ある家族のパーマカルチャー的自然調和への冒険


by guibi

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Eleven go mad in Dorset and other great stories...


Well, it's taken me a week to get myself sat down in front of the computer to type this, so here goes.
I got back from the UK last Wednesday, and what a time I had!

The first few days were at home in Farnham with sis and the folks. It was great to see them all again and everyone was looking relaxed and well. It was reassuring to see that the dining room table is still the place for heated political debate and putting the world to rights, just like it always was. The volume seems to rise at about the same rate as I remember too. No wonder Dad's starting to lose his hearing! I managed to catch up with Rog & family too which was great.

The other reason I was in the UK was to do a fortnight's Permaculture design course down in lovely Dorset.
The course was hosted at Pat Bowcock's "Ourganics", a debt free and self sustaining business that is a venue for permaculture courses and grows produce to sell to the local community. Our principal instructor was Aranya of Designed Visions. The residential (they provided a field and food, we brought tents) course spanned 14 days and covered all the usual stuff that a Permaculture Design course covers.

If you've read Bill Mollison's Permaculture a designers Manual, there won't be too many surprises, what the course does provide though is an intense and distraction free 2 weeks in which you can reinforce all the stuff that you've read about and studied by yourself. Further, you get to meet a bunch of highly motivated fellow travelers some of whom may well become life long friends or correspondents. Other things that stood out on the Designed Visions course I attended were the location, the field trips and the food. Yes, there was I expecting to lose kilos by the day (on reflection, I've no idea why I expected that. Guess I had this wrong image of scrappy veggie dishes and camp cooking in mind. Couldn't have been further from the truth!). Needless to say lose weight is precisely the opposite of what I did, and if you've seen the pics on my facebook page of late, you'll know what I'm talking about!

Anyway, suffice to say that I had an excellent two weeks, and ended up with a bunch more confidence that what I kind of thought I understood before, I really do now.

I mentioned the field trips. We visited four permaculture-ish projects in the vicinity.


The first was to The Treewise Co-operative, a terrace of thatched cottages run as a coop which aimed to provide a place of peace and learning for children and adults alike. They began their project by buying the cottages and an abandoned apple orchard behind it. Since then, they have restored the orchard, built a permaculture garden, and gradually expanded up the hill as land became available. Now the site covers 7 acres and goes right up to the ridge above the terrace.


The second was FivePenny Farm. This working farm is where the Peasant Evolution Producers Cooperative keep their shared resources, namely their kitchens, fruit presses, stores, dairy and processing rooms. These shared resources are all to be found in the beautiful timber frame barn (right) that the coop members built using local craftsmen and materials.
I was particularly inspired by the fact that this coop now has well over a dozen participating groups on board. When you think that some of the groups involved have a dozen or more members, think how many people that represents. It's fantastic that there's so much actually going on down there, and if it's happening there, it's probably going on all over the country and if that's the case, it's probably going on all over Europe and so on and so on...
Bloody excellent! The post capitalist society has really made a start.


The third place we visited was the Bridport TLC, a community resource & recycling project. There we saw how Bio-Diesel is produced, and learnt how this volunteer-led group is offering solutions to improve the local environment & contributing to a sustainable local economy by supporting all those working towards a more sustainable, climate-friendly environment. The project was started by two street performers and soon grew to offer community workshops, a small business recycling scheme, an arts & crafts scrapstore, rickshaws and other community based projects.



The fourth and, as far as I was concerned, most inspiring visit took us to Blackthorn Farm, a 28 acre, self described "Energy Farm" permaculture project. Yet another member of the Peasant Evolution Producers' Co-Operative, the farm is home to the Rainbow family (how appropriate is that!) who made us feel so incredibly at home that I was ready to doze off in the shade had I not been totally engrossed in talking to Mark Rainbow about all aspects of their project and especially their fantastic house. I'm sure Mark was understating it, but he made the whole self build thing sound like a doddle. What I found particularly cool, other than the design of the place itself, was how they'd managed to get everything ready for a crew of 30 or so friends and volunteers to put the whole building up in a mere 4 day weekend! Amazing.

All in all, it was a great two weeks made all the more special by the others there to teach and study. My special thanks go to Pat for hosting us all, Aranya for putting up with us, Tim, Trish, Izzy, Bokudan, Jo and all the others there who made it such a unique and special time. Thanks guys! See you next time you get out to Japan!
[PR]
by guibi | 2010-06-15 13:52 | Permaculture

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