Senda Verde Permaculture Eco Center

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Crystal, new life for Joe and Carmela and fat as butter

Crystal new life arrives as old life is consumed, a good start for Senda Verde

As fat as butter and she is packing on the oz, carmela is a great mum

Crystal, yes after three weeks of my amateurish inspections and two outside opinions, shes a she and she is called Crystal.

In honour to the crystal pool where im drawing my life saving water and to the fact that she cried and cried yesterday till I lifted her out her basket and she let a big crystal stream go on the floor, what a dog, house trained, all be it her house is the dog basket, but house trained at 3 weeks.

Welcome Crystal.

My friend told me she was sheep dog stock with 4 white paws which fires the ball right back into Joes court, she was also early as I caculated 6th to 12th of August as delivery date but Carmela delivered 29th July, again firing the ball back into Joes court, Carmela escaped once, the penultimate day of her heat, Joe followed and came back wrecked, battered bruised and scarred so obviouslly defended Carmela till the end, but with a 29th delivery date that would put conception right into Joe and Carmelas honeymoon period, no other dogs around, just the two of them glued at the hip.

My boy Joe and my new sweetheart Carmela are the proud parents of Crystal a fat as butter, as my friend is fond of saying, Pyreness Sheepdog, Griffon, Portuguese Setter, Estrella cross.

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Monday, 16 August 2010

The Biggie 2...just when you thought it was safe to go back on the farm

Sunday 13th August, day two of the biggie.

The far bank of the Mondego had practically burnt to a cinder, there was not much left to go and I was feeling like I might have escaped. Rob had been over to inspect the damage, we had been for a cofeee and smoked a cigar and congratulated ourselves on getting away with it. At around 2pm the wind did a complete reversal from blowing from the South West to howling like a banshee from the North East. It skipped over the Mondego river without pause and started in my direction in earnest.

I was sitting on the computer, drink in hand thinking that Senda Verde was a blessed place when I started to see horrid acrid smoke fly past the window. I ran outside and onto the house roof and realized that it wasnt over the nightmare was only just starting.

I managed to wave down a helicopter, Id see this guy many times pulling water from my river over the last two weeks and always gave him the thumbs up and a cheery fist salute. This time I had a sheet and was waving it madly and pointing to the ridge line, jumping around like a mad man. He did his best, he pulled 8 bucket loads from the river in front and dropped it on the lower ridge line, the area that would potentially stop the fire from crossing the small river where I draw my drinking and irrigation water from. He circled me after 8 loads, seemingly saying, "sorry mate I can do no more" and headed off to save a village or something.

I turned the landrover for a fast getaway, started her up, put the wee man and carmela in the back, shut the caravan, loaded the tractor and all I could find into the barn, gave the cat a bucket of water and chucked two buckets onto her mezzanine floor area. I ran with lilly down to her animal house and did the same trying to clear as much loose hay and burnable crap out of the stall. I left her with a kiss, some water and a prayer.

I took my last photo as the fire engulfed an old ruin that sits at the same hight as my water fall pool. I decided that when it reached there I had to go, I wasnt so sure about the geography on this one and the road out of Senda Verde runs very close to the ever rising fire line. I realized I was pushing my luck, so with one more snap I got Joe in the car and we raced upwards to the village and the community center for another 24 hours of nail biting waiting.

I was allowed back down at 4am Sunday morning, I managed to kick the door in on Lillys house, it was burning up when I got there and I got her out, the poor thing was in shock but shes gone to Rob and Fis with fresh green grass and lots of love. Im going to visit with Maggie on Wednesday and I hope theres no lasting damage and Maggie can give her a good check up, physically she was fine on the outside.

The cat seemed like nothing had happened which is a blessing, the barn and the house got hit very little, a tribute to swales and decent irrigation.

I have some videos which I will post when I have some time, some powerful pieces of nature red in tooth and claw.

