Course Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHU9SEX0ycc
Wow! What better way to celebrate spring than to run a permaculture course! Our opening circle coincided with International Permaculture Day which fell on May 6, 2018, not long after Earth Day and just in time for International Compost Awareness Week. Lots to celebrate - so many wonderful movements around the world trying their level best to raise consciousness and get people working with, rather than against, mother nature. We celebrated International Permaculture Day with the release of a little music video which goes some way to introducing concepts in permaculture and provides an introductory booklist as well- check it out!
What a fabulous group! Given the high proportion of female participants (90%), we were given cause to look more closely at women leaders in the sustainability movement - there are so many to teach about, from Jane Goodall to Wengari Maathai to permaculture pioneers such as Robyn Francis and Rosemary Morrow (from whom both teachers on this course have learned invaluable lessons from), to deeply important historical figures such as conservation author Rachel Carson or female dominant groups such as the Chipko Movement. Contemporary female sustainability leaders abound - Heather Jo Flores, Vandana Shiva, Morag Gamble or New Yorker Lauren Singer (who rose to eco-fame after reducing her plastic waste for a year to a jars worth) to name but a few. Within the animal rights movement, Erin Janus represents what bioethicist Peter Singer would be like on PCP with a petrol bomb. Los Molinos del Rio Aguas has it’s very own female sustainability pioneer in the form of Sheila Andión, a leader in the water wars brewing in Almeria.
As always on our courses the content was peppered with excellent evening talks. We were very lucky to be invited into the off-grid house of Dave Dene in which he gave an account of his ongoing 6 year battle for water rights in Almeria province. Other evening talks included a presentation about bird misting with Dr. Richard Banham, a member of the British Trust for Ornithology. Dr Banham is doing important work to collect data on European bird populations. We also met Piotr Zwamy, who gave us an excellent presentation on his small business building and converting natural pools - a eco-business we predict will explode in the coming years in Europe.
A course at Sunseed simply is not complete without a jam session or two with our great friend Timbe Bernhardt of Pita Escuela http://pitaescuela.org/ where he and a small team produce beautifully finished hand built instruments made of the agave flower - an absolutely fabulous eco-business using materials that would otherwise be composted. We managed a couple of wonderful jam sessions and recorded our latest eco-song, May The Mulch Be With You Blues. Check it out!
Dave Dene’s talk just before the weekend set the tone for a water protest march on our day off alongside a super intensive olive plantation that is draining one of the aquifers of the region - almost all the aquifers in Almeria are in a poor state after years of systemic abuse. It provided a strong reminder, in the dreamy context of the PDC, that real issues persist.
In between time in front of the blackboard covering the standard syllabus, the course also featured several really fun practicals. We learned how to make natural shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. We built A-frames to measure contour, shade structures to protect some of the annuals that had been planted late and planted out some garden beds, hot composted, did a spot of natural building, fermented, learned how to make kombucha, keffir and sauerkraut during a practical that was broadcast on Facebook live here: https://www.facebook.com/SunseedDesertTechnology/videos/1928022947209291/?hc_ref=ARTiFS1KUiJCresVwysO4MrGahH0AZ00PulxSCzdW-nRnG5ZJCUbnqeNlFel4tI2Bmw. We also enjoyed a fantastic edible plant walk with Adriana Garcia Aparicio, Sustainable Living Coordinator, who also gave an introductory talk to sociocracy. And when it was all just too much to take in, the surroundings afforded a natural healing respite - lovely walks into the desert, or a quick pop down to the natural pool, home to a wide diversity of species hardly seen anywhere else in the area - turtles, birds, dragonflies, snakes, lizards abound.
We were also very fortunate to have qi gong, yoga and contact dance sessions facilitated, as well as ad hoc flash mob dances, handstand jams and slackline sessions
I am sometimes left spinning after a course finished, totally inspired by the exciting information shared over the fortnight. This course was a two week jam of sharing, and there was just so much to learn. We are always very grateful to have such interesting and inspiring people on our courses. Here is a video of what was a very special two weeks:
A warm and heartfelt thank you to Sunseed who hosted another brilliant PDC - fantastic support from the awesome volunteers on the site! We look forward to returning in July!
This course took place in Los Molinos del Rio Aguas in the province of Almeria, Spain