Romana’s EVS

Introduction by Stefania Strega Scoz, her tutor at 8thLife:

Congratulations to Romana

a volunteer from Slovakia who completed our second European Voluntary Service (EVS) programme, 
from October 2016 to October 2017. 
She was an exemplary student and volunteer, as well as a delightful individual to have around, very helpful on the farm, always cheerful and very friendly and we are delighted with all the dreams that she realized whilst here.   
It was a great pleasure for all of us to live and work with her for such an extended time, something which is quite rare and is a great testimony to her maturity, determination and people-skills, as living in community is something very few people are able to do.
Apart from all of the skills and experience she gained over a year of Permaculture Action Learning at 8thLife (which you can read all about below), she also met Simon during the second half of her stay, a wonderful “cherry on the cake” happy ending to a year full of important transformations.
Romana & Simon are now partners and well on their way of realizing their common dream of building a more sustainable way of life together – which was the core of the vision that led Romana to do a permaculture EVS.  Being on a farm like ours is an ideal way to meet like-minded people and we are all very happy these two delightful young people found each other here 🙂
Here you can see Romana’s final presentation, which is a summary of the designs she did for her Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC).
She presented this at the end of her stay to all of us at 8thLife, and we celebrated with a goodbye dinner.
You can see her end of programme presentation here >
Romana also took full advantage of living in a biosphere worlwide reserve and explored many of the most interesting parts of the Island.
Here you can see her Exploring the Island FB post

The Year in My Own Words

By Romana, October 2017
Note you can see most of this newsletter also as a presentation,
This newsletter is all in my words, in black what I wrote to accompany the photo album I collated here at the end of October 2017 (I started in October 2016) and the coloured and dated paragraphs are taken from the regular written evaluations I wrote during the year: green ones from learning criteria evaluations and blue ones from her overall project evaluations.

Below, under Social Media Outputs are the posts I did to the 8thLife ecovillage facebook group.

A few days after my arrival
we went to a Halloween party in the town nearby
with other volunteers
and our tutor Stefania
(witch on the right, am on the left with my sun/moon mask).
We made our costumes and had a lot of fun!
Transplanting seedling with Nicola /our garden coordinator/ – should be done very gently without disturbing the root system and of course with love!
Original Christmas nativity scene on the farm, in the sheep-pen
My first teamwork on the farm – building the roof for pigs to protect them from rain & cold and make it more cozy.
Making new raised beds in flora garden – important is fill the beds with the right mixture of soil, compost, sand and other organic material to prepare for plants nutrient-rich environment.
Replacing the previous roof on the chicken house for new bigger one – exciting work in height! and also the first project which I coordinated on the farm.

Romana 22May17 – i really like to take care of chickens. i am enjoying when i can see them happy & healthy running out in chicken tractor. It is interesting to make experiments and observations how muggots buckets works, what do they prefer to eat, etc. and then harvesting a lot of fresh eggs!

During the summer, i am starting to feed pig and collecting food for guineapigs, so i hope i will contribute to they happy lifes as well 🙂

Romana 11Jan17 – EcoBuilding – I can say that this is the sphere in which I´ve learned the most during my stay here. I improved my basic carpentry skills, learn new skills like welding, work with grinder or stone wall-building. I like to recycle the waste materials for decorations or another purpose.
Improving the door system –
I´ve learned how to make hinges from a metal sheet and how to reuse as much material as possible which we already have instead of buying new one /one of the permacultural principle 😉

Romana 23/12/16

I still don’t have my own designs but I was taking a part in different designs – when building the cage or compost toilet or chicken house I feel that I was explained what to do, that was a good mentoring.

I still need to find something I would like to focus on.

Maybe I could use some mentoring with that?

Another example of reusing – recycled tires used for building steps /filled with the soil and stones/
Improving my carpentry skills – making a new compost toilet to camping area with Fabio/volunteer/
Romana 28apr17 – actually i am working on most of my designs. 
chicken coop just need to be put in practise, was waiting for all material. i´ve started my experiment with nettle garden and have almost finished the watering system for tree nursery. 
but i am not very good in documentation of process, i almost always forget to take photos. 
We wanted more hot water in solar shower and the only way how to achieve that was to raised the solar construction..what seems to be easy, but in reality was much harder /untangled the tube, oil the wood with a mixture of recycled sunflower oil and gas to protect it from pests, design a new construction to make it sturdy standing, attached back the tube aaand it´s done!
Romana 23/12/16 I still can’t get in touch with Abena, but there is still a lot of people around me, so I know where can I ask if I need it. It’s quite ok.  
I appreciate coaching of Monique and Donal.
I feel supported enough! I feel more encouraged to ask, that depends on how safe you feel with people around you.  I feel that this area is improving.
Mulching trees in forest gardens – protecting the earth from drying out, prevents weeds and provide fungal rich soil.

