We at Toca do Coelho are with many! When we arrived we were with 11 on Sunday. Last Sunday we were with 17 people. And this Sunday we are 35! Today we are already at 40 people. This week more people are coming everyday. They come by car, hitchhiking, by bus and Danne even biked all the way to the north of Spain and than took a train. We are a diverse but like-minded group of people. Everybody comes to create something here, something beautiful, something useful and something valuable.
Living together with 40 people is like being on a camp. It’s fun, it’s noisy, it’s inspiring and it also brings along its challenges. We are inspired to come up with creative solutions, based in trust and expertise. For cooking there is now a schedule and everybody can take up a meal to cook. Everybody washes his or her plate and the dishes are placed on a huge newly build structure to dry. For the projects we moved from a central meeting in the morning in which all the projects were proposed and discussed, towards a more effective system. People can propose projects the day or night before, write these on a card, name the number of people he or she needs and posts this card on the project board. In the morning we pass by all these projects, prioritize and people can jump in and work on the projects they feel drawn towards.
After the short morning session we have some a workshop or lesson. We already did kickboxing, yoga, reverse hide-and-seek (sardientje) and this Sunday it was Salsa Lessons by Corine and Mirte. Salsa music was blasting out of our little speaker over our terraces and everybody danced while the sun was rising!
Talking about dancing, this Saturday night we tested our lights on the stage Maks and Danny build on the lowest terrace. And how better to test it than with some great music? So Saturday we had a first glimpse at potential of our little farm as a festival location! We did a dance competition in order to determine what is the most effective way of taking/dancing out bramble roots. Apparently the answer to this age-old question is Twisting!
The last couple of days have also seen us connecting to more of the neighbors, going door to door and telling them our story. We are welcomed with big smiles. People are happy that such an enthusiastic and young group of people is working on the land and they wish us luck. We have also been to another beautiful farm a little more to the south. Valle de Lama it is called and it is a very inspiring place. The people offered their lunch and welcomed us in their community. This is what we have noticed from all the surrounding projects and communities, people are open, friendly and warm. And they all wish to share their knowledge and their contacts.
This coming week will see us working to finish all our beautiful permaculture projects. We are digging three ponds, creating an herb spiral and many other projects. This week will also see us working toward the Festival. It will be three beautiful days starting on Friday and it has been an incredible privilege reading the registrations of so many creative and wonderfully skilled people who wish to participate. It is really true that everybody has his or her own super power! This is why this festival will see an incredible amount of workshops; from African Dance to Yoga, from Percussion to Tantra, we will learn about Improvisation Theater, Body Balance and much more!
Even though everybody is very exited for the festival we have acknowledged the fact that there are challenges connected to the different interests and needs between the farm and the festival. These needs can compliment each other, yet we need to pay special attention to the situations when they might not. We have really talked in depth about this issue. How can we use the force of the people and direct this to something purposeful? We thought about three pillars: Theory and Education, Practice and Projects, and Enriching the Soil.
So first of all there will be workshops on permaculture at the festival, Lesley Martin (a PC expert of this area) will give two lectures; we will do ‘Learn About Nature Walks’ with our biologists, and teach about the different projects we already finished. One big reason for hosting this festival is us being exited about this farm and wanting to give a blast of a house warming, another is having a huge group of people being enthusiastic and knowledgeable about what is done here. These are the people who will spread the word about Toca do Coelho 🙂
Besides learning this festival is also about doing! So for this we will have a nice list of farming projects we can work on during the festival. For instance the building of a pond, creating land capturing structures from organic materials and making insect hotels. But maybe more importantly: taking out the bramble roots! Five bramble roots pay for 1 shot of Madronho (local fire water) at the bar. This way we will be sure that this land will become a feast of biodiversity, and not one of thorns. We are really looking forward to giving people the possibility to interact with the land.
And than there is the enriching of the soil. The soil is one of the biggest challenges we have on our farm. It is depleted, eroded and dry. But here is where the festival can compliment the farm! The dance competition will make sure that the brambles will not be coming back. Nevertheless packing the soil can be bad for the new plants that will have to grow in the future. This is why we have thought thoroughly about the way we want to leave the land. At the end of the Festival we will have plenty of tools and materials in order to open up the soil once again. This will be the final way for all the participants to be a part of the farm and interact directly with the land! We will overturn the land, plant seedbombs and irrigate it. This way we enrich the land and leave it so much more beautiful than we found it. So at this festival there is not a ‘Leave No Trace Policy’, it is quite the opposite, we will leave many traces! At Toca do Coelho there is a ‘Leave a Beautiful Trace Policy’!