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We owe you some news after almost 2 years of silence. We’ll briefly tell you what happened during this time and what we are up to next!
Our project in La Palma has gone through difficult times since the death of our founder and leader Stefania in September 2018. It was emotionally too hard for Maja to keep living in the finca without her mentor and friend, so the ecovillage lost its 2 hosts and all activities stopped.
The board of Gaia Tasiri found volunteers to maintain the food forest until a family was chosen to settle down and take care of the project in March 2019. Numa, Sole and Katy dedicated the first 6 months to restore the spaces into good condition, to fixing basic infrastructure and to start cultivating again (while our urban adolescent doughter keep saying everything we do is so hippie).
The project really started to move forward in February 2020 when Numa started studying his CDP with the Integral Permaculture Academy. He got further involved in the association becoming its Treasurer, and in the Academy becoming its platform administrator. This firmer ground and confluence of positive energy opened the way to reactivate 8th Life activities. The association decided to start small but strong by applying to the volunteer programme of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). Numa successfully wrote the application by May and we had planned to receive volunteers by September, but the SARS-CoV-2 global hysteria pushed the starting date further to January 2021.
The good thing is that it’s giving us more time to plan for the volunteer project and to prepare the volunteer’s arrival. There is always a lot mainteance work in the finca, plus an eco-construction project going on, the redesigning of gardens and the new chickens’ relationship with them.
Thankfully, since October we receive the precious help of Dario who’s main project is to preparing a lot of compost to give food to the soil and gardens. We also had the chance to have Karine coming to volunteer during the afternoons to prepare the garden beds and to help with the cob walls.
The plan for the beginning of 2021 is to receive 4 volunteers from the ESC program (for 2 and 6 months), to organize a Permaculture introductory course (in January) and an onsite Permaculture Design Certificate (in March). As we are starting all over again and we need to focus on getting well organized, we will not yet open the ecovillage for visitors. If you wish to participate as a volunteer, please have a look at our volunteer page.
We are very excited to embrace a new begining with this fascinating permaculture training and ecovillage project!
that Stefania Stella Strega Scoz has passed away.
Our activities will be on hold for the time being while we focus on grieving this great loss.
As son as we can, we will continue with the work to keep manifesting her visions and honor her life mission.
We have also created this Facebook Group to share about her and the any ways in which she enriched our lives, and you are also invited to contribute in honoring her together.
August was the month of the first on-site PDC in a new form. According to one of Permaculture Principles, we decided to start small, so we had 3 students : Maya from Slovakia and Alessandro and Matteo from Italy. Our diplomate student – Maja used this opportunity to train in a true Action-Learning way for an Apprentice Teacher, so she took on the organization of practical work on the farm and facilitation of discussions during the classes, to practice and experiment with her facilitation skills.
Here you can read about their experiences:
Maja (the Apprentice Teacher)
The whole course was quite challenging for me. I felt from the beginning that I’m totally unprepared and unfit to organize a course like that.
As it started though, I discovered that it is not so hard and I am quite capable. What I needed was to stop trying to solve in my head potential problems, but stay focused on the present time and just do
things. I also managed to project my own self-confidence in the times that called for it. Something with which I surprised myself.
I think I did particularly well with organizing the practical work. This is the field in which I feel much more confident, and we did a lot of useful work on the farm. I am very happy with the amount of trees we composted and mulched and the construction of the wall that was waiting to be done for a long time.
Facilitating the discussions was more difficult for me. I really enjoyed watching all of our classes again and answering the questions, but had problems with encouraging engagement from the rest of the students. Also, I was too doubtful to guard the dynamics of the group in terms of evenly distributed time of speaking for example. This is something I still need to work on, but I believe it just takes practice. I realised that our course is even more different than what people are used to, because it is focused on action-learning and requires pro-activity from students to be maximally beneficial. I was taking it for granted.
I realised the importance of silly games that I met with on different courses and conferences that have a purpose of making people laugh and move. I always felt very silly and uncomfortable with them but now I think that I will have to learn some of them to move people’s energy before and during classes.
There is still a lot for me to learn in terms of facilitating groups and being on a position of a leader, but I am happy with the work I did and how I managed stretching my comfort zone for a whole month!
