WE LOVE WHAT WE DO AND SHARING OUR PASSION OF PERMACULTURE IS WHAT WE DO BEST!
WHAT IS PERMACULTURE?
There are literally hundreds of definitions of permaculture and as far as we are concerned, they are ALL VALID. Part of respecting and valuing diversity and self-regulation means tolerating ideas or interpretations that one may not agree with. While we spend a lot of time in the garden and working in nature, permaculture is applicable to all aspects of life. A more technical approach to permaculture suggests that we mimic nature and natural patterns to design and implement ecosystems that meet our collective needs. A deeper definition considers the whole of human culture and suggests that permaculture is a tool for designing new ecological culture, considering the whole of the earth in all of its strategies. Whatever definition works for you is cool. We like to say, it doesn’t matter what you call it, just so long as the work gets done!
The original land, bought in 2009, is comprised of 2.2 rocky acres with a year round river marking the western border. By taking advantage of this river, the whole farm now has reliable, gravity-fed water, a system that has no moving parts, pumps, energy usage, or regular failures. While the land does have an abundance of water, the original soil was another story. The whole farm is rocky and covered in only thin layers of soil. Due to irresponsible corn cultivation techniques over the past few generations, our farm soil was very worn out and, while still rich in some minerals, it was severely lacking in organic matter and major nutrients. We should note that the original condition of our farm is representative of much of the valley floor in which we are located. Naturally, the goal is that each year we are actually building more soil, covering rocks, and creating fertility.
Farm Area Breakdown
The farm area can be classified into three types as seen to the left, not counting the human and animal buildings:
These three types of cultivation are employed based on the natural lay and geography of the farm, which creates an interwoven patchwork designed to capture water, soil, sun, and other valuable resources, while also producing high value products for sale and trade. The creation of these smaller plots also enables us to have control over the grazing patterns of our animals. This design is constantly evolving and has been based mainly on Permaculture and Regenerative Farming Techniques.
Here is a brief introduction to our team. We are all focused on building and maintaining a fully-functioning, profitable, organic permaculture farm. We are proud to say that we are able to support 3 families of our staff member with vegetables, fruit and animal products.
Shad Qudsi has 15 years experience in organic and commercial gardening and farming. He is certified in Permaculture Design and has over 6 years experience in holistic site development and homesteading. Shad originally set out to study mathematics and work in big business, but long ago had a change of heart. He can now be found dancing in his garden in Tzununa. Aside from all of this, Shad is an enthusiastic teacher who truly believes in the work he is doing. Human resiliency cannot be erased from the landscape and now, it is coming back with a gentle loving caress.
Born and raised in the town of Tzununa, which lies right below Atitlan Organics, Nicholas has worked with Shad and Colleen since Day 1, helping to craft the this amazing landscape. Nichloas is a supreme ninja farmer with skills beyond explanation. Shad and Colleen are endlessly impressed with his resourcefulness, ingenuity, and sheer motivation. Nicholas runs the day-to-day operations of the farm and manages the other farm workers.
Colleen was born and raised in Rhode Island and moved to Guatemala with Shad in 2008. After teaching for five year at Escuela Caracol, Guatemala’s first Waldorf School, she stepped back from education to become more involved in Atitlan Organics. Today she does much of the marketing for the courses and workshops offered through the farm. In her free time Colleen likes to cook and ferment, dance, read, and knit. She loves life in Guatemala and is happy to help others to discover the magic of Lake Atitlan.
earth Works & Homesteading ninja
After earning a degree in mechanical engineering, Max spent eight years enjoying rich travel experience in India, Southeast Asia, Latin America, USA and Canada between stints faking it at a handful of 'good' jobs. Eventually, Max left his marginal existence in New England and opened El Jocotel, a small ecoretreat on a slope around Lake Atitlan in the western highlands of Guatemala. There, he has created an abundant permaculture-style homestead. Max studies, practices and teaches permaculture to visitors from around the globe.
Neal Hegarty is from an Irish family with a background in dairy farming. He has worked in agricultural projects all over the world, including Australia and Colombia. He came to Guatemala four years ago to study write a thesis on the relationship between permaculture and traditional agricultural practices of the Mayan people. He has been here since and now works as a facilitator for Atitlan Organics and as a designer and consultant for Abundant Edge. He specializes in combining the teaching of permaculture with a focus on wider socio-political issues, and on encouraging students to develop new ways of thinking about old problems. His interests include gardening, music, philosophy, cooking and laughing.
social permaculture Ninja
Haley is from suburban Southern California. Feeling dissatisfied by a lack of practical skills, in 2013 she dropped out of University to travel through Central America, where her real education began. Permaculture Certified in 2014, Haley went on to complete the 2017 Earth Activist Training in Group Leadership and Empowerment, an intensive training course in Social Permaculture . She has made Lake Atitlan her home, where she manages Big Rock Farm in neighboring San Marcos, teaches, and gives consultations. Haley is passionate about reconnecting others to live in harmony with nature, and a truly inspiring course leader.
Goat & Dairy Ninja
Bonita has worked at Atitlan Organics for 2 years. She grew up here in Tzununa. Her job on the farm is to prepare breakfast for the volunteers. She works very closely with the goats. Every day she takes them on a 2 hour walk so that they can eat fresh shrubbery and get some exercise. She loves her job and feels very privileged that she has the opportunity to work on the farm because work for women in Tzununa is often very hard on the body.
Lesyk has a degree in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and is currently studying for his master’s degree in Biotechnology and Business Management at Carnegie Mellon University. Lesyk is partnering with Atitlan Organics to implement a local expansion project which includes the construction of a sustainable living education center. In his spare time, Lesyk is a kiteboarding instructor, avid skier and motorcycle enthusiast.
Vegetable & Animal Ninja
Jaun has been with the farm for 4 years. He is in charge of all vegetable production beginning with seeding, composting, weeding and finally regular harvesting for markets. Juan also walks the goats. He is the farms closest neighbor living across the river where he tends his own small garden with his family.