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Research

The following project is being conducted  by Doctor Richard Banham, external Tutor for Leeds University,and bird ringer “experto” ,a member of MILVUS G.O.ES ringing group in S.W.Spain. This exciting project can be a great experience for university students especially from the fields of ecology, environmental science or biology to assist Dr.Banham, but it can also be suitable for everyone with strong passion for birds!

The program involves colour ringing of Passer domesticus in a semi-desert area at Urra Scientific Field Station near Sorbas and at an oasis called Los Molinos de Rio Aguas in the province of Almeria with the assistance of Sunseed. The project  started at the beginning of 2018 and was incorporated into the field study course for students from the ecology department at Leeds university from March 18th till March 28th.,and continuing thereon.

Dr.Banham is conducting the program  throughout the year with a number of visits to Urra and Sunseed. Each year the project will be incorporated into the university field course,at Urra,always under his supervision.,and in future incorporating visits to the site at Los Molinos de Rio Aguas

C:\Users\User\Pictures\Latest Pictures from Mobile to Sort\20180124_120903.jpg
Male house sparrow

Brief description about the project

This species has been chosen because it is the commonest local breeding bird in the area. The House Sparrow is very easy to recognise as there are no other common local species with which it could be confused.

For most of the year males have a grey crown and cheek area separated by chestnut brown eye stripe.The back is brown also but heavily streaked black.The bill is stout and blackish,with a black chin ,throat and upper breast.In winter period much of the black area on upper breast and throat disappears.

Females never possess the black  chin,throat and upper breast.The back colour is very much more subdued but is still streaked black.The cheeks are still grey ,there is no chestnut brown eye stripe and she has a broad light buff supercilium.Plumage remains the same throughtout the year.

Juveniles have the same plumage characteristics as females.

This species can be observed most commonly on the ground where they normally forage but can also occur on buildings and in the trees and surrounding vegetation.

Sufficient data will be collected by the participating Leeds University students to give them a viable project for the short time they have available at the field centre. However with the participation of Sunseed, much more valuable long term data can be amassed.

Methodology

When the birds are trapped they are fitted on the left leg with the normal metal ring on top of which is fitted a colour ring. Each year the colour of this ring is changed to note a new year.On the right leg is  fitted with 2 colour rings, one to denote the period of ringing and the other the age of the bird.All rings are fitted on the tarsus.

Color ring sequences on the right leg are different for Urra and Los Molinos so that the 2 sites can be distinguished

At Urra,and at Los Molinos it is noted at which net the birds are trapped (each net has a special habitat code), and then studied using binoculars or telescope in an attempt  to track the limit of each birds territory and to follow its foraging distance if outside the breeding territory. With a continuous colour ringing and observation program together with the trapping of controls, it will be possible to estimate the year on year survival rate of each sex of this species

It will be possible to track the birds outside of the Urra field station and Los Molinos itself as netting is also carried on along and beside the Rio Aguas rambla and in the future at another ringing site which will be set up in the rio at La Herrerdia.

http://www.sunseed.org.uk/projectpack/files/2018/01/DSC_0475.jpg
Figure 1 Section of Rio Aguas

In 2017, four water scrapes were constructed to try to attract both migrant/wintering and resident birds to drink. Mist nets were erected by these scrapes in order to trap and ring them. In March 2018 each scrape was observed by the students/volunteers to see if any of these colour-ringed birds came to drink and to note if this was outside their breeding or foraging territories.

At this moment in time these artificial scrapes are being replaced with more permanent materials as the pond liners used soon became very brittle in the Spanish sun and easily cracked losing all the water.

C:\Users\User\Pictures\Urra 2017\DSCN0683.JPG
Figure 2 Artificial Scrape

During the first ringing sessions in Spring 2017 with Leeds university students, the results showed that 52% of all the birds trapped were at these scrapes.

The colour rings for this project were available early February 2018. Having completed the first ringing session at Urra in February 2018, Dr.Banham visited Sunseed to provide all the necessary details for the project.

