Transforming the wetlands

The Territory of Tentyris in Damanhur is blessed with an abundance of water. 

In 2011, we were privileged to have a team from the Tamera community in Portugal work with us to design a six lake system which is now collecting water. 

Part of the water retention system, with solar collector in the background

Of course it is not only the implementation of various elements of aquaculture that needs to be considered, but the placement in relationship to other elements: gardens, buildings, paths, to maximise reflection, cooling, warming, overall fertility, etc.

The next stage will be the design of the water culture & additional systems required for this large scale water retention design to function optimally within the integrated landscape & be productive for all the creatures on the site.

Lowest lake in the water retention system  

Desires and objectives

The main vision is to make the wetlands of the territory of Tentyris as sustainable as possible for the residents and for the wider area that surrounds it.

To do so we would like to introduce some edible trees, and create a multi­functioning resource for the community that has a relaxing as well as a nutritious function.

Maps & Sketches

Cindy 21Nov14
This map, made by Michal, shows the first steps towards a sustainable design for the wetlands of Tentyris. In there you see room for a meditation area, water streams, walking paths and the possibility for tree tents!

The map was made without any map on scale, but it gives a clear idea for this area, which is situated next to the greenhouses near Dendera.
In the future it is important to create a map on scale, so we can get more into detail about the reasoning behind the design.

Startpoint of the design for the wetlands of Tentyris - made by Michal

Stella (date?)
Laghi Rilievo 10Oct12 con indicazioni delle sezioni Model


Cindy 26Nov14
Rospo & Nicola came up with some great suggestions for the wetlands. I would like to add a few other plants of which I think they will suit in the wetlands. They are also very multifunctional!

Acorus calamus (english name: sweet-flag). A plant that grows next to the banks of ponds (in the sun), it looks a bit like cane. In spring and summer is produces a mandarin-like smell. After 2-3 years the roots can be harvested (if you want). They have a great taste and work as an amarum aromaticum and spasmolytic on the gastro-intestinal tract.
Acorus calamus (source:

Alchemilla vulgaris (english name: Lady's mantle). Loves moist soil and half shadow. This plant produces a deep radix that might help in preventing soil erosion. Can be used as a cover crop and has beautiful soft, silvery leaves. The leaves are a great tonicum for the uterus and it can relieve menstrual pain.

Alchemilla vulgaris (source:

Angelica archangelica (english name: Angelica). Grows close to water, in the shadow. Produces tick, big roots and can therefore secure the banks of ponds. After 2 years the radix can be harvested. The radix has a spasmolytic effect on the gastro-intestinal tract and works calming on the nervous system. The taste is very fresh, so great for teas!

Angelica archangelica (source:

Centella asiatica (english name: Gotu kola). Grows in swampy, wet areas, in the half-shadow. It is a great cover crop that produces a vast rootsystem. Apart from that it is one of the best herbs you can get to cure wounds and other skin problems! Although it grows best in a more tropical climate, I think it is worth the try to grow this in some sunny parts of the wetlands.

Centella asiatica (source:

Mentha piperita (english name: Pepper mint). Produces a nice, fresh scent that clears the mind. This plant can multiple very very fast and works great against stomach problems (did someone say home-made candies?)

Mentha piperita (source:

Nasturtium officinalis (english name: Water cress). Also Nicola and Rospo mentioned this plant. Great plant, because it grows in the water of ponds and streams (if the water flow is not too strong). It is a very tasty vegetable that goes great in salads.

Nasturtium officinalis (

Symphytum officinalis (english name: Comfrey). Grows best in very wet soil, close to ponds. It is a great soil builder and produces beautiful flowers. After 3-4 years the roots can be harvested. Turn them into a cream and you got one of the best natural cures for muscle pain, tendon problems and bone fractures (NOTE: only used external, on closed skin).

Symphytum officinalis (source:

Allium ursinum (english name: Bear's garlic, or Wild garlic). As mentioned by Rospo and Nicola.

Allium ursinum (zource:

Menyanthes trifoliata (english name: buckbean). Grows in wetlands, in the water. In the past this plants was used against scurvy, so it is full of immune boosting vitamin C! 

Menyanthes trifoliata (source:

Cabomba aquatica (english name: Cabomba). Cabomba is a plant that is often used in the start-up phase of home aquaria to create good quality water for fish. It grows very very easy (so might have to be kept under control) and is very easily propagated (cut off a part, put in soil and it will grow). The greatest feature of this plant is that it creates very healthy, clear and oxygen rich water.

Cabomba aquatica (source:

Cindy 25Nov14 - A visit from Nicola and Rospo.

Both were invited by Betsy to help us especially with identifying and sourcing of suitable plants for the agora (wetland project). Their visit was a great help we thank them both. They also stayed for lunch. Rospo is a Damanhurian and had cultivated the lands at Tentyris for some time in the past. Nicola is a permaculturist leaving in the area, but does not live in Damanhur. Also present were Eddie, Michal and Didi.

As the lower pond is still leaking we thought about possible solutions, like:

-          the “Dew pond method” (for explanation have a look here )

-          a wool / fleece carpet

-          fresh grass clippings, covered temporarily with plastic, so that it will rot into a slime and then remove plastic and cover with wool

-          a suitable foil, sheeting out of plastic, rubber or natural alternatives.

