Water resilience

Our environment is progressively getting degraded because of over-exploitation of natural resources. In a degraded landscape with little or no tree cover, and subsequently little soil cover, rainwater is not able to percolate into the ground. We lose rich top soil with this running water, which flows away into the streams. It is a vicious cycle — no top soil, no vegetation, increased run off of water and further erosion of top soil – exacerbated by climate crisis resulting either in prolonged drought periods or sudden floods.

Water Earthworks

Well-designed water harvesting earthworks such as rainwater harvesting on roofs, ditches, ponds, swales and dams are the most effective way to channel water into productive use. The result can be increased food production, higher groundwater levels, reduced irrigation needs, reforestation and enhanced ecosystem resilience. These earthworks help to restore hydrological cycles with specific land-use techniques and biological resources, creating water security for people along with renewed viability for ecosystems.

Water Resilience Project

We are starting a water resilience project in 2019 thanks to the financial support of Visegrad Fund. We plan to offer a unique, practical, 5-day Water Earthworks workshop, in June 2019 that shows the main techniques that can be applied to conserve water and build soil on landscape level (rainwater collection and storage, ponds planning, keylines and ditch construction). Selected partners from each of the Visegrad countries are invited to learn about water retention techniques and spread the knowledge in their respective countries about water earthworks. Participants will understand the principles of permaculture design in earthworks: reading the site, interpreting contour maps and using surveying tools, placing elements in a design. The course will have strong practical component – we’ll rent a digger and make a real pond – and participants will be able to work with contractors to direct earth movers in action.

Later on we will design a water landscape and plant a water resilient, edible forest with nut species on a degraded area with children in November 2019. Participants will get to know diverse edible tree species, for which water catchment needs to be designed and water harvest measures implemented. Children and their parents will be taught during this event about different water conservation techniques.

Project Partners

Harmony of Culture Foundation from Poland

Zengő-Mozgó Egyesület from Hungary

Ranch Srbsko, s.r.o. from Czech Republic

The Society for the Sustainable Culture (STRUK) from Slovakia.

This project is supported by: Visegrad Fund

Water Earthworks Workshop: June 17-21, 2019

Elements of the workshop:

1. Introduction to Earthworks

  • Reason for earthworks and types of earthworks
  • Earthwork elements and types of machines
  • Learning how to use survey equipment; learning practical surveying
  • Learning how to direct earth movers
  • Roads as water harvesters (hardware and software relationships)

2. Dams and Spillways

  • Design systems with multiple elements
  • Specifics of dam construction and design issues
  • Tour farm site to identify different elements on the farm
  • Survey of dams and marking out spillways

4. Swales, diversion drains and keylines

  • Integration of swales into a system including planting-up of the system
  • Diversion drains, for harvesting water to dams
  • Keylines

5. Earthbanks

  • House Sites/Benches/Terraces
  • Access driveways/crossing pipes
  • Activity: Stability Plan-Ups and Erosion Control
  • Placing of swivel pipes and crossing pipes

About the teacher, David Spicer

  • He is an internationally known permaculture earthworks expert with 18 years of experience in Permaculture education
  • David has taught and worked extensively within Australia and internationally on various projects, including Morocco, Jordan, New Caledonia and Palestine covering a broad array of different climate zones
  • He was working and teaching with Bill Mollison at the Permaculture Institute (Tasmania) and with Geoff Lawton, the managing director of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and Zaytuna Farm
  • He is the Lead Consultant, Educator and Operator for Doc Spice Permaculture
  • You can see some of his blogs and works there.

Timing and place

  • June 17-21, 2019 from 9.00 until 17.00
  • in Kopaniec 69A, 15 min from Jelenia Gora
  • The workshop is held on a 75-ha organic rural tourism farm, in a mountainous area of south-west Poland, near to the border with Czech Republic. Participants will be lodged in a farmhouse called „Harmony Valley”, which includes a medieval settlement that presents the lifestyle and common occupation of villagers in the 13th century.

Workshop Fee

We have few places available for 180 Euro/750 zl. We manage bookings for this workshop through bank transfers. Please send the full amount to the following address indicating “Water Earthworks Workshop– 2019”:


Kopaniec 69a, 58-512 Stara Kamienica

Bank Zachodni WBK


IBAN: PL54 1090 2633 0000 0001 1637 1430

Polish zł:

21 1090 1926 0000 0001 4248 5093

Please use your name as reference & email to let us know you have made a booking so we can confirm receipt. We take reservations on a first-come-first-served basis.

Food & accommodation

Either bring your own tent to the farm, or choose shared or private rooms in the farmhouse. Food is cooked on-site as much as possible from local ingredients in the farm house (veg option is possible). Breakfast, lunch & dinner is available. For food and accommodation you can pay on the spot in Euros or with Polish currency.