Home » OUR Blog » Permaculture and Natural Building in Kenya

Advanced Permaculture Practicum :

“Power of Hope”

Build a community school and food forest in Coastal Kenya

August / September 2019

at Magarini Children’s Center and Organic Demonstration Farm

Kenya road
almost at Magarini
current classrooms
current classrooms
toilet building
toilet building
typical local building technique
typical local building technique
Elke helps serving lunch
Elke helps serving lunch
three-stone fire
three-stone fire
open classrooms
open classrooms
meeting in the shade
meeting in the shade

Magarini Children Centre and Organic Farming Demonstration Farm is a registered Community-based Organization under Kenyan law.

✓ Learn hands-on skills in natural building & food forest design.

✓ Get involved in developing regenerative projects overseas.

✓ Support children to gain life skills.

✓ Help with educational programs for villagers.

What does it take to bring food security and education of the next generation to a village in Coastal Kenya?

Community Activists Emmanuel Baya and his wife Jescar Mbuche are facing this question everyday. They have created Magarini Childrens Center in the rural region North West of Malindi near the North Coast of Kenya. Starting from bare land they have rallied help from various individuals around the globe and built a school and a farm. 200 orphaned children walk to attend this school from village housing that is an interim solution until Magarini can construct enough dormitory space on their land. 

There is an exchange at play here: villagers help by housing and taking care of children and in trade they receive training in organic agriculture at the center. This may sound simple enough, but in a region threatened in turn by droughts and floods as climate change takes its toll, food security is a central concern to everyone. Subsistence farming leaves people with empty hands when the rains don’t come.

This advance practicum is part of a 2-phase program bringing 6 adults from Magarini to train in Permaculture and Leadership to Canada, followed by inviting experienced permaculture and natural building students to a practicum at the Magarini centre.

What will happen in this program?

In phase 1,  6 Kenyan leaders will take Permaculture Design Certificate/Earth Activist Training at O.U.R Ecovillage. They will develop training frameworks and materials to take back to their location and to make available online to organisations elsewhere.

For phase 2, we move on to Kenya for our 3 – 8 week permaculture practicum will take place at Magarini centre . For this practicum we’re inviting Permaculture students who are looking to get hands-on experience, working closely with our leaders .

Install landscape features for  water management, create a food forest, build earthen classrooms  and kitchen , and help set up the education and training facilities. 

Part of your role will also be digital storytelling and production of educational videos to be distributed on the internet.

The Kenyan participants will become co- leaders to experienced facilitators in permaculture practices of natural building, community involvement, women’s empowerment and food forest development.


This practicum is for you if you…

  • Have completed Permaculture Design Certficate (PDC) or Natural Building Program (special offer for OUR Ecovillage PDC alumni)
  • Wish to experience Farming / building in Africa
  • Want to do something meaningful with the Earth and your life
  • Are excited about facing the challenges in developing countries
  • Are willing to be inclusive and bridge across cultures
  • Love to put your hands in a hands-on project and see it through to fruition

Choose your timeframe

  1. August 16 – September 5: Main focus on natural building ,smoke free kitchen, team work, village integration and leadership. Facilitators: Elke and Jescar
  2. August 16 – September 12: same as above  plus 1 week general permaculture or village support work
  3. September 13 – October 3: Food forest & water management  with Brandon Bauer
  4. October 4-10: Food forest & water management  plus 1 week general permaculture or village support work
  5. August 16 – October 10 : Building & food forest, many facets of Permaculture
  6. August 16- November 7 : Magarini Center Immersion


Your contribution covers your tuition, simple local food, camping and supports the purchase of tools and materials

  • Regular : 3 weeks $900, 4 weeks $1200,  8 weeks $1900
  • Early Bird (Paid before March 1st): 3 weeks $765, 4 weeks $1020, 8 weeks $1615
  • OUR Ecovillage PDC Alumni: 3 weeks $720, 4 weeks $960, 8 weeks $ 1520



Application and Registration:

Step one: please fill in our application form.

Step two: pay application fee (available soon)


Letter from Jescar, co-founder of Magarini:

Dear friends,

I’d like to share my dream to you and to support it come true, for one hand cannot do anything, but I know, many hands make it light and sustainable for a better world.

