Grow Your Own: Get Permified @ Lake Atitlan

by Shad Qudsi

 “To many of us who experienced the ferment of the late 1960’s, there seemed to be no positive direction forward, although almost everybody could define those aspects of the global society that they rejected, and these include military adventurism, the bomb, ruthless land exploitation, the arrogance of polluters, and a general insensitivity to human and environmental needs.”

Bill Mollison (considered the ‘father Permaculture’).

Almost 30 years after this publication, this statement is truer than ever before. Across the planet, there is a growing awareness of the inequalities promulgated by our current arrangement. Within most people, there is a deep-down understanding that at some point, we as a species will be held accountable for all of these egregious actions. And yet, despite this awareness, we are still at a loss as to what direction we should now take. The question is, what should we do now? We don’t agree with war. We don’t agree with the exploitation of resources and marginalized people. We don’t agree with the direction in which our species is headed. But now what? Where do we go from here?

Permaculture. For me, Permaculture is a toolkit that gives us practical active answers to these questions. Seeking to overcome the perceived separation between man and nature, it offers a very refreshing point of view: Humans do NOT have to be bad for the landscape. While we can be bad, we also have the potential to play an amazingly beneficial, keystone role in the ecology of our planet. In permaculture, we do not want to minimize our footprint. Rather, we want to optimize our footprint, and increase our handprint. Permaculture validates our needs as humans and provides us with the tools to act responsibly in a way that sustains ourselves and the planet.

Finally, and most importantly, Permaculture is based on three ethics and a set of guiding principles. Many people think of permaculture as an herb spiral, organic gardening, or a food forest. While all of these things are strategies used by many permaculturists, permaculture is really about taking responsibility for yourself and your community. It is about meeting your energy, food, and other needs, in a way that does not infringe on the rights of other people or nature.

If you find yourself wondering what to do, given our current dissatisfaction, this is your call to explore the ideas of permaculture. If you are living in Guatemala, perhaps working in development and feel the need to learn about positive actions to take for a more sustainable world, where humans and nature harmoniously coexist, Atitlan Organics and IMAP offer a two week Permaculture Certification Course. During these two weeks you will get a chance to learn about: Mayan Cosmo vision and its agricultural applications, understanding natural systems, water management, gardening techniques, farm animal systems, seed banks, natural building and many more applicable skills.

So, come spend two wonderful weeks in beautiful Lake Atitlan and learn how to Grow Your Own.

Shad Qudsi operates Atitlan Organics, a highly-diversified, super-low-input, direct-to-consumer, downright-ninja farm in the town of Tzununa on Lake Atitlan.
He will be co-teaching at the upcoming Permaculture Design Certification course, which starts November 30th in San Lucas Toliman at the Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP). Check out for more info.  Also visit:


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