Spring in Flower

 
 
The first week of March was rainy, but the rain soon went away to give place to hot, canarian sun. Our fertile soil keeps feeding plants all around us, so that I have to now go through flowery, smelly jungle to get to my house. 
 
 
 
The babies of Monarch butterfly that you could see in the February blog are now up and runnin, munching on what’s left from their favorite and only plant.
 
 
 
Having such an abundance of water, sun and nutrients, our favorite green veggies – wild mustard started to flower and we needed to pick them fast and dry. Luckily, Astrid and Mateo – our guests, came just in time to help us out.
 
We are preparing for the big group of students to come for the on-site iPDC, about which you can read in the February blog.
Stef spends most of her recent time preparing and organising their arrival. You would be surprised how much time we have to spend in front of the computer to have everything properly organized so that the finca runs smoothly and everyone knows where they’re at.
 
I sometimes get a headache from that, but Stef loves talking to her students and gets really excited about them coming here and feeling empowered about all the possibilities that she creates for them.
 
One of the things we need to think about concerning big group of people is food. We want to be able to provide as much food from the farm as we can, so we started intensive planting of potatoes!
 
 
Here you can see and hear (in spanish) short description of our work.

 
 
On the 8th of March me, Sandra and Stef went to Huelga Feminista – Feminist March in Santa Cruz. In this year La Palma, as well as all of Spain reached their record numbers in attendance of women of all age and professions.

It was great to take part in it and apart from getting insired and hopefull about further work to dismantle sexism, we had a lot of fun too!

 
It wasn’t the end of our feminist endaveours
 
Two weeks after me and Stef attended the Feminist Breakfast at Casa Amarilla – befriended project in Breña Alta, on the other side of the island, that I visit sometimes to help them out in their gardens. You can see their facebook page to find out more about those great people here
 

 

The breakfast was delicious, fruits, juice and conversations very juicy!
 
 
Back in the finca Sanda and Jeff were studying the Integral Peraculture Course, doing the classes together.
Sandra spent a lot of time designing the transformation of her room into an independent apartment. She learnt a lot of sketch-up from nothing thanks to Jeff’s expertise.
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
She also made some advances in the practical part of the job, clearning up the space for the kitchen and shower and re-doing the roof that will be above the compost toilet. 
 
 
 
 
 
Jeff, having finished his sketch-up visualization and measurements, and after getting all the materials, finally started building the rocket stove!
 

 

Luckily, he had help from outher volunteers (on the picture with Kevin) and guests. It involved moving around heavy bricks and barrels!
 
 
 
The result looks very promising and exciting! We had a first try a week ago and it still needs some improvements, but we’re well on the way!
 
 
 
In the video below you can see Jeff explaining shortly the idea behind this strange looking construction
 
 

In this time of the year, when the fields everywhere around are growing like crazy, changing colors from green to yellow, purple and pink, the neighbors trouble their minds with cutting it all down, to protect us all from summer fires.
 
This time our closest neigbors will not need to use noisy and smelly machines, because our sheep came for help!
 
 
Henk, our friend that also borrows us his jeep from time to time, asked me to put the sheep on his field. They were very happy to have new fields full of fresh food and they also got a new friend! Chico is actually a breed of local shepherd dogs and he loves our sheep!
 
Bonita – the Goar keeps giving us about 1l of milk per week, even though she has never been pregnant!
 
 
Encouraged by that phenomenon (and quite hooked on her delicious, soft, fatty milk with the aroma of almonds), we decided to get her pregnant! (we also didn’t have any babies on the farm for quite a while…)
 
 
Luckily, our neighbor has a very handsome male goat, who was very happy to see Bonita.
 
 
 
We took her to his house once, so that she gets his smell and second time after 4 days, as this is the time in which she is supposed to go on heat after smelling the maile around.
 
 
 
We will see if we succeeded in the next few months. Fingers crossed!
 
 
 
Our piggies – Ora and Badu were also enjoying the lush grass and sun. We let them out every evening to forage in our forest gardens. They love the almonds, wild veggies and naps in the sun!
 
