May Bliss

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.   
www.bit.ly/iPDC-8thLife

 

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's a dialogue related to this page in the Integral Permaculture FB group (click icon to go there)
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 …

GDPR Compliance

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!
http://www.lopdat.es/noticias/aprobado-el-reglamento-europeo-de-proteccion-de-datos-nuevas-reglas-adaptadas-la-era

Bonita was Sick

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!

Chooks were Born

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.

Potatoes and Pigs 

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. 
< just picked                                                                                 

< and just cleaned:

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.” 

An April full of Flowers

April is one of the months in which flowers abound here, like clumps of wild freesias …
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.

Baby Chicks

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

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.

A Jolly Jolly December!

by Karla

our wonderful Erasmus+ Intern in 8thLife Canarias

Boli & Stef in front of the little shrine to the Maritime Virgin of El Remo
I am completely aware that it is almost the end of January and here I am writing about December.
But time moves in peculiar ways here in 8th Life. As Maja often voices it: “It is like we live in a time vortex!”.
Time flies and stands still simultaneously.
Still, it would be a pity not to share the happenings of such a fun month.

The General Atmosphere

If you are wondering whether it is possible to feel the festive spirit under the sun that heats you with somewhere around 20℃ it is clear you have never been around Stef in Christmas time. As a big lover of Christmas lights and decorations she ensured we were full of holiday spirit throughout all month.

 

 
Halel in front of our Christmas tree with Hanuka donuts

We embarked on an attempt of forming a little village choir! The idea was to go carol singing and collect money for our lovely local free shop.
Unfortunately it did not work out in the end, but it was really funny while it lasted.

Especially when we discovered Mi burrito sabanero … ♫♫Tuki tuki tuki, tuki tuki tuki ta..
Halel, Tanja and me were singing it all day everyday.

The Community

Every month in here is so different than the previous one because if there is just one new person you have a new community! There is no explicit new rules being set but the atmosphere gets very different. Have you ever noticed that in your everyday life as well?

City of Los Llanos put lots of creative Christmas decoration

While in the first month I was learning loads from the children that were living here in December there was a bit less of the “core group” but we got reinforced by an ‘elderly person’ (seems like such an overstatement but Edu loves to stress that he is an hombre mayor haha).

That was really cool! I would say (and many experts agree) that it is super unhealthy how we almost excursively spend time and befriend persons of the same age as we are. That is much connected to the needs of the industrial society that puts us in classrooms according to our. age so that we can easily move to working in factory in cohorts. But I won’t bother you too much with political philosophy of modernity (this time 😈).

Here is a short collage of what was December like for all of us:

Stefania

(ecovillage founder, resident, permaculture teacher)

Biggest projects of the month:

  • Interviewing web developers & putting together a great IT group and starting to work with them.
  • Working on the 8thLife website with our Panama & Columbia colleagues.
  • Setting up new management committee for Gaia Tasiri Association and finding a new Management firm (accounts, legalities, paperwork, etc.)

Things I enjoyed:

  • We’ve got tons of pricelsss expert consultancy work whilst investigating freelancer services, now much clearer about what we need and what’s out there.
  • It’s SO good to work with professionals who know their stuff!
  • Answering students on forums and talking to them on Skype … about my favourite topics of all time (Integral Permaculture).
  • Having Eduardo and his positive attitude around.
  • I enjoyed the sun, warmth and after-rain atmosphere. I always like to talk with sheep and cats.
  • Going to spa with Maja before her departure.
  • Seeing piggies roam around freely eating almonds and checking out how sheep are doing.
  • Marking sunrise and sunset on our magical stone circle on winter solstice.
  • I loved practicing the carols.
  • My spontaneous trip to London for NYE.

What I learnt:

  • I learned a lot about WordPress and IT stuff from our IT team. Very interesting details.

 

Maja (resident, IPDC student)

Biggest projects of the month:

  • Training Halel and Karla to take over the holistic grazing of the sheep (Maja went home for vacation mid December).
  • Creating content for WordPress.
  • Reconnecting with my family.
Things I enjoyed:
  • I can light the fire in my room and it is so hot and great and I sleep so well and have great dreams.
  • The days were really beautiful, the rainbows, the rain, the sun, the sheep, and the piggies and cats.
What I learnt:
  • I learned a new way to put signature in pdf.
  • How to cut the nails of the sheep.
  • Got better in butchering.
  • People are more intelligent than I thought and taking sheep out and documenting the grazing is not as hard to learn as I constructed it in my head!

Eduardo (volunteer, Spain)

Biggest projects of the month:
  • Improving the chicken pen.
  • Planting in Flora garden.
  • Helping Karla with raised beds.
I enjoyed:
  • Living with positive people.
  • Doing meditation together.
  • Talking to our guest Diana and Halel.
  • Long walks down the gorge.
  • Documentary about Tony Robbins’s self-development seminar was amazing!
What I learnt:
  • How to be around people again.
  • Many many things from Halel.

