Spirit Pine Scenery – “Cob Cottage Company” Natural Building Apprenticeship

Man needs a home, and a comfortable home at that. Can it really be done one handful at a time? To find out, and to learn how to build a cozy (and super-super beautiful!) house customised to our needs, my partner and I are at Spirit Pine Sanctuary (Los Olivos, California) doing a natural building apprenticeship with Cob Cottage Company.

To start with, we present photos of the surrounding environment and some of their existing buildings. Hope you’ll enjoy.

Grandma Jackie's House
Grandma Jackie’s House

Continue reading Spirit Pine Scenery – “Cob Cottage Company” Natural Building Apprenticeship

Photos from “THE FARM” in Summertown, Tennessee

Sun design on a side of the round strawbale house
Sun design on a side of the round strawbale house

“The Farm” is the oldest (formal) intentional community in the United States. Founded in 1971, it covers 6 square miles of beautiful rolling hills near Summertown, Tennessee. Thus it’s been 43 years in the making — forming, storming, norming and performing. As one of the men we spoke with put it, “Any issue that can arise in a community — they’ve experienced it.”

My partner and I have visited The Farm to participate in “The Farm Experience” weekend; below is a glimpse of what lies beyond “The Farm” gates… Continue reading Photos from “THE FARM” in Summertown, Tennessee

Why Delve in Permaculture?

The most significant problem we face in our society is a cultural one. Our society does not value wisdom. Fortunately, Permaculture has the potential to provide it. It is important to focus on this cultural issue, as the best water, energy, housing, gardening, you-name-it type of system will only have limited impact without solving people/cultural systems.

We live in a culture where our heroes are measured by their short-term actions, from flying to save damsels in distress, to battling evil-doers with brawn and metal. Unfortunately, these heroes are primarily defined by their physical abilities rather than their capacity to make wise choices. I always wonder what happens to these heroes after their amazing deeds are done. Do they live a happy life? Do they live in harmony with their day-to-day environment? Do they eat healthy? Do they lead sustainable lives? Do they set a behaviour we can all emulate? From the recent strain of heroes coming out of Hollywood the answer is most definite: No.

Long ago, we used to revere wisdom. Many societies used to have elders that were respected and sought after for their wise council. In contrast, in our current society people grow old in age, but not in wisdom. We lock our elderly in nursing homes and we certainly don’t seek their advice. They seem to be more lost than children, who have unlimited ability to absorb new electronic technology.

In fact, our society has replaced wisdom with technology. The current belief in the media is that technology will save us in every aspect. We have been convinced that somehow technology will help us grow more food, technology will clean after all of our waste, technology will teach us how to be better people, technology will allow us to have better societies. We have this unhealthy idea that we will be improved by some technology that has not even been invented yet. We have forgotten that technology is just a tool we wield with our hands, we still need to use it wisely.

That is why permaculture is so important. It seeks to incorporate the wisdom gained over the years with a sustainable culture in mind.

jump“Man Cliff Jumping” by Stacey Swinehart

Why delve in Permaculture?

It was not always like this, there used to be a time when we only had to “work” a few hours of the day for “subsistence”.

There used to be a time when we  would spend most of our time with our children and teach them how to be full human beings:
how to deal with death, how to comfort our fellow men, how to court a woman, how to dream and create, what plants to eat, which plants heal, how to live in harmony with nature, in essence, how to be happy. Continue reading Why Delve in Permaculture?

How to Lessen Your Monthly Bills by Saving Energy in the Kitchen

Guest post by Ally

The kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms in your home, whether you are whipping up a snack or cooking a three course dinner for two. So it stands to reason that this is also the place where the most energy is wasted. Making some simple changes in the way you prepare your food and use kitchen your appliances can help you to save a lot of money on utility bills each year.

The kitchen
The Kitchen by eightfivezero

The following tips and advice will help you to conserve as much energy as possible in the kitchen, and subsequently lower your monthly bills. Continue reading How to Lessen Your Monthly Bills by Saving Energy in the Kitchen

Organic Soil Management – Water Repellence

Guest post by Alisa Bryce

Water repellence is when water can’t filter into a soil. Instead it pools on top and often runs off, sometimes causing erosion.

Water repellent soil (or hydrophobic soil) develops for two main reasons.

  1. When the soil has remained dry for a prolonged period
  2. The soil particles become covered with a waxy coating

Fresh compost and mulches are a frequent source of waxy coatings. This is why it’s important to use aged compost and mulch.

In Australia, overhanging eucalyptus trees are another common culprit of water repellence. As the leaves decompose, the eucalyptus oil inside is released and coats soil particles. Continue reading Organic Soil Management – Water Repellence