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News/Blog

link to this page >> http://en.8thlife.org/what/news

Regular news of 8thLife: what's going on in the embryonic ecovillage, when we manage to compile a newsletter!
Join the mailing list if you want to receive emails with the latest newsletters.

Recent Announcements

  • Spring Blossoms This spring we are having quite an interesting bunch of interns and volunteers here at 8thLife, and before some of them leave, having finished their times here, we decided to ...
    Posted 21 Mar 2017, 09:42 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Exciting Opportunities We have 4 wonderful young Europeans arriving in September for a year-long internship programme - and had so many applicants (65!) who are such interesting people ... that we didn't ...
    Posted 14 Sep 2016, 16:17 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Integral PermaCulture in the Canary Islands Thank you for sharing this with your friends and on social media!The 8thLife EcoVillage Project is offering a unique chance to learn, live & breathe applied permaculture design for a ...
    Posted 16 Oct 2016, 14:55 by Stella Ne
  • EVS Experiences and Growing Gardens boletín en español aquí                          newsletter that we sent by email,  thanks for sharing it! In this newsletter you can read about the experiences of Nicola and Maja - the interns that ...
    Posted 14 Sep 2016, 11:44 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Spring News boletín en español aquí                          newsletter that we sent by email,  thanks for sharing it!After a very quiet winter period when we chose not to have guests whilst we prepared ...
    Posted 27 Jul 2016, 07:39 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Diary of a Guest boletín en español aquí                          newsletter that we sent by email,  thanks for sharing it!Brio delighted us with his visit for just one week, and was one of the many ...
    Posted 26 Jul 2016, 05:43 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • The PeDreTea Project boletín en español aquí                           8thLife has started a new project through our (also newly created) 8thLife Medias, and we are asking for your help – in fact, we may be asking ...
    Posted 18 Nov 2015, 16:00 by Stella Ne
  • CoCreating under the Summer Sun boletín en español aquí                          newsletter that we sent by email,  thanks for sharing it!One of the delightful things about our work is living in harmony with the cycles of ...
    Posted 28 Jan 2017, 21:00 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • A Year Full of Blessings boletín en español aquí                  newsletter that we sent by email,  thanks for sharing it!2014 was a year full of planting new seeds and providing them with shelter and plenty ...
    Posted 24 May 2015, 02:54 by Stella Ne
  • Courses, Hospitality & other News boletín en español aquí                  newsletter that we sent by email,  thanks for sharing it!We have had a very peaceful, beautiful cool summer, cheered by the visits of family & new ...
    Posted 26 Oct 2014, 15:42 by Stella Ne
  • About Fishing & Nutrition Link to this page >> http://en.8thlife.org/what/news/aug2014-fishing El boletín en español está aquí  To mail this newsletter click here (forward button bottom left)In ...
    Posted 13 Aug 2016, 01:55 by Stella Ne
  • Our 8th Anniversary! As so often happens ... we've been too crazy-busy to do a newsletter, sorry! But finally here it is, a Birthday edition (it was the 8th birthday of 8th ...
    Posted 22 Sep 2014, 16:33 by Stella Ne
  • Mother Earth Day ... We celebrate the crazy spring flowers  we enjoyed so much over march, april & may  by launching a new format for our newsletters :) Hoping that in this way we can approximate ...
    Posted 23 Jun 2013, 12:03 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • International Permaculture Day! NodoEspiral of the Permaculture Academy is collaborating again this year with International Permaculture Day!& the EcoVillage members who also work with NodoEspiral have been asked to be their Media Partners ...
    Posted 2 May 2013, 06:17 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • An Evolutionary 2013 We wish all the wonderful people who have encouraged, helped, and given their time, energy, passion, kind words, donations, love & sheer hard work to this lovely 8thLife embryonic EcoVillage project ...
    Posted 17 Jan 2013, 09:38 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Summer Ending ... It's been an amazing, busy, wonderful summer, and we're enormously grateful for the abundance, peace & sheer hard but very satisfying work that we've been allocated, to make ...
    Posted 13 Jan 2013, 08:42 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • The Perma-Building Intensives We're offering the full PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) as a practical intensive as part of the new GaiaSis program, which is now asynchronic! This means there are no fixed ...
    Posted 7 Jan 2013, 14:34 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Summer Food-Growing Intensive PDC We're offering the full PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) as a practical intensive this summer, focused on food-growing.   Dates: from the full moon on the 3rd of July to ...
    Posted 13 Jan 2013, 09:25 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Spring Starting... Another few months of life, fun & work on the 8thLife ProjectOne Cycle Ends, Another Begins At the end of March all our last remaining gang of volunteers took flight ...
    Posted 13 Jan 2013, 09:23 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Celebrating Winter CoCreation This will teach us to do a monthly newsletter ... waiting to do two months just turns into a mammoth task!We've been very busy building up structures in the ...
    Posted 13 Jan 2013, 09:23 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • GaiaSis1 underway! The first newsletter went out last week, launching the first GaiaSis Mini-ManualYou can see the newsletter here on the Web The First GaiaSis Team?Berry & Dickson are already ...
    Posted 13 Jan 2013, 09:22 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • The GaiaSis Video! Or rather ... the first GaiaSis video :)We're working (or playing?) hard over the Christmas Holidays, enjoying an exciting creativity-fest with some of our very lovely & enthusiastic PDC+ Course ...
    Posted 27 Dec 2011, 08:07 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Our PermaLogo We had a lot of fun creating this logo!  It was very minimax & good team-work, made by integrating an existing graphic we liked with new ideas we kept getting ...
    Posted 22 Dec 2011, 15:49 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Volunteers to Grow Food Would you like to help grow the food (organically, of course) for the first team of GaiaSis adventurers?   We are looking for 2 or 3 food-growing helpers! >> apply January ...
    Posted 30 Dec 2011, 09:37 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
  • Our journey starts! We've launched this because we want to make the best use of our resources and current opportunities and also doing an exciting and multi-functional (action-research and action ...
    Posted 21 Dec 2011, 11:44 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora
Showing posts 1 - 25 of 25. View more »



interactive

Do join us in the facebook group where you can comment on the newsletter, ask questions, etc.



Spring Blossoms

posted 14 Mar 2017, 03:13 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora   [ updated 21 Mar 2017, 09:42 ]


This spring we are having quite an interesting bunch of interns and volunteers here at 8thLife,
and before some of them leave, having finished their times here,
we decided to gather everyone and collect some of their stories and experiences of being here so far,
and share them with all of you who, from all over the world,
follow our adventures in developing and nurturing this embryonic EcoVillage project for the next generations to have a better future.





Sven

Sven is an intern from Germany who has been here for 6 weeks, and who has taken on coordinating the work in the gardens and some parts of the forest gardens as his practice for facilitation and design coordination.

I enjoyed being here with other people here – the group of other interns, guests, volunteers and residents.  
I’m thinking more pro-actively now, I developed the leadership and facilitation skills.   I really like that I got a good overview on important and helpful skills on communities and eco-projects.   I really like living in nature, being really part of it, giving more positive input to it.   I got some knowledge about how to live sustainable life, mainly with the course.   Developed Gardening skills, and learned a bunch of nice tools for designing.
It’s different living in a city than in a place like that and I really like it.


Giovanni & Eloise

Giovanni & Eloise are a Bazilian-Italian & English couple of interns who came here to learn more about how to set up their own sustainability project and clarify their vision for what to do, where, when, how, etc.

Giovanni

It was a great decision to come here, because I needed this experience to take with me to Italy.
How much I appreciate peace and nature. How much I appreciate the intellectual talks, how much I want to help and heal the planet. How much I want to create community. How many communities are there to be helped.
The whole experience, it came in the right moment for me.


Eloise

I really enjoyed the team work we were doing in the morning especially, like the group design challenges and being able to see what we can do when we put our minds together.
It’s been really valuable to have this quiet place in nature to gain perspective on life and to learn new tool to help with direction and how to self-manage.
It was difficult at first, this pro-activity element where the classes weren’t given in person, but I’ve understood gradually how those online resources can be used and it’s taught me to take more control over my learning.
The biggest thing that I walk away with is this ability to make the conscious design about my life and to know that there is a community of others also on the similar path.


Romana

Romana, from Slovakia, is doing the 1-year EVS program here since October last year, to develop her leadership, communication, and entrepreneurial capabilities, and learn many concrete practical skills, in order to be able to create in the future her own job that can be personally fulfilling, ethical and sustainable, and financially viable.

I am really glad for opportunity to be part of life on finca, studying permaculture and contribute to this project.
It gives me space for following my interests, showing my iniciative and learning new skills from people who decide to share their wisdom with me. I´ve met here so many interesting and inspiring people who enrich my life and make it meaningful.

And atmosphere of the place is magical, close to nature, calm and warm   :)   Perfect conditions for showing iniciative, for starting to do whatever you want, close to the nature.


Simon

Simon is a volunteer from Germany who came to help for a few months with domestic tasks and food preparation and preservation, and also learn about some other parts of life and work in a farm.

It’s cool here!
I’m just beginning to really appreciate what this place is and what it means and I like that you can fill it with so much meaning.
I have to say, I’m a city person and I have never in my life felt so close to nature and that is partly the result of staying here – being surrounded by people who inspire that kind of thinking and location that is totally intertwined with nature.


Allan

Allan is another volunteer, from Scotland, who came to help us with repairing and building stone walls, which is very important and much needed work around the farm, as all the land here is very inclined and terraced.


It’s just very rewarding being here. The possibility of being productive and relaxed is equal and I have so much enjoyed that compared to the contrast of my normal daily life and I thank you for what you’ve created.



Eleanor

Eleanor is an Anglo-Germanic guest who came here to take some time off, rest and recover from stress in her life.

I have really enjoyed and found it really calming to be around the nature and the abundance, the animals, the green. I think it helped me to realise more what I want and what I’m able to give and define that more clearly.


Binno & Marta

Binno & Marta are a Romanian-Italian couple of volunteers who came to help us with the animals, especially on the weekends, looking after them, feeding them and moving their compost around.

My experience here was so intense and peaceful at the same time. I discovered that when I’m working here I’m not only working but also growing bigger in my peace, because I’m growing happy. Especially with the animals. When in the morning I’m not happy and go to the sheep – the day is much better.
The contact with nature is so healthy that you have experience it to know what I’m talking about. In the city you are used to be stressed and have a lot of pressure on you, but here it’s quite another world and it’s so strange that this is the reality, this is the real world that we have to live.
I’m just so happy, I don’t want to do nothing else in my life than living like this, because this is the right way to live. Thank you - the World!

Exciting Opportunities

posted 16 Aug 2016, 18:24 by NodoEspiral   [ updated 14 Sep 2016, 16:17 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora ]

We have 4 wonderful young Europeans arriving in September for a year-long internship programme - and had so many applicants (65!) who are such interesting people ... that we didn't want to send out the 'sorry but ...' letters without also putting out clearly all the other opportunites we're offering.  So here they are, summarized:





PeDreTea2 from 2016-2017

PeDreTea2 (Permaculture Dream Team - the second group) is a 2 to 6 month action-learning adventure focusing on hands-on intensive design exploration of Team Building & Forest Gardening (with optional extra design projects) in the 8thLife EcoVillage project in the Canary Islands.
Ideal for all those who seek to clarify their path towards sustainability & wish to acquire the most important skills required for this.

See www.media.8thlife.org for full details and how to apply if interested.

This is the banner we made for PeDreTea2 this time,

and we hope  to put photos of the other members of this team which we'll gather during the next months.

We already have some great applicants, and have yet to put out the news on the main social news channnels!  Enrollment has started but will only end when we have a group of people deciding together when to come live on site (dates flexible).