My dream is the power of hope for resilient living. I have the hope that by doing this, we enable the lives of many people to be stable, and this will give people power and notice that they are very important people in this world. And they have their responsibilities of taking care of the nature. I’d like to have the exchange of visit with OUR Ecovillage and Magarini Children Centre. This will help more people learn between these two cultures, and to bring the knowledge of growing food forest. I believe growing food forest in this centre will help the children to have good nutrition, which is a big issue in this community. I’d also like to educate more permaculture teachers in my community, so they can teach the children about the importance of growing food forest and medicinal trees and plants, also building natural students houses.

I believe learning permaculture will help my community to know there are responsibilities that we have to take care of nature and soil for the next generation. Thank you for making this happen.

Jescar Mbuche

About Magarini Children Center

Magarini is a unique project that offers a home to vulnerable children and youth while at the same time working with the wider community to address the underlying problems of poverty, social breakdown and land degradation.

By bringing people together to teach and learn organic farming, soil improvement, animal husbandry and reforestation we build a self-reliant community where people are empowered to create better livelihoods. Thus we strengthen community resilience and restore the land. 

Find Out More

field of maize
passion flowers
performance for visitors
schoolchildren at Magarini center school
Jescar Mbuche
organic vegetables
villagers in the field

Practicum Instructors:

Jescar Mbuche

Jescar is a co-founder of Magarini Children Centre and Organic Farming Demonstration Farm in Kenya. Working with her husband Emmanuel Karisa Baya in 2008, they started a community initiative to provide care and education to children who had lost their parents through HIV/AIDS as well as other homeless and vulnerable children in a region that struggles with extreme poverty. Currently they are supporting close to 300 children in the community.  Jescar graduated from the Asian Rural Institute in Japan, and obtained her PDC and Ecovillage Design Education Certificate in Canada. She also completed the Training of Trainers certificate with Gaia Education.  

Brandon Bauer

Brandon has been studying Permaculture for 16 years and is actively applying Permaculture on various sites on Salt Spring Island and abroad. Over the last 8 years he has participated in teaching Permaculture Design courses at O.U.R. Ecovillage, The Bullock Brother’s Permaculture HomesteadUBC and at The Blue Raven Farm. He is a naturalist, organic farmer, biodiversity specialist, seed saver, herbalist, and soil scientist. He is the co-creator of The Blue Raven Permaculture Farm on Salt Spring Island. He is currently working with Salt Spring Seeds and Anderson Greenplan. Brandon sees permaculture as one of the most inspiring and action focused ways to live. He contiues to practice what he teaches farming on Salt Spring Island, Haiti and different sites in Africa. 

Elke Cole

Elke Cole is a Natural House Designer, builder and educator. At O.U.R. Ecovillage on Vancouver Island, Canada,  she coordinates the natural building activities and  programs . Elke has her consultation and design business Houses That Love You Back.

Elke’s work takes her around the globe with projects in Africa, India, and Costa Rica. Her designs are based in Permaculture and value relationships between owners, builders and the natural environment presented at the site. Elke is one of Cobworks founders. Working with groups on design and leading workshops on building projects has earned Elke a solid reputation in the Natural Building field.



Email us at naturalbuilding@ourecovillage.org  

Please sign up to receive info about permaculture resources, courses and OUR community news.


Land acknowledgment

OUR ECOVILLAGE is situated on unceded Indigenous lands. The Coast Salish Peoples are the guardians of these lands and waters where we live, work, pray, and play. Quw’utsun (Cowichan) is a historical place of gathering and Na’tsa’ maht Shqwaluwun/”one-heart one-mind” for many Indigenous peoples.

OUR ECOVILLAGE is committed to regenerate land and all ecosystems while acknowledging and respecting Indigenous knowledge that ensures thriving for all beings; we call this Permaculture.

OUR ECOVILLAGE is dedicated to continuously educating ourselves and our communities about the history and peoples of OUR bio-region, to assist in decolonization and re-villaging as a path towards peacemaking, from local to global.