ABOUT QUISQUEYA PERMACULTURA
At QP we believe in the potential of empowering a variety of community members and leaders to build their resilience by adopting regenerative practices, cultivating healthier agroecosystems, promoting food sovereignty, rebuilding their communities, beautifying degraded environments, generating and diversifying their income, learning to value and use in ways creative local resources, while helping to rebuild and protect local ecosystems and biodiversity.
We cultivate healthy soils, healthy ecosystems and regenerate landscapes for the benefit of our community and local biodiversity.
We work to transfer practical skills and create production systems that mimic local ecosystems to create conditions where life can flourish, foster sovereignty and allow communities to better adapt to risks such as climate change.
We actively promote the values of a regenerative culture: peace, respect, knowledge transfer and safeguarding cultural heritage in order to help foster a paradigm shift and promote healthy human-nature exchanges, and a sense of good living and justice within our communities.
“Ameridian cultures believe that all living beings of this BIOSPHERE have volition, agency, morality and responsibility in the production and reproduction of life.”
A common spark of curiosity for a biodiversity course in Sydney, Australia, participating in Occupy Sydney and a strong calling to engage in the community building and decolonization movement, ignited Antu and I to form a strong bond that today has become a long lasting partnership. Our desire to have a family together with whom we could share our dreams, values, and goals, allowed us to together embark towards empowering ourselves and our communities towards hands-on regenerative action.
While looking to rediscover Antu’s Argentinian and Chilean roots, eagerness and passion quickly took us to the beautiful community of San Marcos Sierra in Cordoba, Argentina. The years I lived in San Marcos Sierras, a town of the Comechingones, were very enriching and we learned a lot through the friendships we made on our way. We learned to build a house with soil, grow food, raise chickens, we got to know the “mingas” which are work days between community members, we learned about the native flora and fauna and how important they are for the balance of the ecosystem and the community and to create a productive, artisanal and healthy community. It was in San Marcos, home of the Comechingones, that Orquidea felt a strong desire to return home to the Dominican Republic. Since Antu himself always dreamt about the Caribbean lifestyle, we quickly set our eyes and hearts on the Caribbean.
Landing in the Dominican Republic at the end of 2014, we first found the enchanting mountains of Jarabacoa in the Cibao Valley. Jarabacoa, endearingly known as the “the Alps of the Caribbean,” we proudly called home. It was here Quisqueya Permacultura was born, as we were embraced by a supportive community with whom we lived, worked and grew, including our family and partners at Rancho Baiguate (today Baiguate Lodge), known as one of the Dominican Republic’s first ever ecolodges. The three years we lived in Jarabacoa was another chapter of great learning in our journey. Here we immersed ourselves in Dominican culture: rural practices, indigenous biodiversity, social exchange practices, among others. Our lives changed enormously and we learned from that stage, the trees, the ways of sowing, the names and new uses of plants, use of foods in local diets,, the uses of the machete, community norms,, etc …
While making the best of our time in the valley, we also kept strong ties to the capital, Santo Domingo, where many amazing opportunities were also presenting themselves. We learned vastly from this time while working with the lodge and a variety of organizations in the Permaculture Demonstration Centre that we established together and where we received an array of amazing students and organizations.
After four years, a trip to find our dream homestead property, took us to the small village Las Galeras on the northern peninsula of Samaná. This stunning peninsula captivated our hearts, with its warm people, rich history, stunning beaches and tropical abundance. Las Galeras community has shown us that true resilience is possible. Thus we realized it was here we wanted to lay the building blocks for our greatest project and life mission.
While integrating ourselves to the community and Las Galeras, we enjoyed the privilege of managing an ecolodge, Aventura Rincon Ecolodge, in the community of La Sangria for three years. There, we continued our work of making strong ties, empowering the local community members, facilitating workshops and receiving groups and organizations eager to do the same.
Today, we continue to evolve and are now involved with many community development organizations locally, nationally and globally.
Antu Vilches - Cabrera
Originally born in Sydney, Australia with an Argentinean and Chilean background, Antu Vilches-Cabrera is a Permaculture designer and tropical agroforestry consultant with over a decade of experience working in South America & the Caribbean. He is co-founder of Quisqueya Permacultura, graduate of the Agroecology and Agroforestry Systems Program at Yale University’s Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative, the Permaculture Design Certificate at Rancho Mastatal (Costa Rica) and a firm believer that we need to re-think and re-value our role, as humans, in nature’s ecosystems.