EVS2 Starting in September

After putting out the call for the EVS programme "Integral Permaculture in the Canary Islands" in our last newsletter at the beginning of July, we received more than 60 applications, most of them from very interesting-sounding people!  Which made it very difficult to choose just 4 for the programme...

But we did it, even though it was sad for us to have to let some people go ... and now we have a great team of young people getting to know each other and us via skype conference: 2 from Poland, 1 from Sweden and 1 from Turkey.

Look out for news about how that project goes in future newsletters!

Seeing all the great applicants for this programme, made us hurry up a little more to finish putting out the other ideas we've had from time about people we could help a lot whilst they help us a lot, in fulfilling some of our dreams:





New Volunteer Positions

We've found our resident EcoBuilder now (yipeee! :) and the residents family is growing, so we have three brand new new volunteer positions:
  1. 1 Paleo Chef / Domestic Help
  2. 2 Stone Wall Builder
  3. 3 Compost God/dess
for some very special people: they have to be able & willing to live in a tent for a while, at least at the start -  and that's in exchange for only 3 hours per day of work.  






You don't require any previous experience, especially if you have a strong interest in these areas.

See the news in our Volunteers page, "Three New Volunteer Positions" for more details.



And the Regular Internship Programme

Although we have less rooms spaces for this now (but always plenty of tent accomodation spaces), our popular & very flexible internship programme (that have been running here now for several years) will continue, and can be taken for 1, 2, 3 months or longer.  And if you are elegible for Erasmus+ funding, you can apply for it in this programme.



Compost Toilet & Solar Shower entrances.




Future EVS

For young people who applied for this roud of EVS places please note that we will take your applications in mind for future programmes.

We tend to select people who already have shown an active interest in Integral Permaculture, so please note that the Academy offers also free mini courses online, which you can study anywhere, in your spare time.



Future News

For future news from 8thLife, please note we have facebook group where you can see latest news but also comment, ask questions, etc.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/8thLife/


You can join our email list if you want us to keep you up to date with how the EcoVillage evolves - by clicking on the image below:

http://eepurl.com/iApWE

Integral PermaCulture in the Canary Islands

posted 5 Jul 2016, 17:58 by NodoEspiral   [ updated 16 Oct 2016, 14:55 by Stella Ne ]


The 8thLife EcoVillage Project is offering a unique chance to learn, live & breathe applied permaculture design for a whole year to 4 young people (ages 17 to 30) from Poland, Slovakia & Sweden* who care about the future - and who would also love to learn some Spanish.

*(If you're not from these countries you can still apply to be on our reserve list, or for possible future programmes, using the same application form - please clearly state your Country in Q1.)

... UPDATE 16 oct 2016 - we're looking for our last person from Slovakia ...


Thanks to the financial support from the Erasmus+ Youth in Action Programme of the European Union. the chosen volunteers will have the opportunity to learn basic entrepreneurial skills, as well as learn about design, science and all aspects of working on ecosystem restoration at the same time as contributing to an ethical and sustainable bioregional economy.  All of this while also learning about living and working in community as part of a young eco-village project.


You can find out more about this exciting project here:
www.bit.ly/gaEVS2


Do fill out the application form below if you think this big adventure is for you! 

Note this round of the EVS programme will run from September 2016 to August 2017, with interviews by Skype during July & August 2016.  Deadline 15 August.

Application Form

... UPDATE 16 oct 2016 - we're looking for our last person from Slovakia, if you are from another country please look at our other possibilities for volunteering if you are interested, and join our mailing list to receive news about new and exciting opportunities - thank you  :)

The application form is here if you are from Slovakia, can start in October & are sure this programme is for you.  Please send a skype request to "StefaniaStrega" when you complete the application so we can interview you as soon as possible. 



This is an aereal view of the farm & ecovillage site





What do our Interns do?
click on titles of past newsletters to see:








Future EVS Programmes

We may be able to run similar programmes in the future, so if you are elegible for EVS (between 17 & 30 years old & from the EU) but not from one of the countries of this round, you are welcome to fill out this same application form (stating wider range of dates you would be available in Q.3).

Also do join our email list to receive news of future programmes & / or any of these 3 Facebook groups: 8thLife, IPC, 8thVols



What is EVS

The European Voluntary Service (EVS) is a programme of European Comission within the ERASMUS+ framework that gives young people the opportunity to express their personal commitment through full-time voluntary work in a foreign country within or outside the EU.

The EVS aims to develop solidarity, mutual understanding and tolerance among young people, while contributing to strengthening social cohesion and promoting active citizenship. Their learning experience is formally recognized through a Youthpass . Volunteers receive free board and lodging, insurance cover and a grant for the duration of the project (in some cases they may be asked for a contribution for travel costs).

EVS volunteers working for more than two months abroad can get additional support to learn, and test their progress in, the language used during their volunteering.



EVS Experiences and Growing Gardens

posted 29 May 2016, 15:45 by Stella Ne   [ updated 14 Sep 2016, 11:44 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora ]

boletín en español aquí                          newsletter that we sent by email,  thanks for sharing it!


In this newsletter you can read about the experiences of Nicola and Maja - the interns that are here funded by the EVS Programme - and the latest progress with the gardens, which have been brilliantly led by them.

The context for this work is the vision we're working to for the whole farm, or the 20 year plan: a huge forest-garden complete with animals where all of us (plants, humans & animals) can self-forage as much as possible, & lots of biodiversity & increasing fertility can happen with the minimum of effort on our part: because we've designed a good self-regulating system - which takes a lot of observation, thinking, experimenting, organizing, & then meticulous creation of infrastructure.




Maja from Poland

I started my EVS with Gaia Tasiri about a month ago, although I have gotten to know & love their EcoVillage since february (6 months ago) whilst volunteering at a neighbouring project, and was hoping to be able to do an EVS placement here in the future.  Very luckily for me, I was invited to start earlier than I had anticipated due to one of their EVS placements leaving in May.

I really enjoy my time in here.
Just living so close to nature, in constant contact with the soil, plants and animals and being a part of natural cycles that are going on around makes me feel more alive than ever.
We have a lot of work, as it is a farm and we not only maintain it but also work for its development, but it is a very satisfactory work.

Every day we work in the gardens, tend to the animals and to relationships between ourselves and besides that, I am doing my Integral Permaculture Course which I was kindly provided.
All of these activities teach me a lot in many different fields. Besides the scientific knowledge of permaculture from the course, I acquire a lot of practical skills like milking, handling sheep, working with cement, wood, soldering and many others.

At the present time the most important focus for me is working on my leadership skills and emotional development. I have an amazing opportunity to live in a community that is constantly developing in commitment to evolutionary relationships.
I have a great emotional and mental support from people around me who are not only more than eager to always discuss some important and interesting issues on basically any given topic but also are always available for me when I need their help in any way.

The amount of work (physical and intellectual) is sometimes overwhelming, but I gladly immerse in this intensity to take as much as I can from this opportunity - to learn and to give back.
And to be honest, seeing how much there is to learn and how many fascinating projects I could start in this place, how I could benefit not only to this land but also to the people, makes me think that one year is just not enough!




Nicola from England

I started here, at 8th Life eco-village project in February, shortly after the birth of my son. I have always wanted my family to be an extended one- a community, where blood is not the only bond and with this placement, I am lucky enough to be able to begin that dream.

Of course, living and working on a busy eco-village project, with an infant son is a challenge. I am torn in wanting to put all of my energy into the gardens, the infrastructure, the people care and yet, I find that my energy is one fifteenth of what it used to be. No longer can I pass whole days in the garden, breeze into a circle and be undistractedly present (as I did in the community I lived with previously)... adjusting to motherhood in such busy and exciting conditions is hard. I have a tendency to be hard on myself and to either chastise myself for my lack of attention to Luka or to the project. Sometimes, I fear that with my “special” circumstances, others will resent me. Fundamentally, in our society many people are valued only for their productivity, being fundamentally human is not enough. Living here, I get to challenge this conditioning of mine and hopefully, offer Luka freedom from it.

In the first months, I was mostly just mother but now that Luka is older and I can share him with the residents, I am finding a whole new world of life opening up. This is a privilege that most mothers do not have. I leave my bedroom and there are people with the same vision and interests as me, right outside. They enjoy relating with me as a young mother who is doing something totally different for my son- they seem to even find me inspiring. They help me to accomplish my tasks during the day and enjoy relating with us, especially Luka.

The vision here at 8th Life puts an emphasis on creating a better world for the future generations, serving the environment, refining our culture, refining our relationship with the self and with each other. I am so lucky that my home and my family want to go beyond dogma and conditioning to provide the best possible life for my son. This, to me is winning the lottery.

Here at 8th Life, there is a radical feminist agenda and so, my work as a mother is recognised as “work”. Here, raising the next generation is a hugely valuable contribution and my 6 hours of work a day can include time with Luka - and so it is achievable. (Though, as I previously stated, my internalised sexism- in perceiving myself as a mother as a burden needs work- at least here, I have the contradiction provided. Even if, I do need a little reminder.)

If I compare my life to the life of many others in England (my home country), who live in neighbourhoods where in reality, there neighbours are strangers who distrust one another. Who live in streets with tiny gardens, the sound of cars continuous, their food bought in the supermarket, isolated in a vast population where we feel that most of those that we encounter in daily life, in reality do not care about us at all… I have to consider myself priviledged.
I live in a beautiful place with large forest gardens, vegetable gardens, a family of animals as well as humans who are enchanting, my food is largely sourced here- it is of the highest quality, the people who I live with are hugely interesting and engaged, the air and the water are clean- the stars at night are second to none I have ever seen, I listen mostly to the sound of Pigs, birds, chickens, sheep… Incredible. Amazing. Thank you!

Luka is blessed to meet so many people- I believe that his exposure to many different faces in such a special environment will serve to create a more balanced being. He certainly is not shy and his inquisitive nature is totally nourished here. Given the breadth of things that he sees us doing and the way he sees us going about doing them- he is learning a lot.

I hope to live in a place like this long term, using this financed year to establish an eco-business which will sustain us. So, I truly am immersing myself and Luka





The Big Chicken Tractor

This is a project that the PeDreTea team took on as their central food-growing goal.
it is a design for a big 'green machine' which will take some time to complete, but then produce enormous amounts of veggies with minimum effort, because the chickens will do most of the soil preparation work for us.

It consist of six big gardens (the moon-shapes in the diagram) in a terraced valley in the middle of the first finca.
The locals call these 'nateras' (cream-makers) because they naturally collect the fertility that flows down-hill with the water  - which is possible thanks to the wonderful terracing work that was done by the ancestors here.

Previously, they brought in all the animal compost that they produced in the goat & cow stables, but we opted for a chicken tractor system because it fulfills the same function of adding lots of compost, but with many additional benefits.

The chickens will spend one or two months in each garden and then move on to the next one.  In this way we would have constantly at least one garden producing food, and the chickens always being in a nice, big, semi-open (with fencing) space where they can find plenty of tasty insects and greens as well as enjoy the nature. 
In the same time they fertilize our gardens and reduce the weeds and any of the insects that might eat our veggies, and we also get more & nicer eggs, as well as our 'chicken TV' - a great place to go meditate by watching the chickens enjoy their natural environment.

A few weeks before the PeDreTeans arrived, in the middle of February, Stefania explained what is already in place and what else needs to be done, in this video, above, as the project summary.

At the end of April, after the camping kitchen was refurbished, the work in these gardens started, beginning with the Flora Garden, because it is the closest one the chicken house and the easiest one to connect to it.

The first step was building a door system to easily close and open a corridor for the chickens to go into the garden,
but that ended up requiring the re-positioning of the fencing poles, with extra reinforcement, to make the whole structure stronger and more stable, so the new doors could be better held.