Maya (the student)
I came here looking for the change of environment from lonely and low-energy city life, I wanted to spend my time in nature. I wanted to meet people with mindsets different to what I’m used to, to have meaningful conversations and more than anything – to start doing something meaningful with my life.
Here, I put first step on that way. I managed to do all of the things I wanted and more!
I really enjoyed working on the farm and the classes were very interesting, plenty of information! I came here knowing nothing about permaculture and now I have a general idea what is about and a lot of particular information that open up a way to more research.
I also learned a lot about myself during our everyday life in here, the work and studying.
This period was difficult for me to stay in a little community. I wanted to stay alone, but I wanted more to overcome my limitations, so I challenged myself and it went well. I managed to stay present and was getting more organized day by day. The contact with nature was very helpful.
I liked working physically every morning, I can see how it helps my body and general health, even though sometimes I had pains from working more than I’m used to.
The content of the clases was very interesting! I had some contact with permaculture in Italy, but it was very fragmented, this course helped me a lot in putting it all together. I can see now how many possibilities there are to do something with the land, with the system. I can create my own system.
I am working on my design portfolio now, which is going well.
I really like this place. The nature is amazing and I met a lot of great people around. I was already studying permaculture, but this course let me to look at it from more integral perspective, which is interesting. It has a lot of information and there is still a lot of studying I want to do on some of the topics that interest me.
I enjoyed working on the farm, taking care of the animals and forest gardens.
We also had a guest teacher – Tone – that is a graduate of our Permaculture Design Course from many years and a neighbor on the island. She came to share with the students her expertise on vegetable garden care.
We are very happy to have been able to offer an interesting, unique and enriching experience to 4 people.
We have learned a lot from this experience about organizing this kind of course, thanks to our brave pioneers!
Next course will take place in November 2018, you can see more information about it in this leaflet : http://bit.ly/iPDC-8thLife
As a farewell a bit of cuteness. A new member of our family – Muffy – was delighted to have an attention of more people. She was following us around and helping wherever she could. For example – while planting trees :
Since we decided about the re-design of EcoVillage project, our existence have been blissful. Doing the necessary maintenance of the farm is an easy, pleasant routine that allows us to notice the beauty of life every day and gives us more than enough time to learn new things, explore new ideas and spend time together in a relaxed atmosphere.
This time of the year the sheep have mainly dry food and it is not their favourite, so we give them extra green bananas as an evening snack. We still take them out to spend time on the fields, to nibble on the straw but they spend most of their time enjoying shade of trees, and in the evening Stef takes them for a walkabout, so they can enjoy running up and down the road.
The chickens are delightful!
We had 6 new chicks in May, and watching their mom taking care of them is one of Maya’s favourite activities during the day. Their mom not only shows them how to look for food, but she finds it, shreds it for them and gives it to them, making a very particular kind of noise. Have you ever noticed that animals use a very specific kind of sound to communicate with their babies? Calm, warm, reserved only for them.
The meat chickens that we bought in February have gotten bigger and bigger, we ate one already and it was delicious as well as very heavy! And we discovered we have two roosters.
Interesting to realise that roosters also go through a voice mutation. They were practicing a lot for few months, which most of the times looked like the strange sound suddenly came out of nowhere in their bodies and they were very surprised about it.
Now they are crowing almost like the adults, but their tone of voice is much softer and lower.
It is the sheep-shearing time and we were lucky enough to get a lot of wool for free, to use in our gardens. We put it on the soil as a mulch. Not only our veggies look really cute, as if sprouting from a cloud, but the soil is very well protected from the heat and evaporation. Thanks to Noemi’s help, all of our garden soil is now covered in a cosy wooly duvet.
and some wool is black ..
Maja also sheared our own sheep and she is very proud of how well and fast she did it. Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures from that process, but maybe you can imagine that holding down a sheep and cutting her wool is a two-hand and two-leg job 😉
We are also getting lots of milk from Bonita! We are waiting for kefir and yogurt grains to arrive in order to use it well (fermented foods always the best and making cheese is quite wasteful: most of the liquid is whey, which we don’t have a good use for).
