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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.


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