The next step was re-attaching the fencing with reinforecements to that the plants won't pull it down as they climb on it, and also making it higher so the chickens couldn't easily jump out, and focus on preparing this garden instead of roaming around the whole finca.



And on the 13th of May, finally, the chickens could come out into the garden!
And the PeDreTeans were so enthusiastic about getting their
own food supply that, although at least one month of waiting for the chickens to do their job was needed, they decided to start building the garden beds immediately.






They also wanted to experiment with hugelkultur, so on the bottom of the beds are cut branches, and on top of that soil and compost, and later they want to make them into towers for vertical growing (for ex.  strawberries)


They decided to make three raised beds with metal scraps as walls, and in the middle, where there used to be ponds, they experimented with putting in compost towers. 

They reused the old watering system that was already in place, so after deciding where the rest of the beds were going to be built, they slightly redesigned the old piping to fit it into them.


And this is a video of the work in progress:






Fortuna's Gardens



Here is a walkabout of some of the gardens by Nicola >>

Nicola took over the designing & organizing of the gardens as soon as she arrived here - so Luka, who was born shortly before the beginning of her EVS volunteering here, has participated in every "Garden Hour" that his mum has organized since ... so he's been learning about gardening literally all of his life.    Very lucky baby, and very blessed all of us :)



The vision for these gardens is to be an aesthetic, accessible space, which can be low maintenance and highly productive.

As it is in full view of the neighbours and is part of the hostel, we have invested some time in building new "swanky" raised beds with recycled pallets to complement the original ones with logs and stones.

 << This is how the garden was last summer, with the 'old style' beds.  There's still lots growing there, and Nicola & her "Garden Hour Gang" have finally added drip-watering systems in each one, so we won't have to spend many hours watering by hand.

May 2016 - Five new raised beds with life exploding out of them!

 And these are the newer pallet-wood raised beds >>
We want these to also serve as a quail & guinea-pig tractor, so the next step is to make a movable home that fits on top of the beds.

These raised beds are more comfortable to work with, they save water and leave plenty of space for the roots of the many trees we need to keep the gardens shaded in the summer, and they are also very fertile, as we filled them with our lovely soil, combined with super-sheep compost, sand and picón. 

Picón is a volcanic rock which is very mineral rich and filled with little holes full of air, and microbes and bugs that live in them.

It serves to add some of the advantages that other materials, like terra preta, are famous for, as one of the characteristics of charcoal is a very similar porous structure, with the added advantage of lots of minerals which the microbes will make available to the plants over time.

Mattis, the wonderful young carpenter from Berlin who lived with us for four months, did a great job of inventing a way of making each bed out of just 3 palets, so that we could make the bed frames out of very economical wood.

Mattis working on a new bed

The pallets are stripped down to this, and then the gaps are filled in and it is screwed together.

When the completed frame is put in place, we add a layer of cardboard at the bottom to discourage the tree roots from entering the beds and also further up, to encourage mycelium growth as well as earthworms, who seem to love damp cardboard.

We dig around the bed area to ensure the bed sits flat and level, and we use the soil from the paths plus lots of compost to fill the beds. 


Nicola supervised the whole project, and also dug-in enthusiastically whilst taking care of Luka (who everyone took turns in carrying).

First the bed is positioned so it's level, and then it's filled with layers of soil from the surrounding areas, sheep compost, sand and picon.

And when the desired soil level is reached (leaving some space at the top), we mix together all of the "cake" layers.


This design fits very well into the 80/20 design/maintenance ratio  -  we say that in permaculture 80% of our time & effort should be spent in designing & installing (well-designed) systems, so that we later we need spend only 20% of our time & effort in maintaining them (which is a kind of reversal of the Pareto principle), and in this garden, we are definitely doing this!
With this work, we completed an one-off job which takes much time & care in order to save lots of time later - and following the same principle, we recently finished installing an automatic watering system which is now in all of the beds.

Thank you to all of the volunteers, guests and interns who have contributed to this!

And more recently, we were very priviliged to obtain lots of sheep's wool to mulch with so the gardens now look like they're covered in snow and will be super-efficient in water saving throughout the summer. 

Wool is the perfect mulching material because - although biodegradable (eventually) - it doesn't disintegrate in the sun anywhere as quickly as straw and other organic materials, it is a great insulator against heat & cold (it's a good idea to keep soil temperature as even as possible), and it is also full of nutrients (bits of dirt, sheep compost, lanolin, etc.) that are slowly released into the soil as nutritious compost-tea  when we water it from above.

Thank you Jose, Brio & Maja for your sheep shearing efforts!  And to Eduardo, our local country vet who always invites us to come help on his yearly sheep-shearing marathons around the island, in exchange for the wool.

November 2015 - The old beds of stone and logs, filled mostly with cabbages and aliums >>

Next in our ambitious design is the creation of a portable quail and guinea pig tractor
- with this movable cage (also called "cute little animal tractor"), both the animals and the guests in the hostel by which these gardens are, will have added entertainment in their lives, and more importantly,
the quails & guinea pigs should perform a similar function to the chickens, eating seeds and weeds, scratching the soil and composting in situ, saving us lots of effort

We have never heard of such an animal tractor, so we'll have to experiment & see (and report back in future newsletters as to how it works in practice), but apart from our permanent wish to experiment, we  want to use quails & guinea pigs for this design because they are much more suited to the size of the bed space available than chickens, who need much larger spaces - like the big gardens we are making into a huge chicken-tractor system in another part of the finca, see above.
Middle Terrace November 2015
Below, May 2016: the old beds, after harvesting lots of food from them all winter & spring, with newly installed watering system, beans, aliums, herbs, brassicas, tomatoes and sunflowers
The new beds can't be seen as they are right at the end of this terrace & so full of green they just appear as a forest! 


Nicola thinks that a garden isn't complete without sunflowers, and she's gradually tucking an increasing variety of plants into the gardens, surrounded by wool, songs and love.

Below this terrace there are two others which we will also be turning into gardens step by step  -  the lower terraces are not as easily accessible from the house as the first one, so here we're making gardens (not raised, for now) for plants that don't need frequent visits.

<< May 2016- the lower 2 terraces: our tomatoes are all tucked in with lovely wool, the area has been composted, sand has been added, plus an automatic watering system, and invisible to you... there are baby melons, cucumbers and pumpkins rising up to greet us.


This below is a picture of the same 2 lower terraces in November 2015: a wilderness of wild mustard, which grows plentifully here, and we harvest them all winter and spring because they are really delicious and nutritious greens.

This is the lower terrace November 2015



The Kittens

One of the features of the salad garden is that the wild cat that Nicola has tamed over the months is now raising her two kittens under the pepino bushes, and part of our harvest is getting to see them playing and purring around the guest house each day, and having them always accompany us in our group meals, and let us stroke them.
Here is a short video (in our FB group) of these little playful bundles of delight, and you can see another one below.






Do join us in the facebook group where you can comment on the newsletter, ask questions, etc.


http://facebook.com/groups/8thLife

Spring News

posted 5 Apr 2016, 12:38 by Stella Ne   [ updated 27 Jul 2016, 07:39 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora ]


After
 a very quiet winter period when we chose not to have guests whilst we prepared for receiving a big group of students here in 8thLife, things got very, very busy ...

Adult Education Visit

At the beginning of March we had a visit from a group of adult education students who wanted to practice their English whilst visiting the project, so we organized for each of the Interns to explain one point of a tour of the place that we designed especially for them.

We really enjoyed the day with them all, this is the group photo for the day:


This was the tour programme we designed:


1) Library Integral Permaculture courses (multimedia, self-directed classes take place here in our 'cinema-library-meeting-room space) www.IntegralPermaCulture.org (Stella & Jose)

2) Gardens see www.bit.ly/RationalFood (Nicola)

3) Nurseries (Tagasaste project) (Luca)

4) Sheep Holistic Grazing, see www.bit.ly/AllanSavory (Stella & Jose)

5) Compost Toilet (+ Iponomea propagation) (Alejandra)

6) Pens for Pigs & Sheep (Csilla)

7) Chicken House for chicken tractor system (Zuzanna)

8) Solar Shower  (Thomas)

9) Camping PeDreTa project,   https://pedretea.wordpress.com  (Stella & Jose)

10) Workshop  (Mattis)


(the names in brackets are the people who were stationed at those points to tell them about the various designs there - in their best English :)  We gave them a leaflet with the map & these links so they could research more about each topic.


Click on picture below to see where the points of the tour are:




Erasmus Interns

We are delighted that this year we were finally able to start offering integral permaculture action-learning placements to Interns funded by the European Union.    

This means that the life-enhancing (& sometimes life-changing) action-learning experiences we have gotten better & better at providing over some 20+ years of experience are now also available to young people who wouldn't otherwise have been able to afford them.  








Do join us in the facebook group where you can comment on the newsletter, ask questions, etc.


http://facebook.com/groups/8thLife





Some comments about the Internship programme from recent students:


One good thing is online interface, flexible studying (you can do it in your own time) - Nico


I really appreciate the freedom that i have here and that i have been trusted in this learning process. - Mattis


I like that we can take the course anytime, & that we can learn many thing we have never done before. - Zuzana


What I like is also the flexibility, the possibility to learn from the others as well (interactive groups learning). - Thomas


The online course has the advantages of no deadline, being flexible. - Csilla


What I like is that we choose how much we want to get involved, its our decision and we can adapt it to our needs. - Alejandra


Diary of a Guest

posted 16 Dec 2015, 14:41 by Stella Ne   [ updated 26 Jul 2016, 05:43 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora ]


Brio delighted us with his visit for
just one week, and was one of the many guests that leave promising enthusiastically that they will write something about their stay... but unlike most, he actually did send it!

And he not only wrote LOTS (and beautifully, complete with pictures, see below) but actually decided "not to really leave at all" by joining the PeDreTea project as part of the Online team...
... which he quickly infected with his lovely sense of humor by proposing we include a fictional video mini-series:


"Plot:
the basic outlay is a good v evil story base on James Bond’s Dr.NO.
but our villain is called “Dr.CO²” (full name “Dr.CO²NSUMERISM”)
Dr.CO² is trying to control the world by seducing us into thoughtless consumerism and a destructive attitude towards the planet.

My real life inspiration (and favourite actor) for Dr.CO² is Jose with whom I shared many evil jokes last week, and who I believe would make a great villain. Pitched against Dr.CO² is a group of warriors..."


(interestingly, DrEvil looks a little like Brio,
only without his lovely hair or glasses)



And below you can see what he wrote about each of his days here:

Arrival

I am not the best at following driving directions, so - after missing the driveway 5 times over - I have to be rescued by Jose and Stu and guided back to the finca.

It’s already getting dark so the grand tour of the estate is postponed to the next day.

Instead I am having a little evening chat with Mattis who moved here - straight from Berlin - into the ‘Domo’ which is a dome made out of plastic waste.

Boli, the dog, stays there with him to keep the rats away… in the light of this info I am thankful for my slightly chilly, north facing bedroom, although the red mood lighting makes it impossible to do any reading.

Enough blankets, though, to keep me warm through a night of vivid dreams of happy cats and dogs.


1st day

Morning coffee from the espresso machine I brought with me (just in case…) and this view:


I sign up for a morning gardening session (which are voluntary for guests).

Today’s consists of helping Samadhi by shovelling soil into fresh Swales (an arrangement of stakes and branches to keep the terraced garden beds from eroding).


Just before our 11am breakfast/brunch I answer an email from a client from the UK which popped up after I logged into the community WIFI. It becomes clear that I could do a lot of work from here - nice!