In June we were still processing all the delicious meat and lard from them, in small batches taken from the freezer in order to make it more manageable. The pieces that are left from rendering lard we call ‘crunchy bits’ and are very delicious also. Anything we can’t eat or process quickly (like the guts, heads, etc.) we let the flies process and then cycle those through the chicken into yummy eggs (which were extra plentiful this year, for some reason).
And now we have a huge stash (in the freezers) of first-class, organic and (almost) free-range pork that is a delicious addition to our favourite, 100%-from-the-farm paleo meals.
After this stint of hard work, Maja decided to travel to the heart of the island – Caldera de Taburiente to spend there few days in total peace, in the wilderness, fasting and contemplating.
“I was sleeping under a willow, next to small spring among the mountains.
And spending my days meditating, admiring the beauty of nature, listening to pine trees, swimming in the river… To live in a place where we can just walk into this kind of paradise is extremely lucky. Pure happiness.
I took out a lot of inspiration, memory of the mountains watching over me and feeling of being relaxed and content with myself and my life.
I also had an idea to start organizing retreats for other people to enjoy this kind of bliss with me:
Now I’m learning about marketing to get the word out there.
In June we were treated to the first plums… and they are the most aromatic, delicious ones too …
We are still blessed with very cool summer so far, which is wonderful … during June and July we had only two days of change of wind direction that brings hot dry air from the Sahara (Calima), instead of cool wet winds from Iceland (the Alisios). And we even had rain and lovely mists during June …
Let’s hope it keeps like this during the next half of summer. The fire-fighting troops (helicopters and trucks) are out in force doing their habitual trainings in the hot season.
on 14 July in Tazacorte, there was the first LGBT Pride march in La Palma. We went there to support love equality and we got to take some of those colourful balloons home 🙂
Then we stayed to listen to the very gay music whilst enjoying a pizza …
finishingoff with a nutella pizza for dessert 😉
In the meantime, we were slowly preparing for hosting the on-site iPDC course in August, doing the online inductions & getting to know the interns arriving soon: looking forward to their arrival!
Have a cool summer!
In May we actually decided to relax and take a part-time holiday to rest and recover after quite a busy and stressful 6 months. And it was blissful! So it was surprising and gratifying to see how much we actually got done, even so, once we sat down to compile this newsletter …
August iPDC Course
We’ve changed the dates of this a few times (sorry if that confused anyone!) but now we have the lovely Noemie here, who is able to take on the course organising, we’re happy to be able to offer this onsite Integral PermaCulture month Certificate course for the month of August. And start a new cycle of quarterly courses.
It is an intensive, full-immersion 4 week course, with practical farm routines and design work every morning, focused on Forest Gardens design and maintenance, and permaculture classes & discussions every afternoon. Weekends are for trips around the island and fun time.
See details here > www.bit.ly/iPDC-8thLife
And this is now the passport / first step of our new graduated Internship Programme, explained in the leaflet.
EcoVillage Project ReDesign!
We are delighted to present how we have radically changed the design of the ecovillage in formation. Now, instead of a big farm, there are 4 neighbouring farms that we rent (and in the future can be sold) independently.
We are very happy with this result of very creative meetings and discussions over several months with our fantastic colleagues and co-founders, Heloisa Primavera, Esther Cuenca y María José Rodríguez + 2 consultant colleagues, Hamza & Romeck (who, like our co-founders, are experts in organisational design, eco-projects, etc.)
There is a Dialogue thread about this in our FB group
<< click icon to go there <<
with the leaflet for the project (in Spanish) explaining the more technical details.