 

Also chickens experienced an improvement in their life conditions.

 
Sandra, Jeff and Stef spent a lot of time adapting old guinea pigs cages so that they can accommodate our growing population of chickens.
 
We have also extended their chicken coop, so that their living area has doubled. That of course, where they are not running around the forest gardens in the forage frenzy, which is basically every evening.
 
Our new chics are loving their new home and are growing really fast!
 
 
 
To rest from the intellectual work in sketch up and often fatigue in the previous month, Jeff took some days off to explore the island. He went to Los Tilos and Charco Azul, which are on the north-east side of the island. 
 
Charco Azul is a beach, but in the traditional sense of the world. You will not find sand in there, but a lovely natural pool in which you can swim in almost every weather. It is surrounded by volcanic rocks and part of it is tiled, so it is a pleasure to rest in between swimming.
 
 
Los Tilos is part of the National Park that coincides of the Laurisilva forest – the anciet rainforest that used to cover much bigger area of the island and is still one of the main sources of water. It is personally my favorite place on the island!
 
Back at the finca Kevin was working hard all March to re-wire our hostel. He finished in the last week of this month. Now, we have modern and safe plugs and internet by cable in every room, so there is no need for toxic WiFi!
 
 
One of the favorite moments of everyone in the farm is friday banquet when we share the food all together. Kevin, apart from being a brilliant electrician, was a great cook! We loved making us healthy desserts and amazing dishes every Friday
 
 

And in the evening, everyday, we enjoy our recorded meetings, thanks to which these blogs are possible! Otherwise we would never remember all the great things that we make hapen!

 

February Changes

This month’s newsletter was curated by Jeff, who has his own blog here: www.jeffhammerquist.com/

 

 

February brought many exciting developments for the Integral Permaculture Academy. The team began testing a new platform for the many online courses it is ofering, as well as working a new website for the 8th life ecovillage project.  We also worked with the Academy on the new Internship design we’re starting to implement from May at 8thLife, with the first on site iPDC course in July this year.  

 

You can see the leaflet for that here: www.bit.ly/iPDC-8thLife 

 

February got off to a wet start. The 8th life crowd welcomed Jeff, our new intern from the USA, who got right to work helping Sandra (from Colombia, resident in Spain) move the camping shower to accommodate taller guests. 

  

 

After several days of muddy digging, the new shower was up and running! 
Then it was just a matter of waiting for the sun…

 

Jeff’s sketch of the solar shower components and the final floor of the shower 

 

Jeff and Sandra decided to help out on each other’s projects and take turns communicating in English and Spanish to improve each other’s language skills.   

Early February was peak almond in flower season, with the landscape awash in beautiful pink 

The nearby town of Puntagorda was busy preparing for the annual almond festival, which FranSandraKarla and Jeff attended. 

 

There was music and dancing late into the night, with some particularly animated Cuban performers. 

Back at the finca, everyone was busy collecting ripe almonds that had fallen to the ground. We struggled to keep up with the big harvest!

 

Sandra, Karla Alex also attended a tree pruning workshop and brought what they learned back to the farm to assist with the vigorous new growth on the olives and tagasastes.
 
Halel, a volunteer from Israel, put his carpentry skills to work building new doors for the greenhousecomplete with build in latches, which made Stef very pleased to have a warmer environment for her newly planted beetroot, tomato and tagasaste seedlings. 

 

Everyone was busy developing their projects.
Alex, our volunteer from Catalonia, Spain, cleaned and organized the workshop and worked with Juliette, another volunteer from France, to design and build a new lightweight camping site domo
We envisage these being the outer shells of guests’ tents or even bigger ‘tents’ in themselves, as they can be covered with climbing plants and better disappear into the landscape.

Jeff made a presentation on his research on the rocket bath, picking up where Tanja left off at the end of her stay.   He is an architect & we love his cool sketching and him sharing his professional skills by offering us a sketch-up workshop so that we can do 3D design drawings.  Like this one.  Thankyou!

