A geeky post about designing…

#treepropagation #growing #seedlings #design #permaculture #smallandslowsolutions #boodaville #riberola

At the Riberola Festival on 7th October Boodaville ran an Intro to Permaculture workshop and we did a practical planting seeds of 3 different types of trees, which have properties such as – drought resistant, fast growing, providing food for animals, (Jujube is edible for humans too), fixing nitrogen, resistant to high and low temperatures, don’t have loads of pests. The trees are Honey Locust, Jujube and Italian Buckthorn.

We left the seeds in vinegar for a few hours (ideally it would be overnight) and we scratched the surface of the seeds.. this imitates the natural process of the seeds being chewed by animals then in their acidic stomachs for a while.

Here is the picture of the seeds on the 10th November.

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-13 at 09.15.12

Honestly I have no idea whether anything growing there is the beginning of a tree. I mean I can see what is grass, but the other little things sprouting… I’m not sure!! What I did notice before I pulled out most of the grass is that the one pot with a bit of straw mulch, upper right of the photo you see? That pot had 5 times as much grass as the others. (yes.. i should have taken that picture!!)

¡¡¡THE GAME!!!!  : SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! between the three pictures 🙂


Winter Seedlings Photo 1
Winter Seedlings Photo 1
Winter Seedlings Photo 2
Winter Seedlings Photo 2
Winter Seedlings Photo 3
Winter Seedlings Photo 3

And here’s an explanation of what’s going on in these pictures. The level of detail to which we plan every step of the design is incredible to me. There’s so much to think about… I mean it took me weeks to find out which trees would be good to plant and to then collect the seeds. Luckily other permaculturists around have given me some seeds and helped out with that bit – Gerald gave me Honey Locust pods to take out the seeds, Alessandro told me about the Italian Buckthorn on the outskirts of Barcelona, and Richard gave me a bag of Jujube fruit he had collected from a tree about 10km from Boodaville.

The next step is leaving the seeds to grow over winter. They need water, they mustn’t freeze, and some sunshine would be good. Here are some of the things I thought about when I set them up like this

  1. Near the thermal mass wall of the house to prevent freezing
  2. Straw insulation
  3. Leave the crate a little bit away from the wall so none of the trees stay dry under the overhanging roof
  4. Leave the crate directly on the ground so there is drainage and they won’t get flooded in a storm
  5. No straw between the wall and the crate as the wall is the warm bit
  6. Relatively wind protected location
  7. Location that gets sun from 1pm until half an hour before sunset
  8. Overhanging tree will also help prevent frost
  9. Stones to help keep straw in place
  10. The changes I made between photos 1 and 3 in your spot the difference game were the last things I adjusted.


Thank you so much to Gerald in Albinyana for teaching me all of this!! and any comments, suggestions to people who’ve managed to read this far are very very welcome!!

Permablitz and party..


Our last event of the year was a permablitz implementing Natural Farming methods with Kate Curtis and an awesome party in the dome afterwards. Our best event yet! Helen wrote a blog post about it here .

El último evento del año fue un “permablitz” trabajando en técnicas de agricultura natural y regenerativa y una fiesta genial en el domo. El mejor evento hasta ahora!!! Hay una entrada en el blog Living in the Future (en inglés) escrito por Helen Iles

Wwoofer week: day 5 and a holiday weekend

wwoofers attaching cables
wwoofers attaching cables
almost finished: table and fly free zone
almost finished: table and fly free zone
the back wall is finished
the back wall is finished


can you spot the odd stone out in the back wall? that's the one collected from a beautiful family day on Polzeath beach.
can you spot the odd stone out in the back wall? that’s a piece of Cornwall, collected from a beautiful family day on Polzeath beach.

After a week of hard work we just about finished with the jobs in hand, and the builders finished the back wall. Saturday was spent at Les Olles with plenty of rock jumping and exploring, and Sunday was a relaxing picnic at Pesquerra, one of my favourite places on the planet. A big thank you to all the wwoofers, friends and builders who got involved in helping out.

Después de una semana de trabajo duro, hemos acabado los objectivos y los constructores acabaron con la ultima pared de la casa. El sábado fuimos a Les Olles con muchas oportunidades de saltar de las rocas, y el domingo hicimos picnic en Pesquerra, uno de mis sitios favoritos en todo el planeta. Mil gracias a los wwoofers, amigos y constructores que se involucraron en ayudar estos dias. 



chicas and chainsaws

do you like mel’s safety gear? those trousers are made of metal.

starting the chainsaw took us about an hour, you really have to give it some welly. but then we took down two dead trees – an almond and an olive. the first trees i’ve ever chopped down – we did the wedge in one side and everything 🙂

apart from getting winter wood, i did very little this weekend. the temperatures are still ridiculously warm for november. there was some wine, some napping, a freaky dream about Mel’s dog having human hands and burying its head in a bucket of pee.

