Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge (SFEL) (registered under Ethiopian business license no: EIA-0L /2358/08) is a socially-oriented Eco-Tourism project in Konso, South Ethiopia, which integrates an Eco-Lodge, model Permaculture farm and gardens, an organic restaurant, a PC design training facility and runs a program of trekking and community based cultural activities. Strawberry Fields has cozy, local-style Konso huts, dry composting toilets, solar shower and solar power. Our organic Permaculture farm produces fresh organic vegetables, salads, fruits and we serve a selection of delicious dishes in our restaurant. We are a quiet and relaxing oasis of green tranquillity, where one can escape the hassle of travel in Ethiopia to recover for a while before going down to the Omo valley, or heading to/from Kenya as we are on the Addis to Moyale Road.
SFEL’s project objectives are to promote alternative livelihoods for the Konso community through facilitating community inclusion in tourism activities, and to promote food security locally and more widely in Ethiopia, through offering training and consultancy services in Permaculture to stake-holders including community groups, NGOs, businesses, governmental organisations and individuals.
We also offer the following services:
- Trekking and cultural activities – lead by local guides and involving local community members to include them in our activities. Explore the fascinating local Konso culture, get an in-depth view of the community of this unique southern Ethiopian nation – villages, crafts, rituals, music and dance.
- Volunteering – on our Permaculture in Konso schools project and working on our organic farm. We charge $50 per week for volunteering, which covers food and accommodation as well as activities. There is a discount for long stay (over 12 weeks).
- Permaculture Design Training: Our Permaculture Design Courses (PDCs) are a 72h residential course (10 days in length). We charge $800 including transport from Addis to Konso and food and accommodation in the lodge for the duration of the course. We run PDCs every second month in the first 2 weeks of the month.
ABOUT LOCATION: KONSO
Konso is a small ethnic-homeland in the southern Ethiopian Rift Valley, 600km south of Addis Ababa, 85km south of Arbaminch, where there is a domestic airport with twice-weekly flights from Addis Ababa. The Konso people are known for their sophisticated agricultural system which uses stone wall terracing, as well as for their highly communalised life-style and characteristic fortified hill-top villages, which display fascinating African architecture in its traditional archetype.
Karat-Konso Town is at the crossroads of the ways to Addis Ababa (500km) Myoale – Kenya border – via Yabello (200km) and the Omo Valley, 85km south of Arbaminch, 100km west of Yabello and 150km east of Jinka. We are 10minutes walk from the town centre.
TREKKING AND CULTURAL IMMERSION
We organize trekking and cultural activities which are lead by local guides and involve local community members in traditional activities which explore the fascinating local Konso culture to give an in-depth view this unique southern Ethiopian nation – villages, crafts, rituals, music and dance. Guests will trek to villages where they can try their hands at pottery, weaving or back-smithery and learn about traditional medicine, brewing of local broths and see the carving of traditional wooden totems. They will also learn about the local agriculture and community living, sample local foods and try dancing and with the Konso people. We offer custom made itineraries which range from 1 to 12 days in length. Our prices range from $45 for 1 day to $360 for 12 days. See the attached price list (in local currency) and refer to our website for more information.
PERMACULTUE DESIGN TRAINING
Permaculture (PC) is a system for thinking about, designing and creating diverse food-production systems which work in harmony with natural processes, allowing communities to produce for their needs, while maintaining the ecology that supports them. SFEL also runs the Permaculture in Konso Schools Project (PKSP), working in partnership with the internationals NGOs; Save the Children Finland and Mercy Corps, to train and implement Permaculture in Konso school-communties. (More info on our schools project: http://permaculture.org.au/2010/03/08/work-of-strawberry-fields-eco-lodge-begins-snowball-effect-for-entire-region)
Our Permaculture Design Courses (PDCs) follow the standard international 72-hour PDC curriculum, which is a hands-on learning experience and somewhat flexible according to the needs of the group. Our certificated PDCs are offered to international students (as well as locals) who have the chance to participate on as well as assess our PKSP schools during the training. We also use our on-site demonstration forma for practical demonstration and design exercises for our trainees.
Our lead trainer and PC consultant is Mr Tichafa Makovere is a native of Zimbabwe. He has practiced Permaculture for 15 years around southern Africa, working as lead trainer for the Regional Permaculture in Schools and Colleges Program (ReSCOPE), training and implementing PC in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Angola, Zambia even recently in Uganda. (Tichafa’s CV is available online here: http://www.permalodge.org/Configuration/Permalodge/Downloads/documents/Tichafa%27s%20CV.doc) We charge $700 for international students to participate on our PDCs. Please refer to the attached information sheet for further info. Further information is given on our website.
Volunteers live and work at SFEL, assisting the day to day running of our demonstration farm, visiting and participating at our PKSP schools. We can also arrange for volunteers to undertake activities including: teaching local children (private tuition or taking classes in the local schools), playing soccer with/training a local youths’ group) or assisting with development of appropriate design-technology models – such as composting toilets, wind power generators (which we have already built), solar cookers to be demonstrated for the local community as transferable design technologies. They also have time to enjoy trekking and community based activities programs around Konso on the week-ends. We charge $50 per week for volunteering. For more information see the attached information sheet. transportation to Konso is excluded.
Our Internships are a 12 week intensive introduction to and immersion in Permaculture Design and Application in the rural African environment. They begin with a the 2 week certificated PDC training, are followed up with a stay as a volunteer, usually 10 weeks, but we can tailor the length according to individual needs. The interns will experience the practical application of Permaculture to the issue of community food security development as well as participating in a range of interesting activities to contribute to the community’s as well as their own personal development. As well as this the interns will gain a wealth of new knowledge the history and culture of the fascinating nation of Ethiopia and the personal life experience of meeting the community and local culture of the people of Konso.
We charge $1000 per participant for a 3 month internship, $900 for 2 months or $800 for 1 month, including food, accommodation, the certificated PDC training, internal transport within Ethiopia, an orientation session and introduction to the history if the nation at the Grasmach Tasse Cultural Centre in Addis Ababa, and an introduction to the culture of the people of Konso.
OTHER SOUTH-ETHIOPIA TOURS AND EXCURSIONS
Extra activities, such as trekking and excursions to visit other ethnic groups in the area can also be organized for groups at very reasonable prices in areas such as Dorze/Gamo highlands, Siltie, Sidama, Borena and the Omo Valley. We specialise in taking guests to off-the-beaten track locations where we have personal contacts that allow us to offer uniquely authentic cultural experiences. We have our own 4WD which can cater for groups of up to 4 people. We can arrange extra cars for larger groups also.
Clients of our lodge, restaurant and trekking include independent travellers (over-landers and backpackers), students and gap-year volunteers, local tour operators, NGO staff and other local customers. Clients of our Permaculture design training and consultancy include NGOs, foreign and Ethiopian individuals and businesses.
We are seeking to connect with organisations and businesses which are interested in using or promoting our services, such as Africa over-landing companies, other companies working with voulun-tourism and cultural trekking, or any other potential partners interested in working with us on any of our activities.