Producer Spotlight: Tikkun Eco Center
Tikkun Eco Center: Repairing the World
Deep in the central heart of Mexico, in the town of San Miguel De Allende, you can find a beautiful permaculture community, whose founders took a barren piece of land and encouraged it to thrive. Ben Zion Ptashnik and Victoria Collier founded the nonprofit Tikkun Eco Center, combining over 75 years of experience in areas such as project development, organic farming, and permaculture design. Tikkun Eco Center’s main purpose is to redesign agriculture through the lens of conservation and sustainability. They now have seven and a half acres of green buildings, organic gardens, food forests, and fish ponds.
Ben and Victoria are lifelong human rights and social justice activists and community organizers. Their center is based on a concept from Kabbalah, Tikkun Olam, which means, “to repair the earth.” They see their work as a spiritual concept of service to the community and the planet. When you hear them talk about their work and see it in action, you feel how it is infused with this spiritual concept.
The Importance of Sustainability
The folk at Tikkun recognize how the abundance of affordable food following industrial agriculture advancement is actually harming future generations. This cost comes in the form of soil loss, land degradation, ecosystem destruction, and climate change.
The problems are many. Luckily there are solutions too, and Tikun Eco Center is committed to finding and using them. Sustainability is the central pillar of Tikkun Eco Center. They know it is possible to redesign agriculture to benefit our planet rather than harm it.
Permaculture & Regenerative Techniques
The idea of permaculture is to emulate the natural order of our ecosystems as much as possible. Regenerative methods aim to improve environmental conditions with the way we live. Tikkun incorporates wisdom from both into their farm and work.
Crop diversity is one of the main regenerative techniques in practice at Tikkun Eco Center. Tikkun’s rich soil is teeming with microbial life. Fertile ground and intercropping methods lead to a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and trees. Across all four seasons, Tikkun is home to all kinds of produce including peas, sunflowers, chickpeas, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, melons, herbs, flowers, and more. All together, it is a viable food forest.
Seed saving is another regenerative technique. Tikkun’s success in crop diversification gives them loads of seed varieties. They save heirloom seeds and share or trade with other farmers. Since San Miguel is such a dry area, they are always looking for good sources of local drought resistant varieties.
By saving plant seeds, a farm can take control of their seed and their food supply, decreasing dependence on stores and catalogs.
Did you know that more than one billion people around the world lack access to water? San Miguel de Allende is one of the most arid parts of Mexico. The entire region around Tikkun Eco Center often faces extreme water shortages. On the rare occasion when it rains in San Miguel de Allende, Tikkun is prepared and ready to take action.
Their catchment systems can capture up to 500,000 liters after a significant monsoon storm. They also designed the land with penetration ditches and canals that prevent wasted runoff and help hold more moisture in the soil.
In addition to capturing rainwater, Tikkun Eco Center is equipped with several methods to conserve water. These include contoured gutters and shoulders, water retention wells, and using compost for increased soil absorbency. Their gravity drip irrigation system provides fresh water for the orchards and all the water systems are interconnected, ensuring that not a drop goes to waste.
Sharing Resources With the Community
Their capacity to conserve and harvest water is not only for their own benefit. It is here that they put service into action for their surrounding communities as well.
“We are excited about taking our water harvesting work to the next level by restoring a reservoir that serves three villages suffering from water shortages,” says Victoria.
She explains that they have excavated soil from a critical reservoir and restored the broken edges of the pond. This soil, rich from over 30 years of accumulation in the reservoir, is now available to anyone in the community who needs it. They will use it to create a park with a soccer field around the reservoir and will plant hundreds of trees there in the new fertile soil. This is something these communities have never had. They will continue using the soil to plant more trees in the villages.
The Flourishing Fish Ponds of Tikkun Eco Center
Expanding on their efforts towards water conservation and sustainability, Tikkun has built fish ponds around the hillside property. The five interconnected ponds allow for maximum water catchment during the monsoon season. Rain water from the rooftops and pathways go straight to the ponds which have become a flourishing and beautiful ecosystem. They are full of birds, insects, amphibians, snakes, and other animals. The microclimate around the ponds is noticeably cooler and fresher. The Tilapia in the pond feed on organic corn from the fields and the algae that grows naturally in the ponds.
The Future Can Be Regenerative & Tikkun Will Lead the Way
Tikkun Eco Center is creating something that will last for future generations. They have already gone above and beyond in terms of what we conceptualize as sustainable and regenerative. Their farm is a replicable family and community permaculture project that facilitates life.
“What gives us the greatest sense of accomplishment is watching all the plants and trees developing into an ecosystem, providing habitat for wildlife, seeing new species of birds, animals, insects and plants arriving on their own. We love seeing people get inspired and joyful when they visit. We hope to inspire more people to consider investing their time, energy and financial resources into creating their own beautiful green islands of ecological restoration.” –Victoria Collier
Tikkun shows us what is possible when we invest our resources together to repair the Earth and live more aligned with nature. They are truly leading the way in demonstrating just how regenerative producers can become.