Modern Permaculture in Kalavan

As an ancient land with deep agricultural roots, Armenia has an opportunity to embrace a modern, sustainable approach to farming: permaculture. This holistic set of practices and philosophies offers an ethical, regenerative alternative to conventional subsistence farming, as practiced in most of Armenia's villages and rural areas—Kalavan included.

For years, Kalavan has been promoting itself as an ecovillage intent on bringing modern, organic, and ecologically superior methods of food production into the mainstay and being a beacon for other villages to align with. At The Kalavan Retreat Center, we feel it's time to start putting these principles into action with the help of our diverse international volunteers who have considerable experience in permaculture projects around the world.

Permaculture is a system of ecological design that models relationships found in nature to create optimally efficient, self-sustaining homesteading or agricultural environments that produce the greatest value for the least ongoing costs for the people who manage them. It aims to sustainably integrate landscaping, food production, construction, energy systems, and more to create a holistic lifestyle in harmony with principles of nature, ecology, and economy. A homestead or farm employing permaculture will successfully implement mostly closed-loop energy systems that enable reusing and recycling as much as possible.

In contrast, the conventional agriculture practiced in Armenia's villages relies on monocropping, lacks biodiversity, and aims solely for maximum yield for easy sale in bulk at low prices. This degenerative model depletes resources and disrupts ecological harmony. It also greatly limits the economic opportunities for those Armenians who continue to produce the only way they know how, the only way that has ever been shown to them and that barely earns them enough income to get by.

By spreading modern permaculture principles, we can help both Armenia's ecology and the livelihood of the farmers and villagers who rely on outdated, inefficient practices. Permaculture can help restore soil health. It can improve Armenia's natural biodiversity by proliferating food crops that are normally ignored by farmers who limit themselves to the same fruits, vegetables, and grains as everyone else. It will rejuvenate Armenia's villages and rural areas, increasing the incentive for the population that is presently heavily concentrated in Yerevan and other major cities to spread further out and add their influence to developing rural regions like Kalavan.

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