 

 

Stef and Maja shared some of their reflections on A Course in Miracles, a spiritual practice they’re both undertaking, which includes a daily practice of reflection around a piece of wisdom. 

 

Stef & Boli enjoyed their 3 daily walks to check the sheep, particularly when they were at the edge of the nearby Barranco where lots of wild bees have their hives, and Maja told us of her transcendent bus ride around La Palma’s Caldera to appreciate all the flowers in bloom and spend some time with God. 

 

Jeff led the group in two ceremonies to thank the spirits of the land, involving fruit offerings, almond milk and heartfelt gratitude. 

 

February was also peak season for Carnival in the Canaries, & each town has their own, which go on for days.

 

Puntagorda (our nearest town) held a grand parade with costumes and floats, wrapping up in a concert on the grounds of the local high school.

 

Some of us took to wearing silly hats for a while on the finca, and  SandraFranJeff and Karla also attended the Los Indianos festival in Santa Cruz, a celebration of the island’s heritage of emigration. 

 

During the 17th & 18th centuries many Canarians left the islands for Cuba, Venezuela and other south american countries to seek their fortune, and many later returned home when they had done so, or failed to.

 

Since the returning immigrants wore colonial whites, and since the festival is a festival of excess leading up to the sacrifices of lent, the local tradition was to cover the town and anyone not clad in white flour, which in modern times has been replaced by talc

      

So as well as the people all wearing white, the roads are covered in white powder. What a wonderful mess! 

 

In mid-February we said goodbye to several members of our group,

including Halel,EduardoKarlaAlex and Juliette, and welcomed a new guest named Nick from London, as well as a new volunteer from Belgium named Kevin

 

Kevin has many wonderful talents, including a working knowledge of home electrics. 

 

He agreed to help renovate the electrics in Hostel Fortuna to bring them up to modern safety standards, including better protection from electrical storms. (We learned the hard way when a lightning strike fried our modems!) 

 

He also loves animals and took right to feeding and caring for the new meat chickensStef brought home as well the petting of the resident farm cats. 

 

 

We have the great privilege of seeing Monarch Butterflies breed here, since we have the milkweed plants that is the only food their caterpillars will eat (this above is a mother laying eggs under the leaves of one little bush we have)

 

February was also a big month for the cats of the Finca.  RudzielecGhostTigger and Nala all had appointments at the veterinarian to get spayed in neutered. 

We love our kitties but we can only deal with so many desperate pleas when chicken is on the cooktop. 

 

They all came out of the surgeries OK thanks to the tender care of Stef and our new volunteer Kevin, who has already befriended the whole litter. 

 

 

This of course led to many trips back and forth from the vet in Stef’s van, which was also feeling under the weather and spent some time at the mechanic. 
Thankfully our lovely neighbor, Henk, offered us the use of his jeep.  While it was very helpful in accomplishing farm chores, we wouldn’t be lying if we said it wasn’t also fun to drive. 

 

The sheep (+1 goat) had lots of luscious grass to munch on, thanks to the abundant rains we’ve had this month.   We had some wonderful misty days, when we’re enveloped in clouds and can’t see to the next hill. Quite a few cold & rainly days this month did great things for the soil but not so great for some humans ..

 

We hope this newsletter finds you well and we wish you all the best with your own integral permaculture journey. 

 

Do post your feedback (comments, questions, etc.) if you have any on this thread in our Facebook group.

 

January Report

Newsletter written by Karla (intern from Croatia)

Week 1

It was lovely to start the new year working peacefully, Halel and me (Karla) only.

With the sunny days and just the sound of  animals around working felt like vacation. It was very exciting and a bit scary to be responsible for the farm for three days. Nevertheless, we equally enjoyed people slowly starting to pour back in throughout the first week of January.

Evening circle meetings filled with laughter

After being out for three days Stef was really happy to be back home. She said she missed everything (especially Boli – her dog – of course) and she noticed how the food from the farm is so much tastier than the one from supermarkets.

