Category Archives: Perma-culture


Want to experience something really special?  Close your eyes and imagine (after you read this, of course).  It’s warm, the sun is shining and you’re standing in the middle of a freshly turned garden.  The earth is alive underneath your feet.  Reach down and pick up a handful.  Smell the heaviness of decay in your hands.  Look closely at all of the beautiful bits of color and texture you’re holding.  Feel it’s warmth.  Feel its energy.  It’s truly a beautiful thing, isn’t it?  In a few months, this newly turned earth will bear fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs.  So many gifts from the Earth!

Issa- so proud of his work!

It seems such an effort for us city folk to keep nature in our lives.  Encased in concrete, brick and asphalt we’ve forgotten what nature smells like, tastes like, feels  like.  But at John Obey, it’s different.  The land provides everything and the people are closely tied to it.  Meals are seasonal and usually self-grown.  You won’t find a grocery store nearby that sells imported fruits and vegetables.  Nothing is packaged in a bag, plastic container or bound with green wire twists or rubber bands.  There’s earth on the food and it looks, feels and tastes really good.

The gardens in Sierra Leone are fairly simple in design and most are home or community plots.  But Tribewanted has something a bit more special that’s coming. Tucked back on a gentle slope just above the lagoon, we have a newly designed and executed mandala garden. Alejandro, Tribewanted’s resident permaculturist/architect, and his team carefully planned and constructed this new garden that is breathtaking even without the plants. Paths oriented north, south, east and west bisect the mandala.  Beds are elevated to provide the perfect height for roots to thrive in both the rainy and dry seasons.  It really is a thing of beauty and was no small feat for the team to complete.

design for the mandala

The beautiful mandala

Watching Ale and his team work was truly educational and entertaining.  I’ve never met someone who seems to breathe in nature and glow, but Ale truly does, and his team was the same.  Very much intoxicated with happiness and dirt. One afternoon, Alejandro offered to talk with the tribemembers about permaculture.  We learned that the practice/lifestyle is the sustainable use of the land through design.  Work is minimized through thoughtful design creating a system that integrates people harmoniously with the land.  Care for the Earth, care for its people and give back the excess, or exidence (Sorry, couldn’t resist- TW members will get that).  I’m excited to see the progress Ale and his team have made and to see the mandala come to life when I return in February.  I’ll make sure to include a photo so you can see, too.

It’s Ale’s birthday today.  Happy birthday, Ale!  May you always be blessed by Mother Earth for all that you give her and her people.

Mary, Felicia and Alejandro