Yãm Aisner



CPRI Site 1


Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute

A research center and demonstration site based on the island of Barbados, CPRI is dedicated to expanding Permaculture solutions for the Caribbean Islands. Working with individuals and communities locally and worldwide to expand the knowledge and practice of integrated sustainable agriculture. 

Using the whole systems approach of Permaculture design, CPRI’s vision is to be a catalyst for environmental stewardship, sustainable and regenerative farming practices, food security and self reliance and community resilience in urban and rural environments.


Multi-Functional Site Design

Design the primary educational and demonstration site for CPRI where staff, volunteers, student groups, courses and events will be hosted. Create a site plan that will showcase appropriate Permaculture solutions for the Caribbean while producing sufficient food for those on site and being aesthetically suitable for events and long term staff residents. 

Site specific challenges included high wind exposure with salt spray from the sea, erosion hazards, drought, occasional tropical storms and the destruction of crops by non-native green monkeys (Chlorocebus sabaeus).

Zone and Sector Analysis

Zone and sector analysis was performed highlighting areas for long term staff, visitors and food production. As protection from the high speed tropical winds that come from the sea on the east we created windbreaks. Specifically selected tree species that reach different heights at maturity are planted gradually to form a ramp, or staircase-like effect that funnels the wind upward and over the site. In response to the strong tropical sun, shaded areas were designed throughout the site utilizing evergreen trees and structures. Rainwater catchment systems were designed on the structure roof, collecting the rain in tanks beneath the primary building to be used for irrigation. Placing the holding tanks beneath the structure provides protection from the elements.

Land and Soil

Terraces were designed along the site’s natural elevation changes in order to mitigate erosion, optimize water retention and maximize growing areas. Two biodigester systems are to be installed outside of the kitchen to process organic waste into cooking gas and organic liquid fertilizer. A solar system will provide the site with renewable energy.

The production of biochar for the site was prioritized due to its capacity to retain water and nutrients. Two composting locations were installed, enabling alternation as one is prepared and the other matures. Two banana circles were also designed by essentially planting bananas in a circle with a pit in the center. The large quantities of organic matter that bananas shed are collected in the pit, along with other organic materials, where they decompose and provide nutrients for the bananas

Food Production

In order to meet the food production demand and to minimize the effort and time needed to grow the food, we chose to focus on perennial plants. We also designed an edible cactus landscape suited for the dry climate. Around the site we designed a food forest composed from a large variety of edible and medicinal trees. The implementation of the forest was planned inside of an existing forest patch composed mostly from the invasive species “River Tamarind” (Leucaena Leucocephala). The plan being to specifically select the Leucaena trees, which are excellent nitrogen fixers, and use them for “chop and drop” mulch. The Leucaena trees would be reserved to provide shelter for the young food bearing trees, slowly transitioning into the designated food forest species. Another major challenge are the non-native green monkeys. Their tendency for biting large quantities of fruit leaves crops unusable. It was decided that a dog would be cared for on site by the staff in order to dissuade the monkeys.

Welcoming Environment

It was important to provide a pleasant and welcoming environment for the site visitors and long term staff as well as a functional and educational demonstration of Permaculture design. We collaborated with a local artist to install a medicinal garden and art exhibition at the site entrance, honoring the heritage and plant wisdom of enslaved women from the island. Educational signage was designated to be placed throughout the site, with scannable barcodes to enrich and encourage learning experiences while exploring the different elements such as plant species and Permaculture processes. A natural swimming pool was designed in the lower part of the site, nested within the food forest. The pool includes a spillway feeding excess water to the forest trees. The sea view from the buildings was preserved by avoiding placement of visual obstacles.