Romana 21apr17 – during last weeks i realized that T&L or special times pairs are very useful and helpful for solving my actual problems/moods and for better knowing people as well. Also banquet or eating together with other volunteers/residents is nice opportunity for consolidating relationhips. and what i enjoyed during last weeks was great teamwork! i am glad that we had fruitful discussion about addictions and everybody got involved. i would like to spend day e.g. during weekend together with common activity, i think it could be fun.

Friday banquet – our weekly social event on finca – spend time together & enjoy a delicious meal which everyone prepared specially for this occasion.
Dug out first sweet potatoes in our garden.
Romana 28apr17 –  i really appreciate that we have in new timetable allocated time for forest garden. finally i´ve finished forest garden classes, so i feel more confident. before summer i am trying to check watering system, if there are missing some bottles for deep-watering or if it everything connects correctly. 
we did some swales in my forest garden and planted a lot of tagasastes.  i cleaned some paths and did some weeding.
I had amazing opportunity to be a garden coordinator, which was a big responsibility for me. but thanks to that I learned a lot about gardening and organizing work for a different number of people.
Making extension of roof in sheep pen and one part of it was Maja´s brilliant design – gutter from recycled plastic bottles.
Tiling a table with Nicola and Zsofi.
Beautiful atmosphere by bonfire with amazing group of interns and star-gazing /La Palma has become one of the place in the world for star observation thanks to darkness, high quality sky and light pollution/
Preparing a right mixture of soil & compost for sowing.

Romana 22May17 – we had an interesting talk about options how to make compost, what is the difference between compost and mulch and from which animals what we can use for garden/forest garden/trees and also in which order. Finally i am starting to understand it and enjoying how the application of compost and mulch bringing so much fertility to gardens and protecting soil as well.

Bit by bit we are moving compost from pig to future abora garden /part of chicken tractor/ and it is amazing to work on fertility next garden in advance and seeing how it is easy.

Building swales on the slopes to stop erosion and then planting some trees or aloe there.

Romana 23May17 – it is so amazing to watch how my forest garden is changing during the year! i´ve connected a lot of trees to missing deep watering, did some repairs where were needed, put a plenty of mulch around trees, pruned some trees which were in the path and what i like the most is plant trees 🙂 we´ve planted a lot of tagasaste there and some nisperos.

Sometimes i am just sitting in the Vesta and trying to imagine how it will looks after few years..trees will be bigger, more and more plants, like real forest! 🙂

and now i am starting to take care of one more forest garden (Oya).

I am responsible for taking care of tree nursery – water them, repot and weeding around. And in the future i want to start propagating trees.
Our new green house nursery! we managed to build it for the third time and during the process, I learned to think more technically and to be more patient
Life in community means that people are coming & leaving all the time.  So during my year there, I had a chance to getting know a lot of new people & make new friendship.  By listening to their unique stories about different ways of life, I found a big inspiration for my future life.
I’ve learned how to propagate herbs by stem cutting /mostly lavender, rosemary, sage/
Romana 5May17 – now i am responsible for watering gardens and cleaning the pump filter. i am aware how important is water management /especially collecting the water in tank/ and trying to look at water as holy source and save as much water as possible. i feel confident about solving any problem with automatic watering or connect whatever is necessary.
For the first time in my life I´ve seen the automatic watering system (it was a small miracle! :), which we use in gardens & forest gardens. during my stay there I had to connect many tubes and fix so many leaks.
Romana 10Jan17 – the watering system we use in gardens is amazing! I´ve seen it for the first time here and this is something what I want to introduce in my parentshouse garden.. Using water collected from tank is very smart although at the beggining I was quite confused when use water from tank/gravity water/council water.
Romana (24-30 July) – I was very productive! I studied a lot, we did a lot in the gardens, we composted and mulched a lot of Flora and many trees, animals are still alive! I really enjoyed the gardens and moving the compost around. I did some design updates as well. My routine is more settled. I like my new room, is very cool.
Romana (17-23 July) – My week started with great holiday, I came back recharched. Now I have more time to focus on the work and finish my designs, was nice to come back to finished chicken house.
We started finishing the watering system for the tree nursery. I started drawing my map of forest garden, I really enjoyed it. I move to new room, I slept really well. It is not so hot.   Monika is here, I like working with her.
One of the activity, which I learned during my project and I really like it even though it is really hard, is stone wall building.
On the finca I was in charge of cactus nursery.
Repairing swales and planting tagasaste  /typical tree for Canary Islands/. During my project, I planted about 10 trees in total …
Romana 10Jan17 – i really enjoying garden hours with Nicola. For me it was always way of relax and at the same time kind od fertility ritual/ ritual of new life. The best feeling is when I can observe how it grows and after harvest when I am thankfullly eating it.
Romana 7June17 – we are working on chicken boxes! Everything is ok. I like to work with Simon! That I am finally studying much more everyday, Im happy with the speed in which I continue my course. Im starting to understand how the things work – before it was something new and now I finally clearly see the whole cycle of everything. I really enjoy the work in the garden.
I feel much more confident in doing whatever is necessary, I feel there are no obstacles.   I like that we finally see the results of our work!
My spanish! Im listening more podcasts everyday and I am having sessions with Esther. Francisco helped a lot as well. I overcame the crisis I had in April. Im glad that we started having the circles again, its really nice.
Im thinking more about my future and I think soon Stef will help me to find next steps. 
.. and a lot of veggies! and could them observe how they are growing..and if not as fast as they should, I learned where could be the problem, how to solve it and hopefully save the plant. and of course, the best feeling is to pick your own veggies from the garden and then prepare a yummy meal from it!
Our strawberry & worms tower, which we built with Stefania and Simon.
We filled the boxes with soil, sheep, chicken and pig compost and planted the strawberries there. the function of worms is breaking down and transport the nutrients all over the tower.
Romana 23th Dec16 – going well: new skills & knowledge – basic carpentry skills, using chainsaw and pruning, relationship/community skills (restoration circle, facilitating with Donal, heart circles with Monique)
– full of motivation to learn new things
– get used to new daily routine
– excited about studying
– feeling more confindent during garden hours – tranplanting, etc.
– more iniciative & proactive
– happy after seeing results of my work – solar shower working better, new guinea pig cage, compost toilet
– better relationship with Luka and knowing better others, get used to be alone without other EVSers
– it looks that we will spend nice christmas together 🙂
Beautiful climbing plant Ipomoea, which I planted into the barrel behind my room. It is easily propagating by layering /stems that are still attached to their parent plant may form roots where they come in contact with a rooting medium,  just cover the parts of stem with soil, on these parts take the leaves off and bend the tip outside/