There are important advantages we see with this re-design:
1) it is ideal for people who are interested in trying out, in a much less risky way than by buying a farm, if they really have the capacity to lead a new life in the countryside, but with some additional facilities, since these are mini-farms already in production, with basic services, and with neighbours doing the same thing. And with option to buy;
2) it is also an option for people who don’t have the possibility to buy their own farm, since the cost is the same as renting any apartment, but with the option of part-work-exchange and also with the option of setting up / participating in local eco-businesses;
3) for everyone, it is also a much more ‘light’ and easy way of ‘living in community’ – but step by step, in a much more natural way: only if & when we wish, since there is no obligation to share spaces and time (which we already know is quite difficult), but as simple neighbours we can help each other and get closer as much and when we wish;
And the advantages also for us (the permanent residents here) are also considerable …
4) mainly the one of having – at last! 🙂 – a much more ‘normal’ home, where we can enjoy the intimacy, peace and silence that we all need to live well (& with just one month of this … we already feel like new people! … incredible ..), and we can share our lives and personal spaces only with family and close friends;
5) we are delighted that we realised there was another way to share this little paradise with more people (which is important for us since we feel very selfish in keeping all this abundance just for ourselves), but without having to have a ‘circus’ life – with lots of coming and going of visitors, the stress of constant changes, to put up with the (sometimes many, and heavy…) dramas of people in the middle of changing their lives, etc.;
6) And also be able to share this fabulous rural life & environment with more people **as equals** (other people who manage their farms, like the other neighbours) … and not so much with ‘dependants’ – as the visitors who (consciously or not) often expected us to be giving them lots of attention, teach them stuff, to be providing them with their instant ‘community’, etc. And other unrealistic expectations.
7) an unexpected advantage was that immediately at re-taking full responsibility for the care of the animals and gardens (simple daily jobs that it made sense to leave to the interns and volunteers before, so we could do more of the things only we can do), we re-connected in a deeper way to our family here, and our real constant community: the land, trees, plants, … and especially the animals.
The sense of home and deep peace that flows from this daily connection is indescribable. As are the many hilarious things that the animals get up to once they feel more connected to us, also …
8) this is our magic number here, in 8thLife … and this is an example of how we always listen to what the place tries to tell us, of what it wants, also. And we knew we were on the right track with this re-design when, at the end of April, just after we decided to rent Finca Fortuna (but still with a few lingering doubts…), and precisely after some 15 minutes that the last 2 volunteers left (& Stef was cleaning the house), Noemie arrived, walking on the path beside the house, and asking for houses to rent! Which had never happened before, in all the time we’ve been here (for us to meet anyone who wanted to rent in the area).
And as it turned out she even had an idea of creating a rural hostel (Finca Fortuna was our rural hostel ..) like her sister in France.
So we already have our first new neighbour, and she is currently looking for other people to share Finca Fortuna with her, whilst she organises the Hostel project and also is taking on the role of course organiser for our residential Permaculture courses. Perfect for everyone.
Lots of ‘magic coincidences’ like this happen to us here, but only when we are attentive, and well aligned with the great magic of this place, which has a very strong, beautiful and particular energy, and is probably trying to communicate to us all the time what design it wants done here …
This month we also did our bit to redesign stuff to make sure we comply with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (see www.eugdpr.org if you don’t know what that is), which has been an interesting and occasionally frustrating challenge.
We did some staff training with our management committee so that everyone is up to date with our legal duties for this and learned a lot of interesting stuff about cookies, data laws, etc. together.
We also took the opportunity to refresh and ‘turn a new page’ in May also in a symbolic way by deleting all of our records of information from our past students, voluteers, guests, etc. which we don’t need any more. So a fresh new start month in many ways!
Bonita is our only goat, a very cheeky, funny and lively member of the family who still follows Stef around because she bottle-raised her from when she was very little (a gift from our shepherd friend Cece, who has hundreds of Garafiano goats and makes huge cheeses with their milk).
She seemed in pain and stopped eating for a few days, but recovered very quickly after a few injections from our friendly local vet Eduardo, and was head-butting the sheep in her usual playful way in no time.
But before calling Eduardo we consulted with two other shepherd colleagues, Antonio and Shaun (who also have hundreds of goats and sheep and so tons of experience) since now we’re all connected with wasapp and is so much easier to communicate … and they were lovely in being very concerned and giving us advice.
So afterwards Maja created a wasapp group “Alegrías de la Ganadería” (Husbandry Joys?) so that we can remember to share the fun stuff (which is the vast majority) not just contact each other when we have some problem!
Certainly one of the most delightful things about living with animals is welcoming the babies
… as we did this month with the new baby chickens, which are now livening up the place with their shrill “pio pio pio” as they follow their mothers everywhere.
