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Sustainable Living

In Sunseed the water we use for cleaning goes directly back to nature therefore we only use biodegradable hygiene products. But also for ourselves it’s better to take care what we are using to stay healthy and beautiful.

Most toothpaste for example contains of a lot of harmful things, that we would not need at all. Such as fluorids, silica, triclosan an others.

This side describes very well what the problem with common toothpaste is and what you should bare in mind: http://www.dentalbuzz.com/2014/12/30/toothpaste-can-do-more-harm-than-good/

Natural, healthy toothpaste exists but most of the time it’s very expensive. That’s why we make it on our own. It’s really easy and you only need a few ingredients.
When I came to Sunseed I was very interested in the self made toothpaste because my tries I had before went a little bit wrong. My theeth didn’t feel clean, I had a smelly breath and the worst thing was, when my usually white teeth got a yellowish color.

But the thoothpaste I use here for about 3 months now is perfect. It tastes great and cleans your teeth perfectly. It’s even a little foamy what many of us like.

Here is the recipe we use for about 1kg:

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450g Calcium Carbonate

500g White Clay

10g Stevia

15g Xylitol

20g Salt

15 pinches of Grated organic soap

15 drops Essential Oil Cinnamon

30 drops Essential Oil Mint

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We mix everything together and that’s it. You have a lot of healthy, wonderful, good tasting toothpaste without almost no work.

If people prefer cream instead of powder they mix it with fresh aloe vera. Which is also good against infections on your gum. But you have to bare in mind that it will only last for a short time so don’t mix to much at once.

We use our toothpaste ourselves but we also sell on markets. Check out on which markets we’ll be next: https://www.sunseed.org.uk/blogs/wp-admin/post.php?post=5706&action=edit

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Courses and Events, Sustainable Living

On the 23th of April, an open doors day was held in Los Molinos del Rio Aguas, with a varied and rich market on the main street of the village. This Open Day was held on the main street of the village to emphasis the vibrancy life of the rural village. Our aim was to give people from the outside the opportunity to better know this beautiful place and to strengthen the connection between its inhabitants and neighbors who live in the surrounding area. The village also wanted to offer a showcase to artisanal and local products, as many people living here are involved in a way of living and producing that is more sustainable and empowering, both for the environment and for the people.

Moreover, it was a beautiful day for spending quality time, stories and food. We enjoyed a nice lunch together with our visitors, a big, vegan and tasty meal for everyone who wanted to join, very satisfying especially for the people who went to the Nacimiento walk led by Andrés Perez, from the local association Amigos de Sorbas. Like always the walk is an interesting moment of connection with nature and the threatening of our ecosystem. As we know an ecocide is happening and is increasingly endangering for the river, the animals and all the people who live in the area. It was also a very productive day as we had a nice chat with some activists from Almeria that proposed to us to organize together an informational talk about the ecocide. We are already working on this event that will be held on the 24th of May in La Oficina. We are very glad new ideas and new connections grew on this sharing day! We hope we can all keep up this productive and beautiful energy!

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Drylands Management, Sustainable Living

By Drylands assistant Margaux

With Spring in full bloom in the valley, the Drylands and Sustainable Living departments have been out walking with volunteers to collect the capers that are starting to grow and preserving them in preparation for summer salads. Have you ever picked capers? The pickled capers we use as seasoning are actually the buds of the plant called “Capparis spinosa”. They need to be picked before they turn into these lovely white flowers. It is preferable to pick the smaller buds which have more flavour.

It’s important to follow some basic guidance if you are planning to pick plants in the wild. First of all, make sure that you are not in a preserved zone.  There must be, at least, 5 plants of the same species in the area you are planning to pick. Then, do not collect more than 20-30% of the plant’s fruits or flowers, so it is still able to reproduce. Another last tip, try not to pick close to roads; you shouldn’t be closer than 50 meters from the nearest road.

“Its huge pink-and-white flowers  bristling with stamens and anthers, and its tough thorny leaves were nourished by roots that burrowed for moisture more than a hundred feet into the parched earth.” – South from Granada, Gerard Brenan

Preserving capers is simple –  to start off with you need just a water and salt mixture to soak them. This water needs to be changed every three or four days, four times. One the soaking process is done, you can preserve the capers in vinegar, and with any other herbs you like. Besides being a tasty addition to salads (or as a pizza topping at our famous pizza parties!) capers are known to be powerful anti-oxidants and to help in circulation of blood – so a perfect complement to our healthy sustainable diet here at Sunseed.

