Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Walking the low-impact talk - Access to land

From November Ruth and I will be exploring low-impact life for real, living in a yurt and caravan combination based at Treflach Farm. Ian Steele, farmer at Treflach, has been very friendly and helpful while we have been running Permacuture courses at the farm over the last year so I'm looking forward to working with Ian and all the others there. It's an amazing three years plus since I started making my yurt in the garden at Debi's house near Brighton (making the thing turned into an epic Icelandic Saga all of its own, check out some of the many posts about it here, hereherehere and here), so it will be truly wonderful to be using it at last. There's lots of stuff we want to explore, like putting the yurt inside a polytunnel so we can get some solar gain and put lots of insulation on the outside of the yurt without it getting soaked. I want to try out Lucia stoves and a rocket stove/thermal mass combination rather than the usual log-burning variety and we'll be growing some food of course. I'd like to try using a fan to take warm air from the top of the polytunnel down into a thermal mass store under the yurt .... and lots more .... will be getting in touch with some of the great eco-boffin types I've met for advice on developing all that stuff.
We have the sort of arrangement which I hope will help many other people gain access to some land in this transitional phase, swapping some work on the farm in return for living space - so I feel it's all an important as well as fascinating process. Farms will inevitably have to use more human labour as we are all forced sooner or later to make the transition away from oil dependency. I feel Treflach will be an excellent place to be as the farm is already confronting transition issues and adopting Permaculture principles. I think access to land is the key for peoples' future security, in cities as well as out in the countryside, and learning to live a simple land based life as much as possible, regenerating local Earth capital and abundance instead of being a consumer-unit cog in a global Earth-destructive corporatocracy. I hope some of the solutions we develop in the farm will help people everywhere.

Permaculture Design at Treflach Oct 2011

This was Sector39's third Permacuture Design Course at Treflach and what a wonderful event it turned out to be. I felt I already knew everyone on the course when I met them - extraordinary feeling! Our team has been working together for a while now and the day's programme rolls along like well oiled machinery; Richie, Kev and Ruth and on the cooking, Steve, endlessly passionate teacher and knowledgeable on all aspects of sustainable living (difficult to get him to stop for meals sometime in fact...)
Steve also organises visits to interesting projects and people, while my role is to get the day started with  a Tai Chi/Chi Kung/Energy Work session in the mornings and to help out generally with anything that crops up from getting the compost loo "going" to treating a headache here and there. I also gave some lectures on the course on patterns in nature, people patterns and on design - this last one with reference to guitars, eg the Fender Telecaster, a fascinating tale and lovely to be able to share it. The course is after all a design course and studying how guitars have evolved shows brilliantly how the process works.
As well as all that, we had an ongoing Green Woodworking practical run by Richie and Kev and a teepee and two yurts on site, with music sessions late on into the night round a fire in the teepee. It's a packed programme alright.
Treflach is a family farm managed by Ian Steele and his parents, they are always tremendously welcoming and appreciative of any help we give. At the end of the day the course is all about our transition away from fossil fuels towards a life which respects and regenerates the Earth; it feels good to be part of that process and to see previous PDC students' ideas already being put into practice on the farm. I haven't processed any of my photos for ages but Ashley from the course has put a wonderful album together which you can see here: Ashley's photos - really worth a look, he takes photos from the heart and the album really captures the people and feel of the course.