Dawn Berkelaar and Tim Motis
Inca nut (Plukenetia volubilis) is a forest plant from the South American Amazon where it has been used as a wild food source for over 3000 years. It is gaining attention as a valuable vegetable oil crop, and is now being grown more widely. ECHO recently obtained seed from Southeast Asia, which we are growing out in a small planting on our demonstration farm in southwest Florida (Fig 4 and 5). From our limited experience, it seems that Inca nut could easily be grown by small-scale farmers, either for household use or for potential income generation.
The word permaculture is mentioned with increasing frequency in speeches, books and magazine articles on sustainability and food security. What is permaculture? Is it a movement? A philosophy? Simply a set of design tools? In this article, I answer the above questions by looking at permaculture from a variety of angles. First, I briefly describe permaculture’s history, underlying ethics, and key principles and common practices. Then I discuss common criticisms of permaculture and explain the underlying perspective that shapes its use in addressing a community’s food, water and shelter needs (i.e., the lens through which a permaculturalist views development). Finally, I share how permaculture has influenced my own life and work, both as a Christian and as an agriculture development worker.