Just a quicky before I write up the last two visits in order, to say I've had an amazing 10 days. I've learnt loads - from practical skills to lessons about working/living in community. I've met a great bunch of people doing many different things, talked loads about Kindling (our support network is growing by the day!), and challenged myself with all sorts. I'm not sure what has given me more white hairs, my very close encounter with a whole bunch of wild boar or singing my Dad's mushroom song at the 25 year celebration!
They loved the mushroom song (or at least were very sweet to me about it!), and it was amazing to see wild boar in the flesh (and they were as scared as me allegedly) - so these challenges (and various others) worth the adrenaline pumped!
So my blogging absense this time is due to the fact that I've been away from computers, internet and mobile phones for over a week (it's lovely - I highly recommend it!). I spent last weekend at an event put on by the kind of support/co-ordinating body of producer and consumer co-operatives in Andalucia - an intensive couple of days of presentations (a mixture of scarey, interesting and totally inspiring), workshops and chatting to people involved in amazing and quite different co-ops in the area.
I then went straight to Sunseed where I spent 5 days living and working and learning all about their work. I spent the mornings doing a range of practical jobs - I helped rebuild a couple of door frames using the most sustainable locally sourced materials possible (see slightly crazed photo of Leo teaching me some plastering), and did a bit of tiling of the new solar shower (using reclaimed tiles), and helped get the poly-tunnel back up for the winter (using cana - or canes harvested alongside the river). When I say I helped with these things, I was taught how to do them, and supported while I had a go - they'd have done it loads quicker themselves (though they never made me feel like that). I also worked in the gardens clearing and then planting alfalfa to improve the soil fertility, and in the drylands taking cuttings from the poplar trees and planting them along the riverside (a crucial and ongoing project as part of trying to reverse the desertification that is happening in the region, by trying to build up soil and prevent it eroding.
The afternoons and early evenings were packed with tours from each of the departments (see Sunseed entry for more about this) and other activities including a yoga class (which was brilliant for my rucksack/journey tired back), a visit from a local singing group, an informal talk by Tony who was also visiting about political songs from Allendes Chille (and a sing of some of the beautiful songs from that time) and an end of week/25 year celebration fiesta/DIY concert (hence the mushroom song challenge!).
Although this may sound a bit hippyish, much to my very happy suprise it wasn't at all - Sunseed is a project full of hard working and committed people - who really know their stuff. Anyway read more in the Sunseed entry, but it was a really great, informative week.
oh and inbetween all of this the general eating together and meeting of a great bunch of folk! We're building up a great network of people with practical skills who are up for helping us out once we get land (eco-construction, appropriate energy, organic growing...), and even doing some research with us now which would be great e.g. on a large scale forest garden that would supply fruit and nuts on a big scale, to crank it up a notch from smaller scale demonstation projects (Jenny if you're reading this we talked about what you were doing on this and got quite excited about it all!).
So I have come to Cabo de Gata (a national park) to spend a few days writing up everything I've learnt of the last 10 days (and some finishing off from before that too) to make some room in my head for the next installment, and to have a bit of a relax too (yipeee!). Yesterday I spent a lovely day with some of the people I met from Sunseed putting the world to rights as we swam (in October!), walked along the coast, scrambling up and down big hills and around rocks with the waves splashing up around us (it's very beautiful), and ended the night with baked potatoes and bananas on the fire (well almost ended it - I then had the encounter with the wild boar on my way back so ended up walking calmly - but speedily - back to them and sleeping on the beach instead to avoid the walk back on my own!).
As I left them Amy from New Zealand said to me, really good luck with your amazing projects, and remember you're not alone - there's loads of us supporting you. Create your model and then get it out there so everyone can do it - we really need to, and we can.
How lovely is that?! (anyone got any spare land nearish Manchester? - let's get this thing going!).