Halel (volunteer, Israel)

 
Biggest projects of the month:
  • Taking over animal coordinator role while Maja is away.
  • Carrying out holistic pasture of the sheep.
  • Organizing the workshop.
  • Setting up surround sound system in the living room.
  • Constructing greenhouse door and walls.
  • Fixing pig pen and sheep pen.
 I enjoyed:
  • Rainbows.
  • Having walks down the gorge.
  • Singing Christmas songs.
What I learnt:
  • New words in Spanish from Edu (e.g. martillo – hammer, lombrices – earthworms).
  • When I eat cookies late at night I have problems falling asleep.
  • La Palma is a really small island.

**Halel got a nickname – Tesoro (treasure) and his very own fan club because everyday there was at least one person that was delighted by him and his ability to fix broken things, cook delicious meals and basically be good in whatever he does.

Tanja (volunteer, Macedonia)

 
Biggest projects of the month:
  •  Hot tub design.
  • Leaflet for choir.
I enjoyed:
  • Learning a lot, especially about myself.
  • Seing permaculture in action for the first time in my life.
  • Doing rooftop yoga with Karla.
  • Taking it slowly.
  • Having a fun night in Los Llanos.
  • Singing turbofolk music to sheep with Karla.
  • Halel’s sense of humor.
  • Sleeping in the sun.
  • Goodybe bonfire.
What I learnt:
  • How to handle the sheep and set up ropes.
  • How to feed chicks and pigs.
  • How fire works.
  • La Palma can get quite cold sometimes.
  • Fear is your worst enemy! JUST TRY! Experiment and see what happens!

Karla (intern, Croatia)

 
Biggest projects of the month:
  • Assembling and putting into function the new raised bed for the Fortuna garden and redecorating one old one.
  • Putting biberons (small bottles for watering) onto trees in Flora forest garden.
  • Little swale in the forest garden.
  • Cleaning and painting my new room.
Things I enjoyed:
  • That one week when I was doing yoga every single day.
  • Having bonfires.
  • Having Tanja and Halel becoming my new friends whom I love so much.
  • Working with the shovel.
  • Singing and dancing whilst working on my own.
  • Sunset meditations.
  • Seeing people smile a lot.
  • Learning from the guests we have here.
  • Going to the beach for Christmas.
What I learnt:
  • Sheep and goats are insanely strong!
  • How to clean water filter (without freaking out when something isn’t right).
  • Many new information on the ecology and geology of the soil.
  • Incredible amount of Spanish thanks to Eduardo! We could barely communicate when he just came and now I am already writing in Spanish in my private pages.
  • How to make a blog 😁
  • Raised beds are trickier to make than what it seems! Did many mistakes one the first one which I learned from the while working on the next ones. I believe I will make a post soon about the RB saga sometime soon.
Corinne and I had a fun time planting. The beans are already looking great!
And most importantly, same as Tanja, I learned that you should not let your fear block you from doing things. Or as Halel puts it brilliantly when explaining how to fix stuff:
 
People are really afraid of messing things up. But it is already broken! So just play with it and you’ll figure something out.
Hasta luego,
mucho amor
Karla


New Year, New Web

We’re finally modernizing our 8thLife web pages!

During January 2018 please use our old webs:

the original complete english site

puedes ver la web en español aquí

and  the beautiful 8thLife Panama web (which inspired us to update and re-design them all together with the great look that their volunteer IT people, Angie, Martina & Joseph had set up a few months previously).

How did this happen?

Thanks to a GREAT team of professional IT people who came forward during December, when Maja had the idea (inspired by our Panama colleagues) of asking in our Volunteer FB group if there were any IT people there who could help.  You can see that post here.

We were totally delighted by the response, as three enthusiastic people came forward, who were not only IT experts but also already fans of the project: totally ideal!   So we created the 8thLife IT group and got busy organizing how to make this vision-map happen:

Important since now we have TWO ecovillage projects (Canarias & Panama) who share the same 8thLife Vision, Mission and Integral PermaCulture design methods … all of which are connected to the GaiaTasiri Association and the Integral PermaCulture Academy.     So we needed a simpler, easier way to present the whole project and its parts.  Hopefully it will all make a lot more sense soon even to newcomers to this amazingly fertile synergy of people and projects.

THANKYOU so much Sebastian (in Brazil, project-managing & templates/installation), Christian (in Germany, setting up our super-snazzy new hostel bookings pages) and Simone (in Tenerife, working on content and structure) for working so well together with Stef (Coordinator Canarias), Maja (Administrator Canarias) & Rebecca (Coordinator Panama).   It’s such a buzz to work with professionals dotted all over the globe like this 🙂

We got our main web template up on 6th January 2018, very appropriately just in times for “Reyes” day, which is when gifts are traditionally shared in Spain & other countries.

We will be adding content and tweaking the site for a while, whilst still linking to the old webs: see above.

So we’ll be under construction for a while – thanks for your patience – and please DO give us your comments & suggestions here in our FB group or below, as you prefer.

Happy New Year! 

 

 

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 > https://goo.gl/2TMkfE
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

(video)
 

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 /https://www.facebook.com/Marmagrumi/ . Our lemon trees got renewed.