A Quick Reflection on the Internship at the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm

OMG! That is internet speak for Oh My Goodness! The first day at the internship was something no one could prepare me for: the open air, the cattle, the horses, chickens, food forests, pasture, correctly built structures that harmonize with the sun, swales, ponds, dams, and embarking on a journey and communal living with people from all over the world. “A far cry from my native North East Texas – and I am so grateful!” was what I thought while setting up my tent in the middle of this small shire in The Channon, NSW, Australia. I was to call this truly awesome place my home for the next 10 weeks.
January in NSW is the start of summer and the rainy season. In the past year the climate change had been so drastic that the farm had seen its driest season it since the PRI moved here 13 years ago, followed by the next overly climatic rainy season which boasted multiple days of 8 inches (200mm) of rain in a single night. When they say bring gum boots – don’t forget to pack them, and a towel or two!
Our first week was our orientation, which is very much needed as there are multiple systems operating dependently and independently of people at all times. Even with a PDC under your belt and knowledge of permaculture systems – our orientation into one of the most advanced permaculture farms on Earth granted us peace of mind and bearings to our new surrounding.
As time progressed, everything from sowing a seed, to fermenting food, to building a food forest on a swale can be learned. Jumping in at every opportunity possible is crucial. A few weeks into the internship and we had the privilege to view amazing earthworks, were educated on urban design, and were graced with knowledge of permaculture design business potential and implementation. Things were really moving along. We would also, at the dawn of every morning, wake up to our assigned farm tasks that would give us hands on learning experience. And throughout our daily routine we would have daily chores for not only the farm but for our own living situation. The meals Ish would cook would be delicious.
Keep in mind that we are not just learning about the practicality of permaculture and its time tested applications, but we also enjoyed sharing 20-30 people’s story into permaculture and sustainability. If you plan on doing the internship, they will be your neighbors, friends, and brothers and sisters for the time on the farm and and I can see myself being happy to meet up with any of them in the future. Thank you interns, wwoofers and staff for such great connections and experiences!
In the end, I will count on this as being one of the highlights of my life and can honestly say the connections, be it swales to ponds, friend to friend, or teacher to student, are the best I have ever experienced. I am grateful to Geoff and Nadia as they have been an inspiration to us all and I feel confident implementing what was learned at the PRI at our new school in Texas — named Working With Nature – Learning, Research, and Healing Center.
All the best to you if you plan on doing the internship yourself – you wont regret it!

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