Generally it was thought to introduce some edible trees, and create a multi­functioning resource for the community that has a relaxing as well as a nutritious function. The following varieties were mentioned: Willow (Fiorano) which grows local for free and may be used for sculpturing as well as basket making etc when coppiced. Hazelnuts, saleca, gomey (Eleagnus Umbellata) also perennials such as wild raspberries, Russian Comfrey, Fidelhead Fern (the only edible fern).

Furthermore a Siberian blueberry might suit as it is the only alkaline variety. Also Alchechengi a type of Chinese gooseberry would suit. Likewise wild garlic and a flowering type of onion that produces runners.

Fungi and waterplants would also be a possibility, although we hadn't the expertise what precisely would be suitable. This can be found out. Flowers may be planted where required, also mosses, watercress might help with securing the sides of the pond etc. Possibly ornamental asparagus?

The following suppliers were mentioned:

A Local government nursery in Piedmont (Nursery Forestale),

Nicola offered to help with sourcing some willows etc and Natade Ma's Natural Nursery nearby was highly recommended as well.

Picture of the people that attended the meeting. From left to right, Eddie, Nicola, Rospo & Didi

THANK YOU Rospo & Nicola.

Cindy 21Nov14 - So far a lot of work has been done to clear the area (thanks, people of Tentyris!!)  and to start shaping some new ponds and water streams. You can see a few pictures below. All this work however, did raise some questions. I mentioned them below and contacted Michal to see if he can help us out.

 The work that has been done on the upper pond, next to the entrance of the wetlands. It is starting to get shape and a path is already visible.

A waterfall has been created that lets the water flow from the neighbours into the first pond at the entrance of the wetlands.

The sound of a waterfall is very relaxing and gives a new dimension to the (for now) muddy area of the wetlands. It showes a glimpse of how the wetlands could look. Very inspiring and motivating!

Redirecting the water out of the pond next to the entrance of the wetlands. We created a stream that guides the water to the main lake.

A question we need to investigate more is if the stream of the water will do any damage to the tree, or that it increases soil erosion due to the fast flow of the water. We have to observe, OBSERVE, observe!

Didi, one of the volunteers and student of the iPDC course, helps with shaping the banks of a pond to prevent the mud from sliding away.

Hopefully the placement of branches along the banks is a sustainable solution to prevent erosion of the soil in the long term. The idea is that the roots of the plants that will be planted there will further stabalize the banks.

The existing pond (former home of the dicks or geese) in the middle of the wetlands is deepened and enlarged so it can hold more water. Mud has been removed from the bottom of the pond.

Cindy 21Nov14 - The 'existing pond' which you can see in the middle of the map of Michal (see the entry of Cindy on the 21Nov14 at ) used to be the home of ducks or geese.

Could we maybe introduce some animals in the wetlands again???

Adriano 17Nov14
Today on skype we discussed about these two possibilities (see also Cycling and recycling ):

- composting may be implemented easily (maybe with this, suggested by Glen Gall )

- using cuttings and twigs for raised beds in the wetlands-consolidate the soil

Cindy 9Nov14
On November 8th we presented the proposal for the transformation of the wetlands in Dendera. It was presented by Michal, translated by Adriano and supported by Didi and Cindy. The presentation was well attended by the Popolo of Tentyris. Here you can find the powerpoint of the presentation.

See also Progetto Laghi

Michal 3Nov14
Considering desires, objectives for the wetlands the vision is to:

- make a special place mainly for meditation which will belong to Agora
- clean area from a thorny parts
- reintroduce some water flow from streams which now ends up in wells
- water connection among wetlands, natural pool and stream going to Magila
- walk paths among this area
- hide a concrete parts of fences
- places for a tree tents or wooden terraces in future

Technical issues

Stella 18Nov14
The crucial theory for this design is M3.4 Water and M3.5 Acuaculture. The full classes aren't in the PDC (more basic) course, but there's lots of info in the e-book.   

I'm assuming Michal (who has engineering background as well as the basic permaculture course) has a design for the earth works that were carried out by the volunteers and it would be very useful to have that presented here, for the future, together with the pictures that were shared in the FB page of that work (Cindy, since you're coordinating this page for now maybe you can quickly copy-paste the news that was added in FB, but add the functions / reasons for the various changes you made, as they weren't explained and anyone taking over this part of the design will need to understand what was done when but mostly why).


Cindy 26Nov14 - Added a collection of very multifunctional(!) plants that would go well in the wetlands. 

Cindy 25Nov14 - I added a summary of a very fruitful meeting with Nicola and Rospo. They gave lots of important information about the wetlands! Also worked a bit on the desires and objectives for the wetlands of Tentyris.

Cindy 21Nov14 - Added the map of Michal, which is the startpoint of the design for the wetlands of Tentyris. And edited the 'History' part.

Stella 18Nov14 -  I've added a Technical Issues section wth links to the most directly relevant permaculture design classes for this.
There's lots of great photos of the ponds and channels work done by Didi, Adriano & Cindy, directed by Michal, during the last few weeks, in the FacebookGroup, like this one:

Stella 3Nov14 - added Desires & Objectives from email sent by Michal.