The Permaculture Podcast

    Episode 1537: Building Permaculture Schools in Africa

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    My guest is Michael Nickels, a farmer and permaculture practitioner from Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, who runs Seven Ravens Permaculture Academy and Eco Forest. When not in Canada, Michael spends much of his time in Africa building schools that focus on teaching permaculture to children and their teachers. This forms the basis for what you will hear today, though if you are familiar with the normal format of the show, this one is a bit different.

    Listening to Michael I got caught up in what he was sharing from his earliest interests and love of nature, to his permaculture practices, and then on to the ways that he fundraises and works in a number of east African nations to construct the permaculture based schools. The way he tells stories, with asides and reconnections back to the main thread, is how my family told stories and the way I do, in a somewhat non-linear fashion, when not sitting behind a scripted podcast episode. As a result this is Michael telling his story with no interruption or break from me until nearly an hour in, so settle in, relax, and listen to how we can all have a greater impact than we might imagine, just by tuning in, getting engaged, and taking action.

    You can find out more about Michael at There you will also find links to the IndieGoGo campaign for the teacher school in Tanzania and to donate directly to his efforts.

    Michael’s work reminded of something that Jack Spirko said, in my interview with him sometime ago, that permaculture, compared to many other movements, is a do-acracy. We get fired up and passionate about something and then run with it and make it happen. Along the way we use the principles to learn from our mistakes and keep refining and developing, improving ourselves and what we are doing. What was shared with us in this episode reflects that from the very beginning of Michael’s story up until his current work.

    Something else that I like about Michael as an example for what is possible is that he self-financed initially. He had an idea and found ways to make it work and then once he reached a point where he needed more assistance, he continued to build his networks and raise the funds needed to get things done. This wasn’t an idea waiting for resources before beginning, he got started and then found what he needed to keep going.

    If you were in Michael’s shoes, saw this need, a place where you could fill a niche, how would you take your first step forward? What would you do to bring your vision, your dream, into the world? What would you do, that is unique to you, that would make a difference?

    Whatever steps you would take, I would like to hear from you. To know what you are working with, and what you are doing to make it happen. Together we might even make it easier to get and keep your plans and project going.

    Call: 717-827-6266

    From here I have three round-table sessions and an interview already recorded for upcoming release, as well as two book reviews in process, and more conversations on the schedule including foraging with Lisa Rose, fermentation with Sandor Katz, more rewilding with Peter Michael Bauer, and urban water catchment with Brad Lancaster. If you have questions for any of these upcoming guests, leave a comment in the show notes or get in touch with me by the usual ways.

    If there is any way I can assist you on your journey, give me a ring, let me know what is going on in your life and how we can create more opportunity in your world.

    Until the next time, take care of the earth, your self, and each other.

    A picture of Michael Nickels, his wife Heidi, and their three daughters, Abbie, Cleo & Quinn.

    Michael with his wife Heidi, and their three daughters, Abbie, Cleo, & Quinn.

    1 Comment

    1. TylerTyler
      September 16, 2015    

      I really enjoyed this one.

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