Breakfast is a ultra-staunch mix of fried potato and greens, with added fresh avocados.
As a special protein treat we get pig bones to scrape the meat off. The picked bones go straight back into the pot to make bone-broth. Incidentally, Samadhi and Stu, as well as many previous guests stopped being vegetarians shortly after arriving here.

Personally, I love the breakfast and upgrade to half-board for the remainder of my stay.

After breakfast and the following community meeting,
I volunteer help out with odd jobs:
broken latches on doors,
helping Mathis building raised beds,
checking a new watering system with Samadhi.

Everybody is in a good mood and it is fun to get stuck in!

I was scheduled for a solar shower at 2.30,
but all I get is some gurgling sounds and three drops of cold water. Turns out some taps had been turned off due to a leak and never been turned on again.

Sod sustainability, I am gonna put the kettle on to wash my hair!


Last team effort of the day is making sausages - another first for me.

Jose is in control of the meat mix recipe and we end up with five yummy looking mixtures to funnel into pig-guts.
One hour and many German sausage jokes later we have barely 3-4 filled sausages.
Better equipment and a new strategy is needed.

(left to right: Stella, Jose, Mattis)

Our evening meeting starts with everyone being asked to say a few appreciative words about the person sitting to their left. I am expecting a lot of hippy hogwash, but people come up with very varied and heartfelt observations. People-care is a main aspect of 8th Life philosophy and here it shows.

Stu and Jose perform a song each before the meeting is finished and everybody runs off to do their thing. (My thing being dinner)


2nd day

Starts with an hour of gardening, this time we are building an arch to hold up the heavy branches of a plum tree. This is a fabulous team effort with Samadhi and Stu and we are all very pleased with ourselves and the finished product:


A new task I have taken on is to help bringing the sheep from their pen to the grazing area every morning, so today I am playing shepherds dog for Jose.
Sheep are friendly, a bit stupid and easily frightened - I can relate to that.

Jose has devised a rope-guiding system which reminds me of a water-skiing rig.
The sheep are hooked into this and can move around with some freedom but without hurting each other or getting entangled.


And today I finally get my solar shower to wash-off the sheep smell!
Maybe its because the last few days have been quite basic, but the shower feels like the most luxurious moment ever. It is just the right temperature and delightfully zero-emissions.

We postpone our shopping trip to Puntagorda as it is a public holiday today.
Instead I have a bit of Berlin computer work time in the hammock.

Mattis invites me to share his dinner of fried greens and potatoes - thanks mate!


3rd day

Wake-up - Espresso - Gardening


Samadhi’s morning hour of gardening is getting very popular, there are now three boys lined up to lend a helping hand.
Turns out four people is three too many when it comes to deciding if a raised bed is sitting level or not.

In the end it’s the three of us pontificating while a frustrated Samadhi is swinging the pick-axe. Our strategy might need looking into...


Next up are the sheep, this involves re-rigging the system as other patches need to be grazed on next.


Breakfast us usual at 11am followed by a meeting.
Consisting today of fried greens, banana curry and omelette, it's more of a brunch really - and huge:


I am doing a little bit more computer work for Berlin, this time making sure I give my colleagues a 360° view of the farm via Skype. Don’t much fancy sitting in a Berlin office under grey skies with them right now!

At four o’clock the Spanish siesta is over and we can drive into Puntagorda to get some gardening supplies and a few grocery items we can’t yet produce ourselves, like milk.
But we are also bringing some used plastic bags from the garden centre for the domo.
This puts into practice another philosophy of 8th life: not just ‘going back to nature’ but being aware of (and trying to reverse) some of humanities environmental sins.


Since dinner is everyone's own responsibility, Samadhi has offered to cook a paid dinner for me.
My first reaction is not wanting to spend anything on special treatment and feeling a bit awkward about this tourist-guest position. Samadhi explains to me that guests at the finca are also an important source of income for the project and its residents and I find it easy to agree with this, I am already spending much less than I would on any other holiday. Her cooking is amazing and it's well worth the few quid she is asking, so I am happy to be a tourist on this occasion: upgrade to full-board ensues.


4th day

Gardening today: Weeding… File under ‘boring but necessary’.
At least it’s a sweet potato patch - one of my fav vegetables - that I am liberating from the weeds, and I am pretty sure I will never be asked to do this in Berlin.


Stu and me are taking the sheep out today, because Jose has gone off to the other side of the island to attend a ‘DEMOS’ event. DEMOS is a canarian LETS scheme (a local currency to be used instead of Euros).
This is the Moneda Demos La Palma web.



Next year, the village will welcome a new Team of 8 people, also known as the Permaculture-Dream-Team (PeDreTea).

They are already organising themselves online, and plan to stay for a year.
To give them an idea of what to expect here, I shoot a little video with Stella doing a guided tour of the premises. This comes out quite well, even though there is no editing/rehearsing/or planning involved.


5th day

I finish the weeding of the sweet potatos which I started yesterday, as well as sorting out the beds of the Chinese artichokes.
Taking out the sheep with Stu is followed by some Berlin computer work.

Sausage-making, take three: We're not even halfway through filling pig guts with pork meat so another shift is scheduled with Mattis. we finally get the drift of pushing meat through the funnel without creating loads of air bubbles - can't beat the German team when it comes to sausages!

During today’s group-time we rebuild the roof on the chicken shed with corrugated plastic - the chickens have communicated to Stella that they want 'a proper roof over the head'. Stu is about half my age (and weight) so he gets to climb on the chicken shed to tie down the plastic such that any downward movement is arrested. Swell!

(spider-stu in action)

Turns out the chickens were right to be nervous about all this human activity - we spontaneously decide to slaughter one of the cockerels. he's just become way too cocky.

Hardly any of us have witnessed the slaughter of a life animal and it is time for each one to decide if today is the day. I am going to go for it and now Jose - who has done this many times before - talks us through the process.

Again it becomes clear what a special and thoughtful guy he is.
I completely trust him to do this right - and it seems so does the chicken which is sitting comfortably on his lap.


(IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ ABOUT THE SLAUGHTER SKIP THIS BIT…)

Jose claims that the axe-method of chicken slaughter only seems quicker and is very bloody.
He is also no fan of the ’swinging the chicken over the head’ approach.
Instead he stops the blood supply to the head to numb it and after a few moments twists the head against the body a few times.
The chicken flaps it wings for about 20 seconds - a moment Jose describes as ‘the soul flying away’ - and then goes completely slack.
It still is a beautiful animal (Jose plans to keep the feathers) and we silently give thanks.
Mattis, Stu and me are quite moved but far from traumatised.
I feel it was a dignified moment and I am glad that I had the chance to witness it.
As a meet eater (albeit reduced amounts) I have always felt very disconnected from the source of my food.
I want to close that gap and plan to kill an animal myself one day. I just hope it will be as gracious as this time.

(SAFE TO READ ON…)


It’s Friday evening, and that’s movie-night at the finca luna.

After the chicken episode we all fancy a quiet, animal friendly movie and settle in with blankets cushions and snacks to watch ‘The Jungle Book’.


6th day

Well, you wait ages for a proper jam session and then two come along the same day!

First one is before(!) breakfast, in honour of Victor who is leaving today (having found a permanent place to live thanks to the contacts he made whilst on the farm for 3 weeks), we got Mattis on trumpet, Stu and myself on guitars, Jose and Stella on percussions, Samadhi singing - and sadly no picture. There is plenty of hugs and appreciations for Victor, it is a very nice moment.

Because it’s the weekend there are no chores for most of us.

Samadhi and Stu decide to stay at the farm to sort out domestics, but Mattis and I are off to Tazacorte beach.

This involves an hours drive over adventurous roads with great vistas. (This can be said about pretty much all roads on La Palma).

We return via Puntagorda market which is surprisingly busy for such a small village, it’s about 50/50 locals and tourists (of which most seem to be German).

Mattis is on the lookout for a proper Vollkornbrot and manages to get hold of one. (The food at the finca is mostly carb free and kind of ‘paleo’).

We take great pictures from the vista platforms.

I have my final ‘tourist dinner’ courtesy of Samadhi which is once again delish.

We are all meeting in the library for a jam session, which has been chosen as the appropriate way to send me off.

The musical flow is somewhat better at this time of the day - maybe also due to Samadhi’s mood-enhancing incense - and we are jamming for a good 90 minutes.

Stu is unsuccessfully attempting to present his latest composition to everyone, but the vibe is more one of group silliness and this has to be postponed to another time. Time to call it a night.


7th day - departure

I have said my goodbyes to Samadhi, Stu and Mattis yesterday as they are having a well-deserved lie-in.

That doesn’t mean I wake up alone though, piggy-wiggy has come over to great me right outside my room.
This is quite unusual as she keeps to herself most days, but today she is in heat!

I gingerly edge past her into the kitchen to see that the espresso and milk have been cleared away.
Clutching a cup of green-tea I make my way to the dining area, where piggy-wiggy’s advances get increasingly scary and I receive a little ‘kiss’ on my track-suit clad knee.
No morning coffee and a pig-in-heat is too much to handle, so I call out to Jose who comes to my rescue.
(Fittingly mirroring the events of my arrival here).

Jose - and only he can pull off that sort of spiel - convinces me that piggy-wiggy’s advances are a compliment to my male virility and sexual charms.

Many hugs and leaving presents later I get into my car and onto the LP-1, knowing that whatever happens in my life, piggy-wiggy of 8thLife will always fancy me :)




The PeDreTea Project

posted 17 Oct 2015, 12:15 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora   [ updated 18 Nov 2015, 16:00 by Stella Ne ]

boletín en español aquí                          



8thLife has started a new project through our (also newly created) 8thLife Medias,
and we are asking for your help – in fact, we may be asking for YOU!

Our project is called PeDreTea, short for Permaculture Dream Team.

We aim to create a one-year self-contained community experience 
in an ancient farming homestead in the Canary Islands
that will help us to restore the planet and humanity,
documenting the efforts of the 8th generation of the industrial era of civilization
to walk the talk to a sustainable, planetary and renewed culture,

and we want to share what we are experiencing and learning with people around the world,
so we will record the process as a documentary series, starting in March, 2016.



This groundbreaking, year-long social experiment asks:
Is it possible to begin again, away from the conveniences and distractions of city life, re-adapting civilized humans to a more indigenous and sustainable way of life?

And we are inviting you to join us for 1 Year at 8thLife!


http://media.8thlife.org


We are in the process of assembling our PermacultureDreamTeam right now,
and we want you to be first to come on board with us,

whether it is as part of the
online support group,
helping us with outreach, fundraising, media expertise,
integral permaculture advice and support and organization,
or by joining us as part of the ‘on-the-ground-group’
- and you are the most perfect and most needed participants,
since you are already part of the 8thLife community.


We want around 8 – 16 new people on the ground at 8thLife for one year, in total
(the regular residents team is not part of this project but will be assisting us), 
& we will also be accumulating as large of an online support group as we can.



We would really love you to join us on any level you can
so please visit the website and fill out the application form!





*** CREATIVE MEDIA PEOPLE WANTED ***

We are in Stage 2 at this point, so we are especially searching for:
 
* good or experimental video makers

* video editors

* illustrators

* designers

* web creators

* social media experts

* writers
* networkers

* film editors

* creative artists

* animators

* bloggers

* Facebook fans

* Sustainable living ‘experts/fans’



For the group who will actually be staying at 8thLife in La Palma
for 1 year, we are also still looking for all kinds of skilled people:
 
* organic growers

* homemakers

* eco builders (particularly of small buildings)

* ceramicists

* engineers
* gardeners

* artisans

* entertainers

* artists

* those who seek adventure or escape.

* And oh, yes - children are very welcome, too!



Please help us to find the perfect people
who will be able to commit and contribute
for this incredible opportunity.
You can start by forwarding this newsletter to anyone you think should know about it!