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Sustainable Living, Tutorial

Part of our mission to live sustainably involves working with the natural abundance that’s at our fingertips to create products that are better for us and our environment. Our Sustainable Living department has been using the beautiful calendula in the Sunseed gardens to make a soothing and hydrating natural moisturiser – and you can make your own with just a few products following the steps below.

Jar of natural moisturiser with calendula flowers

Natural Cosmetics – Hydrating Cream (Calendula Base)

To make a cream, you need three main constituents, Oil, Water and an Emulsifier. Once you combine these three in the right quantities and conditions, they form a soft, velvety and hydrating cream.

You can change the thickness and moisture levels of the cream by altering the ratio of oil to water (thicker creams, like a balm, will have much higher emulsifier levels, especially if using beeswax.)

So prepare your ingredients for 100g of cream:

Oil Part (24g in total)

(12g) Almond Oil infused* (see below) with Calendula

(8g) Olive Oil (mild quality, not too strong)

(4g) Emulsifier (i.e Local beeswax or any store bought veg protein, i.e Lanette or Emulsifan)

Water Part (76g in total)

Distilled (or non-chlorinated) water. You can make this a herbal infusion to strengthen the cream, for example with a handful of rose petals, calendula, chamomile, rosemary etc. Be wary that if you add plants to the water part, it will not preserve anywhere near as long.

Preservative Part = Vitamin E (in oil form) or Vitamin C (dehydrated powdered form). If using Beeswax, this acts as a preservative, as it is a natural anti-fungicide.

Essential Oils: (5-10 drops) Any that you feel suit your cream, medicinal purpose, or personal taste. I often use Lavender, given its clean, fresh aroma and anti-bacterial properties.

Natural moisturiser with calendula

Method:

  • Make an infusion for the water part, leave for 4-12 hours to combine. Preferably water is around 60C-80C, not boiling.
  • Mix together all the ingredients for the oil part in a non-metallic bowl (almond, olive oil and emulsifier).
  • In separate pans, heat both the oil and water parts to 60C-65C, once they reach this temperature immediately remove from the heat. (NOTE: I often find using a water-bath technique to slowly heat the mixtures a safer approach).
  • Now they have been removed from the heat, use a blender to whisk the water part. While its whisking, slowly add the heated oil mixture into the water mix.
  • Once evenly mixed, it will form a runny creamy consistency – allow it cool slightly, and then add in your essential oils and Vitamin E/C.
  • While still hot, pour the mixture into your cleaned/sterilised jars (when warm is it much easier to pour).
  • The cream is ready to use once cool and set, which means it will have thickened.
Making natural moisturisers in our herbarium

*Personally, I like to infuse the oils I use with a particular plant, so in this case I chose Calendula for its emollient (skin softening) properties and that it helps sooth burns and mild abrasions/cuts.

*To infuse the oil with a plant, put a handful of the dried herb into a glass jar, fill to the rim with oil and leave for 30-40 days in the sun, turning/softly shake each day. Or for a quicker, but less effective approach, heat the plant (dried or fresh, just use double the amount if fresh) in a saucepan with the chosen oil, bringing it to around 60-65C. Once reached, take of the stove and leave the saucepan covered overnight to infuse. The oil is ready to use the next day (once you’ve filtered the piece of plant out).

Enjoy!

Feel free to get in touch for more information or clarification. To buy the more technical ingredients i.e Lanette, Vitamin E or C and Essential Oils;  I use this website: http://www.cremas-caseras.es/ as we are based in Spain; however there are a number of ecological organisations around to source this from over Europe.

Luke – sustainable.living@sunseed.org.uk

Want to learn more about how to create natural cosmetics? Join us as a volunteer in the Sustainable Living department!

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Sustainable Living

Our Sustainable Living coordinator, Luke, attended ConSolFood – a conference on Solar Thermal Food Processing in Faro, Portugal – to further his and Sunseed’s knowledge about advances in solar cooking. Here he reflects on lessons from solar technology across the globe – and offers a challenge for Sunseed in the future.

On leaving the crystalline valley of Los Molinos, I bid farewell to the fresh and chilling moonlight that swept across the desert. The journey to Faro, Portugal, had begun especially early in the morning and by midday we had already navigated through the streams of mist and dew that laced the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. By the time I had reached the beautifully ornate archways of Sevilla, the whiteness of the mists had spread to the sky, covering the entire city in a pallid blanket of rain. My optimism of having sunshine for the solar conference started to falter – luckily what was soon to come would open my eyes and heart to the warmth and brilliance found in the Portuguese Algarve.

