KSJD’s Sunflower Theatre drew a full house Saturday evening to watch “Greening of the Desert,” a documentary on permaculture farming.
The event, sponsored by Grant and Kathy Curry’s Permaculture Provision Project, was the first public show at the new community theater.
Visitors mingled in the foyer, where the cash bar was set up, and then were treated to plates of curry served from the stage. In the balcony, locals talked farming and enjoyed an bird’s-eye view of the new 119-seat facility, with its sandstone-block highlights, historic pressed-tin ceiling, and modern stage, lighting and video equipment.
Permaculture farming groups crops in a complementary way to improve yields and food diversity. The swale-and-berm technique is especially effective for capturing and holding soil moisture in a low-rainfall area like the Four Corners.
Permaculture expert Geoff Lawton was featured in the film showing how the swale-berm system improves farming in the Middle East near the Dead Sea.
“At first, they laughed at us. But on 10 acres we designed a system to harvest every bit of rain and were able to have a normal harvest with a fifth of irrigation water,” Lawton said. “Most people don’t realize that you can fix all the world’s problems with a garden.”
The permaculture system translates well to the Southwest.
“I thought it was interesting, and I would like to start a community permaculture garden here,” said audience member Jouria Berrada.
Positioning berms and swales in pastures and fallow fields captures natural precipitation without much work, she added. “You just walk away and it greens up.”
On the Navajo Reservation, new housing projects use permaculture for landscaping, said urban ecologist Erika Longino.
“When the houses are first built, they are not hooked up to water right away, so we sculpt the yards to capture the water,” she said. “The best place to store water is in the soil.”
In Montezuma County, the Currys built a 3,800-foot swale and 2,000-foot berm structure, then planted 600 trees and shrubs on it.
“We’re harvesting water in a passive way,” Curry said. “Holding it as long as possible, the moisture eventually meets impervious layers and creates new springs on the landscape.”
The Colorado Permaculture Convergence will hold its 2015 conference at the Curry’s Hananiah’s Rest Ranch at the head of Trail Canyon on May 23.