Minca, Colombia


Terraces on Contour at CENIT Arte-Natura Total length: 24m (79ft)

In April of 2017, Sean Dixon-Sullivan built two terraces and a banana circle at CENIT Arte-Natura* in Minca, Colombia.  There were several objectives to this contour system:
  • Erosion control - to catch any soil eroding from the construction site on the hill above.
  • Food production - to provide healthy, organic food to the kitchen and to offset food costs.
  • Education - to serve as a demonstration to locals and a subject for permaculture workshops, of which there have been three to date (August 2018).


Construction took two days with one person.  On the third day the terraces and banana circle were planted with students from CENIT's first workshop.  The process, pictured below, is as follows:
  1. First, Sean marked a level line across the hill using an A-level.  
  2. Then at each marker he excavated a hole using a post-hole digger and inserted stakes of Glericidia sepium (i.e. matarraton, madre de cacao, madera nerga), which resprout to form living terrace walls.  
  3. Then he piled bamboo, logs and other debris against the stakes to form the wall's main structure.
  4. Then he dug a trench above the wall, also on contour, and piled the excavated soil against the wall, forming the final ditch-mound-wall-path formation.
  5. Then he mulched the ditches with heavier organic debris such as branches, and mulched the mounds with finer debris such as bamboo leaves.
  6. Finally, on the workshop day, everyone planted the mounds with tropical crops, such as tomato, basil and pineapple, and planted the banana circle with three banana pups.

See more details of this project at Planting Terraces in Minca.




*CENIT Arte-Natura is a project that uses theater as rehabilitation for victims of conflict and abuse.

Swales on Contour at Ludoteka Minca
Total length: 26m (85ft)
In June of 2017, Sean Dixon-Sullivan and Samson Berhe built two terraces on contour at Ludoteka Minca*.  At the end of each was a 6-ft wide banana circle, planted with three bananas each.  Both the objectives and building process were identical to project at CENIT, explained above.

*Ludoteka Minca is a project dedicated to teaching sustainable design and construction.

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