The conference named ConSolFood 2016 (i), was an event organised with the intention of unifying pioneering individuals and forward thinking organisations; thereby dispersing technological advancements in solar cooking, and most importantly, spreading cultural immersion and collective action across the world.

For a small conference hall in the University of Algarve, an astonishing number of nations had been represented; and especially refreshing was the presence of individuals from India, South America (Chile, Mexico, Brazil) and Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda and South Africa). Many of the technological advances of solar cooking may be taking place in Western countries, especially Germany; however, the implementation and fruits from this technology are clearing flourishing in the sun-drenched climes of the world.

solar cooking

We were blessed with strikingly beautiful weather considering the previous day’s lack of brilliance – which meant we were able to enjoy the delicious dishes prepared by the participants on the Saturday. However, it was not only the food that took the stage over the two days – instead, it was the passion, inspiration and infectious enthusiasm that sparked the fire which kept the conference’s vision alive.

PRESENTATIONS

The diverse array of keynote speakers meant that a whole spectrum of information was discussed; from articulate technical conversations, to inspiring success stories from across the globe, and also broad discussions about how we can take positive steps in our global journey of change.

Of the lectures given, some that left a particular impression included: Solar Cooking in the Antarctic & Solar Restaurants in the Desert (Serrano-Rodríguez, 2016), Solar Food Processing in Ashrams of India (Gandhia, 2016), bridging the gap between Solar Cooking Technology and Sustainable Social Development (McGilligan, 2016); and also an inspirational presentation about the Key Disruptors holding back the spread of solar cooking technology (Greene, 2016).

solar cooking in india

A clear consensus was reached regarding the principal importance of having more awareness and training in the use of solar cookers. The technology is at the right level, however depth and span of use is not integrated enough. One speaker, Pedro Serrano-Rodríguez from Chile, confidently commented that the “challenge of using solar cookers is not technical, at least 60% of the lack of impetus is purely cultural” (ii.)

There is no doubt in my mind that this statement has validity, especially having seen first-hand the simplicity of solar cooking, and its unquestionable effectiveness.

Nonetheless, the spread of solar cooking is taking huge leaps in places like India, somewhat hidden to the Western audience. Talks from Deepak Gandhia (iii) and Janak Palta McGilligan (iv) respectively, demonstrated that the potential and implementation of this appropriate technology is catching like wildfire; especially because we are becoming open to the flexibility of each culture. For example Crosby Menzies (v), participant from South Africa, pioneer and Founder of SunFire Solutions, discussed how Parabolic Cookers are more common in South Africa (due to a lack of good quality Box Cookers); whereas India has a healthy variation of both Parabolic and Box Cookers, and in comparison North Africa demonstrates more availability of Box and Fireless Cookers to the general population. A clear lesson was noted that we must listen to the needs of the audience, rather than trying to create a one-size-fits-all solution to clean cooking technologies.

Parabolic solar cooking
box solar cooking

Also an especially fascinating and empowering talk given by Julie Greene (vi), from Solar Cookers International, encouraged us to contemplate deeper on our perceptions of energy production. Ms Greene quite accurately commented that “we have become accustomed to buying energy from a supplier – which ultimately disempowers us from the reality that energy is essentially free – we can harness it ourselves”. This statement left a lasting impression in my mind, and begun a current of inspiration that soon flooded my ideas of the future with opportunity. Ms Greene finished her presentation with a dream of transition; where solar energy could take the centre stage for our cooking needs, seconded with the use of Biomass/Biogas, and only as a final alternative we resort to fossil fuel-based energy.

Carrying on from that final point, one key lesson I took from the conference, it is that Sunseed Desert Technology (vii) has the fertile soil to cultivate a movement away from, or even completely cut our reliance on LPG (Gas). This would take no new introductions to our solar cooking equipment, and with only minor changes to our daily activities – yet with serious improvements to our nutrition, sustainability, education potential and our ability to adapt to the changing times.

CONCLUSION

We desperately need a change in our cultural perception regarding this technology – especially given the myriad of benefits it brings, on an environmental, social, economic and even spiritual basis. The illusions of First and Third World countries are rapidly fading from the textbooks, and so is the myth that only poor people need to use solar cookers – the reality that is dawning upon humanity is that this type technology is for us ALL to use, even to the extent where we NEED to use it.