Life goes on, ive still got 5 or 6 raised beds with plants growing and tomorrow I hope to fix some sort of irrigation system so they dont die a slow death, Im down to my last 500 lts in the tanks so its a water tonight and tomorrow and then I better get some water from somewhere.
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Saturday, 14 August 2010

Sepp Holzer: A Permaculture Worldchanger

He is the author of several books, works nationally as a permaculture-activist in the established agricultural industry, and works internationally as an adviser for ecological agriculture.

Permaculture as a systematic method was first practiced by Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer in the 1960s, about 10 years before it was scientifically developed by Australians Bill Mollison or David Holmgren and their associates.

Sepp Holzer, work with nature instead of confronting it and working against it.

Without trying to describe his method in particular, I simply want to point out a few things why this man is so important and why he is even more important TODAY:

45 hectares of forest gardens, including 70 ponds and tens of thousands of fruit trees, shrubs, vines and highly productive vegetables and herbs at an altitude of 1500 meters

- His expanded farm now spans over 45 hectares of forest gardens, including 70 ponds and tens of thousands of fruit trees, shrubs, vines and highly productive vegetables and herbs at an altitude of 1500 meters (~5000 feet). He has created a self-sustaining landscape in which he produces many varieties of the best quality fish, fruits, nuts, vegetables, mushrooms, pork, poultry and even citrus and kiwi without irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides or weeding. His farm is said to be the most consistent example of permaculture worldwide.

- He is the author of several books, works nationally as a permaculture-activist in the established agricultural industry, and works internationally as an adviser for ecological agriculture. He is often asked by desperate governments to rescue big areas of land (he currently has projects in: Austria, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Poland, Ecuador, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, Russia, Montana, Columbia, Brazil, Thailand, and Ecuador). Governments turn to him and big corporations turn to him; it is about time to grant people like him more attention.

He actively fights for farmers’ most basic rights

- He is getting older and has gathered much precious, relevant experience and knowledge. In his latest talk I experienced his strong urge to share this knowledge. To that end, he gets involved in bigger and bigger projects, to show and prove that his "alternative method" is the only method that is actually working for permaculture.

- He actively fights for farmers’ most basic rights, such as the right to plant the crops the kinds of plants they want how and where they want.

- He uses rare and ancient seeds and crops to promote more variety in the ecologic system and is therefore one of our most important activists against institutions such as Monsanto and genetically manipulated food (which is now also legal in Europe).

- One of his biggest and most relevant truths is to work with nature instead of confronting it and working against it.

- Last, and I find most importantly, he puts trust back into people's hands. He claims anyone can do it!

To check his latest projects visit his website or YouTube. He is working on a radical book that will come out next year.

Image Credit(s): Photos of Sepp Holzer and his farm in Austria via Der Krameterhof.

Uleshka Asher is a writer always on the lookout for inspiring people who have something to say. She is also a regular Worldchanging Correspondent.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Senda Verde survives massive forest fire, still an oasis of green

Portugal is in flames, on the 11th of August according to the mainstream national news more than 128 forest fires were burning. The Bombieros are stretched to maximum many of them having gone 3 days straight fighting forest fires. The sound of spotter planes and buzzing helicopters which seemed so novel just a few weeks ago had merged into the background white noise, then it was my turn for a close call.

Towards the South near Nelas a forest fire had been raging for a couple of days, plumes of acrid smoke chocked and made breathing a strain, then the wind turned and started blowing North East and the fires started getting closer to my Quinta.

My local fisherman friend came down and suggested I load up the landrover with the dogs and head up to the village, but the wind was pushing the fire towards me but on the opposite side of the Mondego river, I made a calculated decision and told him I was staying put for the time being. He headed up to the village on his motorbike and I made sure he understood to tell the bombieros that I was still down here, just in case it all went bad.

