BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
The world as we know it today wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for research. This creative and systematic process has increased the knowledge of humankind, thus providing us with new information, solutions to existing problems, as well as raise awareness about new ideas that we can try.
It is because of this reason that a group of researchers started a team where they can use the power of research to jumpstart academic interest in the topic of permaculture.
Known as Permaculture Research PH, the team started in 2015 by Jabez Joshua M. Flores, a research assistant at the Faculty of Education at the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU). He is also a Ph. D. candidate in Environmental Science who is graduating this June 2021 at UP Los Baños.
At the time, Flores was taking his Master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources Management at UPOU.
He first became interested in permaculture when his friend and classmate, Edu Foronda, showed him a video of Geoff Lawton. Since then, Flores has shown an interest in permaculture and has even started practicing it in his home garden.
(Discover some tips on permaculture that you can try at home)
“The small team composed of UP students, staff, and alumni helped me with my SP (special problem) which was about permaculture and how the concept would spread online using what we called ‘virtual corridors,” he said.
Gaining knowledge on permaculture in the PH context
Later in 2016, Flores applied for a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) graduate scholarship with a dissertation proposal for a large-scale permaculture study comparing different sites in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
He then revived the group in 2018 and hired research assistants to help him gather data on permaculture sites around the country to be used for his dissertation.
“We were able to study 12 permaculture sites with funding for fieldwork from a SEARCA Ph.D. research scholarship grant. We recently published a chapter on permaculture for a book by SEARCA and have submitted three journal articles,” Flores shared.
Presently, the team is a research initiative and has no formal organizational structure or full-time members. They’re also not a permaculture consultancy but rather, their goal is to encourage research on the topic of permaculture, specifically in the Philippine context.
“Since published work on permaculture is almost non-existent in the country, we’re hoping that our work would inspire students and researchers to explore the topic of permaculture even further. Especially now when we’re experiencing many environmental issues and challenges. We are desperate for solutions so I think people will now be more receptive to permaculture as a climate change solution and a topic for research,” Flores said.
To best promote permaculture and boost the chances of research on the topic, Flores and his team are working on two ongoing projects at the moment. One is a collaborative permaculture map of the Philippines and the other is a permaculture bibliography.
Flores said that the map is currently available on Google Maps and those claiming to be a permaculture practitioner in the Philippines can input their details there.
“It’s a way to help facilitate collaboration and create linkages within the permaculture movement. Also, in terms of research, students will be able to choose which sites to visit and study. This is a resource that I didn’t have when I did my research,” he said.
Meanwhile, the bibliography is open to the public via Google Sheets. Flores said that he had students in mind when he created the resource since he didn’t want them to have a hard time looking for journal articles to cite when it comes to the topic of permaculture.
“A few years ago, it was really difficult to cite anything about the topic, thankfully, since 2020 a lot of permaculture research is being published internationally,” Flores said.
By promoting permaculture research in the Philippines, Flores and his team are also providing more people with access to information that they need to learn when practicing permaculture.
Learn more about permaculture at Permaculture Research PH.
Photos courtesy of Jabez Flores.
This article appeared in Agriculture Magazine’s August 2022 issue.