Also a special thanks to Celestino Ruivo (viii), who with the help of his students managed to organise the whole event and bring together a group of caring, inspirational and intelligent people, from all corners of the Earth.

Obrigado.

If you would like any further information on a specific lecture topic, or a particular presenter, please feel free to get in touch at: sustainable.living@sunseed.org.uk

For a list of the presentations and the individual slides given at ConSolFood 2016, please see the link below: http://www.consolfood.org/download/

i.ConSolFood: International Conference on Advances in Solar Thermal Food Processing. University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal. January 22-23, 2016

ii. Pedro Serrano-Rodríguez, Solar Cookers in the Antarctic, Solar Restaurants in Desert Areas, use as Adaptable Solar Dryers. ConSolFood 2016. U. De Algarve. Portugal.

iii. Deepak Gadhia, Chief Mentor, EnerSun Power Tech P. Ltd & Trustee of Muni Seva Ashram, India

iv. Dr. Janak Palta McGilligan, Jimmy McGilligan Centre For Sustainable Development, India

v. Crosby Menzies, Founder & CEO SunFire Solutions, www.sunfire.co.za

vi. Julie Greene, Executive Director, Solar Cookers International, www.solarcookers.org, Key Disruptors for the 21st Century, ConSolFood 2016. U. De Algarve. Portugal.

vii. Sunseed Desert Technology, Almeria, Los Molinos Del Rio Aguas; www.sunseed.org.uk

viii. Dr. Celestino Rodrigues Ruivo, University of Algarve-Portugal

Sustainable Living Department, Sunseed Desert Technology

Los Molinos del Rio Aguas, Sorbas, Almeria, Spain, 04270

Sustainable.living@sunseed.org.uk, www.sunseed.org.uk

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11.Borage

Our sustainable living department’s coordinator, Luke, offers to our volunteers to join him every week for a plant walk around our gardens to know more about plants’ properties and benefits. The 6th of April, we had a really interesting walk aimed to collect chamomile and borage flowers. While the firsts have anti-inflammatory properties, the seconds are known to be an incredible source of omega 3, 6 and 9 and be a powerful anti-depression.

13.Borage

Borage

We started our walk at the olive tree nearby Sunseed buildings where Luke explained us more about the virtue of this mythic tree. Starting from the historical myths created around this tree, he came to reveal us the antibiotic and antifungal properties of the “Olea Europaea”. Luke’s advice to benefit the most of this antic tree’s properties is to grab a handful of its leaves in order to prepare an infusion of it. This infusion will then need to remain in the boiling the water during 10-15 minutes. This plant is perfect to boost our immune system and tend to be a good preventive for flue.

14.Poppins

Poppins

On our way to collect the borage and the chamomile flowers, we had a look on the other plants of our garden which offer other interesting properties. For example the malva which can be cooked or used to take out stings, was originally used to make marshmallow with its roots. The parietaria and the chenopodium are both really nutritious plants but need to be boiled first in order to get them more digestible. Poppins which were originally used to prepare opium can also make good infusion with their leaves. The white mustard, by its “firy” aspect, indicates us that it is both an anti-inflammatory and aphrodisiac plant. The goosegrass that grow in our garden, is not only sticky, but can also be directly used as a deodorant for our bodies.

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Stickywilly

Last advice if you want to collect flowers in your garden; try to do it in the early morning, when the sun rises and the flower open up, it is the moment of the day when they have the most energy.

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Sustainable Living

We have so many oranges in our gardens that we can hardly eat them all before they fall down. We tried to find different ways to preserve them. One very nice and quite easy recipe from our Sustainable Living coordinator Luke was to cook them together with pumpkin to get a delicious jam.
After we picked a lot of oranges and got a pumpkin from one of our neighbours, we started cooking.

This is how we made it:

  1. Cut the pumpkin in small pieces, boil for 5 minutes with a very small quantity of sugar.
  2. Strain the pumkin and weigh the quantity. For each kilo of well drained pumpkin, put the juice of 3 oranges and the juice of ½ a lemon.
  3. Use a blender to mix the ingredients until you reach a puree, than you add about 1 kilo of sugar.
  4. Boil the mixture for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring continuously.
  5. Once boiled, let the mixture slightly cool and than pour into steralized jars.
  6. Turn the jars upside down to create a vacuum, let them totally cool down and store them at a cool place.

