In 1996, Julious Piti and his wife Taurai Mutembedzi were allotted 14 hectares of very dry land in Chaseyama. This is in an area where almost all people are living on farming, but are facing extreme poverty. Here they began to work by applying permaculture principles, without any financial support.
In 1998, some of Julious' brothers joined them. Together, they created a property which was green all the year round and which produced a lot of food.
A typical view of the landscape of the region. After deforestation and exploitive agriculture, the top soil is carried away by rain and wind, leaving a depleted, very sandy landscape. Under such conditions, the cultivation of crops becomes increasingly difficult.
Chaseyama Permaculture Club (CPC)
Seeing the results of what could be achieved by these means, local farmers became very interested. Informal training began in the form of "look and learn tours" as people visited the project site daily. Soon we founded a Permaculture Club and the farmers came to work at the project site, learning the techniques and principles underlying the Piti family's success.
The permaculture project inspired many farmers and stakeholders to learn non-destructive methods of production, and to participate in the project's decision-making processes (community-based planning).
Other families and HIV groups came to the project site and collected herbs, vegetables, fruits, planting materials and skills for their own use. In this way, a grassroots organisation evolved out of the farmers' initiatives. This continues to actively shape the region.
Julious Piti and the farmers are successfully protecting the forest around the springs to help stabilise the area's water supply.
In answer to the increasing demand for training, PORET was registered as a Trust by the Zimbabwean Government in 2006, with the aim of designing and implementing permacultural training programs as well as to establish a comprehensive training facility.
In 2007, the project won the National Environmental award, and high ranking Government officials, including the Governor of Manicaland, Tinei Chigudu, were invited to witness the event at our project site.
Together with Headman Jinga and the local farmers, PORET Trust applied to and was granted allowance by the Chimanimani District Council to continue expanding the Chaseyama community-based training centre as a demonstration site.
In August 2009, the Rural District Council offered PORET Trust office facilities to operate from. The room in the District offices complex allows people to see and contact us easily. We have been using this for the last 10 years. However, new funds are enabling us to develop better facilities on site.
The Centre at PORET
in 2017, we were able to fence 20 hectares of land around the homestead we have developed. This has created a livestock free zone in which the bush is able to rejuvenate. We are working hard to develop a training centre which is utilised by the community and by visitors from further afield.
Currently we have two parts of the site, the Lower Garden and the Upper Forest Garden, where we are developing the training centre and accommodation.
We have a core team of 8 people working at the site, including project officers, gardeners and a finance team. We also work closely each year with the graduates of the annual Permaculture Design Course, who are implementing their learning in the villages they live in and sharing skills with their neighbours. They form a critical part of our project.
This is what the landscape can look like after using agroecology and permacultural methods. Cropping between rows of shading trees and shrubs becomes easier as erosion is stopped, moisture is preserved. Ground cover with mulch improves soil fertility. A self-sustaining system with high value output is created.