In Damanhur, the community region of Tentyris has a special relationship with water, honoring it as a natural force and enjoying an abundance of it on the lands. In 2011, a team from Tamera, Portugal, came to collaborate on the creation of a large scale water retention system of six lakes, that are now in use. In November 2014, a new Permaculture Design for Sustainability course was launched, focusing on developing the wetlands area of Tentyris as a continuation of the work of utilizing, and harmonizing with, the natural water of the Earth. Quaglia Coco reports.
Michal Hendrych, an engineer and permaculture designer from the Czech Republic, was here on the ground, guiding a team of volunteers and permaculture students in the development of the wetlands. Students alternated design work, practical hands on work, and permaculture theory lessons, with the International Integral Permaculture Academy, through Stella Solitaria, via Skype as she is located in the Canary Islands.
The intention of the wetlands project is to create a special place for meditation, relaxation, and quiet walks, which will enhance the area of the Agorà (a course and hospitality space that is currently being developed in Tentyris). Throughout the month-long permaculture course in Tentyris, work has been done to clear the thorny brush in the area, reintroduce water flows connecting the wetlands area, the natural pools, and the streams leading to the nucleo community houses of Tentyris: called Magilla and Dendera.
A permaculture approach was used throughout the project. One of the principles in permaculture is to care for people as much as you care for the Earth, while also considering the future as well. In this sense, the design was conceived of not only respecting the natural elements present, but also elaborating on what would best serve the people who will be utilizing the space.
Working with existing elements that are present in the wetlands, the team transformed them to reflect a more natural order. Trees were never cut, and stones were used to create walking paths. Tree trunks were also used to create areas for sitting and relaxing, and observing Nature.
Areas of water dissipation were harvested to be channeled into the streams and collected in the ponds, or directed to the community houses for sanitary water use or solar panel heating. The water flows were altered to bring them into above ground, visible streams, restoring the natural flows of the waterways as an alternative to a pre-existing piping system.
Clay from the land was used to seal the base of the ponds for water retention. A protecting layer made of natural resin will also be introduced into several of the ponds. Simple techniques were used to level the ground so that all the water is now directed into the streams and ponds; which fill quite abundantly when there are heavy rains.
Learning from this month’s experiences, the future intention of this project includes coordinating work to be more synchronized, and in harmony, with the seasons, as November proved to be rainy and often cold; not the ideal conditions for such work!
The long term vision of the project includes introducing plants that are suitable to the area, such as Angelica and Water Cress. The roots of the plants will serve to further stabilize the banks, along with branches that were placed to prevent soil erosion. Then tents will be hung in the trees of the area, that can be used for housing friends and guests in a manner that keeps people above the ground-level humidity. Terraces are also planned, that can be used as a kind of outdoor tea house where we, and visitors, can sit and enjoy tea while listening to the calming sounds of flowing water. A beautiful dream that we will continue to nourish… and water, in time!
Designing Tentyris Permaculture project page https://sites.google.com/site/gaiasisdamanhur/home/aquaculture#TOC-Desires-Objectives
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/ProgettandoTentyris/