The Black Permaculture Network is excited to present 8-armed goddess and Super Shero, Anandi Premlall for this round of our Member Spotlight! Her positive attitude and high energy bring a bright light to BPN and to the growing permaculture world.
How were you introduced to permaculture?
I was aware of the existence of permaculture many years ago as it’s aligned with my life’s work, with being a solutionary and a badass eco-conscious being however, I didn’t feel a connection to the people promoting it or teaching it. When I came across Starhawk’s Earth Activist Training with a spiritual and eco-feminist twist, I was intrigued and began to pursue my permaculture design certificate. In a wickedly delicious confluence of events, Star ended up teaching a course in the northeast shortly after I expressed my desire to delve into this program. I crowdfunded my way to the course, which happened auspiciously during my birthday, and went on my very first camping adventure in rural Vermont.
What childhood experiences have you had that creates a link to permaculture?
Having been born in the tropical land of many waters known as Guyana, I had an early taste of the agricultural life, surrounded by coconut trees, mango trees, guava trees, banana trees, and the Amazon Rainforest as my backyard. My early childhood in Guyana included running on the rooftop with dried mangoes, playing with little crappos (frogs) by the seawall, and picking up cow dung. It’s quite a contrast to growing up in Southeast Queens, where I discovered that I had a voracious appetite for learning when my mom took my brothers and I to the Queens Public Library – a huge community space where we were able to watch movies, borrow books, and feel pretty important with our very own library cards which allowed us 25 books each. They trusted us kids with these valuable books and let us take them home. Eventually, I started building my own library, which is quite sizable right now. When my family moved to a house with a back and front yard, I was immersed in the wonders of the garden, using my nana’s Guyanese cutlass to weed, and making up all sorts of games for my cousins and siblings. Since then, I’ve sought creative ways to add more greenery to my neighborhood, to recreate an incredible edible paradise in a third world girl turned city girl turned urban farmer kind of way.
I’m not quite sure how to answer that as I see all aspects of my life enmeshed within the principles of permaculture. That being said, I adore markets and enjoy cooking international plant-based cuisine, visiting farms and permie sites around the world, and practicing radical self love + radical self care through writing, twerk, eco-art, and meditation.
How do you implement permaculture at home?
At home, I grow some of my own food and flowers in a greenhouse we built in the backyard, recycle and repurpose anything I can; compost all the organic waste, flush the toilet when necessary (we haven’t progressed into a composting toilet as yet; but a girl can dream!); share seeds with friends; using earth-friendly products including dish soap; non-toxic detergent (with a boost of baking soda and vinegar as a softener – no more dryer sheets!); hang as much clothing as possible to dry naturally; cook most meals at home and share meals; use reusable bottles for water; store food in glass containers and mason jars; maintain an apothecary of dried herbs, flowers and spices; grow and pickle my own pepper sauce; make my own bath and body products including soap, scrubs, toner and dry shampoo; use coconut oil and other fruit and nut oils for health and beauty; use essential oils for controlling odors and pests; keep working plants in the rooms to clean toxins and off-gassing to prevent indoor air pollution; stack functions with a sacred space to write, meditate, and create art; eat a plant-based diet; and am a health advocate for myself.
What’s the strangest thing that you’ve done or experienced in permaculture?
While I don’t think this is strange, some still find anything to do with mxnstruation or moontime taboo. After participating in a Red Tent with the Northeast Womyn in Permaculture Gathering at Omega Institute and hearing about how my permaculture sisters saved and utilized their menses to enrich soil and start seedlings, I was curious to incorporate this practice into my life. I was already loving the freedom and sustainability of a menstrual cup and instead of just flushing valuable nutrients away, I was able to put them to good use. After diluting this sacred fluid with rainwater, I tested them on my succulents and trees; their growth and shift in health was visible within a week. Who needs to buy unnatural and toxic fertilizers when you can make your own compost and sacred fluids?
What’s excites you about how the permaculture movement is developing?
One thing that excites me about how the permaculture movement is developing is the beautiful array of people of color of all ages around the world who are graduating from Permaculture Design Certificate courses. What tickles me even more is the amount of people of color who are genuinely interested in taking the advanced course in teaching to lead permaculture courses in their bio-regions and beyond. One of my dreams has been to not only be a reflection, but also amplify the voices and visibility of women and people of color in the permaculture world.
In what ways would you like to see permaculture evolve?
Permaculture is evolving slowly to encompass a diversity of teachers at workshops and PDCs, with at least one local teacher who has been nurtured into leadership. For this movement to thrive, we need to develop leaders who live, work and play in particular bio-regions, have knowledge of the local customs and history of the land, and serve as a reflection for students participating in the course. Being able to harness the collective empowerment of permies who actively acknowledge that earth care, people care and future care are inseparable and non-negotiable will be sexier than carbon sequestration and playability combined.
Is there anything else you want us to know about you?
I believe my life’s work is to be of service to Earth and all beings coexisting on this planet. I hold this as a deep spiritual practice and and am blessed to be able to share my talents and knowledge in this way. I am at peace when my hands touch the multi-faceted world of dirt under our feet and upon where our world rests. When I do what others aren’t willing to do, it creates a sense of humility and helps me build more compassion for those who have fewer privileges than I do.
I love meeting other soulful revolutionaries who are getting their hands dirty to reclaim our place at the table and transform our food system one mycelial network at a time.