Many come to permaculture seeking techniques on how to make their gardening or farming experience more sustainable. Compost teas, companion planting and land contouring are all popular techniques and practices attributed to sustainable land-management. However these techniques are only half of the equation.
A more well rounded understanding of permaculture includes a social element; after all, isn’t the gardener just an extension of her garden?
Social permaculture is an essential aspect to any gardening practice that is looking for a thorough connection to nurturing ecosystems whether they are biological or social.
One practitioner who has internalized this concept and put it into action is earth-care worker, artist, activist and overall superwoman Dona Nham aka Dona La Luna. With the help of a grant from Quebec’s government, Dona founded DiVERTcité in Montreal in 2016. This is an urban gardening program and platform that views communities as an extension of the land and provides solid sustainability techniques delivered with a socially awakened approach to healing communities and gardens together.
DiVERTcité sets itself apart from other permaculture resources by honouring and acknowledging the traditional (often indigenous) ancestral wisdoms that have provided the foundations for permaculture, as we know it today. Dona’s lived experience as a queer woman of colour has also influenced the ethos of the project. DiVERTcité is a project for everyone, but centres itself on the well-being and experiences of marginalized people to learn, share and grow together.
Why you may ask?
Permaculture courses can cost thousands of dollars, are usually offered in some kind of retreat format and are rarely hosted by marginalized people. This translates into needing access to sizable upfront lump sums, being able to afford taking time off of work, not to mention perpetuating oppressive power-dynamics. If this sounds less than accessible, that’s because it is. DiVERTcité is a project that recognizes this imbalance and is working to bridge the gap between marginalized people and land management skills.
While DiVERTcité does not currently offer full-blown Permaculture Design Courses (yet), it does offer workshops that “[weave] together the full spectrum of what earth care, human care and fair share really look like”. Furthermore, DiVERTcité’s gardens provide food, medicine, beauty and most of all space for real learning about the symbiotic relationship between human and earth for members of the community.
DiVERTcité is essentially a project that aims to decolonize the permaculture space, and while this point of view can be looked at as political, Dona maintains that DiVERTcité is all about proliferating knowledge, heart-medicine and, “[returning] to the roots of life, energy and spirit that fuels us”.
For any facilitators, groups or organizations seeking knowledge or wish to have workshops surrounding the topic of earth-care with a socially awoken, compassionate approach feel free to connect with the project at www.diVERTcité.org.