Final blog post from our volunteer Maria

My name is Maria and I am 29 years old agronomist from Greece, that never had an interest in conventional agriculture! My goal from young age was to “save the planet” but growing up and being educated person, changed the way that I thought about the solution. Hearing about Permaculture for first time on 2013, made me say to myself that this is what I want to learn and be able to do in the future.

Before I came to Boodaville, I was always dreaming of traveling and at the same time learning about sustainability in communities. From the first moment, I was excited to start organizing ourselves for the coming period in the project, and that made me feel really free and creative, because of the coordination that we had. Slowly we entered in to the team building process, that sometimes didn’t go as we wanted but, that is life! Through these trainings, I entered to my first reflection and I got shocked when I
noticed that I am not that flexible in groups and I am to bossy sometimes. That brought me to the next step of evaluation my ideas and behaviours. Really difficult!
But with the help of my friends I hope I did good job and I start changing my attitude and the way of seeing our issues.
Some of the first tasks that I had and I got really excited were the water
management. Because of the closed season of Boodaville we had to remake the system of collecting the rain and that was really cool because you need to wait the rain to come and then to go out and check how the water moves in the terrain to “harvest” it. The dry season was coming and we had few opportunities of rain.
Also, it was very interesting learning about the regenerative methods for the soil (Zai compost), mulching and green manure that Boodaville use to improve the quality of the soil. Some of the tools like the wicking beds and the rocket stove impressed me a lot and during the months I saw how they work and help the project.
A big happy moment was the gift from Rosa and her family, allowing us to cultivate our veggies on their land. I will never forget our first try to understand the water system that they use in Caseres, with the construction of “caballones” that seems so easy but need good technique to canalize the water and don’t flows out of its way. Of course our neighbors realized very soon that we were not able to do it alone and they gave us a hand. From this moment, we started having closer relations with the local community and we learned a lot about the way of growing food in this area.

To improve our communication and put our first rules in the group we had some introduction about non violent communication and Sociocracy, was interesting and useful to start feeling like a small community. The big highlight of May was the Maranya festival in Fuentespalda, that we helped prepare and we enjoyed all the events until the end, even though I got wet like never in my life!

After this amazing 4 days in Fuentespalda, we went to Vic for our first evaluation from the European Union and there we met with 20 more people from different projects around Spain. I believe we were lucky to have very good trainers and that helped me feel relaxed, open to new stuff (!!!We did human towers!!!) and I made new good friends from all over the world.

After our trip to Vic, we come back to Boodaville and we had a good surprise! Exactly the next morning, Tristan and Mahu arrived. We enjoyed parties together in the area. I hope to see them again,
soon. Also, another nice change in our daily life, was the moving of Jessica and the chickens in Boodaville, which really gave me very good feelings and moments. I loved that we had chickens and I took care of them for a while, a great experience for my future!

I really enjoyed that I collaborated with Santiago for the extending of the tool shed’s roof. It was my first practical job that no one show me what to do or how to do it, so the feeling after was really good!
Because of the high temperatures and the dry season, the fire risk in the area was high in the end of this month and we had 2 days of training about these circumstances from Jessica. The same period I adopted a Kombucha scoby, so I had to learn how to take care of it and what I can do except from drinking it.

During July, we had no more Tristan and Maho, but we had a lot of visitors. I realized how challenging it is to have chickens and the same time a not protected food forest. I don’t remember how many times I tried to make a functional protection fence for the veggies and an easy mobile chicken house. Now, by doing my reflection I realize how difficult it was (because I didn’t want to buy new tools or materials!!), but how much I learned. It was a month with a lot of intense inside of me, but I was feeling creative and ready to learn.

I came back from the evaluation and my visit to other projects, with very good and peaceful energy but this didn’t last long, because I had a conflict that I didn’t understand the real reason. Also, I proposed to have a day of silence and I LOVED IT!! but we only did it one time which I think we could do it one time every week (maybe only for some hours). I really enjoyed that I helped Rosa with cooking for preparing a meal for the public and helping Joan to put the door in the new house. Also, after some days, we had the chance to learn about the building roofs from an expert. For the collaboration with Nick (the expert!), I am very happy to have this experience and I feel that I learned a lot. I wish we had more jobs like this and I think the team, enjoyed it too!

I had an amazing weekend workshop with the designer of the food forest, Kate Curtis, our coordinator Anna with her family and some new people that had interest to participate. She explained to us how the synergies work and why the guilds are important to the trees that were planted. Also, we had the chance to make bio-fertilizers from materials that we had in our kitchen, which give a boost to the plants and create a healthy environment to their roots. The mulching was something that Kate made clear was vital for the food forest and we needed to be creative and find natural materials to cover the bare land. After some tries with materials that were
not good enough, we found a lot of leftover from almonds that the period of picking has just finish, so we could find in abundance. The best of this month was the arrival of Sonja and Eva to the project because they gave good and different energy to the team.
The daily and monthly tasks, even if they seem boring or repeatedly, were every day a small challenge. That happened to me, because through Permaculture, I start encountering the problems that I had to face, as the solution (“The problem is the solution”).

The three seasons that I passed in Boodaville were a full experience for my agronomical background, because the observation of the plants and the terrain made me understand many vital things for my future farm project. Of course, in these seven months the majority of my memories are full of happiness and new experiences that I will never forget. Thank you!

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