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.