Today in our community we commemorated the 8th of March, the International Working Women’s Day. We did it not with flowers, but remembering the violence women are often exposed to and joining the international campaign #niunamenos. Living in a sustainable community is also a way for many of us to learn more equal ways to relate between each other and for us it is important to imagine and live a better and more sustainable future with equal rights for men and women.
Yesterday was a wonderful day here in Los Molinos. The sun is warm again and the almond trees are flowering, but above all after 6 weeks we have finally water flowing again trough the Acequia!
On December 18th, an unprecedented storm hit the province of Almería. In the village of Los Molinos the flood provoked some damages in most of the houses: some walls and paths in the village collapsed, but ultimately it is our water irrigation line, “la acequia”, which suffered the most serious damage.
Since then, Sunseed and the villagers of Los Molinos have been
working hard every day digging out mud, gravel and stones from the
tunnels, caves and open ditches.
Staying for quite a long time without running water has been a challenging experience for many of us, but also a chance to realize how important it is to cooperate to overcome difficulties.
The whole village stand together and even if there is still some work needed to repair some contention wall, we are looking forward to celebrating this event.
We would like to express our gratitude to the villagers of Los Molinos, the acequieros and all the people who helped us and expressed their support. This video is dedicated to you.
“The stars at night.”
“The chance to experiment – you get real responsibility and you can always try new things.”
“Meeting volunteers from all over the world.”
“It’s a human place – it looks after me as a whole person.”
“Swimming in the poza, obviously!”
Everyone had different answers when we asked our team of coordinators what the best thing about living and working at Sunseed is – but the one thing they all agree on is that it’s an experience like no other.
So what does a Sunseed coordinator do all day? It can’t be all stargazing and swimming, can it?
Well, no. It depends which role you’re taking on – the roles are very different depending on if you’re in the support team (Facilitation, Education and Communication), practical team (Sustainable Living, Organic Gardens, Drylands Management) or technical team (Maintenance, Ecoconstruction and Appropriate Technologies).
The support team is based in our light and airy office, with stunning views of the sierra. They might be planning activities for a school visit, designing new pages for the website, writing an article for a magazine or taking bookings for future volunteers – though if there’s a vegetable delivery to be unloaded, or guests to show around, they’re always ready to drop everything and help out. It’s important, varied work that keeps the project running smoothly, and is fantastic experience in NGO administration.
The practical team work in our many gardens, the arboretum and dryland terraces, working with volunteers to experiment with sustainable gardening techniques that work in harmony with the desert surroundings. The sustainable living coordinator works hard to ensure that we’re getting a varied, nutritious and ethical diet, as well as making the most of the natural abundance of the area – so you may find them researching herbal remedies, or recipes for natural cosmetics (like this one!)
Keeping busy in the workshops and around the project you’ll find the technical team. The maintenance coordinator looks after the project’s infrastructure, as well as the upkeep of the acequia for the whole village-the ancient water line that provides our water supply. The ecoconstruction coordinator might be helping volunteers make a cob house, while in appropriate technologies they’ll be busy maintaining our solar panels, wind turbine and other energy solutions, as well as planning future activities and researching sustainable technologies to try out.
There are some duties we all share – because an integral part of being at Sunseed is learning to live and work as part of a team. On Mondays we all clean together, then throughout the week everyone will be on the cooking and cleaning rota once or twice. Coordinators also share water collection, shopping, laundry and other tasks that involve heading out of the village – which is also a chance to take a break and have a cold drink and some tapas in one of our lovely local towns.
All coordinators spend time in the office planning their activities, writing up projects, blog posts and so on – but the lion’s share of the time is spent working and learning together with volunteers, offering activities around the project in the morning and helping them with personal projects in the afternoon. It’s busy, challenging work, but the pleasures and rewards are infinite, from sharing ideas with people from all over the world and picking up languages, to working in stunning natural surroundings and being supported by a caring team of like-minded individuals.
And yes – there’s still plenty of time for stargazing and swimming.
Does working at Sunseed sound like your cup of tea? Keep an eye on our staff vacancies page for all our latest job postings.
