We recognize that the illusion of separation widespread in mainstream culture has not only led to a disconnection from our true nature and identity but has also profoundly perverted our value systems, manifesting in the global epidemic of ecological and cultural degradation.
Through the implementation of our own extensive permaculture masterplan, the Chaikuni Institute is regenerating degraded landscapes, supporting the resurgence of indigenous knowledge systems and developing an extensive germplasm bank and network of collaborators throughout the Amazon.
By researching healthy ways of interacting with our environment and sharing what we learn from this process with surrounding communities, the Center provides a place where Amazonian people can work together with colleagues from across the planet to create an alternative paradigm to the current dominant model of military-industrial growth.
The development of the Chaikuni Institute of Permaculture follows a masterplan designed by Terra Phoenix Designs and led by world-renowned permaculture designer and tropical permaculture expert, Doug Bullock. The Masterplan incorporates the development of an extensive permaculture program across 175 hectares of degraded rainforest and the construction of the Institute’s building facilities for the housing and education of our interns, guests and staff.
The Chaikuni Permaculture Institute is a functional model of holistic design. By combining permaculture principles and a return to traditional knowledge, the Chaikuni Institute will teach and apply regenerative, community-based development practices. A global team alongside indigenous communities works together for the protection of the Amazon rainforest, her people and their ancient traditions. Using both modern and traditional technologies to meet today’s challenges with a positive outlook, the Chaikuni Institute of Permaculture focuses on solutions rather than problems.
The 175 hectares of Chaikuni land will host a wide range of productive species that provide an abundant source of food, fiber, construction materials, fuel, medicine, and more.
The different landscape themes addressed in this Masterplan cover most of the needs of a community in the Peruvian Amazon and serve as a model for the implementation of further permaculture masterplans in indigenous and local villages.
A Living Example – Future
The Chaikuni Institute is a bustling place where novel experiences and experimentation are commonplace. People come here to see and learn from the examples we implement onsite. Our site exemplifies construction techniques, food production systems, and energy and water systems necessary for comfortable tropical living. New technologies and methods are tested before broad application to the entire complex.
We aim to ensure that educational activities are commonplace. Part of our vision is to hold classes and workshops to share the information learned onsite. In addition, the site itself has “transparent educational design” components that people are able to learn from just by interacting. For instance, a water system has been designed in such a way that people learn something about rainwater collection and filtration every time they fill their water bottles. This type of education will feature everywhere throughout the site and will be accompanied with signage to help people understand the processes that make the site a good example of integrated design.
We continue to work on the implementation of our extensive permaculture / sumak kawsay Master Plan. Our first integral chacra, one hectare of land in the Temple’s grounds, has already produced a variety of organic crops such as yuca (cassava), annona, pineapple, sugarcane, coconas (Solanum sessiliflorum), coconillas (Solanum stramonifolium), sweet granadillas (Passiflora ligularis), mandi (dry land giant taro, or Colocasia esculenta), guaba (ice-cream bean, or Inga edulis) just to mention a few. Furthermore, the chacra has been steadily providing a pharmacopeia of medicinal plants and roots such as ginger, turmeric, rosacisa (Tagetes erecta L.), Amazonian basil (Ocimum campechianum), hierba luisa (Aloysia citriodora), chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius), katuk (Sauropus androgynus), cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) among many others.
We are developing our meliponiculture program (breeding of stingless bees for honey), including a full workshop on the subject imparted to our neighbors in Tres Unidos, a pisciculture (fish farming) program providing paiches (Arapaima gigas) and other prized Amazonian fish, a breeding program of cuy (guinea pigs) whose waste is used as natural fertiliser, a pond of churos, or edible water-snails and the more than 200 chickens thriving in our chacra, fertilizing and cleaning the land while providing delicious eggs for our guests and workers.
We embrace the local system of mingas, a traditional method of communal mobilization for help in which friends and neighbors volunteer their time, effort, and sometimes funds to achieve a shared goal for the betterment of the community. Once a month, Chaikuni is delighted to put its dedicated team at the disposition of the surrounding communities, particularly our immediate neighbors in the town of Tres Unidos, in order to cross-pollinate and co-create new sustainable income opportunities for local farmers, according to their self-reported necessities.
We are supporting the implementation of two fish-farms, the ongoing development of some chacras integrales, and the cultivation of medicinal plants that are sold to our partner, the Temple of the Way of Light, to be used in their holistic healthcare system. Chaikuni continues with its commitment to participate in the town assemblies and meetings of the neighbouring town of Tres Unidos and take an active role in the wider-community’s life.
We plan to greatly expand the support we provide to local communities in the design and implementation of their own chacras integrales, according to the self-reported necessities and priorities of the people of Tres Unidos. Furthermore, there are plans to begin the implementation of a third chacra integral on Chaikuni’s Permaculture site, to revamp and enhance our watersnail ponds.
We envision to construct a permanent permaculture capacitation center, imparting official permaculture certifications to both local and western people in order to share the knowledge we already have and open new channels for learning and cross-pollinating.
We aim to strengthen our relationships with local universities such as the UNAP (Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana) and prestigious research institutions such as the IIAP (Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonia Peruana) with the aim to provide strong internship and fieldwork opportunities to local students and researchers in related fields. Furthermore, we highly value our relationship with OEPIAP, an organization of Amazonian indigenous university students in the city of Iquitos. Our aim is to provide internship and fieldwork opportunities also to some of these students, who are committed to take the tools and knowledge they acquire back to their villages of origin in order to improve the quality of life of their families and communities.