Greetings! We're excited to bring you a new kind of blog post, one where we catch up with some of our past volunteers and course participants and share what they've been up to since their time with us. We've been honored to host many amazing, inspiring, and inspired people over the years and lots of them have gone on to form businesses, projects, and social enterprises using their knowledge of permaculture. If you've ever studied or worked with us and have gone on to form your own initiative, we'd love to hear about it! Drop us a line and catch us up on what you've been up to.
Maria José Banús came to Atitlan Organics a couple of years ago to take one of our Intro to Permaculture Courses and was back a few months later to take our Permaculture Design Certification Course with IMAP. Her enthusiasm for permaculture was evident; while she was here she was all smiles!
Maria José lives in Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala and the most populous city in Central America, home to almost 3 million people. Many travelers who arrive to Guatemala via the airport brush off "Guate," dismissing it as a run-down concrete jungle. But in truth, if you know where to look you'll find lots of gems dotted all around the city.
Tomates Verdes Club de Horticultura is one such gem. Similar to the popular community gardens of the US, it provides a space for people to grow their own food. Upon joining, a member receives a 40 sq. meter parcel and guidance on how to plant and care for their land.
After her time at Atitlan Organics, Maria José became involved with the club. As she puts it, "I work in Tomates Verdes teaching our clients to prepare, plant, and care for their crops, guided by the principles of permaculture that I have learned over the past year and a half. I am also a housewife and as such, I feel the responsibility to use the permaculture principles to guide how I run my home and the decisions I make while shopping."
Founded by the architect Juan Pablo Banús, Tomates Verdes was inspired by the desire he saw in many people to eat healthy, organic, fresh food and to become part of the process of growing their own food. Maria José enthusiastically joined, happy to be able to transmit her experience and teach what she had learned through permaculture. "I believe that our health depends on the health of the earth in which our food grows, and it is important to transmit the need to care for our planet along with caring for the people we love and ourselves. It excites me to be able to share that knowledge. The ideas of permaculture have changed my life and the way I see the world, and I want to share that vision."
Bravo, Maria José Banús, Juan Pablo Banús, and everyone else involved with Tomates Verdes! If you'd like to learn more about them, check out the Tomate Verdes Facebook page.
Studying Permaculture and Natural Building in Central America offers amazing opportunities to learn from indigenous cultures, rich natural patterns, and enormous diversity. Permaculture in Central America is representative of the edge effect or Edge Valuing Principle of Design. As one of the world’s centres of biodiversity, Guatemala attracts people from all over the world interested in learning through nature. Permaculture practices and can be seen in action via the surviving indigenous traditions that are common in Guatemala. Studying permaculture and natural building in Central America offers designers great opportunities to learn from diverse groups of people in incredibly diverse natural settings.