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.
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 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.
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.”