Afterwards we had a lot of orange and lemon peels left which we didn’t want to throw away. So we decided to make some nice sirup out of it.

If you want to try it yourself, here’s how we did it:

  1. We put the peels in a big Wok.
  2. Filled it up with water
  3. Added about 1 kg of Sugar
  4. Let it boil for about 45 minutes on the gasifire, which gets very hot (here is how to make a gasifire, also known as biomass gasification cooker: https://www.sunseed.org.uk/blogs/2013/10/31/biomass-gasification-cookstove/)
  5. Let it cool down, fill into jars, turned them upside down and let them totally cool.
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Organic Gardening, Sustainable Living

We are very lucky this year at Sunseed! We have an agreement with the Olive oil company called “Oro del Desierto”. We help them to collect olives and in exchange we receive a part of their olive oil production. Oro del Desierto practices ecological agriculture without using any chemicals. They use techniques that preserve the soil structure and fertility. They have actually won many awards that prove that they make one of the best ecological olive oils in the world !

For some years now at Sunseed we have been making similar agreements with local proprietors of almond and olive plantations. It is an important tradition that we want to keep at Sunseed for promoting ecological agricultural practices.

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Between 5 and 8 people from the Sunseed team go to collect almonds or olives. Then we split the total quantity with the owners. We have very nice almonds and we also make our own almond milk, which avoids us buying milk and saves a lot of packaging (tetra packs which are difficult to recycle). We even use the shells as biomass to cook on our gasifier! With the olives, we make oil and also marinade some for eating.

Sunseed Almond picking 4013

Almonds and olives are very important resources in the south of Spain. Olive oil from Spain is famous all over the world. These two trees are very well adapted to the arid climate and do not need a lot of watering. Nevertheless, given the avarice of modern markets, which only focus on high yields and ignore all other factors, the amount of intensive, or even so called “super-intensive” plantations have increased exponentially. This type of cultivation requires the use of a lot of chemicals, leaves the soil bare, which creates erosion and also uses a lot of water over exploiting the aquifers and rivers, causing them to dry up. In our village we are directly affected and more broadly speaking all over Spain desertification is increasing principally due to these kind of practices (for more information see: ecocide los molinos del rio aguas).

Sunseed Almond picking 4011
Sunseed Almond picking 4010
Sunseed Almond picking 4022
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Sustainable Living

If you’re interested in looking for sustainable jobs in the green sector and you’re fed up of having to look through conventional job search engines then we’ve made your life a lot easier. Here’s our list of sites you can join to find the ideal job for you!

http://acre.com/jobs – They have a huge range of jobs available, jobs available in the UK, US and across the world tend to have opportunities with more corporate clients to staff their sustainability departments.

http://www.charityjob.co.uk/jobs – This is a great site for loads of different opportunities in the charity and NGO sector (over 4000 jobs available), the site’s easy to use and is mainly based in the UK with some international jobs available, definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in more than just specificly green jobs.

www.jobsingreen.eu/g/ – Vacancies in the green sector across the whole of europe, option to create an account, upload your CV and add control the email updates you receive from the site – perfect if you’re bored of a constant stream of emails about jobs that don’t interest you.

http://www.environmentjob.co.uk/jobs – For those looking for UK jobs this site has quite a few available and some international as well, a bit smaller than the others on this list but great for specifically environmental based roles.

http://www.environmentjobs.com/ – If youre interested in more international opportunities, you can find jobs in Africa, europe, Asia and America, you can tailor your email updates to be specific to your interests.

http://www.endsjobsearch.co.uk/ – A smaller search site but definitely worth a visit, mainly UK jobs available but also has a european wide search option.

http://jobs.theguardian.com/jobs/environment/ – Not specifically a green job search engine but still has a large variety of job roles available in the environemental sector, you can also specify where in the world you’d like to search with vacancies all over the globe.

http://www.greenjobs.co.uk/ – You can sign up for job alerts by email with an easy to use search option this one’s only good for UK based roles.

http://www.amida-recruit.com/home.aspx – Huge array of jobs mainly in the UK but also oceania and asia.

http://neuvoo.co.uk – has over 800.000 jobs in the UK and almost 235.000 environmental related job offers

Do you know any other good search engines for eco-friendly jobs? Any tips?

– Blog post written by Ben (long term volunteer)

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Sunseed News, Sustainable Living, Tutorial

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.

INGREDIENTS

  • Starter*
  • Flour
  • Warm water
  • Salt

METHOD

  • 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!  

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