Monthly Archives: April 2012

A professional fundraiser sought

Experienced professional fundraiser sought: we need help to launch “Friends of Sunseed” as a Donor and Activist network. Do you have a successful track record of fundraising and marketing, developing networks of monthly donors? Can you use your own initiative to develop a funding base for Sunseed? This work may include other fundraising initiatives, such as applying for European grants, sponsorship and other income-generating ideas. If you are interested in this work, contact Jyoti at Sunseed[at]

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April at Sunseed

The Introduction to Permaculture Course run by Kirsty was fun, thought-provoking and inspiring. Permaculture combines three main aspects: an ethical framework; understanding of how nature works; and a design approach in order to create sustainable, productive and healthy systems. Aimed at both at those new to the philosophy and others wanting a re-cap, it was also a chance for those involved to experience life at Sunseed. Through a mix of lectures, documentaries, games and practical design work, we learnt the basics of permaculture, how it is applied through the principles and the application of the design steps in practice.

Martin gave an enlightening talk on the Permaculture of Money: focusing on the current monetary system; its origins and workings; its damaging impacts; and finally ethical, localised and more sustainable initiatives and alternatives (for example LETs systems, Positive Money Campaign, Credit Unions, Time Banks, Ethical Banking and Peer-to-Peer lending) for economic reform.

A communal work morning was spent tackling the existing compost toilets, after an intriguing lecture from Jyoti on the numerous benefits of this closed-loop system and the history of our ‘fecal phobia’. As the warm weather draws increasing numbers of volunteers, the currently unused toilets need to be repaired and re-opened, and we commenced with rebuilding the caña walls of the river terrace toilet.

Dry Stone Walling is an old technique seen around the world using local materials to create long-lasting interlocked structures. There are some beautiful examples here at Sunseed, though some of them are in disrepair due to age or the pesky wild boars. Chas, a skilled stoner, has been patiently renovating many walls, in addition to training others in the puzzle-like art of walling.

The regular working excursion to Laura and Dave’s Earthship was an inspiring day, filled with tough yet rewarding work. An Earthship is a passive solar house, typically constructed from natural and recycled materials, usually off-grid and both economically and practically feasible for the average person to build. It was particularly great to see after having watched Mike Reynolds’ documentary ‘Garbage Warriors’. We helped break down a stone wall which will constitute the rear of their home, cut wooden planks for the construction of the geodome and spent a (mercifully short) time on the strenuous job of earth-rammed tyres.

During a tour of the wonderful Botanic Gardens this week, we learnt about indigenous plants and their stories and uses. The newest addition to the solar cooker family was recently completed for installation outside Gaye’s House. Kate gave a practical lecture on Seed Saving to a keen audience. And as always the seminars, yoga, laughter meditation, guitar lessons, tours and other activities are continuing.

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Yoga at Sunseed

Yoga classes 3 times weekly

tuesday, thursday, friday 6pm

with Mimi

The rhythm of the body,

the melody of the mind

and the harmony of the soul

create the symphony of life.



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Volunteering building solar cookers in Gambia

During my time at Sunseed I was amazed to see how solar box cookers work. Situated on the roof, they are used daily to heat water and cook rice / pasta as well as sauces. Constructed from wood, glass, and metal, they are quite cheap to make and require no other fuel than the sun, thus they clearly have great potential to help people in Africa.

Solar cooker at Sunseed

So when I visited my friends in The Gambia, where I was a volunteer teacher some years ago, I discussed the idea with a number of people in the village, showing them the leaflet I picked up at Sunseed. After five weeks I found someone both willing and able to gather the materials and make a box with me: Mr. Modou Bah. By this time I had just one week left in The Gambia, during which I walked every day to the next village, Galoya, where Modou is the Al Callo ( Mayor ). We created a wooden frame, then constructed the box with corrugated metal inside, a glass lid, and black painted exterior. Many people dropped by during this time, and it became quite a talking point in the village. After 5 days we had completed our prototype, and I had to travel on to meet my friends in Senegal.

Over the next few weeks, Modou phoned occasionally to let me know how it was going. It turned out that the box was too big, and the corrugated metal wasn’t the most efficient reflective surface, so the cooker was good for heating water but not really for cooking.

However, since then Modou has developed a smaller model with thin, flat metal lining which works much better. I wonder if he could also use recycled aluminium cans for this purpose? He is very happy with the results and has plans to spread the word. He has promised to teach my friends in Senegal how to make them, and has called a meeting of all the Al Callos in his district. They want to plan a way to get more solar box cookers made and distributed, and find ways to encourage popular uptake of the solar cooker in The Gambia. Concern about deforestation for fuel has become widespread and reached governmental level so hopefully there will be much support for this work.

                                                                                        Rachel volunteering at Sunseed

If anyone knows of any funding opportunities to support this I would be really happy to hear from them. Meantime, I am glad to report that the project continues, and is one where the people are helping each other and developing it independently. Thanks, Sunseed.

Rachel Gardner – Volunteer at Sunseed October 2011

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Sunseed Guided Tours April – May

Every Tuesday Join us at Sunseed for  a free guided tour of the project and departments. Optional vegetarian/vegan dinner for a minimum donation of 5€ per person.

Visitas guiadas gratuitas al proyecto y sus departamentos.                                               Posibilidad de cena vegana a las 20.00 – por donacion minima 5€ por persona.


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