Thank you!














We believe that stopping the destruction, working to build soil,
restore ecosystems, heal our addictions,
re-design the organizational structures of the global economy
and learning to live in community, starting locally,
are the most important and urgent jobs to do now.

If you are clear for yourself that supporting the transition of our
destructive society
to a sustainable world is your first priority – we want you!



media.8thLife.org

We are having regular online meetings to organize the logistics of all this, as we are all from different countries.



CoCreating under the Summer Sun

posted 19 Jul 2015, 07:26 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora   [ updated 28 Jan 2017, 21:00 ]

One of the delightful things about our work is living in harmony with the cycles of nature, which means that how we do things, and what we do, changes with the seasons, as the landscape does, quite dramatically. 

Although we enjoy trying out different ways of organizing our farm routines, the whole revolves around building soil & biodiversity by supporting the vital cycles of all the creatures (animal, vegetable and mineral) that we are so privileged to be sharing this piece of Paradise with.


This is another beautiful image by Heloise (see last newsletter)  that graphically represents this.

Interns & Designs

In this newsletter we will be looking at the work of 5 of our Students & Interns who have been with us lately.

We've now been trying out the new EcoEscuelas network project since November, perfecting the monthly iPDC program as we go.      

This has been very satisfying as having smaller groups means the students can take real responsbility for actually designing a variety of hands-on projects whilst they take the classes on site.  


See Academy Newsletter
for an expanded article on their Internship and their design presentations

Daniele & Fer

Daniele from Italy stayed two months in spring, said...

"I enjoyed the iPDC because it is amazing taking classes outside - as we can take the classes wherever and whenever we like, we re-designed these for ourselves to suit our personal wishes and the day we took this picture of me 
<<< I was outside with Suzy doing her class in another language,
instead of together inside like previous days.

The E-Book is really full of information.  I go there to look up whatever I am most interested in that I learn from the classes."


Our water pump needed a new shelter so Daniele, after trying out a few eco-business wild ideas (that were very creative and interesting for us to follow) took up the challenge and created a pump house as one of his designs.   The idea was to protect the pump from the elements while being moveable if needed, and we are very happy with the results.

Daniele often entertained us with his excellent guitar playing and singing, and was always cracking jokes, pulling pranks & was lovely to live with.  

He is also a great travel writer (see his travelling blog) and travelled home by hitch hiking on boats.  A great proponent of learning to live simply, he stayed the coldest months of the year in a small tent, sleeping out even during quite bad rain and wind storms and said he particularly enjoyed living close to nature like this.



Fer from Spain did the course at the same time as Daniele & said...

"It is really a practical course, it's flexible & the environment is perfect."

Fer delighted us with his cartoons and we laughed a lot in particular looking at
<< this one (which he showed during his final design presentation), illustrating his 'client interviewing' (he is the guy to the right with the notepad & pencil) with Jose telling him about the importance of the chickens feeling safe. 

Jose has exactly that green old jumper, goes around barefoot and plays with his long sleeves in exactly that manner.  The mark of an excellent cartoonist :)

Although his main design project was moving on our big chicken house, to which he made some important additions (THANK YOU!), for the final part of the course Fernando found himself inspired to develop his artistic side and after thinking about several projects to develop - one being a comic about his adventures transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle - he started helping with the graphics for a bioregional design we are participating in (see Basic Income day news, below). 

Fer had already several years ago started cartooning online with this blog: Una Ultima Ronda but then left it.   Whilst here with us we encouraged him to use his talents to tell the stories of transition which we think most need telling, including those of many young people are going through major life changes trying to better align their values to their life path.  So we dearly hope that he will pursue his idea of a comic about his adventures transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle.

A core part of our mission is to improve the soil and one way to do that is to stop soil erosion. By making mini-swales on the steep banks of the terraces we create little platforms were we plant things who's roots will keep the soil in place.

<< Fer in the mini-swales workshop where we covered the steepest incline in the finca with waste branches & compost.   

Other workshops Fer participated in were fermenting foods & making chocolates + making interesting dishes out of green bananas (which became a bit of a passion, especially the salty banana chips) and weaving shades from the plentiful cane we harvest nearby (for the chicken house roof).



Giselle, Emilio and Jessie



Giselle from Argentina, & Emilio from Spain stayed for just a month but managed to get 3 infrastructure projects finished, as their practical design projects, whilst they took the classes for their Permaculture Design Certificate course, the iPDC.  ¡Congratulations!

<< Here they are helping with preparing a new larger potting area behind the library, where new cuttings and transplants start their way to the nurseries (you can see them sifting the 3 main ingredients we use in varying proportions depending on what we're transplanting: soil, granzón & compost).  


Jessie from Denmark also helped with designing the vertical greenhouse as well as making some small beautiful changes around the new potting area, but had to cut her visit short due to illness in the family.  We hope she will be back soon!


So, thanks to the recent interns, we now have three nurseries: a new one for vegetable seedlings, as well as an expanded one for other small plants, and another one for trees.





See Academy Newsletter
for an expanded article on their Internship and their design presentations


Planting Trees

Since the basic design is to have the whole ecovillage be a big forest-garden eventually, we have quite a well stocked tree nursery and we do tree planting with any visitors who wish to contribute in this way.   Sometimes we do a little ceremony and they dedicate their tree to some person or some wish they have.


Because we have a quite extended dry season, we equip all our small trees with 'baby bottles' in order to train their roots to go as deep as possible so that they can be independent of watering systems when they grow up.  

It's also a good way of saving water (especially when hot) and of re-using (much better than re-cycling) the many PET bottles that can take hundreds of years to decompose.














As well as being important for the farm it is also vital for the planet that we all take part in planting trees. To stop the climate catastrophes we're facing, apparently each of us would need to plant 10,000 trees.  That may seem a lot but it actually could be done within 3 months, and is certainly doable over a lifetime.

Trees not only give us oxygen but they also act a 'carbon sink' by absorbing the CO2 in the air.  Over one year a hectar of mature woodland can absorb the CO2 emission of 100 cars.   

They also change the weather by reducing temperatures and causing more rain, and we have several autochthonous species here which 'harvest the mists' with their fine needle leaves or shiny waxy broad leaves.

At the moment we're enjoying (especially the animals) buckets of oranges and plums and waiting with anticipation for the apples and figs that are getting bigger everyday.  A forest garden gives us perennial food and each year it is easier to manage, slowly reducing the effort we need to put in. 

Alex & Clemi




Guests & Friends

During this last period we also enjoyed a delightful visit by Hamza from Turkey (a childhood friend of Stella's) who stayed with his two children, Clemi & Alex.

Apart from the extra fun we had with having two lively youngsters with us (and the delicious home-made pizza evening they treated us to), Hamza also gave us two great impromptu workshops on spiral dynamics and profiling, which is something he uses professionally and that interests us very much as integral permaculture designers, especially for community building.

We saw everyone's personality profiles in terms of the spiral dynamics model and discussed what the various combinations mean for group work and communication dynamics.  Very interesting, thank you so much Hamza!


And Jose's Cuban grandparents come regularly, and they always bring us many presents and treat us to cooking a big meal for everyone.

Thank you very much for all the support you always give to the project, Maria & Lorenzo!




Basic Income Weekend

As well as the ecovillage project, the academy work & several international integral permaculture projects, whenever we can we try to work on projects to make our bioregion (the Island of La Palma) more resilient in times of crisis and more sustainable in general.   

 

In May we ran two weekends on the farm to launch a bioregional project to set up a complementary currency for the Island, see monedademos.es/lapalma.    We particularly enjoyed the Skype conference we had with the originators in Gran Canaria, where our La Palma group could get to know their story and ask lots of questions.

   

We combined these organizing workshops with a tour of the finca and mini-introduction to integral permaculture, as well as walks in the surrounding area & resting.  It was great to have space for people to stay overnight quite comfortably, so we could live and eat together whist we got on with the work of setting up the logistics for the project in a relaxed way.  We hope to have more events like this in the future.

Fer's creative cartooning work launched the project in a way, as it was the poster he drew up during his iPDC course that first advertized the event, then put some nice colour into the online presentation (in spanish) we all contributed to creating.  

Thank you for everyone who made this happen!  For a lovely event and for a very hopeful eco-economics project for our island.  The more people realize how important this kind of wider bioregional connecting projects are, if we are to thrive in the uncertain future, and the more contribute time and energy to the work of creating these essential community infrastructures, the better.


Another Compost Toilet


 During February-March, under Derek's talents skills and design, a group of students & volunteers constructed this new compost toilet, of the twin chamber design type - of which there are manuals you can download from internet, see the e-book's page on Toilets.
Thank you
Derek, Patrick, Allan, Martin, Daniele & Fer
for all your work on this construction - everyone enjoyed learning some extra building skills from doing this, very much.


The whole point of compost toilets is that we don't waste water and can also turn human wastes (much as we do with animal wastes) into fertilizer - since our main job now on the planet is to restore the fertility of the Earth, and with it the biodiversity to restore ecosystems.

Mostly we used recycled materials, as we usually do: Derek spent the first few days collecting whatever could be used from around the farm, and we have a big store of materials we've collected over the years, so only a few parts were brought in. 

 

This new toilet was built on the edge of one of the garden terraces (Silva Garden) in order to make use of the drop for containing two composting chambers: whilst one is composting the other one is being filled, and when the compost is ready then the toilet bowl is moved over the other chamber.



It has both sitting and squatting options (squatting is a much healthier way to poo, if you have the basic fitness to be able to hold this position comfortably) and we've placed it half-way between the camping site area and the buildings so that it can be used by both areas.

This de luxe model joins our existing two types of compost toilets: the chamber pot design (most mini-max of all although ours are a bucket with sawdust that needs to be emptied only once per week - some of us have these in our room) and the older compost toilet our very first permaculture students designed from scratch, next to the solar shower, beautifully drawn by Heloise:



Pigs Tractoring

The pig's tractoring has been quite impressive, and we're enjoying learning about keeping these beautiful creatures for the first time.  It has been challenging at times, especially when they dig under the fence and get out - which they do any time we forget to feed them on time - and they want feeding 3 or 4 times per day - although it's usually so funny to get them back home (teamwork required) that we don't mind the entertainment.


Abora in January before pig tractoring

This is a forest compared to the neighbour's land behind it (paler green, with much shorter grass - they used to look exactly the same) thanks to the sheep and chicken tractoring in previous years.

 
Abora Garden in June after pig tractoring

This would be a tangle of dried weeds if it weren't for the pigs, who have also fertilized it considerably during their stay.  What looks barren land right now (in the summer) will burst into lushness (even more than last year) after the first rains in autumn.
 
Piggie & Wiggie in February


We could pick them up & carry them when they arrived, they were the same size as our baby goat, and barely reached to our knees.


This is just an experiment for now: we're observing which animals are most effective in cycling nutrients and creating more fertility overall.   We might not keep raising them, unless we figure out how to design the whole system to supply their needs and ours in a more mini-max way.   But getting to know these delightful creatures is an amazing experience :)

Piggie & Wiggie in July


Now they are much heavier than us & quite impossible to move if they don't want to - so we're quite grateful they are very sweet tempered & calm!


The cardboard in the background protecst from the sun the large quantity of bananas that we get (for free) from the island's cooperatives (many tons are thrown away for not being 'commercializable') - their main food source, together with the abundance of fruit that our trees produce, especially in summer.



& Sheep Fertility

At the time of going to press ... we have 9 sheep + 1 goat, 4 of which are lambs which were born around mid-summer (and our Canarina is still pregnant - photos in the next newsletter!).   
This spring we took more pictures of the intensive grazing experiments we're doing with them in the surrounding lands (which are noticeably more lush every year, since we've put the sheep on them).


