Importance of the project

The field station is in an extremely dry area of Almeria province and a further study is being carried out to plot the change in rainfall patterns since 1997. With less and less rain in this area, the presence of permanent small water scrapes could become more and more important to the survival of these local birds,and especially so in late spring through to early autumn when it can be extremely hot and dry. It is important to continue this project for a number of years in order to track any changes in the populations  of this species and to observe movements outside the boundaries of the station along the wide dry rambla of the Rio Aguas both towards Sorbas and in the other direction up to Los Molino de Rio Aguas and even beyond down the valley

A few kilometres down the river bed there is an important water source for the Rio Aguas in the form of an aquifer which results in a large permanent pool below  the village of Los Molinos de Rio Aguas. This natural water supply and the more lush vegetation, in the past has attracted a large number of birds ,some species of which do not appear at the field station.With permanent artificial water now available at Urra it will be interesting to see if there are any changes in the number and survival rates of local House Sparrows ,compared to Los Molinos.

It is quite likely with the presence of the permanent water body at Los Molinos that birds ringed at Urra field station will also visit this site to drink especially in the hot dry summer. It will provide interesting data as to how far local birds are prepared to travel to obtain water.

Post-juvenile dispersal may also reveal some interesting movements.

If the birds are found at Los Molinos other than at the lagoon, it again should be noted where and their activities e.g.feeding. This species is omnivorous so the population should survive during difficult periods.

N.B.The population dynamics for House Sparrows (e.g.increase or decrease of population totals year on year, numbers of breeding males and females,numbers of juveniles,survival rates) can be followed in relation to the variation in rainfall and the considerable increase in underground water extraction for growing new large olive tree plantations in the area.

How can you get involved in the project?

For those interested, all that is necessary for them to do, is to make a note of,the sequence of colour rings on both legs, the sex of the bird,the date and place of observation. Colour pictures and a field guide are provided to assist identification. A pair of simple binoculars is needed to observe the birds.

Please note that Dr.Banham has provided Sunseed with a bird identification guide to assist whoever is taking part in the color ringing program

If you are interested in this project…

Get in touch with us to join Sunseed for a regular mid-term or long-term volunteering or through a funded University placement. For your involvement in the project we will put you in direct contact with Dr. Banham for further details and information.

For further questions you may contact Dr.Banham at: dr.r.j.banham@gmail.com

BREAKING NEWS:

The bird color ringing project at Urra Field Station and Los Molinos de Rio Aguas has now been accepted by EURING,which gives special permissions for all bird color ringing projects in Europe.Our project is one of some 5,200 in Europe.

The project for this bird color ringing program can be found on the following link

Passer domesticus / House Sparrow : http://www.cr-birding.org/node/5173

Combination of :
∙         c-ring over metal (on left leg).
∙         2 c-rings (on right leg)

0

Research

The following project is being conducted  by Doctor Richard Banham, external Tutor for Leeds University,and bird ringer “experto” ,a member of MILVUS G.O.ES ringing group in S.W.Spain. This exciting project can be a great experience for university students especially from the fields of ecology, environmental science or biology to assist Dr.Banham, but it can also be suitable for everyone with strong passion for birds!

The program involves colour ringing of Sylvia melanocephala in a semi-desert area at Urra Scientific Field Station near Sorbas and at an oasis called Los Molinos de Rio Aguas in the province of Almeria with the assistance of Sunseed. The project  started at the beginning of 2018 and was incorporated into the field study course for students from the ecology department at Leeds university from March 18th till March 28th.,and continuing thereon.

Dr.Banham is conducting the program  throughout the year with a number of visits to Urra and Sunseed. Each year the project will be incorporated into the university field course, at Urra, always under his supervision, and in future incorporating visits to the site at Los Molinos de Rio Aguas.

C:\Users\User\Pictures\Latest Pictures from Mobile to Sort\20180117_104406.jpg
Figure 2 Female Sardinian warbler

Species information

This species has been chosen because it is the commonest resident scrub warbler in the area  and the birds perch quite prominently in the Spring as they are holding breeding territories. This warbler is very easy to recognise as there are no other local species with which it could be confused.

Both male and female possess long dark narrow tails with varying amounts of white or off white at the feather tips.Adult males have a jet black head a white chin and throat plus grey wings and back .Females also possess a white chin and throat,but have a grey head with a brown back.Both possess prominent red brown eye rings.

