Playa Viva Welcomes Amanda – Our New Permaculture Specialist
Hi there! I’m Amanda (Harris) and I recently joined the Playa Viva team as a Permaculture Specialist. My family lives at home in Maryland and I made my way to Juluchuca by way of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Southeast Asia, and most recently, a beautiful, diversely planted “holler” in West Virginia. I have a lot to learn about coastal Mexico and the eclectic Spanish spoken here. Fortunately I thrive in new environments where the equal exchange of knowledge is encouraged.
I am blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to continue the work of the many people who tended this land before me.
As I make my home here amongst the Playa Viva community I hope to share with you some of the regenerative land management practices I have borrowed from communities throughout the tropical ecosystems I love the most.
It’s been three weeks since I arrived to Playa Viva and my mind is overflowing with ideas for this beautiful, living land. There is an abundance of evidence of all the years of careful thought, design and attention that went into stabilizing and rebuilding the unique ecosystem surrounding the hotel.
Permaculture is about designing ecologically-sound human habitats.
I am blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to continue the work of the many people who tended this land before me. I see it as my role to continue moving their visions forward, while incorporating some of my own permaculture strategies along the way.
Permaculture is about designing ecologically-sound human habitats, increasing food sovereignty through local production, and regenerating degraded landscapes. It is a land-use and community-building movement which strives toward the harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimates, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them through the ways in which we place them in the landscape. This synergy is further enhanced by mimicking patterns found in nature.
To me, food is medicine.
The ethics of permaculture encourage a long period of observation before making changes or improvements to a landscape. In the tropics, where rainy and dry seasons persist but change dramatically with each new year, it is evermore important that one learns the land through the eyes and stories of the community members who know it best. As such, I intend to move slowly during the next year and spend time understanding the agricultural traditions of the area, identifying local knowledge and underutilized species, and exploring the landscape to see how it is affected by the elements. I hope you’ll join me on this journey as we step beyond the fluid boundaries of the land and into the community where our project exists.
The opportunity for guest and community engagement in the landscape.
The lens through which we will approach this work is three-fold:
- Health. To me, food is medicine. We have the opportunity to heal ourselves and prevent illness with fresh and local ingredients, through diversity and color in our diets, and with the use of traditional herbs and herbal medicine. With time, we will develop landscapes with this in mind – using tree crops and medicinal species to diversify the plant community and food consumed.
- Carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. Hurricanes and rising sea levels are real threats to coastal communities. An overarching theme to my proposed work plan will keep these threats in mind as the team and I design and begin planting. Also important here is the ability for community members to replicate the patterns we put in place at Playa Viva. It takes a village to protect the village, and I design with this in mind.
- Opportunities for engagement and interaction. Equally important as the first two approaches is the opportunity for guest and community engagement in the landscape. We will continue creating opportunities for people to explore the diverse ecosystem, to walk away with valuable and shareable knowledge, and to inspire people to think through ways they can make similar impacts in their own communities.