Marda Permaculture Farm, Palestine
- Commenced: 01/01/2008
- Submitted: 06/02/2011
- Last updated: 19/03/2013
- Location: Marda village, , Salfit region, Palestinian Territory, Occupied
- Website: mardafarm.wordpess.com/
- Climate zone: Mediterranean
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Marda Permaculture Farm, Palestine
Project TypeRural, Community, Demonstration, Educational
Permaculture Farm (MPF) is an NGO, working farm, and demonstration site for permaculture principles, techniques and strategies, located in the West Bank of Palestine.
The Marda Permaculture Farm is a working farm and a demonstration site for permaculture principles, techniques and strategies. Based in the village of Marda, the project promotes food security, health, self-reliance and empowerment. This is accomplished through modeling water harvesting, recycling, energy conservation and home-scale garden production with readily available and locally-appropriate materials.
Outreach is accomplished through permaculture workshops for women, men, and farmers—as well as international students, interns and apprentices. The Farm is a model of sustainable development and self-sufficiency for the whole of Palestine and to build connections with permaculture projects regionally and internationally.
Marda Farm Goals
- Provide a dynamic model for organic, ecologically-designed, high-production farming techniques on small acreages with minimal use of energy and water, beneficial recycling and composting of waste materials, and integration of multiple components including orchards, chickens, bees, plant guilds, food forests, composting, and natural building.
- Provide Permaculture Design Courses at least annually for international and local students; to provide Palestinian agricultural engineers, farmers, and backyard gardeners as well as international participants dryland permaculture techniques and tools.
- Provide trainings, education, and resources for local people to help them reduce costs by growing more of their own food, using less energy and water, and developing micro-enterprises to supplement their income.
- Provide a cross-cultural opportunity for international interns, apprentices, visitors and PDC students to learn about the agricultural tradition within rural Palestine, as well as the current socio-economic, cultural, and political climate for Palestinians, thus raising awareness within the international community of Palestinians' often silenced experiences living under military occupation.
The village of Marda (pop.2600) situated in the Salfit region of the West Bank is overlooked by the major Jewish settlement of Ariel (pop.45,000) and the Separation Wall. When the Separation Wall was completed around Marda in 2005, land and water resources previously owned by Palestinians were annexed and thousands of olive trees were destroyed.
Meanwhile, the rubbish and sewage from the settlement pollutes other water sources and litters Marda village (Ariel’s rubbish dump is just above the village). All over Palestine, the energy and food supply are controlled by the Israeli state, and prices are high. Meanwhile, there is 70–80% unemployment in the village. Until the mid-1990’s many Marda residents worked in Israel, which is no longer possible except in rare circumstances. The presence of the Ariel settlement means that the village of Marda cannot expand, while it prevents easy travel to other villages in the region, particularly to the regional center of Salfit.
The high rate of unemployment puts tremendous stress on a few wage earners to support their large extended families. At the same time, the cost of the most basic needs—food, water, and energy for electricity, heating and cooling, has risen at an alarming rate in recent years. Food and water insecurity is a problem because the people of Marda, who used to farm the land communally and grow much of their own produce, grains and meat, have experienced much of their land taken by the Israeli settlement or Ariel.
As a result, farming has been reduced to small backyard gardens, leaving Marda Farm and one other property actively producing food at a larger scale. The settlement takes an increasingly large share of the water supply from the area and as a result, water costs have risen. This makes it expensive for people to grow their own gardens, as it requires more water than the household normally uses. As a result, much of their produce is now purchased from other villages or from international sources at very high cost.