Juveniles look similar to females but possess a brown head.

Immature males have a mixture of brown and black on the head

Sufficient data will be collected by the participating Leeds University students during their Spring visit  to give them a viable project for the short time they have available at the field centre. However with participation of Sunseed, much more valuable long term data can be amassed.

Methodology

When the birds are trapped they are fitted on the left leg with the normal metal ring on top of which is fitted a colour ring. Each year the colour of this ring is changed to note a new year.On the right leg is  fitted with 2 colour rings, one to denote the period of ringing and the other the age of the bird.All rings are fitted on the tarsus.

Color ring sequences on the right leg are different for Urra and Los Molinos so that the 2 sites can be distinguished

At Urra,and at Los Molinos it is noted at which net the birds are trapped (each net has a special habitat code), and then studied using binoculars or telescope in an attempt  to track the limit of each birds territory and to follow its foraging distance if outside the breeding territory. With a continuous colour ringing and observation program together with the trapping of controls, it will be possible to estimate the year on year survival rate of each sex of this species

It will be possible to track the birds outside of the Urra field station and Los Molinos itself as netting is also carried on along and beside the Rio Aguas rambla and in the future at another ringing site which will be set up in the rio at La Herrerdia.

http://www.sunseed.org.uk/projectpack/files/2018/01/DSC_0475.jpg

Figure 3 Section of Rio Aguas

In January 2017 at Urra ,four water scrapes were constructed to try to attract both migrants /wintering and resident birds to drink. Mist nets were erected by these scrapes in order to trap and ring them. In  March 2018 each scrape was observed by the students/volunteers to see if any of these colours ringed birds came to drink and to note if this was outside their breeding or foraging territories.

At this moment in time these artificial scrapes are being replaced with more permanent materials as the pond liners used soon became very brittle in the Spanish sun and easily cracked losing all the water.

C:\Users\User\Pictures\Latest Pictured to be sorted 2017\20171008_173235.jpg

Figure 4 Artificial Scrape

During the first ringing sessions in Spring 2017 with Leeds university students, the results showed that 52% of all the birds trapped were at these scrapes

The colour rings for this project were available early February 2018. Having completed the first ringing session at Urra in February 2018, Dr.Banham  visited Sunseed to provide all the necessary details for the project.

Importance of the project

The field station is in an extremely dry area of Almeria province and a further study is being carried out to plot the change in rainfall patterns since 1997. With less and less rain in this area, the presence of permanent small water scrapes could become more and more important to the survival of these local birds , and especially so in late spring through to early autumn when it can be extremely hot and dry. It is important to continue this project for a number of years in order to track any changes in the  populations of this species and to observe movements outside the boundaries of the station along the wide dry rambla of the Rio Aguas both towards Sorbas and in the other direction up to Los Molinos de Rio Aguas and even beyond down the valley to where the rio enters the Med.

A few kilometres down the river bed there is an important water source for the Rio Aguas in the form of an aquifer which results in a large permanent pool below the village of Los Molinos de Rio Aguas. This natural water supply and the more lush vegetation, in the past has attracted a large number of birds ,some species of which do not appear at the field station. With permanent artificial water now available at Urra it will be interesting to see if there are any changes in the numbers  and survival rates of local Sardinian warblers,compared to Los Molinos.

It is possible with the presence of the permanent water body at Los Molinos that birds ringed at Urra field station may visit this site also to drink especially in the hot dry summer. It will provide interesting data as to how far local birds are prepared to travel to obtain water throughout the year

Post-juvenile dispersal may also reveal some interesting movements.

If the birds are found at Los Molinos other than at the lagoon, it again should be noted where and their activities  e.g.feeding. This species is mainly insectivorous but at certain times of the year ,Winter and Spring,supplements the diet with pollen/nectar from suitable flowering plants.This can be shown by the presence of yellow or orange on the chin/throat area plus a sticky forehead which should again be very useful to note.

If trapped feather samples of this part of the bird will be taken and sent for analysis to determine from which plant the pollen/nectar was taken..