And note that the naked neck of the mother isn’t a disease! It is the characteristic of one of the 5 different breeds of chickens we have here.
We usually don’t grow any potatoes (because they come up spontaneously in the garden from remains of the old ones), but we decided to do a whole field a few months ago … and now they’re ready. Another embarrassingly abundant aspect.
We have so much lard now that it makes sense to make delicious potato chips whenever we like. We literally a huge barrel of the stuff, lovingly rendered from our animals and the exchanges we do with our local butcher, so we’ve even started selling it, together with our excess of delicious eggs.
And much of it now is thanks to our last 2 vietnamese pigs, Ora and Badu, whom we said goodbye to in May, as we decided to downsize to only having chickens and sheep for now, which still provide us with a big surplus in terms of our food needs, and are so very productive for such little effort on our part.
We are glad we experimented with keeping guinea-pigs, quails and pigs over many years, as we now know the most efficient way to keep them in this environment, and they are perfect complementary animals to keep for any of our neighbours who might wish to do so, in the future.
Ora and Badu were free to roam (as our chickens are) every afternoon, and they did a great job of picking up fallen fruit, almonds, eating snails and generally snuffling around delighting us with their funny antics.
Changing the Story
Fundamentally, this is what we are trying to do here.
We end this newsletter with a quote from a wonderful philosoply book, Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, which we playfully call the ‘pre-text’ of the Integral PermaCulture science that we base all our work on.
“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people.
Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world,
they will live in accord with the world.
But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world,
as yours does,
they will live at odds with the world.
Given a story to enact in which they are the lords of the world,
they will ACT like lords of the world.
And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered,
they will conquer it like a foe,
and one day, inevitably,
their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet,
as the world is now.”
but particularly yellow flowers for some reason, like the mimosa trees that we sowed from seed years ago, that make gorgeous fluffy golden clouds everywhere …
The land to the right is not ours … can you tell the difference?
A Small Family …
Djamel and Valeriya were interns for a month and used their stay to practice transitioning their lives from the city to the countryside, together with their 1 year old daughter, Mercedes.
They learned to take care of the farm maintenance routines like feeding the animals, taking care of gardens and forest gardens, planting out vegetables and some basic construction skills, whilst finishing off one of the light camping domos.
These are simple shells that can be used like tents or to put tents inside for more insulation, both from cold in winter and heat in summer.
They are made almost exclusively of recycled materials: basically they are cardboard sheets sewn together over a wire frame, then covered with plastic, netting and (yet to grow…) climbing plants, so eventually they will disappear into the landscape. The internal floor space is made of 4 pallets both for extra insulation and to prevent the soil being compressed unnecessarily.
They also helped to finish some details of the rocket stove for the hot bath.
Working and Living in Groups
At the beginning of the month, Stef prepared a presentation about living and working together, in an effort to summarise some of the essential items we talk about at more length on the iPDC course.
You can see the presentation here …
and in the talk thread in our FB group where you can comment or participate in the discussion about these topics.
In the meantime, this fertile land keeps delighting us with an endless abundance of life! Three of our chickens started sitting on their eggs this month, so now we’re waiting for little chooks to be born.
We finally will get to see whether our new ‘incubator part’ of our chicken coop will work well. The mothers need to be segregated to help them get the peace and quiet (+ relative darkness) they prefer whilst incubating, and the tiny chooks, when born, need protection from predators like rats and eagles … so we have special ‘motherhood ward’ for all this which we hope will work well.
Lots of Potatoes
The potato field grows like crazy and we can’t wait for eating potato chips every day!
Sheep & Pigs
The evening walks with the sheep fill us with joy! Watching happy animals do their thing is one of the most rewarding things about living here, and a great way to spend our time and relax with them.
Sometimes even the piggies join us …
We also got a new baby ram from a neighbour to breed with our best milking sheep when he comes of age. His name is Canelo and he’s a constant delight!
You are welcome to comment in our Facebook group about this newsletter, here
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!
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!
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!
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 Fran, Sandra, Karla 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 Sandra, Fran, Jeff 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,Eduardo, Karla, Alex 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. Rudzielec, Ghost, Tigger 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.
Newsletter written by Karla (intern from Croatia)
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.
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
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! 🙂
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.