Our main job here (see our Mission) is to increase the fertility of the soil, to increase biodiversity and so repair the damage done by it having been used as farmland since it was colonized hundreds of years ago (farming being the most destructive activity ever invented by humans).   

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benahoarita
Originally this area was a particular kind of forest (thermophilic forest: typified by palm-trees and dragos, which we've been re-planting, amongst other endemic & introduced edibles - all part of the forest garden we're creating) and the Awarita used to pass through here on their yearly migrations with huge herds of goats and sheep.

The Awara, or Benahoaritas, are the original inhabitants of La Palma, who were exterminated and absorbed by the Spanish invasions in the 15th Century, and we remember and honor them on a daily basis with our work here, which builds on their wisdom - as they are the only humans that ever lived here in a truly sustainable way, in harmony with other species.

In the talk Jose gave at the New Economy Week conference last year (in spanish) he explains how and why we're experimenting with a modern version of the same kind of intensive grazing the Awaras practiced.



Feedback

If you have any questions or comments on our news, we'd love to hear from you!


Do join us in the facebook group where you can comment, ask questions, etc.


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by clicking on the image




You can also email us at
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Another beautiful image by Heloise to summarize what this is all about and why we are doing it :)







A Year Full of Blessings

posted 5 Mar 2015, 04:22 by Jose Lorenzo Zamora   [ updated 24 May 2015, 02:54 by Stella Ne ]

2014 was a year full of planting new seeds and providing them with shelter and plenty of nutrition so they could flourish, and with the coming of the rains they shot up and are now surprising us with their vitality, so it looks like all of those efforts will bear abundant fruit in this new year that has come to us bringing many blessings and promises of plentiful harvests.

Here we've tried to compress winter and spring into one newsletter, and we celebrated our 9th Anniversary too... so as usual it's too long, but we hope you find inspiration in it to change your life & environment.





In March the bees swarmed again and here we're giving them a new home, in a horizontal top-bar beehive Jose built, the second one, with an added peek-window so we could look inside and see how the bees are doing.



Mushrooms!

With the coming of the rains the woods all around us filled up with lots of delicious mushrooms again, and we have been enjoying them a lot, learning to identify new ones and figuring out ways of making edible some that are not commonly eaten.

It has been a particularly good time for mushrooms because we had rains interspersed with sunny warm weather, and we can get a box full just by stopping off in the woods on our way back from the nearby village, where we go to visit friends and buy stuff.

We are very lucky to have Cecilia Hosinski as a neighbor, a mushroom expert and author who lives just at a 10mins walk from us, so apart from going to the talks she has been giving, Jose has visited her a few times to bring her some presents from our farm and ask for help in identifying new species (Jose has been learning about mushrooms from time, as it's one of his passions, and now can recognize most edible species around here).


We have mostly been eating the very abundant nacidas (Rhizopogon luteolus), níscalos (Lactarius deliciosus and Lactarius sanguifluus) and tortullos de cabra (Russula delica), and we also have been figuring out how to make edible some other abundant but not commonly eaten mushrooms, like Volvopluteus gloiocephalus, Suillus bellini, Lactarius tesquorum and Lycoperdon perlatum.

We also came up with a particularly fun way of drying the excess mushrooms by making these organic Christmas decorations.

In the background there are sacred tobacco leaves, a very interesting healing plant we are enjoying learning how to cultivate and cure
(Jose has a Cuban background and his grandmother is a traditional Cuban healer, so he is very interested in exploring medicinal and teacher plants).




It was very beautiful to have mushrooms popping up everywhere, and seeing them appear, grow and develop throughout the days.  These are Volvopluteus gloiocephalus, which are delicious if prepared correctly.



Héloïse the Architect

We enjoyed the delightful company of Héloïse at the end of November, an architect who did these beautiful drawings.   

In just two weeks she made us a 3D sketchup plan of the whole farm (that we can now tweak by putting more accurate measurements as we go) and numerous drawings and concept sketches for the projects we are planning to do next.   




Here is a short bio in her own words: Héloïse measuring the Oya terrace
(where the workshop is) to make a scale map.

I am joining the project for 2 weeks, i am having now one sabbatical year from september 2014 to 2015, and plan to travel around the world. 

I arrived in Canarias to meet a skipper and a sailingboat to cross atlantic, but he had to many technical problems, so he won't come. It makes me the opportunity to discover, engage myself here. 
my website : www.heloise.in

I used to work 5 years as architect for eco-building in Lyon (France) named

TRIBU 
http://www.tribu-concevoirdurable.fr/ 


I know about permaculture design, i like gardening, building with my hands, i already did some constructions, but each time i realise there a lot of things to learn more... I am also an activist (passific). In Lyon, where i used to live, i organised the Transition Town community http://transition-lyon7.over-blog.com/ 
and Guerilla Gardening collective. www.gglyon.blogspot.com
I founded also a collective of artists and architects to "create a new world"  http://l-alter-native.tk



Translation from her blog about her experience here:

This week I'm volunteering, or woofing in the 8thlife farm. This farm has the particularity to apply a maximum permaculture principles to be self-sufficient at all levels. http://8thlife.org

Permaculture is a design approach that ethics is "taking care of the land, taking care of the human and share equitably." Permaculture design is based on sustainability, "sustainability", which according to Bill Mollison, the ability of a system to create more energy or matter in his life that he needs to run itself, in other words, a higher return 1. ecosystems are based on this principle, not machines ... in designing such systems, it is necessary to have a systemic vision, holistic with basic principles such as: the economy priority of human effort, but also resources (energy, water, space ...), then looping resources and waste by maximizing the interdependencies between components and redundancy where each element many roles and resilience, vital functions are performed by several elements.

8thlife the project, such as its authors, is exciting. Stella, Italian by birth lived 20 years in England, she has worked since 1995 as coordinator in an association supporting a permaculture project and urban agriculture, a transition initiative before its time, it is a pioneer in the field. She moved there 10 years ago in La Palma, preferring the amenities of the island (climate, clean air, etc ...) by being "poor" rather than to make a career in London, paying a flat out price in stress and pollution. There are 4 years old, she bought the farm to create an eco-village .. Jose Cuban origin and Canary adoption, it is a "young man" (22 years), very intelligent, computer, it joined the farm there is 2 years old. They are also trainers permaculture. They are responsible for creating a permaculture training that differs from the PDC (Permaculture basic degree), to the extent that the theoretical part is completely online. The idea is that the internet brings together the theoretical field of knowledge, it is accessible to all, can be seen and reviewed by the students, but organized in a training process on the website. http://www.permaculturescience.org. Then, students can come and experience the principles on the farm, but the best is to try at home and share the experiences of each then. Their approach is exciting to the extent that permaculture is not just to agro-ecology issues but treats all topics including http://www.integralpermaculture.org socioeconomic.

I was interested in the project and they were interested in my architectural skills in green building and my various illustrations. So, I draw, I make little alternative projects for the farm elements ... I'm really having a great time! I have my little room in a dependency, with kitchen, bathroom and living room, it's great, but the problem here is that it's cold at night (equivalent climate in the fall or spring Norman ... ) dropoff window

What I do most here is the animal eco-architecture, my main sponsors are animals! Below the different projects.

The chicken tractor: A "classic" permaculture, chickens are used to scrape the soil before planting, hence the name, and it replaced the "tractor" in addition to eating rubbish, lay eggs and fertilize the ground with their droppings.

The herd: Every day, their four sheep graze in nearby fields, "clippers" on legs. I drew a sheep for them and a dome for the shepherd.

The GuineaPig Hotel: Another project to rebuild their hutch guinea pig because, yes ... they eat guinea pigs ... they're "paleo" they eat meat and fish and plants, no processed food, no wheat, rice, pasta ... like the caveman, which would be the food suited to our constitution.
Although I do not
really share, I understand their food self-sufficiency approach. It is also found that the guinea pig is generally easy to breed, cute, less susceptible to disease than rabbits, with an equivalent taste, and South America, it is a typical dish ...
The workshop container: A container and overlaid roofs: the container is the closed portion which constitutes the workshop with the storage safe tools, then a portion of external storage (wood toasting etc ..) and a zone work. The whole project is done with recycled materials.




Kitchen for volunteers and students: collective kitchen, closed with windows of different sizes.

Dry toilets and solar shower: They already exist but for fun I have also illustrated.


How the farm functions

 

And I help once in a while for common tasks, I walk to Palma. There are also other volunteers from the farm: André (Canadian carpenter), Cristina (instit 'steiner, Swedish) and an Italian couple (organic producer in Calabria).

It is still an island with beautiful scenery, terrain, nature, sky, stars ... I met tourists by car and went with them in their visits ... Puertito Puntagorda, los Llanos, Tazacorte Javier (topographer diver) and Sergio (wind repairman) and el Roque de Muchachos with Oscar (teacher on sabbatical from Logroño). Beautiful people of great generosity!



The delightful Melita who visited in February, with Bonita (our new goat) in the background munching on flowers.



Biodiversity & Seed Banks

We are very lucky to have some really dedicated people here on the island
 who are working on preserving the biodiversity heritage of the region, and we occasionally visit the two sites where they propagate and distribute the agricultural and autochthonous plants respectively.

Recently we went to collect a few more varieties of sweet potato, from this field where there are some 20 varieties growing, just for distribution to the farmers of the Island.


And these are the new gardens just starting in Finca Fortuna.  The wooden frame is the base of the chicken tractor we're going to build that will be moved across each garden - here used as a measuring tool to make sure the chicken cage will fit inside each garden.

The white-topped box in the background is one of the top-bar horizontal beehives Jose has been making (which has just received a swarm, so it will be full of a thriving bee colony, like a similar one that Jose made last year, very soon).




Making wishing fairies from waste materials (like shiny chocolate wrappers, bits of cloth, etc) with Suzy over the christmas holidays.  Thanks to Fortuna's farm we now have an 'art room' (that doubles as a big dining room).
 


Plentiful Harvests

Apart from mushrooms, we also had a big harvest from our forest gardens last year that we preserved in various ways.

With the heat of the summer, we got to dry part of the abundance of fruits we had, especially figs in preparation for Derek coming this spring to help improve some of the structures on site, and also bananas, both sweet and green (which are very abundant here and work wonderfully as paleo crackers and a source of resistant starch).



We also made lots ice cream with very sweet ripe fruits (bananas, plums, pears, prickly pears...) and cream kefir, and also lots of really delicious vinegar with pears, plums, passion fruit, local wild berries and grapes.

And we even made lots of umeboshis with the green apricots, plums, peaches and almonds that fell off the trees before they could finish ripening (the trees were so loaded with fruit that the branches couldn't hold them).

And with all the grapes that Celi and her partner Jose helped in harvesting (from our own grapevines and also from some neighbors who couldn't pick theirs, so we did it for them and gave them part of the harvest) we made lots of raisins and many jugs of deliciously fizzy fermented must than later became vinegar (which we had fun pressing with our feet and hands).
 
And as the rains started to come, we finished the dry season by harvesting almonds with the help of some volunteers (although we didn't manage to get them all in, mainly because the rains arrived sooner than we anticipated).      

After picking them, the almonds need to be shelled (a job we did whilst watching movies in the library) and then dried, which was easy because it was very hot just before the rains came.




There were more flowers than ever during the amazingly beautiful almonds in flower spectacle this year (mid january to mid february), and they all fed the bees so well that in march they decided to start swarming ...



Moving the GreenHouse


We finally took down the old (experimental) greenhouse so we can expand the walnut forest we started on this terrace.

We had already moved (and expanded) the tree nursery to under the big avocado in Fortuna's house, and the seedling nursery to the long thin
garden in the patio.