By EVS Volunteer Margaux:
Our village has now been facing water supply issues for a couple of years, due to the over-exploitation of the aquifer by the olive industry. The precious water from the Río Aguas is being drained in order to water 3000 hectares of intensive olive tree plantations and now a whole and unique ecosystem in the only semi-desert region of Europe is threatened. The main immediate consequence is that we will probably soon get short of water – the villages of Los Perales and La Herreria are already struggling. But even worse than the lack of water alone, it’s that a whole ecosystem is threatened.
The concept of ‘ecocide’ refers to the destruction of ecosystems of a given territory. After a first attempt by a group of concerned locals to bring the case to the local authorities, the next move was to try to get more attention from the international level. A lawsuit was both sent to the UN and the European Union. After many attempts to bring the case to the court, we have finally received a positive answer from the European Union which has agreed to look into the case. The E.U parliament has requested the E.U Commission to conduct a preliminary investigation, which will now need to start to collect further information about the ecocide in order to launch the legal proceedings.
We’ve been involved in several initiatives to help raise the profile of this urgent issue, including an exhibition and film showing in Almeria, and welcoming EU political representatives to the Rio Aguas to demonstrate the scale of the crisis.
In the meantime, local authorities have come up with a proposal to provide desalinated water to compensate for the lack of water. Nevertheless, this solution will never bring back the precious, fragile ecosystem of the Rio de Aguas.
Don’t hesitate to support us by signing the online petition!
Sunseed’s Appropriate Technology co-coordinator Piotr explains how we built a beautiful pond as part of our eco-friendly wastewater treatment system.
Last weekend of 16-17 April at Sunseed we conducted a workshop on Ecological Wastewater Treatment, facilitated by the coordinators of Sunseed and the Paissano collective – friends of Sunseed and big water treatment and purification enthusiasts. We invited both Sunseed volunteers and people from the Almería province interested in learning how to build a low cost ecological wastewater treatment at home. The financial contribution to the course was voluntary, after assuring the basic costs of food and accommodation.
Among some 10 participants of the course we undertook a practical project to improve the last stage of our wastewater system and beautify the space around the path which leads to the famous pool of Los Molinos. We have built a new pond!
Ponds are often installed as the last stage of wastewater treatment systems with constructed wetlands (reed beds). They serve a basic function of storing the treated water in order to reuse it for irrigation, as well as to create a natural habitat for fauna and flora, thus increasing the biodiversity of the environment. Our pond consists of an infiltration area with gravel (planted with water treatment plants – macrophytes) and a deep area where in the near future we would like to plant floating macrophytes. It stores 1200 liters of water and is equipped with an overflow system to irrigate an educational self-irrigating garden in the future. We will leave the garden design to the participants of a Permaculture Design Course held by Sunseed between the 1st and 15th of May.
First things first, we had to clean the construction area previously occupied by a ghost pond, which with time was filled with mud and has been taken over by the ubiquitous cane plants. The rhizomes of cane had pierced the waterproof layer of plastic, which had thus stopped serving its function.
Cleaning the old pond area – a lot of mud and cane rhizomes…
After the digging we interactively and collectively designed the form and shape of the new pond. We decided to construct a division wall which allows to have a natural slope around it. Subsequently the ground was compacted and the overflow tube installed.
Installation of the overflow pipe
We waterproofed the pond with EPDM liner, a very strong and flexible material used widely in this type of application. Around the pond we placed stones and built a small dry wall to protect the pond from mud falling inside during heavy rains. Then we filled the shallow area with gravel. Next comes the exciting part of filling it with water and planting the plants.
Keeping in mind the future habitants of our pond we have created a small cave, a future house of a very happy frog.
With the completion of the construction of the pond we have only opened it up for the future improvements and changes. Many Sunseed volunteers will have the opportunity to experiment with the planting of plants, elaboration of a self-watering garden with purified water and the aesthetic modifications of the pond itself. As always in Sunseed, a project never finishes, it evolves…
For more information on similar future projects and courses, contact Sunseed’s Appropriate Technology co-coordinator Piotr on email@example.com.
