In harmony with Nature, living in abundance
photo: view from John's demonstration site on the NW coast of Sicily
John Kaisner is a much-loved international teacher, designer and practitioner of Natural Farming and Permaculture.
But it wasn't always this way....
After receiving his Master's Degree in Architecture from The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, he spent the first 15 years of his career designing and completing projects in Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and India.
You might say that Natural Farming
changed his life...
Clowning around with Japanese natural farmers at the site in Kerala
Architects spend countless days and long nights in front of their computers, laboriously working out every detail of their design.
Once John discovered Natural Farming and co-designing with Nature, he grabbed hold of it with both hands and never looked back. Now he helps others to make the same transition.
Cows on the road in a tribal village in Chattisgarh, India
Constructing a clay cook stove and chimney in order to eliminate deadly smoke and gases in this woman's outdoor kitchen
Teaching farmers on the demonstration site in Kerala, India
Seed exchange with village women in the foothills of the Himalayas
The same chimney installation was made in this woman's kitchen, which will benefit not only her but her daughter as well (kitchen at back left of photo)
Soon afterwards John discovered Permaculture through his teachers Peter Ash, Warren Brush, Geoff Lawton and Darren Doherty.
This was a pivotal point in John's development as a designer.
Permaculture plays to John's strengths as a mainframe designer. Creating earthworks for rainwater harvesting, organizing circulation on a site, and designing homes is not difficult for him. Many of these elements are present in architectural design.
John at a PDC at Zaytuna Farm, Geoff Lawton's site in NSW Australia
(left side of photo)
But when he combined these elements with Natural Farming's principle of trusting Nature's intelligence and allowing her spontaneity to express itself on the landscape, his designs went to the next level.
A word from John...
In the past 30 years Indian agriculture has depleted groundwater resources so severely that NASA issues perpetual warnings to the government concerning inherent dangers to the population. The need to cycle water back to depleted aquifers has become a matter of life and death. But India is not alone in committing this error. The same dire situation can now be found in many parts of the world. Driven by a rise in population and irresponsible farming methods across the planet, groundwater depletion is quickly developing into a crisis of epic proportions.
But Permaculture can help...
In the photo below, a farmer from Ettimadai Village in Tamil Nadu walks his field in the dry season. While working here we counted 10 bore wells, each one 300 + meters deep...and all dry.
So we implemented a groundwater recharge project.
The solution starts with creating a "swale" slightly off contour. Like a great arm that reaches out across the landscape, this type of earthwork interrupts the flow of water across the field and directs it into a catchment pond, just uphill from the well. From there the water seeps into the ground and makes its way into the farmer's well.
No concrete, no pumps. This action, which took two days to complete, jumpstarted the process of subterranean water recharge.
A double monsoon feeds the area every year, and in the first season the farmer's well rose to a level of 5 meters above the previous year. No worries about it overflowing though. Even with the additional water, the level of the well was still down 30 meters from the time when the farmer was a boy. But now, with the help of Permaculture design, it's coming up again.
Nearly every farmer in every culture will tell you that he does not receive enough rain. But is lack of rain really the problem?
To reverse the trouble with this farmer's well we did not make it rain more. Obviously. We merely reconfigured our relationship with the rain, and that proved to be the solution.
Dry well before intervention
Well with additional 5 meters of water after recharge
The techniques are simple.
The benefits are obvious.
All that is needed is the decision to act.
Though my time and design were donated, the above project was made possible by AmritaSeRVe.
The Joy of Teaching
John Kaisner has designed Permaculture projects on four continents and in each of the three principal climates. This makes him a well-qualified teacher for students from anywhere the world.
Teaching on the site in Sicily
He also works as a Permaculture designer, consultant and coach.