Located on the island of Pemba, where educational opportunities are few and far between, the Rural Innovation Campus is a barrier-free learning hub that provides a low-risk environment for rural Pembans seeking to pilot new farming techniques, innovative forestry practices, renewable energy solutions and green building technologies. Envisioned as a hackerspace for the rural, the campus acts as a platform – a blank slate for innovation that facilitates the flow of information between farmers, rural practitioners, community leaders and sustainability experts. By reducing the risk often associated with trying new things, the campus allows for rural Pembans to practice new technologies or methods, learn new approaches, share their findings and then return back to their villages in order to put innovation into practice.
The campus has been designed to grow organically. Designed for activity, the solar powered campus features indoor meeting rooms, outdoor workshop spaces, demonstration sites and trial fields. The first phase building features three large meeting rooms, offices and an open-air workshop. Demonstration sites for condensed earth block building, permaculture gardening, beekeeping, agroforestry, kitchen gardening and solar energy have been established on the property. Future buildings include a residence, a classroom and additional workshop space with plenty of room for yet-to-be imagined structures. The campus has been designed to grow so we’re excited to see where the next few years will take us.
To date the campus has already hosted over 400 Pembans, as well as delegations from the European Commission in Tanzania, the First Vice-president of Zanzibar and various Tanzanian Ministries. Community Forests International’s first workshop saw representatives from the organization’s 18 working communities work together to build a vision for the campus itself. By working as a platform the centre has been able to adapt to real-time needs of community members and has delivered workshops on condensed earth block building, beekeeping and improved cook stove production with many other workshops and short courses on the horizon.
We are often asked to travel to other countries around the world in order to share our approach to adaptation and grassroots development. With a model based on relationships, culture, place-based knowledge and change as “transition” a short-term visit just wouldn’t do it justice. As a result, it is hoped that community leaders from around the world will soon be invited to travel to Pemba in order to share and learn at the Rural Innovation Campus. We believe that community leaders are best suited to learn our approach, return to their countries, adapt the model and make it their own.
To foster environmental stewardship internationally by establishing community forests, promoting sustainable forestry techniques and initiating environmental education.