Orquidea Susana graduated from a Bachelors in Tourism Management the University of Canberra (Australia) and an Associates Degree in Restaurant Management & Culinary Arts in the Art Institute of New York City. Her passions for nature, culture and travel led her to live in countries such as the Dominican Republic, United States, Argentina, Australia. There, she obtained a diverse work and training experience, in fields such as Hospitality, Hotel Management Permaculture Design, Community Development & Regenerative Tourism. Today, she is married to Antu, co-founder of Quisqueya Permacultura and a mom of two.
Quisqueya Permacultura prides itself on having worked closely and collaborated with individuals, families, communities, universities, and other organizations and groups from all over the world since 2014.
“Shortly after QP began working with us, students were begging to go outside and work on their respective projects and responsibilities. Students understood the importance of this type of education and they embraced it. Some students went above and beyond, researching and educating themselves about GMOs, farming, agriculture, conservation, caring for the earth and eating healthy. Students were involved in the process and they were eager to share their knowledge with anyone and everyone that would listen. Students began going home and teaching their parents and family members about what they were learning. Students were conscious about the environment, leading healthier lifestyles and cooperating with others, as well as having positive relationships. QP transformed our sustainability projects and we are eternally grateful that they shared all of their knowledge, input and love of what they do with us.”
I first encountered what was an idea of permaculture when I first met Orquidea and Antu back in 2015. I saw how they transformed the land of one of our closest partners into a lush garden with passionfruit vines intertwined among papaya trees that were giving shade to mint, oregano, and all types of herbs. More importantly the passion, knowledge and patience with which they demonstrate the outdoor spaces they create gives the user (client/customer/tourist) the ability to be met at their comfort zone. I learned about the concept of permaculture from Antu and Orqui, and have learned many more lessons from them because of this keen ability to meet people where they are on topics of sustainability, conservation, farming, etc. Hundreds of our Offbeat Travel students and staff have participated in permaculture seminars and have provided much praise themselves. Many students are so inspired that they write back to us weeks later saying things like “I want to live more like Orqui and Antu. How can I stay in touch with them?”. But more importantly they also write to us to let us know about the compost they started, the community garden they helped plant, or how they applied another of the many lessons they learned from Quisqueya Permacultura in their everyday lives.¨
“Su trabajo y cuidado de la tierra es admirable”
What did I love most? “The inspiration that Antu generated in me for reviving love, respect and the need to observe nature, because I understood a lot about permaculture, and Orqui , who allowed me to reaffirm my commitment to change, with transformation, even from the smallest of spaces in which we move on the planet. The solidarity of the people of Las Galeras who supported in some way the development of the course, I breathed community. The work methodology, the facilitation team and the support between you… (Translated from spanish)
I first met Orqui and Antu (Quisqueya Permacultura) at one of their Bioconstruction workshops some years ago. The two-day practical workshop was a life changing experience. Quisqueya Permaculture has been a pioneer in areas such as Permaculture, Agroecology and Successional Agroforestry in the Dominican Republic. Their knowledge and passion on these and other areas that relate to collective regeneration is impressive. With the years I´ve had the opportunity to work with them on workshops, talks and trainings and everytime they teach me new things both as outstanding facilitators and trainers and as sensitive and empathetic human beings who practice what they preach and who are committed to another way of life that truly reconnects with with nature and ourselves.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Arising from the research of indigenous peoples, modern societies, and sciences around the world, and seeking to align philosophies concerning values, religions, traditions and different ways of understanding the universe in order to create a “permanent culture”, Permaculture is a term coined by the Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970’s.
Today it is considered a multidisciplinary, ecological, and ethics based approach used to understand, analyze and design holistic systems, by mimicking the patterns and relationships found in the natural world and seeking to integrally meet our needs. This design science can be used to design landscapes, communities, organizations and projects in any context or scale.
It is a 72-hour curriculum and hands-on training experience that provides those who undertake it a deep introduction of regenerative design and regenerative living and learn skills that will allow them to become empowered and in-tune with the surrounding world. During this course you will learn about permaculture design process, systems thinking, observation and identification skills, soils, food growing, climates & microclimates, agroforestry, agroecology, water in the landscape, community living, sustainable building, capturing and storing energy, etc.
Not at all! As we mentioned before, Permaculture is a multidisciplinary, ETHICS-based design science that can be used in any context. By understanding its principles, we can learn how to live more harmoniously with the outside world, but also within ourselves and our own internal processes.
Unfortunately, we do not have the infrastructure or required time to properly dedicate to volunteers or their needs. We work with local human resources. This allows us to create a welcoming, friendly and open environment, as well as learn about the local community and its traditions.
However, we are always open to having a chat with anyone interested, as it can be mutually enriching and at times, we can find ways to find a middle ground or even start a long-lasting friendship. So feel free to shoot us a message if you are interested in talking to us further.