The seedling nursery worked well on the garden wall over the summer, but we need a more easily sheltered place for the winter, when rain and cold make the seedlings grow more slowly.


Celi had a very good idea to make a greenhouse-wall in the new patio to
house the seed trays in a protected place as near to the house as possible, and we can't get any nearer than this.  

This will be a great new structure because it is important to be able to see seedlings several times a day, so greenhouses should be in 'Zone 1', and preferably wherever we pass daily on our regular journeys around the land.    

Then we also have our 'Multi-function' principle, which reminds us to try to make each element fulfill at least three functions (by where we place it, how we build it, etc.), and in this case, apart from making an attractive 'green wall', this new seedlings greenhouse will shelter the house from wind, provide more intimacy in this patio, and well as serve as a greenhouse, thus fulfilling at least 4 functions.




The salad garden in Fortuna's farm from above, with nursery trays full of baby veggies to plant out.



Weather Tourists and Diet

We had another interesting episode with a couple arriving with a view of staying for several months, in theory to help with the project & 'learn more about permaculture', but in practice they were just weather tourists.

There is an interesting pattern we have noticed over the years, which is that there seems to be a mass exodus to the sun by vegan or vegetarian northerners who 'need the heat' or are prone to getting SAD or winter depression.    

<< The Arctic ice has become a lake, displacing and disappearing countless polar bears (and many other species), who depend on the ice to survive.   These creatures can't afford to shop for their weather, because most ultra-privileged humans who do have money & time to spare don't choose to invest it in stopping this crazy system from destroying their homes.

This is very much a health issue, as well a sustainability issue: these people, instead of connecting deeper with their own land and ancestry (who didn't suffer from such 'diseases of civilization'), spend a fortune on airplane tickets (funding the multinationals) to go shopping around the world for their 'favorite foods & weather' rather than learn what their bodies are actually adapted to, and so REPAIR the ecosystems their ancestors lived well-adapted lives on for millennia.  

We've met whole groups of these weather tourists over the years, and we can certainly vouch for the fact (which took us many years to notice, as a pattern) that it does seem to be that the most (long-term) 'vegan/vegetarian' people are the most difficult to live with, because they seem to have very little tolerance for discomfort and are especially moody, and so very unrealiable. 

We now know that lack of animal fats in the diet causes hormonal & neuronal instability, depression and general unhappiness, as well as a whole host of other physical symptoms, when a good hormonal balance, healthy gut flora, and strong immune system can be achieved quite easily by eating what our ancestors evolved to adapt to, using the template of a paleolithic diet rich in grass-fed animal fats (why we have sheep, guinea pigs, goats and pigs on our farm), always adapted to the local ecosystem and the foods that it wants to grow for us, and incorporating the local micro-biota with fermented foods (we mostly eat wild veggies in our rich soups and sautés, but also ferment many wild and cultivated produce, which we make delicious creams out of, adding garlic & virgin olive oil).

When simply existing (and especially in this extremely beautiful place) isn't a base-line pleasurable experience (how humans with healthy bodies normally feel, whatever crisis are going on in their lives), then it makes sense to keep looking outside for possible causes of unhappiness, which sets us up for becoming chronic consumers, and perpetual 'seekers' of particular things (shopping) or experiences (being a tourist, whether in places, courses, workshops, etc.).

As Falco famously said "there are Seekers, and there are Those who Find" ... and the main big cultural difference we have with the Seeker-type people who visit us is that we are very much Finders here, very happy with our lot, deeply satisfied in our daily life and being fully present in living our mission, very connected to the spirit of this place and all the creatures we take care of, and who take care of us.

What was particularly interesting about this pair was that she was studying natural medicine & alternative healing practices, and he had brought the documentary "Origins", which, although it interviews some of the best known paleo diet experts, manages to skirt around the shocking inversion of the 'food pyramid' that we've been sold by the food industry during the last few decades (basically telling us that a healthy diet is based on carbohydrates, and processed ones at that: bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, etc).

But both smoked and had other stimulants, and also drank alcohol daily, which together with a diet poor in animal fats is just about the worst things you can do if you want your body to stay warm naturally.
And instead of realizing that they were in a perfect place to learn how to do all this and improve their own health and life enormously, they left to go shopping for warmer weather and beaches.

It was particularly cold (at nights only) when they happened to be here (less than one week), but Jose was still going around in a T-shirt or just shorts most of the time, whilst everyone else was wrapped up with woolies, which shows very clearly and graphically the difference between having a fat-based or a sugar-based metabolism.   





These are our new canarian black pigs (with our baby goat in the foreground).  

The pigs are just 3 months old, currently living in one of the overgrown gardens, which they're busy tractoring beautifully. 

<< this is how they leave the ground after they've eaten up all the vegetation, roots and bugs in the soil, leaving the earth very soft, ready for planting again.



9th Anniversary Share Price

We got the two piglets as a present for our 9th year anniversary - from getting the keys to the first farm, which was on Valentine's day 2006 - although it's only 4 years since the start of the ecovillage project, which we launched in 2011.

As usual we revised the share values on our anniversary - and this year decided that since we increased considerably the ecovillage area and living space by buying Fortuna's farm, that we should increase the share price again (and there are also now 2 new shares associated to concrete terraces in the new farm, which new permanent members can take care of).

So now a mini-share has gone up to 2,200€, and a full share to 22,000€.  
Thank you to all the share-holders to date for making this dream possible by investing your savings into this big land piggy-bank - and congratulations to the first share-holders for the 10% increase on your investment!




Stella bottle-feeding Bonita, the little goat who follows her everywhere, here with Boli (the dog) looking on. 
They are enthusiastic playmates and run around together and both go on walks with Stella in the mornings.



Suzy's Articles

From December we have had Suzy here, and we are really grateful for her great intelligence, clarity of thought, firm integrity and passion for justice.  
We have also had lots of fun together with her enthusiasm, creativity and artistic skills,
and she is doing a wonderful job as our Volunteer Coordinator, thanks to which we have a big team right now working on improving the infrastructures of the EcoVillage project.

She has also been writing some brilliant articles, partly inspired by her experience here, her discussions with us and what she is learning in the iPDC course.  
And she treats us to guitar & piano concerts too :)


And this is another one she wrote especifically about her experience here:


Living in 8th Life

The mechanisms of industrial society mean that most of us are indoctrinated into a system that does it’s very best to enslave us; it certainly seems that way at least.  It’s a comfortable prison cell, but none the less our abilities to design our own communities, and our own lives, seem limited due to our industrialised education, media and culture.  Those of us who do escape face a journey into the unknown and sometimes a complete revaluation of our priorities.

For escapees like me the 8th Life project is a haven.

 

Born in London I have grown up with very little contact with the other aspects of nature and my upbringing meant that I was expected to follow the job/mortgage/family path.  Luckily I am blessed with parents who, although seemly entrenched in the system, are secret radicals who want our western culture to change as much as I do.

I’ve discovered however that the comforts of city life are difficult to let go of.  A hot bath and internet in bed are some of my favourite vices, as well as fresh coffee and tons of sugar. 

What I think is great about this project is that it’s set up to take into account the physical and emotional difficulties that come with transitioning to a more sustainable, community based existence.  It seems that in cities, although we are crammed in together, we are actually very isolated.  Conflict doesn’t seem to be an everyday problem because we simply do our best to avoid each other.  Living community, however, means that managing conflict and personal relationships is one of the most important things to do.  One can learn how to grow the best tomatoes in the world, but if the personal relationships between people are poisoned then no one is going to be able to enjoy those tomatoes, or even organise how to grow them. 

There are various tools that are used here to add manure to our personal relationships.  One of these are ‘think and listens’ where we each take turns to say what’s on our minds for a minimum of 5 minutes, while the other person gives us their full attention.  At first it’s uncomfortable, especially if you’ve come from a background where listening to each other is a rare, or non-existent, occurrence.  However, after a while it’s clear that not only does it help to ‘discharge’ negative feelings, often trapped within our bodies, it also creates instant bonds and feelings of trust. 

Another tool use here is appreciation.  Again, it can be extremely uncomfortable to hear good things about oneself, and even uncomfortable to express appreciation for another.  But after a session of appreciation everyone glows with positive energy. 

To support escapees physically we have Transition House; where we are presented with options on varying degrees of sustainability.  For example, we have a compost toilet alongside a normal toilet; a boiler powered shower and also a solar shower; we have a saw dust washing up system as well as washing up liquid.

One of my own transition challenges has centred on my own waste aka poo.  I’ve absorbed a belief that poo is bad, dirty and to be avoided as much as possible.  This means that in the city I used as much toilet paper as I could to ensure I had no contact with this type of waste at all.  So, when I asked to try using water instead of toilet paper I bulked at the idea and my stress levels went through the roof.  However, the solution came with redesigning the placement of the toilet.  Although I struggled with using water from plastic bottles (because in my mind I was still touching poo) when we placed the toilet in bathroom, next to a bidet, I was happier to use the running water to wash.  This means that even though I’m still using water to clean myself I’m using a fraction of what is used in the manufacturing of toilet paper, and there’s also no waste; a big transition for a city girl like me.  I’m also coming to realise that my ‘waste’ is actually a valuable resource that the soil is happy to accept.

8th Life is a perfect place for those of us who are looking for a way out of the destructive culture and seems to draw new escapees like bears to honey as we take our first steps towards a more empowered and sustainable existence.  It’s like we intuitive know that here we will be nurtured and supported into our rebirth as humans who part take in the cycles of life, not just the constant one-sided consuming we experience in industrial life. 

Then, like sick cells converted in to healthy ones, we each go out and spread our new found knowledge and show the rest of our friends and family that escape is possible. 

I feel very lucky and grateful to be part of this very special project. Thank you Stella and Jose.





The pine woods near the farm through which we walk on weekends when we go to the local market.



Feedback

If you have any questions or comments on our news, we'd love to hear from you!


Do join us in the facebook group where you can comment, ask questions, etc.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/8thLife/


You can join our email list if you want us
to keep you up to date with how the EcoVillage evolves
by clicking on the image




You can also email us at
hola@8thlife.org





Here you can see what our hills and valleys look like during the almond flower season.
All our surroundings are full of these very generous trees,
that provide us with an abundance of beauty in spring,
shade and food for the sheep during the summer (who love eating the leaves that these trees shed during the dry season,
where there are not many other green things for them to eat)
and many, many delicious almonds in autumn,
which were planted by the ancestors of the families that established this village,
who got their income mostly from growing and selling almonds.

Courses, Hospitality & other News

posted 11 Oct 2014, 14:43 by Stella Ne   [ updated 26 Oct 2014, 15:42 ]

We have had a very peaceful, beautiful cool summer, cheered by the visits of family & new guests with whom we've created new gardens & nurserires and improved some animal structures, between 'little parties' inaugurating the new cinema-library.

We've also worked on the free mini-courses with a fantastic team of the Academy, with whom we then went on to design the new mega-adventure of the iPDC & EcoSchools network, which you can read about below.




Maximising 'Edge' & Fertility

It is interesting to observe that even though we are always grateful for the great fortune of being able to do this work, it is difficult to appreciate that we are actually advancing quite a lot, until we start to compile one of these newsletters.   
Step by step ...
Also because there is always so much more ahead that we are excited about wanting to do. 
 
In Permaculture we say that 'maximizing edge' is a way of increasing fertility (if we design well) and here we certainly have lots of edge, with the great variety of projects that we are doing.   

If we don't get burned out it's thanks to the many
'survival skills for activists' tools we teach in Integral Permaculture, and we do notice it quickly when we don't use some! They definitely work.

The much awaited autumn rains have started, and with them the arrival of a new & interesting phase for the EcoVillage project, with new residents, new observations, new farms, much more space & new activities
- like a return to doing the PDC courses here (the basic certification for in Permaculture Design, recognized internacionally), after 4 years.


