Apprentices March 2017

Thank you, this is what comes to mind when I think of the first three months of our growing season here this year. We have been accepting permaculture students here for eight years now and one comment or demand we have had constantly is why is there so few practical activities during the Permaculture Design Certificate Course? (PDC.) While the answer is simple, it’s a 72 hour theoretical course to equip students to design, this still leaves PDC students with huge holes in their practical skills and knowledge. Both students and volunteers have demanded more from us more knowledge, practical activities and skills building, but while we want to supply this knowledge and skills, we have a life and the daily demands of our small farm. The answer to our dilemma came from the same student and volunteer base, build a course and charge people appropriately, if they don’t want to pay they won’t come. From this position we decided we should provide reasonable accommodation so the three months to learn the necessary skills and embody the muscle memory necessary to be able to live our lives and use the skills and knowledge was acceptably comfortable. We set the pricing not by the true worth of the time and resources we had to invest but instead on what it would cost us to provide food, accommodation, metered water and electricity, wireless internet, extra tools and consumable resources for crafts. Adults among readers will quickly realise that 25€ per day does not cover the costs above, but we assumed and stated in the course description that we expected students be of benefit and improve the sites productivity to meet the shortage in the costs.

This is the end of our fourth year of running our apprenticeship and it,s been a roller-coaster ride, the peaks were amazing truly rewarding and an extraordinary time of our life. The troughs have however been some of the lowest times in our life.

Back now to the thank you, in March three male adults arrived here to share our home, our life and learn from us, they ranged from 18 to 40 years of age and from the first day to the last they all engaged and participated in every aspect of the course and all the work involved in our daily life.

Costantino making mozzarella cheese

Alec feeding an orphaned lamb

Bart helping to ring a lambs tail

I can’t describe how joyful the entire three months was sharing every aspect of our life and work with these three amazing people. Fiona and I enjoy our life here most of the time, the true four season weather system throws us challenges to be coped with. We have made a choice to live a simple but demanding lifestyle, to be joined by three younger people who engaged with and contributed to our site with such enthusiasm and energy was wonderful. To make more progress than we could have ever wish for in such a short time has proved to be extraordinary. Each task was met with an eagerness to finish and look back with a sense of achievement as the garden and the site beyond changed and progressed as the growing season progressed. For this we are eternally grateful many thanks to you Alec, Bart and Costantino.