Permaculture whirlwinds

Hi T,

We seem to both be settling down well in our respective new worlds, with friendly people and crazy experiences as common factors. It has certainly been a whirlwind over at this end, as some uninterrupted days in one place with internet access will surely show. Prepare for an onslaught of muddled (and muddy – it does rain a lot here!) reflections.

I am currently crashing at Laya Point, the permaculture project where I did my Permaculture Design Course. It’s a great little place based in a farmhouse and a neighbouring re-fitted school deep in one of the less trafficked valleys in the Lake District. The school building is a lovely open space for courses, complete with the ropes you’d normally find in a school gym hanging from the ceiling to add that extra edge to workshops…11246591_10153647209040850_9059555711529378549_n

This is a film that two of my PDC friends have made about the place. They are a French couple currently making a permaculture documentary – more on that as it develops! The veg beds are cut out of the tarmac of the old school yard, proving to be a very efficient mulch and the tarmac stores heat creating an exciting microclimate – I am still harvesting sweet, juicy strawberries for my breakfast every morning (!).

This is the sort of place where you don’t quite notice if the front door is open or closed, draughts seem to get in either way. But with doors eternally ajar, you invite in many interesting and inspiring guests. Over the past couple of days I have been stationed at the stove in the old stone floor kitchen, stirring copious amounts of jam and chutney (rhubarb, apple, bramble, strawberry), and listening to many interesting conversations. We have covered diverse topics such as pizza oven construction,

(The best way to build a clay pizza oven is to use as little clay as possible. A dome of thermal mass covered by a layer of insulation with a tunnel entrance, so it’s shaped a bit like an igloo. Most importantly, the chimney should be placed at the entrance, so the flames lick all the sides of the oven before being sucked out.)

what local community action can do to help refugees,

(a lot is happening on this front – I’ll tell you more about it soon!)

and the nature of knowledge – how do we know when what we think we know is useful to someone else? And how do we transmit it? It’s tricky when it comes to areas such as permaculture, where everything we do is determined by local factors, yet we are a worldwide movement. I shall definitely tell you more about this too at some point.

But what all this has given me, apart from amazing pouring-hot-sticky-liquid-into-narrow-jars skills, is a realisation that there are so many topics that I want to engage with, so many areas I want to expand my knowledge in, and so so many skills I want to learn. When nobody else tells you want you ought to be doing with your brain, it takes care of itself and its development pretty well, if you put it in the right environment. Most importantly, it’s fun to learn again. It’s not in the “this is interesting but I can’t keep my eyes open”-sense of university studies, but more eye-opening both inwardly and outwardly, as I seem to be learning things just as I need them, in the right time and speed. I don’t need to force knowledge into my understanding; rather it seems to arrive when my understanding is ready for it, meaning that the learning I gain simultaneously feels relevant for my self, my immediate surroundings and my broader general interest. I can’t explain it better than that, but it’s a lovely experience and future posts shall have to be a manifestation of it. How are your courses – are you managing to learn what you want?

Love and lots of hugs,

M

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