N.B The population dynamics for Sardinian warblers (e.g.increase or decrease of population totals year on year,numbers of breeding males and females, numbers of juveniles,survival rates) can be followed in relation to the variation in rainfall and the considerable increase in underground water extraction for growing new large olive tree plantations in the area.

How can you get involved in the project?

For those interested, all that is necessary for them to do, is to make a note of,the sequence of colour rings on both legs, the sex of the bird ,the date and place of observation. Colour pictures and a field guide are provided  by Dr.Banham to assist identification. A pair of simple binoculars is needed to observe the birds.

If you are interested in this project…

Get in touch with us to join Sunseed for a regular mid-term or long-term volunteering or through a funded University placement. For your involvement in the project we will put you in direct contact with Dr. Banham for further details and information.

For further questions you may contact Dr.Banham at: dr.r.j.banham@gmail.com

BREAKING NEWS:

The bird color ringing project at Urra Field Station and Los Molinos de Rio Aguas has now been accepted by EURING,which gives special permissions for all bird color ringing projects in Europe.Our project is one of some 5,200 in Europe.

The project for this bird color ringing program can be found on the following link

Sylvia melanocephala / Sardinian Warbler : http://www.cr-birding.org/node/5172

Combination of :
∙         c-ring over metal (on left leg).
∙         2 c-rings (on right leg)


0

Research

The following project is being conducted  by Doctor Richard Banham, external Tutor for Leeds University,and bird ringer “experto”, a member of MILVUS G.O.ES ringing group in S.W.Spain. This exciting project can be a great experience for university students especially from the fields of ecology, environmental science or biology to assist Dr.Banham, but it can also be suitable for everyone with strong passion for birds!

The program involves colour ringing of Sylvia atricapilla and Erithacus rubecula in a semi-desert area at Urra Scientific Field Station near Sorbas and at an oasis called Los Molinos de Rio Aguas in the province of Almeria with the assistance of Sunseed. The project  started at the beginning of 2018 and was incorporated into the field study course for students from the ecology department at Leeds university from March 18th till March 28th.,and continuing thereon.

Dr.Banham is conducting the program  throughout the year with a number of visits to Urra and Sunseed. Each year the project will be incorporated into the university field course,at Urra,always under his supervision.,and in future incorporating visits to the site at Los Molinos de Rio Aguas

Male Blackcap
Male Blackcap
C:\Users\User\Pictures\Latest Pictures from Mobile to Sort\20180112_092707.jpg
Female blackcap

Brief description about the project

These species have been chosen because they are the commonest wintering/migrant birds in the area of the field station, the surrounding areas towards Sorbas and in and around Los Molinos. The Blackcaps and Robins are very easy to recognise as there are no other common species with which they could be confused.

Adult Blackcap males have a black cap.The back is greyish and the wings are greyish olive with no striking visible markings.The tail is long with no white.The chin and throat are white.

Immature male Blackcaps sometimes have a mixture of brown and black on the crown. Females possess a red-brown crown.The back colour is more subdued than the male and the wing is more ochraceous with no striking visible markings. The tail chin and throat are as the male. N.B. Blackcaps only very rarely feed or are observed  on the ground.

The Robin too is easy to recognise with the bright red chin throat and breast.Males and females look exactly the same.They almost exclusively are seen and feed at ground level.

Sufficient data will be collected by the participating Leeds University students to give them a viable project for the short time they have available at the field centre. However,with the participation of Sunseed, much more valuable long term data can be amassed.

Methodology

When the birds are trapped they are fitted on the left leg with the normal metal ring on top of which is fitted a colour ring. Each year the colour of this ring is changed to note a new year.On the right leg is  fitted with 2 colour rings, one to denote the period of ringing and the other the age of the bird.All rings are fitted on the tarsus.

Color ring sequences on the right leg are different for Urra and Los Molinos so that the 2 sites can be distinguished

At Urra,and at Los Molinos it is noted at which net the birds are trapped (each net has a special habitat code), and then studied using binoculars or telescope in an attempt  to track the limit of each birds territory and to follow its foraging distance if outside the breeding territory. With a continuous colour ringing and observation program together with the trapping of controls, it will be possible to estimate the year on year survival rate of each sex of this species

It will be possible to track the birds outside of the Urra field station and Los Molinos itself as netting is also carried on along and beside the Rio Aguas rambla and in the future at another ringing site which will be set up in the rio at La Herrerdia.

