After getting to know Permaculture, the Peace Place environment has increased water infiltration, rainwater capture (from rooftops) in a tank, reduced use of plastics, increased number of vegetable crops, increased composting and produced liquid smoke . We began to think about the integration of the needs of humans, plants, and animals including insects, butterflies and birds, taking an interest in how all their lives are related, including our mutual needs for water. Nanik feels fallen leaves look dirty and must be cleaned up. But I don’t think fallen leaves have to be cleaned up, especially during the dry season, because the leaves prevent water evaporation from the soil.
We also made changes in our practices and habits. When shopping, we consider whether it is environmentally friendly or not. Now, we bring our own bags to reduce plastic use. We began to be more disciplined in separating organic waste from inorganic waste to make compost. (Most people here tend to choose to dispose of waste and buy ready-made fertilizers instead of making compost or fertilizer from existing garbage.)
We have noticed that we are more comfortable since we planted the trees. In the dry season it is very different and feels much more comfortable. Our families are very happy with the condition of the building layout and also the environment of the Peace Place which feels comfortable, cool, and shady. The children around the Peace Place can feel this beauty and comfort and come to use Peace Place’s playground, some parents and children even prefer to play in Peace Place’s environment in the afternoon.
We have noticed birds, bats, insects, and other wildlife using the trees. Every morning we pay attention to several types of birds that come in the yard including: emprit, sparrow, turtledove, finches, prenjak, trucuk, black feathers, doves. Birds had gathered less and less because they were being hunted by people to be caught and sold and other urban developments didn’t maintain their habitats. Bats always come at night and often bring fruit so that in the morning we often have to clean up after them, especially in the hall, Joglo Preschool door terrace, and on the second floor of buildings. An insect called laron (a moth) appears at the beginning of the rainy season and is usually followed by a ballet (a swallow or sriti bird) that eats it. There is an insect that comes in the rainy season in the evenings that has a green body and clear wings and a loud voice. There are various kinds of butterflies during the early season of flowers (April to May is the transition from the rainy season to the dry season and October to November is the transition from the dry season to the rainy season) and also kinjeng (dragonfly) during the transition to the dry season. The wildlife seen includes snakes and the chicken-eating Javan mongoose. The neighbor’s chickens and cats also visit often. These stories would make very good storybooks for our children.
The children learn to recognize the different types of plants, trees and fruits and also learn to care for plants by watering them and learn to make compost by taking dry leaves, classifying waste for compost and putting it in the compost bin. Children also learn to make potting soil in polybags and use bottles filled with sowing compounds for planting seeds, especially vegetables. Children also harvest and enjoy the fruits, especially during the mango, guava, and banana seasons and the tomato harvest.
Many visitors and neighbors have noticed the difference and come to say they are happy because it feels shady, lovely, and the flowers are beautiful. Friends stop by to ask for flowers or grafting for mangoes and guavas. Some got the idea of ornamental plants to protect the house from dust during the dry season, and ask for seeds to plant at home. Some people come just to take photos.
In the process of building and design, we did not make the plan all at once, but learned from experience, adjusting according to needs and abilities. We learned from our experience and reflected more deeply on the tools in Creating Cultures of Peace. For example, in the collective agreements we affirm “The Earth is beautiful and generous. Care for each person, the group, the community, and the natural world.” We understand more how to integrate this after learning and applying the permaculture principles.
When I first got to know permaculture, I was reminded of when I was a child, because in my opinion this is almost the same as ancient farming. They did not use chemical fertilizers but used manure and compost. At that time, I did not know the function of the various types of trees and short shrubs that function to withstand the wind. Before getting to know permaculture, I didn’t think about the placement of plantings based on the distance from the house. For example, it is better to plant vegetables near the kitchen..
Along the way, we got experience in changing the shape of a traditional Javanese house building by adding a vent in the middle of the roof to reduce the heat. We also learned through experience that a building without walls, with no ventilation in the center of the roof, still feels cooler than buildings with walls with or without vents in the roof.