My important job was picking up an official paper certifying that i am now a farmer, and as usual i tidied up and inspected growing things….

mel's greenhouse out of sticks and old bottles - a great idea that i'll be copying
the parsley seeds have sprouted, i planted them where they'll get loads of water off the yurt and it seems to be working
i haven't planted any onions for 6 months, so these fellas are doing well. good luck to them

happy 3rd birthday to boodaville

en castellano aqui

well it’s only been called boodaville for a few months i suppose, but the seed started growing on the 7th November 2008 when i took the day off work, went over there in a little rental car, signed the papers with Antonio’s ageing parents and a notary to buy a 1.5 hectare plot in rural spain, and cracked open a bottle of cava in the sunshine.


The project has evolved since the original idea and just to clear things up – here’s a summary of what’s going on down at the land:

I am working in parallel on building a comfortable home with rooms for rent (read more here) and developing eco-tourism with a focus on educational workshops about sustainable living, called the “positive impact project”. It’s mainly about fun and adventure, but also aims to show people ethical lifestyle alternatives which could be adopted on a long term basis. If we inspire visitors to make permanent changes to the routine can we can claim that by choosing a boodaville holiday your overall effect on people and planet is a positive one? maybe – hence the name project…

the anniversary weekend was all about bonfire

and hulahooping

more highlights coming up.. as i think of catchy headlines

diary of an arts weekend…

well first check out some photos, including the awesome karate moves of some of the group – not only in the improv class but also when attempting to destroy wood

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in the team photo people were asked to sum up what they learnt over the weekend in a single expression – do you need me to explain more or can you just look at their faces and glean what happened?

overall it was a huge success and i’m pleased with the organisation for a first attempt – which i’m sure was credit to having such a lovely group of people. As predicted it was cold at night and to solve this problem i will be providing hot water bottles in future i promise. the food was delicious and in all about 80% was organic, or locally made or fair trade. the workshops sounded hilarious (i was stuck in the kitchen and could hear them laughing from up top!!) and the walking, river trip and yoga fitted in perfectly.

i completely love it when visitors get as energised and excited about the land as i am – and i thought it was brilliant that Fiona et al decided to get up at 7 on sunday for a silent walk up to a rock with a view to do a meditation.

what guests had to say:

“It was truly an awesome weekend with some truly awesome people and I hope we’ll all do it again someday. Thank you Anna!!” – Scott

“I found the conversation really enrichening and inspiring across the whole weekend and you all took really well to the Improv – it was great fun!” Matt Kemp (workshop leader)

“It was truly a wonderful weekend and unlike anything I’ve done since moving to Barcelona. Thanks to all of you for making it so fun and supporting my first attempts at improv” -Iva

ok – and just in case you think i’m being too selective here’s Brian’s response

“Apart from the cold hellish nightmare bumpy ground plagued sleeps, it was perfect.”

(like i say, i’m getting hot water bottles – and this event took place in October)

my other highlights –

hearing shouting from the workshops where people were loving the empty outdoor space to let rip

people who wouldn’t normally do that sort of thing admitted that they enjoyed the number 2 toilet 😉

matt‘s opening song in the yurt (we took our concert inside and lit a fire – extreme cosiness!)

jumping in the river (let’s face it, i wouldn’t have gone in if i was on my own. i don’t care what you say Brian, it was freezing)

and although i nearly hit stress point on saturday (particularly when the shopping took 3 times as long as expected because of village gossip..) it was a pretty smooth and painless operation, and thanks to Maurice who spent lots of the day cleaning up and making tea.

things i’ve learnt:

the open olive grove next to the red brick house up top makes an awesome space for “defend your castle” type team silliness

the yurt just fits 11 people and a concert in

people eat a lot at snack time after a 2 hour improv workshop

the fastest i can get from calaceite to my place is 3.5 minutes

Matt Kemp is a legend

i want to run the whole boodaville project on donations – that’s to say that people pay enough to cover their expenses, on top of that they give a voluntary contribution they feel comfortable with so people in the future can enjoy the same experience.

eco-living and performing arts weekend

7th-9th october

workshops · physical theatre · improv games · dining under the stars · eco-living · river swimming · yoga · hill-walking

the weather is looking great for this event, hooray! i thought october might be pushing it a bit but temperatures are still in the high 20s and last weekend we were in the river at sunset… if you want to join a small group of us for fun and laugher there are still places available!! click here for info and to reserve your place

local swim spot



when i’m not actually at the land moving furniture around and slowly progressing in various eco-projects  i like to think i’m being useful by networking. this summer i’ve met the wonderful people from the nowhere festival who will hopefully be coming over to Boodaville and use the space to work on art projects in preparation for next years event.  They told me about about some exciting sounding local organic farms…  more