further ado, here we go!

This year at the Festival of Action we actively brought permaculture into a few different elements of the project (though as a whole it’s a great lens considering the project overall as well).


Fruiting trees form a large part of our work in Livingstone. Photos by XXXXXX

1. Community Forest Gardens

Last year, we planted community forest gardens at six different villages at the Sons of Thunder Farming Cooperative. These gardens are inspired by food forest principles encouraging diversity, use of multiple ‘layers’, nutrient cycling and ‘stacking functions’ (having plants or systems perform more than one function). This year we created a new forest garden at the Sons of Thunder school and performed maintenance on last year’s forest garden sites. It’s really inspiring to see how our 5-year-old food forest system at the main house of Sons of Thunder is flourishing and I can’t wait to see each of the villages reaping the same benefits.

2. Permaculture Workshops

We ran 3 permaculture workshops for festival participants and local environmentalists which focussed on practical ways of bringing a permacultural approach to food production. These workshops focused on the principles of permaculture and some practical examples including companion planting, nutrient cycling through compost making and an introduction to permaculture landscape design.

3. Citrus Orchard Maintenance

We also used permaculture ideas in the Sons of Thunder citrus orchard by interplanting beneficial plants that will perform a variety of functions including increasing pollinator populations and the populations of predatory insects, as well acting as ‘dynamic accumulators’ which draw nutrients up from deep in the ground to be made available for the trees.

4. Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) and Beekeeping

Permaculture ideas permeated our external workshops program which included sharing an approach to development that recognises the local assets that communities have within themselves and teaching natural beekeeping methods. These workshops worked on identifying ways to create value within a community and mobilising local resources to benefit local people, rather than relying on external inputs.”

For more information on Greenpop and the super inspiring work they do check out their various media pages below:


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