What is the Ziji Garden Project?
Located in Limousin, France, on the grounds of the Dechen Chöling meditation centre, the Ziji Gardens are growing bigger and embracing permaculture. With the vision of providing fresh, organic and healthy food for the whole community of Dechen Chöling, the Ziji gardeners endeavour to cultivate the earth in harmony with nature and humanity. Taking inspiration from techniques such as permaculture, biodynamics and agroécologie to work on our 1000 m2 plot.
Situated in one of the more sparsely populated regions of France, Dechen Chöling benefits from the néo-rural movement, where city dwellers chose to come and settle in the countryside. Those who make this choice have conviction about a way of life which can provide sustainable conditions for society and nature to come together and flourish. Nestled between these local initiatives – and having connected with such pioneering ideas – the intention of this project is to make Dechen Chöling’s gardens a part of the change taking place at a local level.
To make this happen, we must change our habits. We have to link with the current communities and to share with them our visions and experiences. The plan for Ziji Gardens was conceived after visiting an array of agricultural communities, from rural farms across France to urban gardens in the heart of Berlin. These gardens aim to exemplify environmentally-friendly growing techniques. Through education, demonstration and hands on experience, we hope to spread our inspiration to the many people who visit our gardens. Connecting with the earth – sowing, planting and cultivating crops – brings the simple realisation that food is indeed a medicine, as His Holiness the 17th Karmapa said. The love, energy and craft of growing vegetables makes a visible impact in the world. We stand for providing an alternative to the inordinate amount of produce we can find in our supermarkets, where food is sourced from foreign countries, carelessly grown with destructive methods and using harmful chemicals. Our produce will actively show the importance of taking care of the soil, the plants and the environment.
For updates and more information on the project, check out the Facebook page!
What do we have and what do we need?
In terms of production, our goal for 2017 is to be self-sufficient in vegetables for the staff of Dechen Chöling – that’s around 20 people! The centre has already shown their support by providing us with an initial budget of 2550€. This budget covers the running costs of daily tasks in the garden – seeding, planting, weeding and so forth. It also covers the refurbishment of our facility, including upgrades to our irrigation system and cold-frame hot-beds, the creation of infrastructure such as a veg-prep station and water-collecting tool-sheds. We will also design landscaping features such as bio-diverse ponds and uplifted contemplative spaces.
On top of that we have been awarded $1080! Our thanks to the Shambhala Trust and their Ziji Innovation Grants initiative, which provided support for an additional project called the “lasagne bed” garden. These new self-sufficient growing beds, located in the orchard of Dechen Chöling, will this year yield a delicious crop of squash and pumpkins.
However, despite the great start and immediate success, we still need your help! This fundraiser is aimed and financing two participants to come to Dechen Chöling, dedicating their time to our Ziji Gardens project for the season of 2017.
We are seeking to raise $5,551 (€5,145) in order to sponsor two participants for the program Meditation In Action. This amount corresponds to the fees of this program for 6 months – April through November – €10.50 per day per participant, and includes meals and lodgings during that time. MIAs are an integral part of the Dechen Chöling community, taking part in the daily life of running the centre, and having the opportunity to practice and study the Dharma. We appeal for your support for these two dedicated individuals to come here and grow with us.
What can we achieve?
As the founder of this project, I believe that Dechen Chöling’s gardens have tremendous potential in modern society as a vehicle for environmental awareness. The places where we grow our food are precisely the right setting for social transformation to occur. To change our social culture, we need to change the way we culture our crops. I feel the urgent need to raise awareness of our fading link with nature, of the aggression inherent to the speed of our urban lifestyles, and the pervasive system that sets the consumer further and further away from the producers. The Ziji Garden Project endeavors to create a model environment for this change to take place; a place to share practical knowledge and earthly wisdom for the benefit of future generations.
On behalf of the Ziji Gardens team, and all who have helped get this project off the ground – from Dechen Chöling and the surrounding neighbourhood, from across France, Europe and the world – we are very grateful for your generosity!
Simon Bertin, Founder