The most exciting thing will probably be however, once the rains have been absorbed, to see how much
the fertility of the land will have increased after another year of Jose's experiments with intensive grazing.

Until now we have seen a noticeable increase in the variety, thickness & size of spontaneous vegetation each spring, wherever our animals had been (sheep or chickens) in an intensive way.

Which means that the soil is creating always more humus, so trapping more carbon, creating more life and also storing more water.

This is truly an 'earth bank' - as soil fertility is the only true wealth, ultimately.
And it's for this reason that our web starts with -


8thLife is an EcoVillage project 
starting in the Canary Islands 
a unique opportunity 
to invest in a healthy future: 
for you, for your family, 
for future generations 
& for all species.


These miracles of Nature aren't valued as much as they should be as a solution to the grave problems of climate change: easily reproducible in a big scale, with all the abandoned lands we have, this is the most permacultural thing we can do now: repair as much soil as we possibly can but in order to make larger scale cooperation between humans and other species a reality, we must also educate with our example, showing substantial results.


Our sheep only eat the wild and feral plants that grow around them, whilst they prepare and fertilize the soil, with very little effort on our part, when almost all modern farmers still spend a lot of money (petrol) buying imported grains (which are harmful to herbivores), alfalfa, etc. and then have to work to import biomass for bedding & food from outside just to later do more work to take it all away.   It could be a lot easier, and much more helpful & healthy - for humans, herbivores & climate.


But, after this 'grounding' ... this newsletter is actually mainly to communicate some other very good news:


thanks to some important changes that we've managed in this super-productive year, starting from November we can offer a very innovative way of taking the Permaculture Design Certificate, the PDC) on the farm.

We will keep offering this each month during 2015 (with some exceptions) in english & spanish, as we want to - and now can - offer this very important basic course to small groups, and in this way preserve the peaceful & homely atmosphere we appreciate so much.     Also we will be able to provide much more personal attention than is possible in traditional Permaculture Certificate courses, and this is important because it seems quite difficult to apply what this cutting edge science teaches, and now more than ever we need excellent designers for sustainability.





Monthly PermaCulture Courses starting in November

One result of the decision to focus, with the Integral Permaculture Academy, on the online courses, has been the creation of a lively international community of permaculture colleagues with very good & close relationships, who enjoy providing each other with mutual support.

This has made it possible now to offer some much cheaper Permaculture Certificate Courses, of a higher quality and for smaller groups, connecting simultaneously, in a network.     We will launch them on the farm in November - if you want to enroll on the first one there is a discount (200€ instead of 241€ for the basic course) because it is still experimental - but note that you have until the 5th of November to enroll.


You can read everything about the courses & innovations that this network has made possible on the www.en.EcoEscuelas.net website.   The newsletter for this you can see here & you can send it easily to your contacts, if you know someone to whom this may interest.


Here is a video we did a month ago in order to show the new finca where the guests & students will reside

Celi showing the front part of Transition house here with Jose translating.

Celi takes care of the guests & below you can read about  the refurbishing she's been doing since we bought the farm, in May 2014 (and we keep improving things all the time, so it is already more beautiful than when we filmed the video  :)


The whole long patio is ideal as a plant nursery, as they stay in the shade here - we've got lots!




Finca Fortuna


To add Finca Fortuna for the EcoVillage has been a dream now since 3 or 4 years ago, when it was put up for sale.  A very desired dream that, thanks to the affectionate relationship between Fortuna & Stella, we could at last close the sale for, at the perfect moment.    Fortuna tells us often how delighted she is that we could buy her ancestral home, because she says "we're just like family" for her - a sentiment we very much share.

http://aprendizajenaccion.pbworks.com/w/page/13493232/2009

Fortuna was the last person left living here, of the interesting family which used to have the large & beautiful farm that was formerly divided in various parts.    

Finca Luna was the first part of this ancestral farm that we bought (for the Foundation of the EcoVillage project), on Valentine's Day of 2006, & Finca Fortuna is the second part, May Day of 2014.



We feel very privileged, & quite moved, to be doing this exciting work to repopulate & restore a piece of rural canarian heritage.


Fortuna processing almonds
, above, an abundant harvest here,


and below, with the students of one of the annual action-learning courses that we used to have here on the farm (dressed up silly before going to a party).

- clicking on the 2 old pictures above takes you to the old action-learning wiki, in spanish -

Fortuna, who was raised on the farm as a little girl is now 88, and has gone to live near her daughter for health reasons - we go visit her whenever we go to 'the big city'.


During the 8 years of being very close neighbors this lively elder told us countless precious stories of the traditional life of this place and its inhabitants: what was farmed and how, how they processed the various harvests, how the village & the family developed ...
 

Something of which we are extremely grateful because it connects us more deeply with this land, as well as providing us with very useful & interesting practical knowledge, much of which can't be found in any book.
Fortuna is a very talented artist & artisan,
here showing a drawing of hers to be enbroidered.









Transition House

We want to offer our guests this beautiful house full of history, with surroundings & charm, as a place of transition, in order to help with the difficult and much needed path of change, thinking a lot about how to put into action one of the ethics of permaculture, Care for People.
 
< Under the patio's trees, the plant nursery.


The house that is part of the finca gives us four new rooms, three of them doubles.


We also now have a conventional bathroom and kitchen, something that - some experiences have shown us - seems necessary for people who can't adapt quite so fast to the other much more basic (and also more sustainable) facilities that we still have in the next door farm.



In this way we invite people to take all the time they need to try the other options we have, like the compost toilets, the solar shower in the open air and the rocket cooker, also in the open air.



We also have a large room that may become a café for passing tourists or simply the winter dining room.  We've enjoyed it a lot as a perfect place for making the abundant preserves, vinegars and patés that we love making, with the super-harvest that we have throughout the whole year.

We also enjoy the long patio that is connected to the valley and the Camino Real (ancient stone-paved path), surrounded by drago trees, fruit trees and little ancient houses, from which you can see the mountain as well as the ocean in the distance, a cool place that we use as an open air dining area because of its beauty & tranquility.


The first room is the largest, in which up to 4 people can stay, and it can also be divided into two double rooms by moving furniture and letting down a heavy curtain.  


Celi calls it the Dream Room
because it was the first one she redecorated & where, whilst she painted, she dreamed of the new & interesting future that was presenting itself.    In the meantime, a tree started flowing out of the brush onto the wall in a very spontaneous way which reminded her of a ritual she had done with Jose & Stella (many months before) by drawing a magical beautiful tree on her leg, with the intention that in this way has become a reality.


Dreams do come true!  Especially when you have good traveling companions, who have patience with you, but also push you & remind you of your ideals and values when necessary.


In fact the main purpose of this new hostel in Finca Fortuna is to serve as a Transition Home to facilitate the interior and exterior processes of the people who want to change their lives to something more sustainable, rational, and more in tune with their values, ethics and dreams.

For this reason the restoration work of this last summer was done with all the affection, feeling and love that we feel for this important mission which is part of the work that we're carrying out in this EcoVillage project.

The third room is also a double, but with two individual beds and is further away from the main house, with views to the mountains.  It's ideal for sharing & has the privacy that a couple with small children might appreciate.                       It has a large wardrobe & a sideboard that Celi rejuvenated with a lick of paint and her
slightly odd but nice taste.

We gave it the name of our first guest, Ambra, who cheered up the house so much with her visit.          This room has a roof covered with a grape vine which keeps it cool in summer.

The third room is a single room, quite a lot smaller than the others, but has a bed that can be used by a couple and a cupboard that is almost a micro-room.

This one is near the bathroom and kitchen, so it can also be ideal for an older person, and it has very nice views.  

Here, when we were painting, the seed puffs that are used to ask for wishes came out of the walls       (Stella calls Celi our resident fairy because she spreads beauty and magic wherever she passes through... and she always does it surprisingly quickly).


It was very interesting to see the transformation, from a room so full of clutter that it felt hard to get it all out, to such a clear and different space, and the best of all was all the fun that Celi had improving it with her son Eduardo and her partner Jose Javier ('the other' Jose).



The Beach Cabin

There are more beautiful surprises for lucky guests...


This is "The Beach Cabin", a little refuge by the seaside that belongs to Celi's family, and another place that has been made beautiful and welcoming by the magic that Celi spreads everywhere with her artistic talents. 

   It's on the opposite side of the island from where we live, so we go there sometimes to enjoy another kind of peace and quiet, when we'd like some vacations - & we take any guests with us when we go.
 


And there's some amazing caves nearby...





Our first guest

Ambra came from Italy for holidays, and she met here Rosalba and her family, another group of very nice people who gifted us with their joy and excitement for two weeks.

Ambra is a lovely young person who quickly befriended everyone and surprised us with how she even managed to get close very quickly with Luna, a traumatized dog that Celi had rescued, who tends to be very afraid of people

<< here in a foto with her

She wrote this about here experience here with us
(our colors and sizes):

It's my last day in the ecovillage and I feel like I don't want to leave...

I feel that I've found balance here among lovely people in contact with nature and taking care of myself... but I don't want to to write too much about the wonderful places I saw during these two weeks or the most delicious and healthiest food I ate.

What has affected me the most has been what the people in the ecovillage have transmitted to me in a human level.

Finally some "holidays" that have enriched me a lot with new stimuli, new knowledge not just about permaculture, but also life experiences and viewpoints of different people. An exchange of ideas and energies.

I loved to see how life in an ecovillage can be: very difficult and at the same time very stimulating and satisfying.

The people here share a big passion for building a  life path that is oriented to sustainability and self-sufficiency.


Luna, Miguel, Cecile, Celi & Ambra in the beautiful caves around the Beach Cabin

They have already done lots of work, but, of course, they still have many projects to be developed.   I'd love to come back after some time to see how from an idea, a design, they will reach its fulfillment.


The fact that they believe deeply in what they do has given me lots of hope: a better world is possible.

There's people who don't just dream about this, but who work every day to make sure this doesn't stay a dream.

Utopias might not stay utopias if we fight with all our willpower and we don't stay indifferent or inactive.

I think that, above all, that was the teaching they gave me.




Thank you so much Ambra, we also really enjoyed getting to meet you!


We hope you come back soon...  because there's a green roof to finish ...  :)





The Green Roof

That is not all that green yet, but it's just a matter of time...











& the Tree Nursery

 


A good nursery also needs a comfortable space to transplant the little trees into bigger pots when they need it. 
This place under a big avocado tree that is just under the patio of the new farm (there we can check on our babies very often), looked ideal to us for the tree nursery that had needed a bigger space for a while, thanks to Stella's love for growing trees, mostly from seed but also from cuttings (we will be doing some layering soon, also).






This is Ainur, a young man from the village who visits us every now and then to help out and enjoy the place with us.

He helped to flatten a strip of ground and cover it with an anti-rooting cloth before we moved the little trees from the old greenhouse to their new home.

We have these trees for planting out in the
still embryonic 8 food forests of 8thLife.   Now that the rains are starting we will be planting more of them in their ideal spots.

Here we have a number of variety of baby trees, like custard apples, loquats, macadamias, pomegranates, walnuts, oranges, avocados, mangos, figs, chestnuts, carob, false cinnamon, laurel, drago, and various kinds of acacias and mimosas...

We also have a big abundance of aloes, that propagate like crazy.   The new cactus nursery is just besides it, more or less in full sun all day.     It has mostly opuntias of different varieties (some quite rare), and also some kinds of cardón and agave, with whom we will be doing some experiments to reinforce or substitute stone walls that have collapsed.





We'd love to see your comments about this newsletter
or any other question you want to ask us in our Facebook Group.



You can see other
News here










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