Rio Aguas
Section of Rio Aguas

In January 2017 at Urra, four water scrapes were constructed to try to attract both migrant/wintering and resident birds to drink. Mist nets were erected by these scrapes in order to trap and ring them. In March 2018 each scrape was observed by the students/volunteers to see if any of these colour-ringed birds come to drink and to estimate how long they may be present in the area.

At this moment in time these artificial scrapes are being replaced with more permanent materials as the pond liners used soon became very brittle in the Spanish sun and easily cracked losing all the water.

Artificial Scrape
Artificial Scrape

During the first ringing sessions in Spring 2017 with Leeds university students, the results showed that 52% of all the birds trapped were at these scrapes

The colour rings for this project were available early February 2018. Having completed the first ringing session at Urra in February 2018, Dr.Banham visited  Sunseed to provide all the necessary details for the project.

Importance of the project

The field station is in an extremely dry area of Almeria province and a further study is being carried out to plot the change in rainfall patterns since 1997. With less and less rain in this area, the presence of permanent small water scrapes become more and more important to the survival of passage/wintering birds as a stopover site in the area, and especially so in late spring and early autumn when it can still extremely hot and dry here. It is important to continue this project for a number of years in order to track any changes in the migratory/wintering populations of these species and to observe movements outside the boundaries of the station along the wide dry rambla of the Rio Aguas both towards Sorbas and in the other direction up to Los Molinos de Rio Aguas and even beyond down the valley to where the rio enters the Med.

A few kilometres down the river bed there is an important water source for the Rio Aguas in the form of an aquifer which results in a large permanent pool below the village of Los Molinos de Rio Aguas. This is a highly attractive, easy to observe site for a large number of birds that may or may not pass through the field  station due to its lack of water. With permanent water now available at Urra as well it will be interesting to see if there are any changes in the number of these particular migratory/wintering birds and to see if there is any reaction between the 2 sites.

It is possible with the presence of the permanent water body at Los Molinos that birds ringed at Urra field station will also visit this site to drink. It will provide interesting data as to how far these migratory/wintering birds are prepared to travel to obtain water.,and if they are using the Rio Aguas valley as a specific migratory route.

If the birds are found at Los Molinos other than at the water body it again should be noted where and their activities e.g.feeding. These species are mainly insectivorous but at certain times of the year,Winter and Spring,the Blackcaps supplement their diet with pollen/nectar from suitable flowering plants.This can be shown by the presence of yellow or orange on the chin/throat area plus a sticky forehead which should again be very useful to note.

If trapped feather samples of this part of the bird will be taken and sent for analysis to determine from which plant the pollen/nectar was taken.

 N.B The population dynamics for Robins and Blackcaps (e.g.increase or decrease of migratory/wintering birds year on year, numbers and proportions of males and females, and percentage of returning birds) can be followed in relation to the variation in rainfall and the considerable increase in underground water extraction for growing large olive tree plantations in the area.

How can you get involved in the project?

For those interested, all that is necessary for them to do, is to make a note of the sequence of the colour rings on both legs, the sex of the bird,the date and place of observation. Colour pictures and a field guide are provided by Dr.Banham to assist identification of both species. A pair of simple binoculars is needed to observe the birds. Please use our contact form to get in touch!

For further questions you may contact Dr.Banham at: dr.r.j.banham@gmail.com

BREAKING NEWS:

The bird color ringing project at Urra Field Station and Los Molinos de Rio Aguas has now been accepted by EURING,which gives special permissions for all bird color ringing projects in Europe.Our project is one of some 5,200 in Europe.

The projects for this bird color ringing program can be found on the following link

Sylvia atricapilla  / Blackcap : http://www.cr-birding.org/node/5171

Erithacus rubecula / European Robin : http://www.cr-birding.org/node/5174


Combination of :
∙         c-ring over metal (on left leg).
∙         2 c-rings (on right leg)

0

Uncategorized-en

Getting out of Sunseed for a few days has been the perfect opportunity for me to realize how much I miss the mountain and the green of the trees. The energy of the Pyrenees is unique and in a perfect contrast with the desert of Andalusia. It also made me realized, once again, how the outside society is so unaware of the emergency of the world situation. Our small community, based on permaculture and developing an alternative way of life with a non chemical policy is a drop in the ocean compared to the rest of the world.

