Happy Xmastime everyone. I wish you joy and time for connection; with family, with winter, with your desires and yourselves.
This beautiful reflection is written by Aggelos one of two long-term volunteers this season:
Hello hello, probably for the last time, at least for this year. My EVS project has almost come to an end and it is in these moments when you think you would look back, remembering and reflecting upon experiences. But you don’t do it the usual way, just looking at photos, or wishing you relive some special moments because those moments are gone, they are in the past. That doesn’t mean you forgot about them but that they are a part of you now. You will never forget because you are who you are.
I cannot relate any more to the person I was when I first arrived in Boodaville. Frightened and scared that I had left everything behind, my friends, my family and the security of no change. The very first moments of complete sadness and without any sense of purpose. Looking around I could only see the emptiness and meaningless in everything. It was only when I talked to the people that were with me there about how I felt that I started to grow, to grow inside. No more wondering if I chose the right place, if I made the best decision.
“this was the first step to natural farming and reconnection with the true nature of all things. Because when you realise that the soil in your hand is not just a combination of water, minerals, organic matter and microorganisms but life itself, the essence of meaning, it is then you become whole not as a human but as part of everything and nothing.”
Living in Boodaville, in a way that most people would call primitive, can be frustrating and limiting at first. It is the mindset of the modern human, the prison in which he was born in not able to see the bars that would bring about his lust for escape. Letting go is the key for accepting the unfamiliar, the different.
After I got used to the facilities I learned to love them. Pooing and peeing in the ground to to return the nutrients back to the earth, washing dishes with minimal water and soap
being aware that everything will end up in the soil, the element keeping as humans and a lot of other creatures alive. Even washing ourselves was done with the minimal impact on the surrounding environment usually in the close by river. As for our house, it was made out of stone walls and a greenroof. The addition of a rocket stove, a very weird looking construction in which the wood burns more efficiently producing more heat which is distributed along a bench, made all the difference during the cold months of October and November. It was the result of team work from scouts, volunteers and the teacher.
In addition to the main house there was an old stone wall house next to it. My first very
exciting task was to help rebuild the roof of that house with a bunch of other people also
excited to work with natural materials. Bio-construction became something really important and fun for me.
Self-sufficiency is the desirable outcome of permaculture but it takes time to reach that
point of a well established ecosystem that supports itself. The task was even harder
considering the compacted lifeless bleached and withered soil in Boodaville. Years of
ploughing destroyed the top soil and deprived the earth of organic matter and
microorganisms. During my time in Boodaville one of my site tasks was to attend the future food forest, to water the trees growing there. But a lot of them died. We suspected that the soil’s compaction was to blame and when the time came just when the rain started we begun the regeneration process. Heavy mulching and planting winter plants such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, dill, artichoke and onions were performed. Sowing rye seeds and legumes as green cover completed the process of helping natural regeneration of the soil. When it was finished I could feel more free as I was thinking that this was the first step to natural farming and reconnection with the true nature of all things. Because when you realize that the soil in your hand is not just a combination of water, minerals, organic matter and microorganisms but life itself, the essence of meaning, it is then you become whole not as a human but as part of everything and nothing.
Our everyday life was as simple as taking care of ourselves but not in the egoistic and self-centered way we are taught to do. We were a community of people looking out for each other, cooking for everyone, working and learning together and supporting everyone when needed. The strongest feeling was that of the solidarity and the well being of the community. Everything was happening because of our determination and interest in building the future we think is necessary for a fair life in which the earth and the people are protected.
This core of people from different backgrounds interacting in an environment of pure
cooperation was the result of similar goals and understanding of life. Consequently, the
relationships build from our everyday communication and community life imagining the
perfect future were like family relationships. The learning process was also quite different. Non formal education was possible because of the interests, diversity of people and their knowledge which allowed us to exchange information about almost everything and realise that you don’t need professors, universities and experts to learn things that are most useful for a life in harmony with the nature around us.
That is the most beautiful part of the story and in the same time the hardest one. When the time came to say goodbye after so many wonderful experiences like sleeping under the stars, playing music, singing, cooking together, sharing stories, laughing and just living the way we did we couldn’t believe that it was over.