Spreading the Greenheart Mission in Brazil
In an effort to spread the Greenheart word and strive for a more sustainable and environmentally-conscious world, Chris Dews, founder of Greenheart Ibiza and Casita Verde, visited English Camp in Brazil last month. His mission was to convert the camp into a more sustainable learning center and also to orient the language teaching towards an ecological lifestyle.
The English Camp receives up to 120 children at any given time and 13 adults, who are often business managers or directors that want to improve their standard of spoken and written English.
The camp’s property has two natural springs, three artesian wells, and a small stream running through it. There are also three lakes, large forest areas, and many flowering trees on the farm. The camp is roughly two hours west of Sao Paulo in Itapetininga, surrounded by fields of cows grazing on the lush grasslands typical of the area.
The English Camp receives up to 120 students at any given time, including participants of Greenheart Travel’s Language Camp in Brazil. Students have a truly cross-cultural experience as they learn Portuguese at the same camp in which Brazilian teenagers are learn English. This mingling of language learners allows participants to practice daily with native speakers in a completely immersive program.
The first project was improving the current gardening system on the property. The type of earth in the vegetable gardens was a heavy red clay soil, which is not suitable for planting vegetables. Chris decided to try two different styles of vegetable garden installations, which have been productive both in Spain and Southern France.
The new garden systems were built by digging a shallow trench or creating wooden boxes lined with plastic and filling them up with rotting logs from the nearby forest and banana plantations. The rotting material was piled into a small mound and then covered with a layer of rich earth made from a combination of manure, sacks of earth found under the trees in the forest, and around 10% of the original red earth from the garden. This was finally covered with dried grass cuttings from the extensive lawns around the camp and made ready for planting.
Another very easy and successful job Chris worked on was installing a natural air conditioning system in the kitchen, which previously was too warm and uncomfortable for the cooks, especially during the summer. This was done by making a circular hole in the highest point of the kitchen ceiling and installing a chimney tube so that the air would be automatically evacuated while the sun was out. In addition, we installed a similar tube in a lower part of the kitchen leading out to a shady place behind a large bush. This ensured that there was an easy access for cooler air to enter as the hot air escaped via the chimney. The result was an instant lowering of the temperature in the kitchen and a lot of smiles from the now happy cooks!
An eco-toilet differs from a normal one in that it uses no water and produces natural fertilizer for the soil. This kind of toilet can be installed anywhere since it does not require water and the waste product is easy to remove when composted. Water for hand washing is collected from the roof during rain showers, stored in an adjacent tank, and then extracted from a tap in order to reduce overuse and waste. The waste from the eco-toilet designed for English Camp also fertilizes a field of citrus trees and mixes with the hand washing water, in order to enrich and water the trees simultaneously.
Other things that Chris did during his stay were designing different systems for cleaning the ponds using special plants like papyrus and water lilies, pruning and mulching all the trees so they grow healthier, identifying the best source for drinking water, and also teaching the staff about the positive impact of keeping the center and access roads completely free of litter. Chris’s next visit will be dedicated to improving the energy systems, installing more recycling facilities, and moving the center a few steps further towards complete self-sufficiency and sustainable living.
Greenheart Ibiza is a partner of Greenheart International and is a living project in Ibiza, Spain that contributes to understanding and implementing sustainable, real world practices. Casita Verde is an experiential center dedicated to the study and application of permaculture techniques. Located in a beautiful valley near the village of San José in Ibiza, Casita Verde showcases the best practices for sustainable living and use of alternative energies. Volunteer your time to Greenheart Travel’s Environmental Awareness Project at Casita Verde, or make a donation in support of this and other Greenheart International projects and their implementation all over the globe.