I feel disconnected. To me, most of what seems to be a society’s priority is fake, superficial and doesn’t make sense. On the contrary, the environment, which is an emergency, is degraded as an option for most of us. It’s getting harder and harder to connect with people who still believe in capitalism. I feel like being on a train which is about to hit the mountain. No one is realizing we have been victim on the biggest lie ever: There is no tunnel, just the mountain. Most of the passengers are asleep but me and a few others are fully awake and aware of the situation. We are desperately trying to wake everyone up but the soft music and fake smiles of the hostesses keep them deep in their sweet dreams.

I feel useless, angry and frustrated, especially when the driver is speeding the train up. He has been told that faster he will go, better pay he will get. I wonder if he knows there is no final destination. Yesterday my frustration was even stronger. The driver, as usual, didn’t put attention at one of the thousand emergency speed’s limit. He failed, again. Yesterday, in France, the government rejected a law in favor of a sustainable and ethic agriculture. The government refused to: put camera in abattoirs, to stop the massacre of baby chicken which are crushed alive, to prohibit the castration of baby pigs without anesthesia or to develop free caged chicken eggs. They refused to protect our kids by offering veggies meals option in schools or to prevent obesity by controlling advertisements or the composition of sweets and candies.

They even refused to inscribe in the law the prohibition of the glyphosate in France. Last November, after the decision of the European Union to give to Mosanto a free access to Europe (or I should say, to officially give to Mosanto the right to kill us) Macron had promised us that the biggest pesticide ever would never enter to France. It must be exhausting to constantly lie. However, it’s so much more exciting to deal with the devil. Let’s go a bit faster! After all, who has never dreamt of a huge fictive number on a bank account? Plus, the hostesses just gave us some warm blankets and pillows so no need to panic.

At the same time, one of te person for whom I have the most admiration is going on a trial for the 3rd time. The reason why: healing people with natural and sustainable resources. The French Medical Council must feel very frighted to accuse a 80 years old man who is just, in an ethical way, saving people life’s from the diseases created by our society. I swear I tried to understand how this world function but my brain doesn’t have this capacity. I feel stuck, trapped.

I can’t go back to sleep, neither escape from this train. All I can do is accepting the situation and finding a way to protect myself from the big crash. I won’t stop that train but maybe, with the others awaken, we can put our energies together to build, now, an emergency exit. It will still be painful to jump from a full speed train but it seems to be our only option. For the others sleepers, I hope sending them our full compassion will help them to wake up before hitting the big roc

e person for whom I have the most admiration is going on a trial for the 3rd time. The reason why: healing people with natural and sustainable resources. The French Medical Council must feel very frighted to accuse a 80 years old man who is just, in an ethical way, saving people life’s from the diseases created by our society. I swear I tried to understand how this world function but my brain doesn’t have this capacity.

I feel stuck, trapped. I can’t go back to sleep, neither escape from this train. All I can do is accepting the situation and finding a way to protect myself from the big crash. I won’t stop that train but maybe, with the others awaken, we can put our energies together to build, now, an emergency exit. It will still be painful to jump from a full speed train but it seems to be our only option. For the others sleepers, I hope sending them our full compassion will help them to wake up before hitting the big roc

1

Volunteer Stories

Why I came to Sunseed:

I arrived in Sunseed to do an internship. Last October I got my degree in business economics and I wanted to acquire practical skills and make experiences.

I was scrolling down in the list of possible partnership and suddenly the name “sunseed desert technology” fashinated me.

When I first had a look at the web site I said: that’s my place!

The vegetarian diet, the goals of the project and the ethic beyond it really suited with my vision of life.

I didn’t like to study economics, I found it outdated boarding and greed, and sunseed looked like an alternative place where people were trying to create something different, sustainable and beautiful. So I came to experience all of it.

Expectations:

I doesn’t like to create expectation so I tried to do it the less.