I sat and watched as the fire slowly engulfed the far side of my mountain valley, the wind pushing it along the ridge line and with the natural river barrier I thought maybe I could escape. Over the brow of a hill came another seperate fire front, pushing directly towards me, it still had to cross the river but it was low in the valley and I realised I was in trouble.

I jumped in the landrover and went up the track to view the danger zone only to meet the bombieros on their way down. The insisted I get out now, so I did a quick U turn and headed to pick up the dogs and essentials, said a small prayer to Senda Verde, Lilly the goat and Itsy the kitten and headed up to the community center in the village.

Im writting this at 4am, the house, the caravan, Lilly the goat and Itsy the cat are all ok, Ive not seen the damage done yet, but thank you to the Bombieros of Mangualde proffesionals and volunteers alike, your all hereos, thank you to the villagers of Cervaes for your kindness and support and thank you for letting me pick up the pieces, whatever they may be, and start again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Regenerative Permaculture with Darren Doherty

In this 100th episode of the Agroinnovations Podcast we are joined by Darren Doherty, a permaculture designer and consultant who is an expert in keyline design, broadacre permaculture, and agroforestry. Topics of discussion include Australia as a source of innovation in agriculture, regenerative vs. sustainable agriculture, the life and work of P.A. Yeomans, the keyline orders or permanence, open source agricultural implements, and the Spanish Dehesa as a model for broadacre permaculture. This episode is a tour-de-force of many of the critical issues facing the permaculture movement.

click here to listen to the interview or download to your player

Congratulations Frank on your 100th episode looking forward to many more.
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Sunday, 1 August 2010

Carmela and Joe create the first new life on Senda Verde

After a nights sleep and a good feed for both Mum and pup

Carmela and puppy, Joes not allowed near yet

Saturday afternoon Carmela my 1 year old bitch came into the kitchen and laid herself out on the sofa. She had been showing signs for the last few days, nest building and general agitation and she hadnt touched her food the night before.

Carmela never comes inside the house so when I saw her on the sofa and panting heavily I sprung into action and got all the old sheets and towels I had laid aside for this moment and made her a comfy nest.

Just a few minutes old and yet to home in on the nipple

It was only around 10 minutes after when the head appeared, I cleared the placenta from the pups head and Carmela did the rest, what a moment, my old faithful dog Joe was banished outside and Carmela and our new addition have taken up residence in the kitchen.

Mum and pup sleeping happily

Last night was comfortable for all concerned I slept just a meter away from them and Carmela drank plenty and eat a few dried biscuits, this morning she had a bowl full of dried food and puppy has been suckling and sleeping. With no competition as a 1 pup litter the wee fellow will be packing on the weight.

Its a great start for the future as animals are a major part of my off grid self suffciency plans and also the first time ive assisted at a birth. I hope they all go as smoothly as this one did.

Senda Verde welcomed the first volunteers during July.

Bugui rotivating the new terrace

Christina and Onza moving goat poo to the newly cleared and rotivated terrace.

Christina from Italy spent just over three weeks here and Bugui and Onza came down from Galicia where they are very active in the network of Permaculture in Galicia. I spent most of last winter with my caravan parked up at Buguis finca while I got to know the permaculture crew up there and looked for some land to start Senda Verde.

Make hay when the sun shines and it has certainly been shining with temps over 40 degrees these last weeks.

I didnt find the land in Galicia but ended up finding this amazing place but good friends were made in Galicia and Bugui and Onza made the first visit down and really put their heart and soul into helping me out, clearing terraces, making hay and generally lifting the energy of the place.

Bottom terrace cut for hay and ready for a winter crop of rye and cabbage.

Onza and Christina crossed the Mondego and climbed up to the ancient standing stones, this Dolmen seems to balance the energy from the Mondego river which runs north to south and the water fall river that falls from the west, these standing stones give a double energy vortex with its center right in the middle of the Mondego river, where I spend most afternoons cooling off and meditating.

Thank you so much for all that you did and as we say in Spain, me casa es tu casa.

The Truth WareHouse