Interview with Peppi Gauci

Age: 36

Born: Mellieha

Family: Partner Debbie and their two sons.

What are your childhood memories?

Always in nature, building tree houses, camping and making fires.

Tell us about your adventures?

India, South America, India again, Australia. In Australia my wallet was stolen and I found myself on a farm needing to work for some money to live on. It was my first exposure to the world of Permaculture. It felt like I had landed on ‘Home’. I was able to read about the structure of Permaculture in the extensive library at the farm. It brought back flashbacks of my childhood, what farmers were doing in Malta before, following the ancient methods. I also worked in an afforestation project in Australia.

…and when you returned to Malta?

I worked with the FORESTA 2000 project in Mellieha, restoring soil, fixing guttering, dealing with erosion, and planting trees. That was about 12 years ago.

My vision then was to establish a Permaculture project in Malta to show the Maltese how farming and growing can be in harmony with nature, and sustainable. The Permaculture process was the model to show Malta how to move away from toxic pesticides, chemicals and fighting against nature. There was little talk of organic farming or Fair Trade in those pioneering days.

My father had the poor quality land, now Bahrija Oasis, and the project was born. We could hardly have chosen a more challenging site. The rock and hard terrain was a particular challenge – truly a long term vision needing stamina – luckily I was young! Gradually, with volunteers’ help, dry stone walls were rebuilt, irrigation created, an underground reservoir built and thousands of trees were planted.

The intention was to create the environment according to the Permaculture design. Natalie Debono brought together the first group of volunteers and training in Permaculture systems started in Malta.

The next task was to set up an NGO, The Permaculture Research Foundation. Many projects have been undertaken, including setting up sustainable roof gardens for business and private homes. Work continues to this day on the site, also training outsiders, including Corporate training about Social Responsibility as well as team building using Permaculture principles.

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is the science of creating habitats, food production, idyllic environments for humans, plants and animals. The Permaculture lifestyle can be lived in every action of life, whether it’s being in alignment with the course of nature, building, driving, eating – a no-negative impact on the environment and nature, with the aim of leaving the land for future generations in a better state, rather than polluted with the toxic chemicals of non-organic, agriculture and genetically modified items. It also includes energy efficiency, recycling of waste water for irrigation (even in a private home for a roof garden) etc. Groups can visit Bahija Oasis by arrangement www.permaculturemalta.org. Read about the 2014 Permaculture Design Course

What sort of training do you provide?

The Foundation now attracts international trainees for the two week intensive Permaculture Training course, as well as shorter courses for those wanting some guidance to set up their own systems.

Describe your other interests.

Music, including drumming and percussion, Balinese, Indian and tribal cultures, who live with respect for nature, life and diversity, living a simple life, being present in the moment.

Who are the people that inspired you?

Revolutionaries like Ché Guevara, Bob Marley, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi, who stood up for what they believed in.

What is your vision for Malta?

That many young people will be educated with regards to natural, sustainable ways, and BECOME RESPONSIBLE for growing their own chemical-free food; and for the care and respect of the landscape around them.

See related article: What We Need To Know – Genetically Modified Foods