But I was sure sunseed was gonna be a challenge.

Just the simple fact that I couldn’t use my hairdryer or my hair straightener for 5 months was something that was gonna push me outside my comfort zone.

As I was already on the path for a more sustainable, conscious lifestyle, I expected that sunseed would speed this process and would open me new perspectives and gave inspiration.

Expectation VS reality. What I learnt:

After 5 months I can say that my expectations are more than satisfied.

I feel that this experience nourished me completely under different levels: practical, social, comunitarian and personal.

I was mostly involved in sustainable living department and here I learnt:

  • First of all the art of bread making. I just love to make bread and explore this world with all its secret and tricks.

I consider it an art as it embodies my mind, my body and my soul. The sensation of using my hands to work the loaf, the exploration of different techniques and tastes, the satisfaction of creating something for the benefit of all the community was priceless.

  • I learnt how to make natural cosmetics and I introduced this new consciousness in my life. As before I wasn’t very keen with the kind of products I was using. Here I realized that the skin is our most extensive organ and as we take of our stomach by selecting an organic food, the same work has to be done with cosmetics because it has a big impact on us and on the environment.
  • I have deepened my knowledge in the production of ferments and I tried to motivate people to introduce them in their diet.
  • I immersed myself in the wide world of medicinal plants. I studied their properties and use, I took care of them in the medicinal garden and I admired the miracolo us effect of water and love on plants.

Then I did something more releted with my course of study and so I worked in the office and here I learnt how to register purchase and sale invoices, how to calculate stipends and how to relate a report for the Trustees.

On the social level I learnt how to work in team, collaborate in harmony and to appreciate the value of sharing; knowledge, informations and emotions.

A crucial role of my experience was held by the people I met.

People from all over the world, with different age and background.

Incredible, unique, inspiring (and bit crazy ) human being.

Every single one has a place in my heart. I am grateful about your teaching, your support, your example.

The community life teach me that we all are one.

We all are in the middle of a continuous flow and we have to learn how to move on the wave.

You may need balance while you’re keeping the focus. But things could g   wrong when you live with other 20 people (at least).

A good amount of patient helped me in this case. Release the control, let things go. Everything is gonna be fine.

In stressful moments I used the power of yoga to reestablish the balance, or a walk, or simply sitting by my own listening the nature was useful.

I feel sunseed will teach me a lot more, that’s why I will come back in October.

I would like to develop a research about alimentation and experiment new things.

And also, of course, come back to my second family ❤️

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Courses and Events

Between 21-25 March we will host Xana Piteira and Maria Rute Costa from Orla Design that will show us a pattern language for more conscious collaboration from small start-ups to large international networks. As people are looking for less hierarchical models to collaborate, we need structures and processes that will enable effective cooperation and transformation of conflict into opportunities to learn and grow. Sociocracy 3.0 training is a practical 4 day guide for evolving agile and resilient organizations of any size.

 

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Drylands Management, Organic Gardening

If you are interested in seeds conservation and wild plants, this post is probably for you.

An essential part of our drylands department is the regeneration of the local vegetation, through the collection and reproduction of wild seeds. We have a small but precious seed bank where we store seeds harvested in the area, so that we can sow them in the following planting season. I have been looking out for initiatives, companies or seed banks that could give us valuable inputs.

Last week we finally managed to reach Cordoba and meet Candido Galvez from Semillas Silvestres (Wild Seeds), a pretty unique company. Candido Galvez started ”Semillas Silvestres” 25 years ago, with the goal of producing native seeds and improving seed technology. Him and his 7 people team are working on the reproduction of trees, shrubs and mainly herbaceous species.

A crucial point is understanding what do they intend as native seeds. Native here is synonym of autochthonous.  ”Semillas Silvestres” doesn’t work with forestry species, neither with endangered species. They look mainly for neglected species, species with an unknown use (until now), but that are beneficial for biodiversity and the sustainability of agroecological systems.

Why conserving and reproducing wild seeds?

Candido and his team are hunting for the most interesting native species which could serve purposes of ecological restoration, landscaping, or agroecosystem sustainability. They have participated in multiple international and European research projects, lately focusing on the use of native species for soil erosion control in olive plantations (such as CUVrEN Olivar).

