Bahrija Oasis is a small-scale research and development project testing and implementing various permaculture design systems. The Oasis integrates today’s green technologies with ecological land based living.
Bahrija Oasis was conceived in 2003 when Peppi Gauci had returned from his travels in Australia working on permaculture and forest projects. The challenge of applying permaculture knowledge to the ultimate test could not have found a better geographical location. While permaculture has been used by many pioneers in various parts of the world to regenerate life, rejuvenate soils, reinvigorate forests and re-introduce nature’s diversity within ecosystems, Malta has managed to offer a tough canvas for the first permaculture project of this kind to prove itself.
Sitting in a wind-swept ridge and facing harsh conditions of salty winds, dry long summers and very little water and soil, we have proof that the equation of a permaculture vision, good design, lots of stamina, work, sweat and determination will actually provide productive and long term ecological results.
Bahrija Oasis is the first permaculture project of its kind and is setting a mile-stone for others yet to follow. The farm/center is based on 3.5 acres and sits in the valley of Bahrija. It is a productive farm but equally important it hosts a vast number of native trees, shrubs and endemic fauna.
Prior to the commencement of the project, the land was in a degraded state and exposed to the predominant winds. Today, the project displays a healthy and productive managed ecosystem. The prominent traditional dry stone wall on its West side protects it and shelters hundreds of young trees. Rain water is intelligently harvested and harnessed into swales which allow for slow absorption and prevent soil losses through erosion. Strategically planted shrubs and trees form corridors for micro-climate conditions and attract natural wildlife while mimicking natural patterns.
The project functions as a self-reliant ecological institute while forms a biotope in order to enrich the landscape and serve as a refuge for wildlife while also being abundant in food and natural materials. Furthermore, the past educational activities and events have taught and inspired hundreds of people, students and groups. Thus the project is proposing an exemplar that will act as a milestone and a reference point for sustainable development possibilities.
SYSTEMS AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Integrated aquaponics system
Aquaponics is the marriage of aquaculture (fish-rearing) and hydroponics (the cultivation of soil-less crops). At Bahrija Oasis, this design has improved the efficiency of cultivation and noticeably reduced water consumption while producing healthy, pesticide and fertiliser-free crops. The Aquaponics system at Bahrija Oasis won an award at the 2011 Malta Innovation Awards.
The importance of having a population of healthy bees to pollinate varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers cannot be overstated. Our apiary is carefully managed and while lots of care is given ensuring the health of our endemic bees, we also manage to produce high quality honey which embodies the nectar of flora from our cliff and rocky garrigue.
The main production at the Oasis focuses on cultivating high quality micro-greens. These are an assortment of herbs and leafy vegetables grown specially for their health benefits as well as for their particular tastes. Grown completely organically through a system developed in-house, the micro-greens are sought after by Malta’s high end chefs.
Pesticide-free cultivation gardens
Our gardens research mixed crop cultivation and moisture-retention through various systems (a highly important element for dry and arid regions). Careful attention is given to assist the soil in its bio-fauna, usually an oversight for many farmers. Through various methods the soil not only becomes richer but also increases in volume thus improving the soil ecosystem over time. We also have designed and are researching smaller systems that can be replicated in the urban setting.
Built in the setting of a treehouse, the bush kitchen provides facilities for vegan and vegetarian food preparation. We strive to cultivate premium pesticide-free vegetables which together with our wild herbs are freshly harvested and served on the premises.
Geodesic domes combine circular structures with hexagons, both of which can be observed within nature’s life-conserving designs. Beautifully-built, welcoming and blending into the surroundings, the domes provide space for lectures, meetings, group activities as well as overnight stays by participants.
Our system of composting toilets are also referred to as humanure toilets. These toilets require no water for flushing. While looking like regular toilets, easy to use and hygienic, they retain the waste which is turned into compost. On a larger scale such systems have the potential to save significant amounts of water and energy.
Valley View Shower
A beautifully-made repurposed wood and glass shower with a view of the wild Bahrija valley. Hot and cold water is available which then gets recycled to water the nearby trees. Only biodegradable, natural soaps can be used here.