It was the second week of stay for our guest Rosa and Artur from Netherlands. As the highlight of their week they mentioned going to the enchanting laurisilva forest in Los Tilos.

They were soon joined by another guest – Martina from Italy. We also welcomed Sandra, the new intern, who came to live in 8th Life for one year together with her husband Francisco.

Sandra, Martina, Boli, Tigger and Maja

The first day of Fran’s stay was also his birthday so we made a special banquet on Thursday that served both as welcome and birthday party.

Sandra’s Spanish tortilla (as sugar-free, gluten-free ‘cake’) was a big hit!

The weather was a bit chilly but nice so all of the guests were travelling around together. We were very happy that lots of rain fell (farmers in warm countries always love rain) …. the guests not so much! 😀

Stef was doing lots of work for the Academy site, I was putting up new irrigation system and explaining the farm to the newcomers, Eduardo was planting out plants from the nursery and Halel was mostly busy taking care of all of the animals.

Week 2

Second week of January was special because Maja returned from her 3-week vacation. We missed her and we were very excited to see her again.

Stef was working an incredible amount of time every day. She was so excited about the new LMS website for the Integral Permaculture Academy that she would sometime sleep for just three hours per night!

Sandra was busy with going through induction process in order to get to know how everything works in the farm and community. She also took on the Vesta role (beauty and order, guardian of home hearth), slowly started to clean the common spaces (not an easy task!) and thinking about her designs. Her grand plan is to make an eco village in her Colombia eventually, her motherland.

Maja was bravely struggling with accountancy stuff but in her free time she was enjoying studying Marianne Williamson’s New Year workshop with Stef.

I had lots of fun weeding! As I was progressing I felt like things were getting into their place. Weeding therapy 🙂

When I found out that Rosa and Artur were going to La Gomera I felt that it is time for me to see this island as well and so I packed my stuff and took three days off. And it was beautiful.

La Gomera with a view to El Hierro

Week 3

Fran taking a break from shelling almonds

This week was the most beautiful and sunny one of the whole January.As soon as the sun came out, so did people – out of their room, into the fields and hammocks.

We used the good weather to dry the almonds that were picked few weeks before, take as many breaks as we could and dance on the grass.

Maja moved her office outside and was working there everyday on setting up new platforms for the Integral Permaculture Academy.

Stefania spent her days searching for the best people to employ on little administrative tasks and organizing the team work so it goes smoothly.

Maja working in her summer office

Sandra took her new role of house-carer seriously and was busy clearing up everything!

Starting from the grapevines, finishing in the hostel rooms, the living room, kitchen and bathroom. Thank you Sandra for keeping the place clean and cosy!

Sandra and Julie pruning grapevines

We also got lucky enough to welcome another volunteer that decided to help us with cleaning workshop that needed it for a very long time. It’s a delight to have you around Alex!

Maja, Boli an Alex after a day of hard work ^

We had lovely guests staying with us and helping us on the farm as well as sharing their presence, stories and food. Thank You Julie, Hufi and Tanja, it was great to have you around

Karla working on garden beds

Karla was busy building another garden bed in our Fortuna gardens, to accommodate our growing needs for garden produce.

And developing on that further, we invited two local grafting specialists to graft lots of types of plums onto our abundant little volunteer-almond trees (they sow themselves). At the same time they were teaching our students a lot about trees and soil, all packed with lots of Palmero humor. Great guys! 🙂

Week 4

In the last week of January we were all busy with our routines.

Sometimes we manage to do plenty of additional projects in the free time and sometimes we only focus on maintaining the finca and relaxing – to keep a good balance.

Alex learned how to take care of the pigs and started helping Maja with shepherding as well.

The pigs have new door to their pen and are getting out every evening.   It is lovely to see them rutting around for almonds, worms, roots and snails in the fields but we have to keep putting up new barriers so they don’t get into the gardens since they are very inquisitive and each time go further out from their pen.

We were continuing work on the Academy, but the last week of January was calm and relaxed.