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Jordan Valley Permaculture Project – August 2011 Photo Update

Latifa inspects project development from a unique vantage point

It’s been just over a year since I’ve visited the Jordan Valley Permaculture Project (aka ‘Greening the Desert – the Sequel’) site, and I’m keen to check out progress when I visit next month (September 2011). In the meantime, Geoff, who is in Jordan now to help organise the upcoming Tenth International Permaculture Conference & Convergence (IPC10), has sent through a few pictures I can share today.

As you may or may not be able to imagine, establishing a permaculture agricultural demonstration site on rocks and sand comes with its challenges, particularly when you’re facing 50°C plus (122°F plus) summer temperatures… and no rain. The picture below, showing the view of the neighbourhood from the now comparitively-lush JVPP site makes the point — as the neighbouring land is exactly what the JVPP site looked like just a few years ago.

The site’s life-giving stands of legumes give a clue to how
this site’s biological succession was assured, and the neighbouring moonscape
shows what the site looked like not so long ago.

When I was there last, conditions weren’t yet favourable enough to begin with animals systems yet, as the plant support species were not then tall enough to provide the necessary shade (creature comforts), but now these are underway. The ducks, chickens and rabbits will help hasten development of site fertility through manural nutrients being cycled back into the system. At the moment the animals are at bottom of the site as that’s where all the action has been focussed, but they’ll soon be moved to the top to faciliate the downward flow of nutrients through the site.

Chickens help prepare mulch by getting rid of unwanted seeds and insects, etc.,
and seeding it with nitrogen-rich fertiliser

Muscovy ducks


Nadia stands next to a date palm that’s just dripping in dates. Date palms
are the long term, productive, shading over story for this system.

Guess where the ducks want to hang out.
The nutrient rich duck water is fertigated onto the site.

The environment is now more attractive for the human element in this system,
as indicated by the shaded seats.

The veggie beds

Diversity breeds stability and resiliency – the JVPP site is moving towards both.

If you want to check out the site first-hand, then be sure to book onto the post-IPC Tours. There’s not a lot of time left to do so, so if you’re interested, don’t dally…. For those who can’t make it, after I’m back from the IPC I’ll post some comparitive shots of the site from two years ago, a year ago, and this year, that’ll give you an idea of how this emerging oasis is progressing.


  1. So inspiring!

    Our place (NW Arizona) isn’t nearly as hot as Jordan and we do get occasional monsoon rains, but not much in recent years.

    Our main problem is finding FAST GROWING trees and bushes that won’t freeze in winter. It got down to 4 degrees last winter and the many California peppers trees and African sumacs we planted last year all froze. A few came back from the ground, but we’re seriously lacking perennials taller than a couple feet.

    I sure wish those date palms would survive here. Looking forward to see a lot more of this oasis next month.

  2. Hey Christine,

    In a hot/cold environment, maybe try acacia mearnsii – black wattle for the over storey. It’s leguminous, drought hardy, fast growing and will eventually grow between 6m to 20m. It’s a pioneering plant and as such may become a weed, but if nothing else grows, well, then, it’s worth a try. At the very least it will provide good dense fire wood and improve the soil at the same time.



  3. Christine,

    I hear your pain. Reno NV has similar challenges with our short, hot, dry and windy grow season (arguably 120 days this year). While local plants obviously work, I’m trying to find good resources to learn about both leguminous and well producing trees and plants which fit our environment. (If someone has them I would be VERY grateful ;-) )

  4. Wow! It looks great! I have been closely following the articles and photos posted and I am happy to see it all come together! Way to go Nadia, Geoff and everyone involved with PRI-Jordan. I wish I could make it!

  5. Awesome! But where does the water come from? In the first greening the desert site they mentioned winter rains (IIRC?). Does this site have the same conditions?

    Inspirational. One day I hope to help- even if it is just being a human pack mule! I honestly believe that if enough land could be greened this way that we might see the creation of rain from transpiration. What a sight that would be!

    Willie Smits and the amazing people in the project he helped design have done just that over in Indonesia:


    I just hope this is true the world over.

  6. Amazing to see this work, wish I could make the IPC this year.

    Hi Scott,

    If you’re in Reno, check out our meetup.com group and contact me. We can help you with some tree lists.

    some examples of cold hardy, drought hardy, fast growing, useful trees are Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust-leguminous) and Morus alba and rubra (white and red mulberry-non-leguminous)


  7. Very inspiring progress of this proyect! ..it gives me hope strating my PC project coming month in north Morocco…a very challenging propject, since at this moment I depend only on rain water… have a well (6 mt diep) at 250 mt distance down in the valley, but no pump yet…so, I have to use rain water harvesting systems up in my land,.. dig many swales..etc
    At this moment I have no trees. I would like some advice , which fast growing/drought resistant trees to plant. I am planning to start planting trees ( around the swales) during coming rainy season : Octobre, Novembre, Decembre…
    This site, 15klm distance from the sea, is on a slope of 250mt, very windy and humid climat.
    Many thanks

  8. Amazing! i have been there two years ago and can’t believe the progress achieved is such a short period. the place was a wreck two years ago! a little piece of dead desert and now it’s so full of life! with few examples like this people should start to recognize what permaculture can do.. great work PRI Jordan team!

  9. Thanks very much for doing this Craig. To be able to show the video at seminar and then be able to follow it up with progressive pictures will be invaluable at helping the public understand what permaculture is all about. A blessing on your journey.

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