EARTH & US: On the ground
Hands in the soil
At the Bioparque, under the direction of Paco, the amazing Syntropic Agroforestry teacher from Brazil, I got to work alongside lovely people from the April workshop. Tannia and Cecy, a young couple from Mexico City now living in Barichara; Vicky and Camila, among the founders of the Bioparque; and many others were removing invasive grass, adding manure and moist mulch to the recent plantings. We’d been without rain for 6 days or so. We snugged up the mulched grass clippings alongside the young pineapple, yucca, beans, aloe, fique, nopal cactus, and sabila. Those last three plants hold water and can release it to other plant roots, Paco told us. I loved this work, and got to return a few times afterwards to continue the mulching.
It’s been beautiful to see and hear rain nearly every day for over a week now. Still, it wasn’t much fun to get thoroughly drenched scooting back from the Bioparque with Joe and Penny a few days ago! It’s been a long time since my clothes and shoes got that soaked — Brrr! Of course I’d neglected to bring my umbrella or raincoat that day, as had Joe and Penny.
Earth Regenerators in Barichara
Alpha, Chad, Charles and I signed up for the podcast team; Charles has fancy recording equipment, so one person can monitor the sound levels with headphones while two others use microphones. So far we’ve gotten together twice and done a few practice interviews. I really want to interview Charles and Chad!
Charles has lived in India, the middle East, and Australia, as well as the US, where he lost friends in the California fires. He worked with the Watershed Progressives, a nonprofit with a coffeeshop and native plant nursery; they used to put on concerts, with bands, but that was shut down. He did water consultation for a private boarding school, a country club greywater system, and others. Southern California is in drought crisis. There is a movement to “de-pave” the Los Angeles river; Los Angeles began, he informed me, when a wealthy fellow bought up farms along the river and put in a 500 mile pipeline to take that water to L.A.! Farmers dependent on the river even tried to blow up the pipeline. But L.A. got its water.
Chad is from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He’s interested in alternative financing, such as the Mutual Credit System developed by David Casey, and is involved in crypto-currency, Holo-chain and NFTs. (None of which I understand.)
Alpha, who lives in Ojai, California, is working to form local watershed councils and teaching everyone about the “small water cycle” in which plants, especially trees, are the pump in the system, evapo-transpiring water into the atmosphere, which forms clouds and eventually rain.
Last year, Alpha and Hannah formed the Regenerative Water Alliance in order to create a global network of water experts, local Water Wisdom Councils, and find creative forms of funding to support water rehydration projects around the world. His scientific background offers an important foundation for this emerging network.
Hannah, who co-founded the Permaculture Magazine, North America, arrived recently and is staying with me in Casa del Bosque. She’s a powerhouse, traveling all over the world, and just hosted a webinar with the ARC (Agroforestry Regeneration Communities) which has projects in Guatemala and throughout East Africa to teach syntropic and other agroforestry practices to communities, especially women in remote communities. She is the co-founder of Abundant Earth Foundation which supports permaculture and regenerative projects around the world.
Jacob, the tall young German, has industriously created a flyer for Charles’ workshop, written up an orientation packet for new volunteers, and more. He aspires to help design the Ecoversity as a carbon-neutral, zero-waste building.
We had a perfect day for a hike to Guane, somewhat overcast and cool, with a light breeze. Jacob, Charles, Chad, Paula and I hiked down the Camino Real, the restored rock-paved trail originally made by the indigenous Guane people. The camino took us along the canyon’s edge, with beautiful views and abundant butterflies along the way. Some butterflies are transparent green with black veins; some smaller wider ones are two-toned, red near the wing tips and black closer to the body.
A couple of hours later, as we got to the town’s center, it started to rain, so we ducked into a typical local restaurant. There, our limonada was brown because of the panela (brown sugar) that rural folks use. Most of us ate steamed yucca, potato, and salad; Charles ordered some goat meat. I had a little yucca but was holding out for a bakery. After the rain stopped I went to a shop and bought local goat cheese, then followed my nose to the bakery, where a golden challah-like yeast bread with corn flour and cheese was fresh out of the oven. I confess that I ate most of a loaf, giving away a few chunks to my pals.
Earth Regnerators’ Weekly Gathering
Monday morning’s meeting was the third since we began. Joe generously offers us fruit and pan de yucca. Sitting on handwoven yoga mats made from local fiber, we checked in.
Ecoversity: It will be decentralized, happening in multiple farms, with the goal of having an off-grid learning center at Las Albercas. Its goals: to research what is needed in community; learning in service to regeneration; awareness of problems, leading to action steps on the ground, citizen science and research. We heard from Joe about Felipe’s idea for a one-year regenerative leadership training offered through the Ecoversity. It might include assigning mentors such as Carlos Gomez. (See previous post about Agua Santa.) Campesino families could host students who would work on their land — a service-learning model. Every 2 weeks, an immersive workshop would be held for these students. “Educated people are a commons, a resource,” said Joe. According to Paco, Syntropic Agroforestry might not be financially viable for the first few years, so it might have to be subsidized. A group called Regen Network holds a core belief in supporting and training people to do regeneration.
Since expected funding has not materialized yet, alternative fundraising is underway to raise $150K for purchase of the Las Albercas land, including a pledge drive and two funders promising up to $75K in matching funds. The pledge community will have no say in how the money is used. The Ecoversity can receive funds via the Territorial Foundation as well.
The Territorial Foundation had a significant meeting the previous weekend, facilitated by Felipe and Jose. Jose is a community organizer and musician who plays 12 instruments, and an amazing facilitator. Felipe, father of four young children, leads water walks and is a nonviolent communicator and fountain of beautiful ideas. The Territorial Foundation can receive money and distribute resources without allowing the intrusion of colonialism. There will be thematic clusters such as water, regenerative education, a women’s group, syntropic agroforestry, ancestral wisdom. A watershed council in Santa Helena is envisioned, to oversee projects and community aquaducts.