I studied International Development at Portland State University, which was primarily centered around social justice and sustainable food systems, graduating in August of 2012. My university studies focus was on environmental sustainability and gave me a strong ecology focus as well as an understanding of the function (And flaws) of environmental economics. In April 2012 I accepted a job as the facilitator, designer and manager of a 100-hectare farm on the coast of Ecuador. This farm is a transitional farm, having used agrochemicals and monocultural practices until the previous season. Permaculture and agroecology-based events I have participated in include the 2012 Village Building Convergence in Portland, OR as well as the II Foro Internacional de Agricultura Orgánica y Agroecología in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Permaculture was something that slowly exposed itself to me over the past three years of my studies in university. The inherent problems with even the fundamental perception of development, much less the international institutions that govern this so-called development, left me looking for a more holistic and equitable solution to social, environmental and economic issues both in my own backyard and around the world. The reason I love permaculture is there is no hierarchy, as even the non-profit sector imposes hierarchical structures of getting things done and often leads to the people affected being left out of the process. Permaculture is a methodology and worldview anyone can pick up and apply to their life immediately, as well as teach to others.
Currently I am working on designing and implementing a permaculture-based food forest system on a 100-hectare dry tropical farm on the coast of Ecuador. Many people are moving away from their traditional agricultural methods of food forests towards deforestation and agrochemical-based monocultures. There is also a high prevalence of deforestation for cattle grazing and slash-and-burn agriculture. Through running our farm as a successful, money-making business, ideally our neighbors and community will see that it is possible to restore a healthy ecosystem and have a more viable business model for our uncertain future and present. I have also been working with the local Federation of Campesinos in their work to create a network of thousands of small farmers who promote agroecological methods. After the rainy season here, I may be returning to Portland, OR to practice permaculture during the growing season there while the food forest grows here in Ecuador.