The spring of Los Molinos del Río Aguas is of great ecological importance because it serves as habitat for rare wild species to thrive in the stream and surrounding areas. The presence of constant water flow in this arid region and the rich formations of gypsum make the Natural Park of Sorbas a unique and valuable ecosystem in Europe.
The over-exploitation of the spring of the Río Aguas to water more than 3000 hectares of olive trees has caused a significant reduction in the flow of the stream from 40L/s to 3L/s in just the last few years. José María Calaforra, a professor at the University of Almería in the Biology and Geology Department, estimates that the spring will dry up in six to eighteen months if the extraction of water continues at this rate.
The population’s increasing water consumption as well as the pumping of many wells for watering is modifying the natural flow of the subterranean waters and changing the way that it reaches the spring in Los Molinos. In the Hydrological Plan for Andalusian Mediterranean Watersheds, elaborated by the Junta de Andalucía in 2008, it is already estimated that the extractions are triple the available resources of the spring, and now the over-exploitation is much greater due to the increasing monoculture of olive trees.
In July 2014, Ecologists in Action and the Mediterranean Ecologist Group made a request to the Consejería de Medio Ambiente of the Junta de Andalucía for detailed information about the state of the aquifer including the exact number and depth of the wells. They also requested that immediate action be taken to prevent a major deterioration of the aquifer, but there was no response from the Consejería. In September, the Mediterranean Ecologist Group went to court against the responsible promoter of the 600,000 olive tree monoculture in the Tabernas area, alleging that the plantation was a criminal infraction.
International associations such as Rights of Nature and End Ecocide are giving visibility to this problem on a European scale in order for the provincial administration to take the necessary actions to stop the over-exploitation of the aquifer and save the valuable ecosystems that depend on the Molinos del Río Aguas spring.
Recent articles in the Spanish newspapers:
For more information, see the Ecocide El Rio De Aguas Facebook page.
We celebrated Earth Day in company of the University of Almeria and other groups in the Natural Park where we live. We discovered a lot about the geology, flora and fauna; and we were reminded of their care and fragile balance. The intensive planting of olive trees and overexploitation of water are a real danger to this beautiful place. Luckily, it is clear that the desire to take care and respect the environment and the Earth will not stop.
El pasado 25 de abril celebramos el Día Mundial de la Tierra haciendo un recorrido con la Universidad de Almería y otros colectivos para aprender sobre la riqueza del Paraje Natural en el que vivimos. Descubrimos mucho sobre su geología, flora y fauna; recordándonos su frágil equilibrio y la importancia de su cuidado. La plantación intensiva de olivos y la sobre-explotación del agua que esta plantación y otras actividades provocan nos dieron la dramática imagen a la que se enfrenta este hermoso paraje. Por suerte, las ganas de seguir reforzando nuestro cuidado y respeto por el medio ambiente de esta nuestra Tierra no paran de crecer.
In an semi-epic personal journey of finding the simplest most intuitive naturally leavened bread possible, I have finally triumphed. Let the doves free! Cue an orchestra of angels!
OK, so how did I do it? With a little help from my friends! Follow the simple recipe below with distilled wisdom… and you’ll wonder why there could ever be mystery around such an easy thing.
- Warm water
- Add a cup or two of flour and warm water to your starter until it’s like thick paint. Leave overnight in a cold place.
- Add flour (the amount you need) and salt (to taste), warm-hand hot water until you get a lovely, slightly tacky (but not sticky) dough.
- Knead well for 5-10 minutes
- Leave for 3-4 hours in a warm place in an oiled bowl
- Punch down and knead well for 5-10 minutes
- Shape into loaves. Take out a golf ball amount of dough – this is your new Starter!
- Allow to rise for 1-2 hours- Bake at 230 for 15 minutes, then reduce to 190/200 for another 20-25 (depending on loaf size)
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack
- Bon appétit!
If you have any questions about how to start a starter, email Sustainable Living and we will tell you how easy it is!