Romana 22May17 – i really like to take care of chickens. i am enjoying when i can see them happy & healthy running out in chicken tractor. It is interesting to make experiments and observations how muggots buckets works, what do they prefer to eat, etc. and then harvesting a lot of fresh eggs!

During the summer, i am starting to feed pig and collecting food for guineapigs, so i hope i will contribute to they happy lifes as well 🙂

Romana 7th Dec16 – going well:
– living in such a beutiful place, nature, island
– relations with others & common activities (dances, circles, watching movie)
– learning fast (gardening, take care of animals, daily routine, etc)
– teamwork (gardenhour, chicken tractor & work on other designs)
– separate kitchen – keep it clean + cooking my own – my stomach is better
– new experiences and learning from everyday situations
– learning new practical skills – with tools, building the wall
Romana 13Mar17 – difficulties:
still the same :/
– studying PDC + spanish /have to improve my time managment/
– fb post /not learning or happening so much, so its difficult to post something interesting and usually Phil posted what we did in garden/
– neglect my forest garden because of lack of time or still there is something more important to do
Because I took care of chickens all year, I wanted to improve their cage and simplify the care of them. so one of my design was chicken nesting boxes & doors for easy collecting eggs. First, we had to cement the legs of metal construction, then make the houses from styrofoam & cardboard, cut the doors from metal sheets and make hooks and the last step was build a ladder.
Romana 7th Dec16 – difficulties:
– studying 
– improving my spanish
– still I don´t have my design
– most of EVS2 is leaving
– running and practising joga
– take care of forest garden because of lack of my time
– stand the tension and heavy atmosphere during the conflicts
– don´t lose my motivation and conviction
– express myself in english
– sometimes miss hot shower

Another my design was a watering system for the tree nursery, which I was responsible for /watered each week, re-pot them and planted some out/. The aim was to find a simple and efficient way of watering so many trees.

And even more, during my project, I learned new skills like welding and work with a grinder.
Big THANK YOU for that opportunity 
& that I can contribute to such an amazing project!
Thanks to my EVS I got a privilege of studying an Integral Permaculture Course.
I successfully finished it and got a permaculture design certificate.  I gained a lot of knowledge not only about soil, plants and animals, but also about society, food and how to apply permacultural principles & techniques in my everyday life.
One of the most amazing & unexpected thing that happened during my EVS was that I met a great man there who shares my life vision..
.. now we are living together, planning & saving up for our dream together ..
..and let´s see what the future will bring us! 🙂

My mind maps from classes

The Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) is an internationally-recognized foundational training in the basics of Permaculture and passport to participate in the international community of sustainability activists- needed to participate in International PC Convergences and other events.   The EVS programme at 8thLife includes the Integral Permaculture Academy’s PDC which requires students to do a mind-map for each of the classes, and these are Romana’s, which she wanted to share:

Social Media Outputs


8Jan’17 – Last week we worked really hard on new stone wall and thanks to EVS I had the chance to participate and learn how to build it!

30 Dic’17 . In most of Europe it looks for winter, but at our farm is everything awakening. So great to see our forest gardens fresh green and flowering. We are planting new trees, watering a lot, learning about deep watering and maybe soon we will do some pruning.

20 Dic’17 – Last Friday we had the opportunity to participate on chainsaw and pruning workshop led by our Calabrian guest Andrea Tropeano specializing in citrus trees / . Our lemon trees got renewed.