In order to select relevant species, ”Semillas Silvestres” uses a matrix, which matches the native species traits and the needs of the crops they will be working with, or the needs of the growers, depending on the situations. Some traits are extremely important, such as seed replicability: are the seeds I want to work with easy to reproduce? At what cost? Germination rates also need to be taken into account. I need to pick species which can be easily germinated, or again, easily enough, and at an acceptable cost. Also, can I actually conserve my seeds for longer periods? Some seeds, if dried, do not survive (recalcitrantseeds, as opposed to orthodox). This makes their conservation impossible. Finally, seeds with very low dormancy are also avoided. A dormant seed is like a ‘sleeping’ seed, waiting for favorable environmental conditions to sprout. Seeds with very low dormancy can be a very big problem for farmers as their germination cannot be controlled.

A seed journey

The seeds you buy from ”Semillas Silvestres” have actually not been collected in the wild. Candido and his team do not want to harvest everything from nature. This is because they want to protect the wild population, be more efficient in their production, and be able to implement technologies that couldn’t be used otherwise.

So they only collect the ‘parents’ seeds in the wild. In the harvesting process there is a clear difference between native seeds and commercial food crops. With native seeds there’s no such thing as selection, as the goal is almost the opposite: provide as much variety as possible. There are protocols followed in order to minimize the seeds selection, and to ensure that the sample collected represent the widest variety of characteristics of each species. The ideal situation would be a representation of all the variability that takes place in wilderness, in order to ensure larger success for the native species when grown in different contexts. For example when planting wild seeds for ground cover, the needs of each olive plantation are different: soils, rainfall, climate. That’s why genetic variety is an essential component.

The ‘parents’ seeds are reproduced in the plots of ”Semillas Silvestres” for a few years, until they have enough seeds to bring their product to the market. These plots are called Seed Production Areas (SPAs), a concept spreading all over the world, with the goal of sustaining the natural production of wild seeds, so that we can rely on a higher supply of these precious species, without actually affecting their natural environment. In the SPAs more efficient technologies of seed harvesting can be applied, to ensure larger production. Interestingly enough, seeds grown here are not organically certified, as an organic production is not cost-effective.

The harvested seeds are then dried and cleaned. Humidity is the first cause of viability loss, that’s why the drying process is one of the most important. We then move into the quality control room. Here viability, germination and purity of seed samples are evaluated. Viability basically tells us whether a seed is alive or not. A seed can be dormant but still viable, so still capable of germinating under the right conditions. This is why viability is in this case more important than germination rate.

Our journey ends in the storage rooms, with a pleasant smell of dry grass. Boxes and crates full of seeds ready to be shipped out fill up the walls. A great tip from Candido: as a general rule for basic seeds conservation, he advises us to always check temperature and humidity. Their sum should not be higher than 60. If you want to conserve your seeds properly, keep your moisture levels down, that’s easier and more cost effective than lowering temperature.

If you want to find more information about wild seeds conservation, give a look at the European Native Seeds Conservation Network (ENSCONET) website, where you can find harvesting and conservation manuals.

And now, back to our seedbank!

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Courses and Events

The “Zero Waste” Youth Exchange will take place in Sunseed on 12-19 October 2018! Participants from Spain, Italy and Portugal will explore environmental awareness, social inclusion and will have an inspiring opportunity to experience life in a sustainable eco-community.

During the course you will discover how your individual behaviour can make a big change towards a sustainable future and to learn tools for a better integration with the social and natural environment. There will be both theoretical and practical activities about upcycling, permaculture, circular economy and the “zero waste” philosophy.

You can find more details here.

Requirements:

  • age range 18-30
  • ability to communicate in English
  • Spanish residency or travel from Spain
  • interest in sustainability and care for the environment

  The “Zero Waste” is a Youth Exchange will take place in Sunseed on 12-19 October 2018! The application process is closed, but you can still follow us to see the news about this event here.

The project has been financed by the Erasmus+ programme. The costs related to accommodation and food will be completely covered by the hosting organisation and the travel costs will be covered according to the Erasmus+ standards. Please refer to your national organization to organize the travel.

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