Why volunteering is the way…

By Eveline Mimpen

“How does it feel? All that clay between your toes?”

– “Like a new way of life, for sure!”

It’s my friend that answers. I have her dancing in one of those big black plastic tubs. She is new to clay plastering and total joy results on her face. While she dances, she mixes clay and sand to cob.

We find ourselves on the Danish island Orø with Cathrine Dolleris, our host for the next 10 days. I got to know Cat one month ago during a PEC (Permaculture Educators Course) given at Friland, a community next to Århus. Together with Andy Goldring (Permaculture Ass. UK) she demonstrates future educators tools for teaching. Cat is a permaculture designer, consultant and teacher and came to the island 1 year ago. In her classical Danish house from the 1870s she is developing a small business Geoliv and a Permaculture LAND centre, meaning a site where Learning, Activities, Network and Demonstration takes place. The house shows some deep cut wrinkles of age and poses opportunities for retrofitting and aligning it to a sustainable lifestyle.

So, basically, that’s exactly what me and my friend are doing. We help Cat slimming down her ‘to do list’ in and around her house. Today is about repairing a wall with cob and giving it a clay plaster. The beauty of building with natural materials is immediately obvious. Where cement mortar would have been ready for the dump, we collect the scraped off lime plaster to put it next to the apple tree, who doesn’t mind some alkaline lime rock/powder. The 150 year old cob mortar coming out of the old wall is rewetted and, after some squeezes, goes straight back into it. Awesome.

Cathrine doesn’t work on her dream alone. She gets help creating her LAND centre from both the Danish permaculture network and the Workaway network. Workaway, like WWOOF, is a website, where volunteers and hosts can connect. Bed, board and a learning experience is available to the volunteers when they deliver 4-5h a day of work for their hosts. This work could be focused on organic gardening or animal husbandry (WWOOF) or covering a more broad range of activities like helping in a café, baby sitting, but also cleaning or fixing things (Workaway). Another source not yet explored by Cat could be the POOSH.org, which is focused on natural building.

Next to us Dutch girls (both 27), there is a family from Hong Kong staying ( 10, 22, and mum 47) together with a 24 year old Aussie man running away from university. This mix could mean a recipe for chaos, but we all find our place fairly naturally. Only a few times do we need to put our Aussie to work for morning porridge. The rest of the food is being prepared by either us two, ‘the family’ or the barbecue which does most of the work the later that week. The campfire at night does its thing and brings us closer together. We talk a lot. The difference in culture and where everyone is at in their lives, is as interesting as it is inspiring. There is just some magic happening when different cultures come together to work on a common goal. I love it. We all have something to bring to this concert and we all harmonize naturally.

The days are relaxed, the 5h a day we need to put in feel like a breeze cause no one is watching the clock and the work is enjoyable. One does what one feels like. Cat has a major list of chores to be done. So if you feel like demolishing pallets, go do it. If you feel more creative, go and make a wooden frame to hold the firewood (which we did). Feeling cold? Go weed the greenhouse. Feeling hot? Go water it. Or just chill out with your book under the old ash tree, who keeps a watchful eye on all of us.

Author: Eveline Mimpen (27) is a traveling permaculturalist and natural builder. She enjoys the small things in life and is always open to new opportunities. Follow her on deepgreeninspiration.com or just email to e.mimpen@gmail.com

Learning lots about columns

I like columns, because they make reading easier and give options for layout. Great. But how? So I was struggling for a while and luckily I met Emma, who was woofing at Walnut Farm. Together we sat down to crack the column nut. It took a while and then we had the sacred code: 

1/2 coloumns

(braket) ezcol_1half id="" class="" ]your text[/ezcol_1half]

(bracket) ezcol_1half_end id="" class="" style="background-color: #33CCFF;"]your text on colour[/ezcol_1half_end]

You just add text in between the brackets for each column.

Alright, enough WP geekiness – why am I talking about this? Well, because I wanted to share a design with you: FLEX OVEN Design.

OK – so I didn't actually manage to upload the Flex oven design yet – I got stuck with the column thing. It wasn't good People Care for me to keep getting frustrated about uploading and making it look nice. So I'm going to just upload the pdfs for now. 

However, I'm pleased about having used columns to add content on the other pages. Check out the What is Permaculture? It has FIVE columns!

Principles in use: Well, I'm designing this homepage from patterns to details: I've made an overall design for what content I need, based on my needs and what functions I want this homepage to have. I've observed what resources I have available, both as personal skills and resorces in my community and Kattekærhus, my house. I have analysed my needs and skills and have involved people with more webdesign skills than me to fill the gaps. And then I've started to create the homepage based on these considerations. 

Right now I'm in mid-implementation – and the design pattern I created is working and guiding me, to make the work easier, more acessible and logical. I like playing around with photos to create the patterns and structure. And I am happy that I can use my skills in photography in a way I really enjoy and I think it's giving a good outcome.

So I'm harvesting a yield from work previously done within photography! 



GeoLiv in its infancy!

Hi there! I've just started this page to write about the fun and the dread of setting up a permaculture demonstration site. 

First challenge is to get this website up and running. I've launched myself into learning about wordpress and so far I'm doing fine – but everything takes loads and loads of time. 

So what's the permaculture of setting up a website about permaculture?

Well, to me there are a few good reasons why I do this, in the name of permaculture: 

Firstly, I want to share my knowledge. I will upload my designs on this site for the inspiration of all who cares to find my page. I believe that will have an impact on the fair share of knowledge in the world. I also see it as a form of people care, because if it can help someone to take better care of themselves or do something that can increase their comfort while practising permaculture, that's a boon. And finally, if the designs I have shared will help people to get ideas about how to increase their permaculture practice while taking care of the earth, well then the sweet spot has been reached.

Ok, so welcome to the GeoLiv blog – check in again for some ways I've used principles to set up this website.