The Vision

Be a Good Neighbor

In my 30 years of work in agroecology and permaculture I have seen that information does not reach the land (in Brazil). The Polyculture Project of the Bahian Permaculture Institute addresses this problem with success, but it is an expensive project, involving heavy travel expenses.

It seems to me that an easier way (and more fun!) would be to have small nucelos, mini-communities, of professionals who live on their own land, using all the strategies they know to implant the most functional system possible, while basing their work on the tried and true local knowledge. In my experience , farmers are very practical people, and they enjoy looking over the neighbor´s fence to see what works. If they see something interesting, they ask for more details. This information is transmitted easily in the day-to-day functioning of a rural property. There is no hidden agenda as to what they “should” adopt- they have full liberty to adapt whatever is useful for them, and vice –versa.

From the very first, our neighbors at Marizá have been wonderful. They have been surprisingly tolerant (sometimes amused) of our attempts to create a form of agriculture which does not degrade the land( hopefuly no clean-hoeing!), some of which were failures in the early days. In the first year their clean-hoed fields produced far more than our mulched ones. (Now into the third year, the difference is begining to show). They offer seeds, information, material ( coconut husks and fronds). The kids enjoy visiting and seeing the cisterns, the pond-frond roofs, the special vegetable garden, as we enjoy visitng them and hearing about their lives.

Healing of the land and the people who live on it

I have been involved with the question of health for more than 30 years. Today I understand health to be a vigorous flow of vital energy, whether it be in our bodies or in the land. This can be achieved through nutrition (which on the land would be the organic fertilizers and mulch), through mental processes such as visualizations and meditations, or through direct interventions in the energy structure of the place or person, including the use of florals, crystals, geometic forms, and sound.

I consider Marizá to be a vast laboratory where we can experiment with these various techniques. Fortunately, the land has its own natural energy vortex which feeds the region, which we have roped off to protect it from our interference (as a nature sanctuary) .
Visitors feel the vitality of the place, in spite of its apparant devastation.

Produce food in cooperation with Nature

Agriculture, considered an “advancement” of humanity, was in fact a rip-off of Nature, destroying whole ecosystems and leading humanity into possession of the land and exploitation of society.

Industrialized plow-based agriculture as we know it was in fact created by Rome to support its armies, and continues to be an arm of imperialism until today. The proof? Invasion of the few remaining forests by vast plantations with total disrespect for the many forms of life and peoples who have lived there for thousands of years. In Brazil , one still speaks of the “agricultural frontier” which now has reached the Amazon forests, after having devastated the whole country, of continental proportions. The process in the United States was and is no different.

In Marizá, we intend to do the reverse route, implanting an agroforest system on this bare sand which, in the space of 5-7 years, will support us (I calculate some 6 people, maybe more) and all the other forms of life there living. To do so we have started with corn and beans, intensely interplanted with castor, pigeon pea, tree seedlings, sisal, and cactus. The permanent elements will create conditions for the young fruit trees to survive. (But the first hot, dry seasons, most has died from the harsh conditions of the land!)

We now have a 20-acre property being developed for annual crops, while the original property will be çeft in trees.

Every step of the way we check in with Nature ( through kinesiology) to see if we are on the right track. Often the next step comes intuitively, as if the system itself is indicating in which direction to go ( which we then check through kinesiology). This does not mean that we still do not have eventual failures of certain experiments- this is the first time that this kind of system has been tried here, and Nature is testing it out as well!

Create conditions

Create conditions for a fulfilling life, which incorporates all the dimensions of human living: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual and social.

The worst evil of our times is humanity´s inner fragmentation, where different aspects of life are compartamentalized.

This sense of fragmentation leads to apparant separation- humanity from Nature (which is inside us!) and between peoples. This is the cause of war and the terrible devastation inflicted on the land. In fact the greatest cause, and our worst enemy, is fear.

In Marizá we are honing a style of life which incorporates all the different aspects of living on this planet. This includes using our academic knowledge together with our intuition and experience, experimenting with organic time instead of linear time. It also means respecting the inner rhythms of each one. Our aim is to create a form of occupying a piece of land in a way which functions on all levels- including financial, as we see money to be another expression of the flow of energy. By my calculations, within 7 years the production of cashew nuts should cover our expenses. Our food will be produced by the system.

Marshall Sahlins (and others) has shown that the hunter-gatherers work around 3 hours a day to create a satisfactory life ( including domestic chores such as food preparation). Farmers need about 8 hours for the same. Today, the university-trained American woman works on the average 70 hours a week. It is my intention that, once the system implanted and stabilized, we can create our base(including financial) on 3-4 hours of work a day.

As we started literally on a piece of bare sand, the first years have represented hard work and heavy investments- especially in building materials and labor. Even so, the work has been pleasurable, interspersed with moments of rest, sharing, and celebrating. As the years go by, the conditions of our labor are less harsh. The work may at times demand physical effort- it may even be heavy- but it is pleasurable, as we see the system evolve and this land come to life.

There is always the danger, on the land, to fall into routine and to forget to play and to celebrate. The flow of visitors and trainees has helped us to remember the deeper purpose of our work here.


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Marizá Epicentro

Tucano - Bahia - Brasil

Marsha Hanzi


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