8th Life Panama EcoVillage

The Project

The Design

In our design, we’re following the permaculture principles of start small and observe, observe, observe. The design is a dynamic, ongoing process. Here’s what we’ve done to-date.

An Integrated Community Design will be the basis for ongoing development of all of the interrelated parts of this initiative. This design will be based on a digitized land plan, walking surveys and other site-specific observations. Different zones and usage areas, internal paths and trails, common areas, member lots, and areas for productive projects will be defined. This will let us know where to best improve and create soil to sustain future productive projects, where to reforest so that the trees serve multiple functions, and where to best capture water to sustain all life in the Eco-village. These are tasks that require tons of attention in their design and involve many components and subsystems. We’re looking for people who can help with this.

As shown in the above graphics, thus far we have implemented the following designs:

  • Access – bridge and road into the finca were built.
  • Food forest – 1/2 Ha planted with 300+ trees in 2019, more in 2020. Site was selected based on extensive observation and the vocation of the area. It had been planted in corn the year the land was purchased and was returning to forest 2 years later when we did a selective chop and drop then planted seedlings among the existing pioneer species. A rustic irrigation system was also designed and installed.
  • Rainbow Camp – first settlement area. Bunkhouse designed & built including rainwater catchment for sinks, shower, and overflow to food forest irrigation system. Outdoor kitchen also designed and built, temporary nursery established behind the kitchen, compost system set up, dry compost toilet installed, preliminary swales dug.
  • Food production – raised bed area established, tested, and improved.
  • Rainbow Camp upgrades – electricity, dug well, water pump and piping throughout Rainbow area up to the Nance meadow expansion area and the hilltop. Water storage tanks installed. Nursery moved to larger space of newly built multi-purpose building. Storage shed built. Beds built & installed in each bunkhouse room. Raised bed and nursery areas fenced to deter iguanas.
  • Water management – large rainwater catchment pond and multiple swales and pit ponds dug. Vetiver planted along swales and on steep embankments to prevent erosion.
  • Food forest update 2022/23 – trees are well established and several have started giving fruit. Other layers of the food forest still need establishing, such as ground cover, vines, and root crops.
  • Communications – cellular signal booster at Rainbow bunkhouse and internet at Casa Amarilla (soon to be expanded throughout Rainbow realm).
  • People – countless volunteers have helped us get where we are today. The first resident now lives at Casa Amarilla, which was built on the Nance meadow at the end of 2022.

Ongoing designs & activities include:

  • Food forest maintenance, irrigation of trees and planting of other layers.
  • Water management & soil stabilization uphill of Rainbow Camp – digging of swales, continued reforestation, directing runoff appropriately (in our climate it’s impossible to store all water on the land), planting of vetiver.
  • Collaborations with local schools and universities
  • Land-plan that will become the base for the Integrated Community Design
  • Research that will allow us to participate in reforestation projects and develop an educational institute with formal accreditation.
  • Research into most appropriate legal structures for the initiative, to ensure sustainability.

In order to also help set up Eco-villages elsewhere (an important aspect of creating a sustainable future for life on earth) we work as an action-learning lab, documenting our work as we go, testing theory against practice, and sharing our findings in order to add to the wealth of knowledge in how to create communities & sustainability-enhancing projects.

This project essentially puts into practice and experiments with Permaculture models, tools, guidelines & methods. We use Permaculture to help us design a sustainable culture, step by step.

We’re looking for people who are very excited at the thought of doing all this. It’s painstaking work that requires us to always keep the big picture in mind while working on many little details.

See a bit more of the history behind the project here.